The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms

Ivan R. Dee
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Stephen P. Halbrook's The Founders' Second Amendment is the first book-length account of the origins of the Second Amendment, based on the Founders' own statements as found in newspapers, correspondence, debates, and resolutions. Mr. Halbrook investigates the period from 1768 to 1826, from the last years of British rule and the American Revolution through to the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the passing of the Founders' generation. His book offers the most comprehensive analysis of the arguments behind the drafting and adoption of the Second Amendment, and the intentions of the men who created it.
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About the author

Stephen B. Halbrook is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a Ph.D. in social philosophy from Florida State University. His other books include That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right; Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms; Firearms Law Deskbook; and A Right to Bear Arms.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Ivan R. Dee
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Published on
Apr 18, 2008
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9781615780143
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / United States / 19th Century
History / United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
Political Science / History & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In 1783, as the Revolutionary War came to a close, Alexander Hamilton resigned in disgust from the Continental Congress after it refused to consider a fundamental reform of the Articles of Confederation. Just four years later, that same government collapsed, and Congress grudgingly agreed to support the 1787 Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, which altered the Articles beyond recognition. What occurred during this remarkably brief interval to cause the Confederation to lose public confidence and inspire Americans to replace it with a dramatically more flexible and powerful government? We Have Not a Government is the story of this contentious moment in American history.

In George William Van Cleve’s book, we encounter a sharply divided America. The Confederation faced massive war debts with virtually no authority to compel its members to pay them. It experienced punishing trade restrictions and strong resistance to American territorial expansion from powerful European governments. Bitter sectional divisions that deadlocked the Continental Congress arose from exploding western settlement. And a deep, long-lasting recession led to sharp controversies and social unrest across the country amid roiling debates over greatly increased taxes, debt relief, and paper money. Van Cleve shows how these remarkable stresses transformed the Confederation into a stalemate government and eventually led previously conflicting states, sections, and interest groups to advocate for a union powerful enough to govern a continental empire.

Touching on the stories of a wide-ranging cast of characters—including John Adams, Patrick Henry, Daniel Shays, George Washington, and Thayendanegea—Van Cleve makes clear that it was the Confederation’s failures that created a political crisis and led to the 1787 Constitution. Clearly argued and superbly written, We Have Not a Government is a must-read history of this crucial period in our nation’s early life.
Contrary to most academic commentary on The Federalist, this book contends that the most significant teachings of the work did not have to do with the institutions of government so much as with the non-institutional features of American constitutionalism, specifically its advocacy for greater union, the development of an unparalleled culture of enterprise, and provision for war. Key to understanding why these features were so critical to The Federalist is the work’s rejection of classical liberalism’s orthodoxy that commercial republics were moderate or pacific in nature rather than spirited, enterprising, and warlike. Using the ancient historian Thucydides account of the daring, innovation, and restlessness of ancient commercial Athens as an interpretive guide for the commercial republican theory that The Federalist embraces, this book provides a sweeping reinterpretation of American constitutionalism. At the heart of The Federalist’s teaching, Peacock contends, is the intention to create an innovative and spirited culture of enterprise that will not only inform America’s civil character post-1787 but its military character as well. No scholarship has considered the significance of Thucydides to the The Federalist. This book does in a comprehensive reconstruction of the work that concludes that The Federalist anticipates as well as any text on American constitutionalism what many consider to be the most definitive features of American character today: its spirit of enterprise and its qualified willingness to engage in war for both reasons of national interest and republican principle.
A New York Times Bestseller, and the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton!

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”

Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.

Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.

“Nobody has captured Hamilton better than Chernow” —The New York Times Book Review 

Ron Chernow's other biographies include: Grant, Washington, and Titan.
While surrounded by the Axis powers in World War II, Switzerland remained democratic and, unlike most of Europe, never succumbed to the siren songs and threats of the Nazi goliath.

This book tells the story with emphasis on two voices rarely heard. One voice is that of scores of Swiss who lived in those dark years, told through oral history. They mobilized to defend the country, labored on the farms, and helped refugees. The other voice is that of Nazi Intelligence, those who spied on the Swiss and planned subversion and invasion. Exhaustive documents from the German military archives reveals a chilling rendition of attack plans which would be dissuaded in part by Switzerland's armed populace and Alpine defenses.

Laced with unique maps and photos, the book is organized into four units. The first, A War of Words and Nerves, depicts how the Swiss mobilized an active "spiritual defense" of their country. Chapters describe jokes and slurs the Swiss devised to characterize the "Nazi pigs," the use of the press and cabaret as weapons against totalitarianism, and the role of Swiss newsreels in building the spirit of resistance. German prewar subversion plans are also revealed.

The second unit, To Resist to the Death, concerns military preparations. Swiss soldiers recall an epoch when every day could have been "the day" when all hell would break lose and they would meet the enemy. Blitzkrieg plans against Switzerland devised by the German Wehrmacht in 1940 are described in detail. Switzerland was an armed camp with countless fortifications, against which the Axis could have attempted access with extreme costs in blood. In Switzerland, Jews -- like all other citizens -- were in arms, and Jewish officers served in the highest levels of the Swiss army.

Struggle for Survival: Food, Fuel and Fear, the third unit, presents oral histories of daily life during the war with its shortages, alarms, and rumors. The role of women in the military and the economy are probed. A chapter on the refugee crisis investigates whether Swiss officials played a role in Germany's adoption of the "J" stamp on Jewish passports, how Switzerland became a lifeboat for refugees, and how asylum policies were liberalized as the persecution of Jews escalated.

Espionage and Subversion, the fourth and final unit, covers strategic issues and intelligence activities. German attack plans and bickering in the Gestapo about who would rule a conquered Switzerland persisted. One chapter focuses on Davos, where the Swiss struggled against a Fifth Column and which became a safe haven for American airmen whose crippled bombers made it to Swiss territory. The last chapter profiles Switzerland as America's window on the Reich -- how Allen Dulles and his OSS spied on the Nazis, at times with help from Swiss Intelligence.

Halbrook's other books include the award-winning Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II, which was published in five languages.
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