To the editor:
Years ago, the military leader of a successful insurgency stated the following:
“A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well digested plan is requisite: And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others, for essential, particularly for military supplies.”
Lately, following the recent events we have all witnessed, I have given these words great thought. A free people ought not only be armed, but disciplined. These words advise arming, not disarming, but that the free people must be disciplined. There is little doubt as to arming a free people, but what is meant for the free people to be disciplined. I interpret this to be a disciplined, armed, free people. For the people to maintain their freedom, it requires the discipline to retain their arms, and their rights for such arms. The statement goes on “to which end a uniform and well digested plan is requisite.” A free people are to understand why the need to be armed exists, and to establish policy to protect this belief. Merely being armed does not protect the people, but understanding the need to be armed is even of greater importance. Believing in the need to be armed ensures the people have that understanding to know that a free people can continue.
“And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others ...” The free people’s safety and interest depends on the ability to be independent of others. When one is dependent upon others for their food, housing, and the welfare of others, that person unknowingly sacrifices their freedom. Their independence is traded away in lieu of dependency. Once the ability to provide for one’s own safety and interest is lost, a free people no longer exist. I believe these words apply more today, than ever before. When a government trades the people’s rights for basic needs, is that society the utopia one seeks. Is it a government’s role to tax a people and use the people’s revenues to buy the individual rights from the people?
The statement closes with “particularly for military supplies.” I would imagine that this comment will promote great debate. Are military supplies for the free people as a whole, or are they for the individual free person. I do not find the answer here; I can only suggest my thoughts. I believe that the free people as a whole need to promote those military supplies that protect the free people from outsiders which threaten a free people. The free person needs to promote those military supplies, which protect the free people from the insiders, which chose to diminish the free peoples safety and interests.
These words are those of a leader in a time of great turmoil. Within a divided country, great discussion existed as to the need for dependency and the associated taxation.
At the time, laws were implemented restricting military type supplies. An attempt by government forces to seize guns and ammunition from the people led to direct conflict. These actions resulted in neighbor turning on neighbor. Large numbers of the people moving away from their homes, seeking refuge in nearby countries. It pitted an insurgency against a greatest military power known to the world at the time.
The words spoken were in the First Annual Message of George Washington, Jan. 8, 1790.