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Old 22 July 2008, 03:18 AM
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Soapbox George Washington on firearms

Comment: Gun adovcates often cite this quote in support of their
positions:


"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are
the people's liberty teeth keystone... the rifle and the pistol are
equally indispensable... more than 99% of them by their silence indicate
that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms
everywhere restrains evil interference. When firearms go, all goes, we
need them every hour. " -- President George Washington in his 1st address
to Congress


It seems very convenient and unlikely that Washington would have said
that. Is it true? My cursory investigation only uncovered his inaugural
addresses... I wonder if there is any way to really know what he said to
Congress in his first address.
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  #2  
Old 22 July 2008, 03:28 AM
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Here is a link to the First State of the Union address.

It mentions arms, but differently. I couldn't find anything other than this that was Washington's First Address to Congress, since the President doesn't address Congress very often (and then, it seems, the SoU was the only time).
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Old 22 July 2008, 03:57 AM
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This quote seems to have "surfaced" in the late 1990's. Besides the fact that there seems to be no record of it at all (of course, all of Washington's addresses to Congress were recorded), there's plenty of other clues that it's bogus. Washington might not have been the best writer of the founding pops but he didn't write this poorly. Why would he have singled out "the rifle and the pistol" and not the far more common weapons such as the musket? (You'd think the groups that have spread this information would know a little weapon history.) This kind of expression didn't appear until much later: "more than 99% of them...". The version of the quote here is hardly the most laughable, though. This one is from WikiProtest.
Quote:
"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty, teeth and keystone under independence. The church, the plow, the prairie wagon and citizens' firearms are indelibly related. From the hour the pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that, to ensure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. Every corner of this land knows firearms, and more than 99 and 99/100 percent of them by their silence indicate that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil influence. They deserve a place of honor with all that's good. When firearms go, all goes. We need them every hour."

- George Washington's address to the second session of the First U.S. Congress.
Ridiculous.
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  #4  
Old 22 July 2008, 07:22 AM
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United States

And having been born in the colony of Virginia, why would he mention the pilgrams? Jamestown would be abetter reference, and had been founded ealier.
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  #5  
Old 22 July 2008, 01:00 PM
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And "prairie wagons?" There weren't any prairies to go to until after 1803 (Louisiana Purchase) and Washington died in 1799. And as noted, the rifle wasn't very common, certainly not as an infantry weapon, until the 1840's and the invention of the Minié ball.

pinqy
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Old 22 July 2008, 01:04 PM
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D'oh!

Quote:
They are the people's liberty teeth keystone. . .
Keystones have teeth? Teeth have keystones? Liberty has teeth?
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  #7  
Old 22 July 2008, 04:34 PM
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From Ed Yoder's review of Alan M. Gottlieb's The Rights of Gun Owners (1st ed., 1981), The Washington Post, 15 November 1981, pp. BW1-2.

Quote:
Gottlieb has the slippery habit of making the Founding Fathers (especially those who drafted the Second Amendment) sound like precocious lobbyists for the National Rifle Association. My history books, curiously, rarely if ever mention Thomas Jefferson's obsession with firearms. I wonder, too, whether George Washington actually said that "firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself" and "deserve a place of honor with all that's good." (He seems to have thought otherwise when he sent an army under Alexander Hamilton to disarm and disband rebellious moonshiners in Pennsylvania.) But in any case, the searcher for verification of these and other quotations will be in deep trouble unless he keeps a library of pistol-lobby books and periodicals. The statement attributed to Washington is footnoted, so help me, to an editorial in Vigilante, "Summer 1977, p. 6."
Bonnie "John Locke and load" Taylor
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Old 22 July 2008, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonnie View Post
(He seems to have thought otherwise when he sent an army under Alexander Hamilton to disarm and disband rebellious moonshiners in Pennsylvania.)
Ah a Shay's Rebellion/Whiskey Rebellion reference -- thank you. A sadly forgotten bit of early American history, and like the Alien and Sedition Acts one that shows the founding fathers as engaging in politics not monumental myth making.

-Winged Monkey
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  #9  
Old 22 July 2008, 07:42 PM
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Wait.

You mean they weren't all about nearly-anarchic levels of libertarianism?
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  #10  
Old 06 August 2008, 12:10 AM
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This is nothing compared to their forgetting of the first clause of the second amendment.
Did people even use percentages that much at the time?
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Old 06 August 2008, 01:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnglRdr View Post
Wait.

You mean they weren't all about nearly-anarchic levels of libertarianism?
They were too busy making it a Christian Nation.
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Old 19 August 2008, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
The church, the plow, the prairie wagon and citizens' firearms are indelibly related. From the hour the pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that, to ensure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. Every corner of this land knows firearms, and more than 99 and 99/100 percent of them by their silence indicate that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil influence. They deserve a place of honor with all that's good. When firearms go, all goes. We need them every hour."
This can't be by George Washington, because it's a universally known fact that George Washington couldn't tell a lie... so, logically, he couldn't tell a bunch thereof.

quod erat demonstrandum

Last edited by Cyrano; 19 August 2008 at 11:03 AM.
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  #13  
Old 01 January 2012, 01:29 AM
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I've just stumbled across what may be a new varient on this quote

Quote:
“A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”
- George Washington
See the comment by R. Santos in this article.

http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2011/12/...-near-schools/
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