From Patriot’s History:
Madison…correctly analyzed the necessity of political parties (“factions” as he called them) and understood their role. An extensive republic…inevitably would divide society into a “greater variety of interestes, of pursuits, of passions, which check each other.” Factions, then, should be encouraged. The provided the competition that tested and refined ideas. More important, they demanded that people inform themselves and take a side, rather than sliding listlessly into murky situations they did not choose to understand out of laziness.
well, how far we’ve come…
Modern Americans are assaulted by misguided calls for “bipartisanship”… In fact, however, Madison detested compromise that involved abandoning principles, and in any event, thought that the Republic was best served when factions presented extreme differences to the voters, rather than shading their positions toward the middle. THe moden moderate voters – so highly preised in the media – would have been anathema to Madison, who wanted people to take sides as a means of creating checks and balances.
…factions splintered power among groups so that no group dominated others. Like Hamilton then, and later Toqueville and Thoreau, Madison dreaded the “tyranny of the majority” and feared that mobs could just as easily destroy personal rights as could any monarch. Madison demanded an intellectual contest of ideas.
quite a different context of that “tyranny of the majority” line than we hear most often these days.
Second Amendment. So, leading up to the ratification of the Constitution, there were two factions: Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Federalists wanted a strong central government having sovereignty over the states. Anti-Federalists wanted the central government to be either equal to or less strong than the states. Anti-Federalists generally preferred the Articles of Confederation.
Though they lost the battle over the Constitution, they did succeed in demanding the Bill of Rights, which might have instead been called the Bill of Limitations (“to avoid the perception that the rights were granted by the government in the first place.”)
The second amendment addressed Whig fears of a professional standing army by guaranteeing the right of citizens to arm themselves and join militias. Over the years, the militia preface has become thoroughly (and often deliberately) misinterpreted to imply that the framers intended citizens to be armed only in the context of an army under the authority of the state. In fact, militias were the exact opposite of a state-controlled army: the state militias taken together were expected to serve as a counterweight to the federal army, and the further implication was that citizens were to be as well armed as the government itself.”
I have long said this, and it’s gratifying to see it in print, lol.
The Constitution, taken together with the Declaration of Independence, makes it clear that citizens have a right – a duty, even – to be ever vigilant against the creeping power of the government, which will tend to expand over time if not kept in check (as we can s0 plainly see).
The Whigs feared a federal standing army. Certainly, they had reason to. So they wanted to make sure the citizens, and the states, had the ability to defend themselves against the federal army if needed. Voila: second amendment.