Madison’s Militia: The Hidden History of the Second Amendment

Oxford Univ. Mar. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9780197632222. $29.95. HIST
What was the historical context in which the Second Amendment was drafted by James Madison, adopted by the First Congress, and ratified by the states? Bogus (emeritus, Roger Williams Univ. Sch. of Law; The Second Amendment in Law and History) pursues that question with the findings of his decades of research. His 10 chapters conversationally draw heavily on debates at Virginia’s 1788 ratifying convention in Richmond. Their arguments were drawn from the right to bear arms provisions in the Declaration of Rights and state constitutions and from the First Congress’s treatment of the text. England’s 1689 Declaration of Rights contained the original provision, and many today believe the right to bear arms was always about protecting liberty. This book, however, demonstrates conclusively that the amendment’s roots lay in enslavers wanting to have the right to have weapons to use against freedom seekers.
VERDICT Readers interested in the Second Amendment’s origins or in assessing arguments about its meaning will likely and deeply appreciate this comprehensive history.
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