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Albion Tourgee and the Second Amendment:

A post by Eugene notes the publication of a new biography of the great 19th century civil rights lawyer Albion Tourgee. Undoubtedly, some VC readers are waiting for the secondary consipirators to explain what Tourgee thought of gays, guns, and Israel. So I will do my part, on the second topic.

Tourgee's book about the Ku Klux Klan explained that during the 1870s, in Southern areas where the black militias lost and the Klan or other white groups took control, "[A]lmost universally the first thing done was to disarm the negroes and leave them defenseless." Albion Winegar Tourgee, The Invisible Empire (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989)(1st ed. 1880), pp. 54-55. Of course the Klan's objective in disarming the blacks was to leave them unable to defend their rights. Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy vol. 5 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872), p. 1672 (reprint of Testimony Taken by the Joint Select Committee into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States (South Carolina, vol. 3), 42d Congress, 2d Session), cited in Kermit L. Hall, Political Power and Constitutional Legitimacy: The South Carolina Ku Klux Klan Trials, 1871-72, 33 Emory Law Journal 921, 945 (1984).

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Albion Tourgee and the Second Amendment:
  2. Albion Tourgee:
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Heh... It's good to see you can find humor in your critics.
12.4.2006 4:51pm
wt (www):
Ok sure. But what did he think of the Goodridge decision?
12.4.2006 6:04pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
And this has exactly what to do with your precious right to bear arms? It proves nothing other than that a majority that has the backing of the law and society behind them will be able to oppress a minority no matter whether or not there is a theoretical "right to bear arms". That right means nothing if there is not a functioning and effective legal system and political system that is committed to defending minority rights.
12.4.2006 6:09pm
luagha:
Actually, it states that the objective in disarming blacks is to leave them incapable of defending their rights.

From there, it follows that the objective in disarming anyone is to leave them incapable of defending their rights.

One infers from there that anyone desiring to disarm another person wishes to leave them incapable of defending their rights.

Corollary: Doing this to convicted criminals in prison is okay. We don't want them defending their rights with weapons against the prison guards.

Second corollary: Doing this to law-abiding citizens is clearly part of a totalitarian power grab.
12.4.2006 6:39pm
DG:
J. F. Thomas: "And this has exactly what to do with your precious right to bear arms? "

This is either a troll or someone who has been taking lessons in diction from Cruella DeVille and Ming the Merciless. "precious right to bear arms"?
12.4.2006 6:53pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The point is that blacks had a constitutional right to bear arms. In some areas of the south they constituted a numeric majority. Yet for all their apparent constitutional and legal rights they could not stop massive and institutionalized oppression from being both the law of the land and the social norm for one hundred years. Nearly 6000 lynchings were documented in this country between the Civil war and the Civil Rights Act. Add to that the countless murders and legal killings and injustices heaped on blacks and it is apparent that a legal right to own firearms didn't help them much at all. A black man who as much as raised his hand to a white man was dead, let alone one who tried to defend himself with a firearm. The legal system was established and operated to keep blacks in their place. Possession of firearms wasn't going to make much difference.
12.4.2006 7:12pm
Porkchop (mail):

The point is that blacks had a constitutional right to bear arms. In some areas of the south they constituted a numeric majority. Yet for all their apparent constitutional and legal rights they could not stop massive and institutionalized oppression from being both the law of the land and the social norm for one hundred years. Nearly 6000 lynchings were documented in this country between the Civil war and the Civil Rights Act. Add to that the countless murders and legal killings and injustices heaped on blacks and it is apparent that a legal right to own firearms didn't help them much at all. A black man who as much as raised his hand to a white man was dead, let alone one who tried to defend himself with a firearm. The legal system was established and operated to keep blacks in their place. Possession of firearms wasn't going to make much difference.

You've convinced me -- resistance is futile -- I give up -- where do I turn my firearms in?
12.4.2006 7:30pm
Alan Gura:
There are many documented instances where minorities used firearms successfully to defend their civil rights, including instances of defense against the klan.

This one is well-known but there are many, many others.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hayes_Pond
12.4.2006 8:00pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hayes_Pond


There was an incident in a Florida town, where the residents, all black, defended themselves against an attack of some sort, promulgated by whites, I believe in the 1920's. There was a "60 Minutes" feature about it years ago. I searched for it, unsuccessfully.

There was also an armed reaction to a corrupt local government, c. 1947, in Tennessee or Kentucky- while not involving minorities, an armed defense none the less.

I've corresponded with this gentleman, last year he held a shooting seminar at a gun range in New Jersey for minorities/urbanites:

http://blackmanwithagun.com/
12.5.2006 2:07am
Kevin P. (mail):
JF Thomas is, of course a troll immune to any kind of persuasion.

For everyone else, here is information on the Deacons for Defense who provided armed bodyguards to civil rights workers, thereby raising the stakes of confrontation much higher for the KKK:

http://uncpress.unc.edu/books/T-5056.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deacons_for_Defense_and_Justice

You can also read about the Battle of Hayes Pond where armed Indians drove out a KKK rally:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hayes_Pond

But of course, according to JF Thomas a legal right to possess firearms does not help at all.
12.5.2006 9:59am
Kevin P. (mail):
Most gun control began as an attempt to ban minorities from owning guns. JF Thomas's argument does not appear to have been persuasive to Jim Crow state governments, which did everything they could to take away the right of people of color to own firearms.

Another link: The Racist Roots of Gun Control
12.5.2006 10:13am
whit:
"And this has exactly what to do with your precious right to bear arms?"

it is ALL of our right, and it IS precious. if u choose not to exercise it, that's your right.

also note that the hysteria over so called 'saturday night specials' , while not racist in intent, did have racial and class based results. saturday night specials are inexpensive guns. hence, more affordable to poor people, who happen to more frequently live in high crime neighborhoods (thus needing guns that much more) and who tend disproportionately to be black/minority

a law that (for example) banned all guns under $1000 would similarly have the effect of hurting minorities/blacks disproportionately
12.5.2006 10:39am
markm (mail):
jF Thomas does have part of a valid point: If a minority is sufficiently disadvantaged, the courts have a pretty poor record of protecting their rights.

OTOH, he is missing a very big point: Before the Civil War, the courts were unanimous in recognizing and protecting a (white man's) individual right to keep and bear arms, supported by the 2nd Amendment, state constitutions, and common law. The precedents from infringing those rights began in the period when the 14th Amendment made it very clear that black men also had those rights.
12.5.2006 4:36pm