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The 2nd Amendment LAW Library is CLOSED.
Google Cached Links ^ | 02-12-02 | VANNROX post of cached LAW LIBRARY Links via GOOGLE

Posted on 02/12/2002 4:22:44 AM PST by vannrox

FR Note:
One of the problems with the Internet is the ever changing nature of the links and the information. many times I have bookmarked a very interesting site with the hope and the plans to visit it again and continue where I left off. then, only months later I would be surprised to discover that the site has disappeared.

One such site was the 2nd Amendment Library. Not only did it contain a number of amazing links but it also had downloadable publications that were just, absolutely, the best resource on the internet for this kind of information.

Sometimes I would post complete resource data on a response then then be asked "WHY?". Why not just publish a link? the answer is clear. the links are only temporary. If you ever plan on revisiting the FR post in the future, as many of us do, the links are generally worthless. We plan on making free Republic THE resource for Conservative discussion and information. I look back now, and wish, oh do I wish, that I would of downloaded each and every publication available at the 2nd Amendment law Library that I could of. But I didn't.

HOWEVER, all is not lost. I have managed to get a cached backup of the links section of that site. I am trying to obtain all the documents that were once published therein. Here is that linked resource. ENJOY.

Second Amendment


Helpful references, resources and interesting sites

Last updated: November 27, 1999

Reference Materials


Firearm related

'Pro-Individual Right'
'Anti-Individual Right'


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TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: banglist
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1 posted on 02/12/2002 4:22:45 AM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
2nd Amendment Law Library

The following collections of legal decisions, briefs, articles, and treatises are gathered from various sources. Corrections and additions are welcome.

Legend: If more than one file format available, click on the button to get the indicated file format:
HTML Version or Menu HTML | Text Version Text | Zipped WordPerfect Zipped WP | Adobe PDF Adobe PDF | RTF RTF | MS Word Version MS Word | Graphic Image Image

From — The site has gone down, but the contents are being reassembled here, as time permits.

From Bardwell — Extensive collection by James Bardwell of text files. Shoud be checked for updates.

Our collection

Links to other sites

Logos — Let us know which one you like best.

Constitutional Defense page | Home | Constitution Society | Webmaster

2 posted on 02/12/2002 4:25:17 AM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
Bump for later reading
3 posted on 02/12/2002 4:26:05 AM PST by Tennessee_Bob
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To: bang_list
The 'Lectric Law Library Lawcopedia's

Topic Area
This area contains materials relating to the U.S. Constitution & what it means.
It's split into some broad categories including the 1st & 2nd Amendments.



The Library's a Strong Supporter of Gun Control, meaning: The Ability to Hit What you're Aiming At.
Besides, if Guns are Outlawed How can we Shoot the Liberals... and Conservatives?

Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.... The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against tyranny... - Hubert Humphrey, liberal

Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe. - Dianne Feinstein, liberal hypocrite

The ACLU's Policy on Gun Control, 12k
The Framer's Intentions about the 2nd Amendment, 20k
9th Circuit's '95 Decision on Brady Bill's Constitutionality, 45k

No man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. - Thomas Jefferson

I like automatic weapons. I fought for my right to use them in Vietnam. - Oliver Stone

It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. It is legal and lawful to own a shotgun or a rifle. We believe in obeying the law. - Malcolm X

Arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe and preserve order... - Thomas Paine

Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference. - George Washington

We're going to hammer guns on the anvil of relentless legislative strategy.
We're going to beat guns into submission!
- Sen. Charles Schumer


There's plenty of related stuff scattered all around the Library,
like our News Room,   Study Of Law Study & the Historic Decisions Topic Area
so please feel free to wander around and explore.

The Rotunda The Library's central hub, Directory & Index
The Reference Room Dozens of legal Topic Areas & the net's best law Dictionary
The Inner Sanctum All about the Library & answers to your Questions & Problems
And if you haven't done so, Please take our head librarian Ralf's Library Tour
Most wonderful experience of my life! * * Greatest thing I've ever done... By Far! -- Typical Visitor Reactions
Please see our GoldCard Program Info about help with your 'Where/How can I find'
& Legal Resource Questions Sorry, we're unable to assist non-members.
However, we welcome your Library related Ideas, Comments, Corrections, etc., at:

Use the Library to Effectively Promote Your Services, Products or WebSite.

* Webmasters - Please link to HTML files Only. Thanks. *

No one connected with the 'Lectric Law Library, including Sponsors, Advertisers, & Content Providers,
necessarily Endorses, Warrants or Approves of any of its material.   Also, Library content is NOT meant
to provide Specific Legal Advice, or to Solicit or Establish Any Kind of Professional-Client Relationship.

[Last Revised 3/99]

4 posted on 02/12/2002 4:26:38 AM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
(Formerly 2nd Amendment Home Page)

A reference source for those interested in the right of
ordinary people to keep and bear arms. 
Founded 1996  -  Edited by Howard J. Fezell   -  P.O. Box 588   Frederick, Maryland 21705

This page last revised  February 8, 2002

To all Maryland Gun Owners

The deadline for filing bills in Annapolis has just passed.

To find out what threats to your liberties have been put into the hopper during the 2002 legislative session to DIRECT-ACTION.ORG

Eddie Eagle wouldn't have handed a loaded
gun to a ten year old.

We at do NOT make this stuff up.  A five year veteran of the Philadephia Police department, Vanessa Carter-Moragne, was at the Imani Education Charter School  in Germantown, Pa. during a show and tell session.  After showing the kids her badge (harmless enough) they wanted to see her Glock 9mm semi-auto.  The officer reportedly removed the magazine and then passed her duty weapon among the children.  (Safety Tip:  When handing your duty weapon to a group of elementary school kids, always make sure there is still not a round in the chamber.)  According to a police spokesman, "When she attempted to place the magazine back into the Glock, her gun accidentally discharged."  (Read:  The officer didn't keep her finger outside of the trigger housing.)

Aatiqah Johnson, a witness to the incident said, "She accidentally pulled the trigger."

A ten year old fourth grader, James Reeves, was grazed in the face.  He received five stiches and was released from the hospital in good condition.

Officer Carter-Moragne has been removed from street duty.

Permanent Essays On The
Right To Keep & Bear Arms:

What to do if the police come to confiscate your militia weapons

The TRUE Meaning Of "Gun Control" -- In The Words Of Its Proponents

     Your Individual Right To Keep And Bear Arms

   Your Fundamental Right To Self-Defense

     A Practicing Attorney's Look At The Second Amendment

     Early American "Gun Control"

     Judicial Misconstruction Of United States v. Miller

Race & Crime -- Taboo subject at the NRA (but not here)

  There is nothing more painful to me than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about
            robbery, then to look around and see someone white and feel relieved.  --  Jesse Jackson, 1993

Control what?  Not guns!    By Prof. Glayde Whitney

Lilly-white Vermont permits concealed carrying of handguns and has a very low homicide rate.  Washington, D.C. outlawed handguns long ago but has a very high homicide rate.  What differentiates Vermont from the District of Columbia other than their laws?  Prof. Whitney discusses how  racial demographics affects the rate of violent crime in America.

Is crime a gun problem or -- a race problem?

The Color Of Crime published by the New Century Foundation uses statistics compiled by the U.S. Justice Department to show that members of racial minorities are far more likely to commit violent crimes than members of the European-American majority.

Are facts racist?

Nowadays the principal excuse offered in support of gun prohibition is that it is necessary to “reduce gun violence.”  Why should gun owners be afraid to speak up about who is committing violent crime?  Facts aren't racist.

Justice Department data shows black males
aged 14-24 committing 27% of all homicides

The Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics has published a chart listing (a) the percentage of the U.S. population made up of white males aged 14-24, (b) the percentage of the U.S. population made up of black males aged 14-24 and, (c) the percentage of all homicides committed by each of these groups of young men.

What Is Racism?

About the "r" word, which turns so many gunnies into jellyfish. . .

Other Items of General Interest

One Liberal turns the right to bear arms on its head

Professor Robin West of the Georgetown University Law Center thinks
the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right of mutual disarmament; and
that this is necessary so we can all "forge loving connections", "reward
ecological and spiritual sensitivity" and "nourish our own spirits".   The
politics of meaning at its goofy worst.
Another Liberal laments the individual right to bear arms
An essay in the October 1999 issue of Harper's Magazine acknowledges that
the 2nd Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms and
"that its very presence makes effective gun control in this country all but impossible."
The Law Library
Deciphering Legal Citations (It's easy!)

Suggested Reading -- U.S. Supreme Court Opinions

Suggested Reading -- Books & Treatises

Links To Other Sites

5 posted on 02/12/2002 4:27:34 AM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
GunHoo: Gun Pages Central
Firearms links: alphabetized, categorized, regionalized and searchable.

[New Links] · [Alphabetical Links] · [ Discussions/Message Boards] · [Auction Search] · [Knives] · [Home]

d = new Date(); iRand = d.getTime() & 0xFFFF; strRef = ''; strRef += ' Banner Exchange - 1:1 plus we pay for your clicks!'; document.write( strRef );

2nd Amendment - RKBA::Legal

[About GunHoo] · [Add URL] · [Feedback] · [Peek @ Searches]

© Copyright 1996-2002 - C.E. Isdale
Generated:Sat Jan 26 22:19:57 2002

6 posted on 02/12/2002 4:28:40 AM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
It's a shame it closed again (this isn't the first time). I used it on many occasions and was invaluable in combatting the antis.
7 posted on 02/12/2002 4:29:54 AM PST by RogueIsland
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To: vannrox
Thanks. This is invaluable.
8 posted on 02/12/2002 4:31:14 AM PST by Wm Bach
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To: vannrox






Associated Press


Sign Up Here for News!

Enter your e-mail address to receive free news and updates from CLDF.



The Second Amendment

The Embarrassing Second Amendment
Sanford Levinson, University of Texas at Austin School of Law

Articles by John R. Lott Jr., Yale University Law School

A Citizen’s Guide to Federal Firearms Laws

Guide to Interstate Right-to-Carry Reciprocity

Compendium of State Firearms Laws

Second Amendment Law Library



National Rifle Association

Gun Owners of America

The Lawyer's Second Amendment Society, Inc.

Citizens of America

Gun Owners Alliance

Second Amendment Sisters

Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership


[ first amendment | second amendment | return to library | privacy laws ]

The Civil Liberties Defense Foundation (CLDF) was formed in 1999 for the purpose of providing educational information relating to the preservation of the civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution and to provide legal services necessary for the protection of those rights.

9 posted on 02/12/2002 4:33:52 AM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
If a link dies you can usually retrieve it through the Internet Archive. Try it--it's an amazing resource.
10 posted on 02/12/2002 4:34:43 AM PST by JimKalb
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To: Wm Bach
Thanks. More...

2nd Amendment, Constitution, Guns, gun related, law

"When we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans ..." "And so a lot of people say there's too much personal freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it. That's what we did in the announcement I made last weekend on the public housing projects, about how we're going to have weapon sweeps and more things like that to try to make people safer in their communities." President Bill Clinton, 3-22-94, MTV's "Enough is Enough"

The above quote is from a man who was elected to uphold the Constitution...not change it, not interpret it. This man has a track record of circumventing the Constitution, the office of the President, the Legislative branch and the Judicial branch through his many executive orders.

We are the descendents and recipients of one of the most noble, just and enlightened experiments ever seen on the face of the earth: The United States of America, a constitutional democratic republic, a government for the people and by the people....and we are losing it. God created us as free beings...not as chattel, minions or wards of the State.

NEW! 3 Mar 2000 Wayne Lapierre on NBC Today Show, Real Audio file

New 11 June 2000 Petition to GW Bush and Republican Party: No more gun laws!

Declaration of Independence
Bill of Rights
11-27 Amendments to the Constitution
Bill of Rights Seminar Program
Preamble to Bill of Rights
Bill of Rights - Preamble
Federalist Papers
Federalist .46
US Historical Documents
Know your Rights!

The Constitution Society
Constitutionalist Networking Center Excellent site
The Embarassing Second Amendment
Gun Control - Pros & Cons
Ten Myths About Gun Control
The 2nd amendment's purpose is to protect the other is the "Keystone Amendment."
The Second Amendment Foundation
The misconstruction of US v.Miller
2ndlawlib: Published academic scholarship on the Second Amendment
Second Amendment Law Library: Links
Welcome to The Lawyers Second Amendment Society (LSAS)
A/52/298..United Nations Proposal for total civilian disarmament
The Sociology of Prohibtion
US v. Miller
More 2nd amendment readings
Executive Orders Promoting Socialist Dictatorship
Presidential Executive Orders--Bonfire for the Constitution I
Bonfire for the Constitution II
Liberty Study CommitteeCongressional group against Executive Orders
Is your Representative in favor of restoring separation of powers?

THOMAS..Legistative Information on the InternetUp to date detailed site, searchable, for all Congress and Senate activity. A must have!
Official State's Websites
EPIC Bill Track:Tracking Privacy, Speech, and Cyber-Liberties Bills in the 106th Congress Stay vigilant
Congressional Voting on Gun issues

NACDL:Federalization of Criminal Law
Criminal Mischief: The Federalization of American Criminal Law
Interview with Chief of Police, Joe Hendricks
NY Law Journal:Too Many Federalized Crimes? Trade Secrets an Example
Future Police...various abstracts
Police Futurists International
Supreme Court of Oklahoma, State of Oklahoma Writ of Mandamus Demanding definitive rules pertaining to at-law (common law) actions; Rules governing filing & enforcement of at-law (common law) actions.
"Federalizing" Crime is Bad Idea
Federalization of Education

A/52/298..United Nations Proposal for total civilian disarmament
Background on UN proposal
More background on UN
Canadian International Firearms Registration
Official United Nations website
Australia Crime Stats since the gun ban
Gun Control is not Crime Control by Prof. Gary Mauser Excellent Canadian treatise
The Freedom Page Excellent Canadian pro-gun site

some quotes

GOA..Gunowners of America
Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership (National Rifle Association) Home Page
Voice of the People, Vox Populi, CAVOP, VOP
RKBA Homepage
Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners
GUN OWNERS'ACTION LEAGUE:The Official State Firearms Association of Massachusetts Excellent site
Gun Control: Whose side are you on? site, lots of resources
SECOND THOUGHTS: The webpage for the Armed Liberal
Mother's Arms A non-profit organization created to inform, educate and support the development of self-reliant women nationwide who consider it a fundamental right and responsibility to protect their children, their property and themselves from human aggression and assault. Excellent resource!!

Here you'll find 28 court cases (as precedence), showing the Police have no obligation to protect any individual person
Real Audio of Tom Selleck on Rosie show
CBS/Dan Rather "Reality Check on 2nd Amendment",Aug 2, 1999 Real Audio file
Anti-HCI site Excellent site! Note URL and the irony.
Communitarians, Neorepublicans, and Guns: Assessing the...a must read!
Brady Implementation: Instant Registration Check
ACLU Position on Gun Control Sublime hypocracy
Handgun Control, Inc. and The Center To Prevent Handgun Violence
GUNS IN AMERICA:Two close calls: Sarah Brady's husband was shot -- but son spurred her to act
GOAL: Women and GunsGUN OWNERS' ACTION LEAGUE The Official State Firearms Association of Massachusetts
Guns & Crime Test
HCI = Victim Disarmement
Canadian Firearms Homepage Tons of information
Firearm Issues for the Law Abiding
Gun Control
FMN: Media Spotlight, July 1998, Gun Rights
Should you carry a gun?
The Cavalier Daily April 21, 1995 Opinion Section -- Right to bear arms gives public security
A Statistical Comparison Of Homicide Rates In The Prairie Provinces And Four American Border States, 1978 - 1992
US Injury Mortality Statistics
Alberta Report October 13, 1997 Internet Edition
:Assault Rifles & Homicides
The Fifth Amendment, Self-Incrimination, and Gun Registration
Saint Bartolomew's Day Massacre...historical example of weapons control

Guns Laws Searchable base for each state!!
Mike's Concealed Carry Cross-Reference Page
LP News Nov97 - Vermont Libertarian gets gun law voided
Why Adopt A Vermont-style CCW Law?
Firearm Issues for the Law Abiding..CCW abuse

State Firearms Law Websites
United States Code good source for laws
Cornell: Supreme Court Decisions searchable database

FREE LEGAL ADVICE and law information. For an attorney or lawyer to advise you, visit Attorney Pages, Our Lawyer Directory.
Freedom of Information Act(FOIA):how to guide and info
Freedom of Information Act(FOIA):how to guide and info, downloadable zip file
Asset Forfeiture
An Intro to FA Identification
Anatomy of a Murder Home Page
An indictment is not an indication of guilt.
If an Agent Knocks
Fully Informed Jury Association. Know your rights,responsibilities and power as a juror

Tom Gresham's Radio show "GUN TALK" Very informative and fun, covers all gunrelated topics
Valkyrie Arms, Ltd. Browning M2 Page
Valkyrie Arms, Ltd. Home Page
THE GUN GUY - Front Page
THE GUN GUY - Page 8
Lethal Force
Dan Lungren, Pete Wilson, Lou Blanas, Glen Craig
Top 50 PAC's - Contributions to Candidates January 1, 1995 - December 31,
You Just Might Be a Gun Nut . . .
MSNBC - NRA elects Heston its president
Letters to the Editor
Alabama Libertarian Party...politics for the Thinking Redneck
Sorry, Charley!
Exploded Firearms Drawings index
Colt Automatic Pistols Home Page
GunSource - Your Online Source for Gun Classified Ads
ACLU Issues -- Counter-Terrorism
Liberty Central Home Page
GUNS: Gun Links
Usenet Post
Big Jim's Machinegun Sanctuary
Shotgun Report Home Page
.50 Caliber Shooters Association (FCSA)
Triple Ought by James Wesley, Rawles
Pissing off your do-gooder New York neighbors (fun!)

The following organizations have lent monetary, grassroots or some other type of direct support to anti-gun organizations. In many instances, these organizations lent their name in support of specific campaigns to pass anti-gun legislation such as the March 1995 HCI "Campaign to Protect Sane Gun Laws." Many of these organizations were listed as "Campaign Partners," for having pledged to fight any efforts to repeal the Brady Act and the Clinton "assault weapons" ban. All have officially endorsed anti-gun positions.<------Click for the listing


Go to the webring Homepage
the Right to Keep and Bear Arms webring
sponsored by
site owned by


11 posted on 02/12/2002 4:36:06 AM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
My goodness, what a hard working busy bee you are.

God bless people like you.


12 posted on 02/12/2002 4:36:35 AM PST by AAABEST
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To: JimKalb

This was published after the first closing...

Copyright 2000 Bill Clede. All rights reserved.
First published in Shotgun News, October 2000.

Gun Laws on the Web:

Laws, Lobbies and Lies

By Bill Clede

flint.jpg (127157 bytes)Regular readers may remember how excited I was to find the Second Amendment Law Library on the World Wide Web. It disappeared. Now it's back.

The Second Amendment Law Library ( is transitioning to a new corporation and participants. Norman Heath is its owner. Founders Mark Fuller and Dr. Steve West serve as technical and organizational advisors respectively. What makes this site different is that it is impartial, not affiliated with any gun interest group. It compiles laws, lobbies, and lies from other groups and leaves it up to you to decide what's true or false -- just as a library does.

The Second Amendment Law Library turned up among 68 sites found in a search on Yahoo for "gun + laws".

It features Law Journal articles on the Second Amendment and interesting materials on the subject including those by authors in other forums. State, federal, and Supreme Court decisions on the right to arms subdivide a section on Court Decisions. A History section includes historical documents pertaining to American and foreign origins of the right to arms. The final section is composed of a search utility, links and site background.

An Ask Jeeves search on "gun + laws" turned up many pertinent options. Jeeves first questioned back to me was if I wanted federal or state firearms laws. The next question offered me information on gun rights and gun controls from a choice of anti-gun organizations, objective gun control organizations, or pro-gun organizations.

Then I had to choose from links for and against gun control, feature articles on American gun control and other controversial subjects. Jeeves also offered me a pull down menu of Al Gore, George W. Bush, Pat Buchanan, and Ralph Nader positions on another pull down menu of subjects including gun control.

JURIST ( is the legal education network guide to gun laws, gun control, and gun rights. Launched at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in March 1997, JURIST is accessed 25,000 times per week by visitors from more than 90 countries. It provides an authoritative non-commercial forum in which law professors, students, lawyers, judges, journalists and citizens can share a wide range of legal information and ideas.

A News section presents the latest stories on guns, gun laws, gun control, gun rights, the right to bear arms, shootings, and firearms. News Releases includes releases from the National Rifle Association (NRA) Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), Handgun Control Inc. (HCI) and Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (CPHV).

A section on Current Cases includes links to other sites (courts, pro-gun and anti-gun) wherever there is a summary online. Similarly, Case Law links lead you to sources for information on such as Bryant V. United States (interpreting the Firearms Owners Protection Act), Hamilton v. Accu-Tek, Printz v. United States (holding the Brady Law background checks unconstitutional), United States v. Lopez (holding the gun free schools act of 1990 unconstitutional), United State v. Miller, and other Supreme Court, federal and state court decisions.

Under Studies and Reports, papers from the US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Center for Disease Control and other groups are included.

The Smoking Gun ( is a simple but attractive site. It brings you exclusive documents -- cool, confidential, quirky -- that can't be found elsewhere on the Web. Using material obtained from government and law enforcement sources, via Freedom of Information requests, and from court files nationwide. everything here is guaranteed to be 100% authentic.

ATF Online ( has all sorts of information including an FFL list offered for sale. The 93,000 FFL holders, except collectors of curious and relics, list is available to the public. List shows licensee name, trade name, mailing address, license number including type, and business phone number. Minimum charges are $109 for computer tape, $141.50 for print outs, $145.50 Cheshire labels and $233.00 for adhesive labels.

Also on ATF Online are links to Brady Law, Open letters to FFL licensees 1998, Q&A regarding permanent provisions of the Brady Law, Letters to licensees regarding transfer to aliens admitted under a nonimmigrant visa, Letters to licensees regarding pawnbroker transactions, and others.

CNN offers a page specifically on gun laws. Gun laws in the United States ( offers a map of the US. Click on a state and a form in the right frame shows you the state name, whether the state has a child access prevention law, a juvenile possession law, a juvenile sale/transfer law, and if a permit is required to purchase, register, license owners or permit to carry long guns and short guns.

Concealed Carry for Iowans site ( is an attractive page lobbying for a new law in that state. Concealed Carry for Ohioans ( lobbies for an Ohio law. Gun Owners of Arizona ( does the same for Arizona. Gun Owners Action League ( covers Massachusetts.

Luger Update

I should know better than to make an absolute statement where the Web is concerned. As soon as the Luger article appeared, the following email arrived.

"Dear Bill, I read your fine article about Luger sites in Shotgun News. I hate to differ with your assertion that there are no web sites "devoted solely to the Luger pistol", but if you click to the site below you will find out that there is. It is truly the one web sight for the purist Luger collector. Sometimes, while using a web search engine, you can inadvertently miss the obvious. Regards, Armonde Casagrande"

It includes links to many other Luger sites.

 Send feedback to Visit Bill's Web Site at

Top  Articles-Outdoors   Articles-Police   Articles-Computing  Home

NOW this is outdated...

13 posted on 02/12/2002 4:38:24 AM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox


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Main Index: Cases and Codes: U.S. Constitution: Second Amendment

U.S. Constitution: Second Amendment

Second Amendment - Bearing Arms

Amendment Text | Annotations 

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.



In spite of extensive recent discussion and much legislative action with respect to regulation of the purchase, possession, and transportation of firearms, as well as proposals to substantially curtail ownership of firearms, there is no definitive resolution by the courts of just what right the Second Amendment protects. The opposing theories, perhaps oversimplified, are an ''individual rights'' thesis whereby individuals are protected in ownership, possession, and transportation, and a ''states' rights'' thesis whereby it is said the purpose of the clause is to protect the States in their authority to maintain formal, organized militia units.1 Whatever the Amendment may mean, it is a bar only to federal action, not extending to state2 or private3 restraints. The Supreme Court has given effect to the dependent clause of the Amendment in the only case in which it has tested a congressional enactment against the constitutional prohibition, seeming to affirm individual protection but only in the context of the maintenance of a militia or other such public force.

In United States v. Miller,4 the Court sustained a statute requiring registration under the National Firearms Act of sawed-off shotguns. After reciting the original provisions of the Constitution dealing with the militia, the Court observed that ''[w]ith obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted with that end in view.''5 The significance of the militia, the Court continued, was that it was composed of ''civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.'' It was upon this force that the States could rely for defense and securing of the laws, on a force that ''comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense,'' who, ''when called for service . . . were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.''6 Therefore, ''[i]n the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than 18 inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well- regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.''7 

Since this decision, Congress has placed greater limitations on the receipt, possession, and transportation of firearms,8 and proposals for national registration or prohibition of firearms altogether have been made.9 At what point regulation or prohibition of what classes of firearms would conflict with the Amendment, if at all, the Miller case does little more than cast a faint degree of illumination toward an answer.


[Footnote 1] A sampling of the diverse literature in which the same historical, linguistic, and case law background is the basis for strikingly different conclusions is: Staff of Subcom. on the Constitution, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 97th Congress, 2d Sess., The Right to Keep and Bear Arms (Comm. Print 1982); Don B. Kates, Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment (1984); Gun Control and the Constitution: Sources and Explorations on the Second Amendment (Robert J. Cottrol, ed. 1993); Stephen P. Halbrook, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right (1984); Symposium, Gun Control, 49 Law & Contemp. Probs. 1 (1986); Sanford Levinson, The Embarrassing Second Amendment, 99 Yale L.J. 637 (1989).

[Footnote 2] Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 265 (1886). See also Miller v. Texas, 153 U.S. 535 (1894); Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 281-282 (1897). The non-application of the Second Amendment to the States is good law today. Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove, 695 F. 2d 261 (7th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 863 (1983).

[Footnote 3] United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1875).

[Footnote 4]  307 U.S. 174 (1939). The defendants had been released on the basis of the trial court determination that prosecution would violate the Second Amendment and no briefs or other appearances were filed on their behalf; the Court acted on the basis of the Government's representations.

[Footnote 5] Id. at 178.

[Footnote 6] Id. at 179.

[Footnote 7] Id. at 178. In Cases v. United States, 131 F. 2d 916, 922 (1st Cir. 1942), cert. denied, 319 U.S. 770 (1943), the court, upholding a similar provision of the Federal Firearms Act, said: ''Apparently, then, under the Second Amendment, the federal government can limit the keeping and bearing of arms by a single individual as well as by a group of individuals, but it cannot prohibit the possession or use of any weapon which has any reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.'' See Lewis v. United States, 445 U.S. 55, 65 n.8 (1980) (dictum: Miller holds that the ''Second Amendment guarantees no right to keep and bear a firearm that does not have 'some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia'''). See also Hickman v. Block, 81 F.3d 98 (9th Cir.) (plaintiff lacked standing to challenge denial of permit to carry concealed weapon, because Second Amendment is a right held by states, not by private citizens), cert. denied 117 S. Ct. 276 (1996); United States v. Gomez, 92 F.3d 770, 775 n.7 (9th Cir. 1996) (interpreting federal prohibition on possession of firearm by a felon as having a justification defense ''ensures that [the provision] does not collide with the Second Amendment'').

[Footnote 8] Enacted measures include the Gun Control Act of 1968. 82 Stat. 226, 18 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 921-928. The Supreme Court's dealings with these laws have all arisen in the context of prosecutions of persons purchasing or obtaining firearms in violation of a provisions against such conduct by convicted felons. Lewis v. United States, 445 U.S. 55 (1980); Barrett v. United States, 423 U.S. 212 (1976); Scarborough v. United States, 431 U.S. 563 (1977); United States v. Bass, 404 U.S. 336 (1971).

[Footnote 9] E.g., National Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws, Working Papers 1031-1058 (1970), and Final Report 246-247 (1971). LEGAL NEWS:  Top Headlines · Supreme Court · Commentary · Crime · Cyberspace · International
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14 posted on 02/12/2002 4:39:59 AM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
Excellent resource, thanks vann.
15 posted on 02/12/2002 4:39:59 AM PST by ScreamingFist
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To: vannrox; pete-r-bilt
mother lode!

thank you so much.

shoot straight. shoot safe. glock rocks

16 posted on 02/12/2002 4:40:01 AM PST by glock rocks
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To: vannrox
All may not be lost.

Google, in association with Internet Archive Wayback Machine, allows you to search old, out-of-date, no-longer-online websites that have been archived. You can use the IAWM search link.

I did an IAWM search on which shows pages as far back as 1997.
17 posted on 02/12/2002 4:41:14 AM PST by TomGuy
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To: JimKalb
Thanks JimKalb,

If a link dies you can usually retrieve it through the "Internet Archive".
Try it--it's an amazing resource

18 posted on 02/12/2002 4:42:38 AM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
I noticed that the dem party and the National Republican Party is listed as anti-rights organizations. I was going to protest the idea that the Republican party is against us and changed my mind. Our politicians are not exacttly champions of freedom. The dem party has decided over 35 years ago to destroy the 2nd amendment, but the Republican Party has gone along too many times to say that they are on our side. They have to kick out the RINO's as soon as possible so that they can start honoring the Bill of Rights.
19 posted on 02/12/2002 5:02:12 AM PST by Shooter 2.5
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To: glock rocks

The American Colonist's Library
A Treasury of Primary Documents

Primary Source Documents Pertaining to Early American History
An invaluable collection of historical works which contributed to the formation of American politics, culture, and ideals

The following is a massive collection of the literature and documents which were most relevant to the colonists' lives in America. If it isn't here, it probably is not available online anywhere.

This library is arranged in chronological sequence. (500 B.C.-1800 A.D.) Use Your Browser's FIND Function to Search this Library, or click on the dates below to be taken to that section:

500 B.C. - 500 A.D.
500 A.D - 1500
1500 - 1600
1600 - 1700
1700 -1800

American Colonists With Royal Ancestries A large number of American Colonists trace their roots back to the Kings and Queens of Europe. Here is a list of some of them.

Classical Literature Having Significant Influence Upon the American Colonists

Classic Philosophers and Poets,  Most of the founding fathers in America were thoroughly familiar with these Greco-Roman authors: e.g., Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Virgil.
Ancient and Medieval Classics, The Great Books of Western Civilization now available online. These writings provide the European framework of the cultural backdrop in which America was established.
The Latin Library, (Cicero, Livy, Horace, etc.) Ability to read these sources extemporaneously was an entrance requirement at colonial schools such as Harvard.
The Vulgate, The Holy Bible in Latin.
The Bible, The best Bible online, which allows the user to immediately discover the Hebrew and Greek words behind the English words.
The Bible, This book was, of course, the most influential piece of literature in Colonial America.
St. Augustine, The church father of choice among American Puritans.
St. Augustine, English translations of his works on predestination which greatly influenced the Puritans. 


Major Medieval Sources Having Significant Influence Upon the American Colonists

Ordinance of William the Conqueror Sowing the seeds of separation of Church and State in the English world.
Laws of William the Conqueror
Constitutions of Clarendon (1164) Established rights of laymen and the church in England.
Assize of Clarendon (1166) Defined rights and duties of courts and people in criminal cases. Foundation of the principle of "due process."
Assize of Arms (1181) Defined rights and duties of people and militias.
Magna Carta (1215) One of the American colonists' most revered documents, the Magna Carta established the principle that no one, not even the king or a lawmaker, is above the law of God.
De Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Angliæ, Henry de Bracton (1268) This text was the most important legal treatise written in England in the medieval period as it organized, systematized, and explicated the principles of English Common Law later embraced by the American colonists.
Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas (1265-1273) Pinnacle of Scholasticism. Covering a wide range of topics, by the colonial times, most educated people in the Western world were thoroughly familiar with this important text.
Marco Polo's Travels [excerpt] (@1300), the description of the South Pacific which inspired Columbus to attempt to go to India by way of the Atlantic.
The First Manual of Parliamentary Procedure (@ 1350)
An English Law Library, The sources studied by many of the lawyers who founded the U.S.
The Declaration of Arbroath (1320) Scotland's declaration of independence from England. An early model for the U.S. Declaration, this document ends with a phrase parallel to that of the U.S. Declaration: "and to Him as the Supreme King and Judge we commit the maintenance of our cause, casting our cares upon Him and firmly trusting that He will inspire us with courage and bring our enemies to nought."

Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century Sources Profoundly Impacting the History of America

Malleus Maleficarum, Directions for witch hunting (1486)
Journal, Christopher Columbus, (1492). This document begins with Columbus' statement that the reason why Isabella sponsored his voyage was for the sake of going to India to convert Khan to Roman Catholicism.
Epistola De Insulis Nuper Inventis, Christopher Columbus (1493)
Letter to the King and Queen of Spain, Christopher Columbus (1494)
Prince Henry VII's Commission to John Cabot (1497) Cabot was the first Englishman to discover New England.
The Prince, Machiavelli (1513) Practical advice on governance and statecraft, with thoughts on the kinds of problems any government must be able to solve to endure.
Works of Martin Luther, The father of the Protestant Reformation, his principles were a major part of the American colonists' worldview.
On Secular Authority, Luther (1523). This document started the political discussion about religious liberty which led to the American Revolution. In this document Luther sets forth the idea of "two kingdoms," one is political and the other is spiritual, and the two ought be separate. President James Madison commended this "due distinction, to which the genius and courage of Luther led the way, between what is due to Caesar and what is due to God." (Madison to F.L. Schaeffer, December 3, 1821).
The Bondage of the Will, Luther (1524). Luther claimed that this particular document was the cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation; it argues the idea of predestination and God's sovereignty, two principles which were paramount to many of the American colonists.
The Act of Supremacy, Henry VIII (1534). By this act, the English Reformation began, and the pope was stripped of his jurisdiction over the English Church. This allowed Lutheran principles to make their way into the English church, and led to the birth of Puritanism.
Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin (1540). Calvin's magnum opus. The most celebrated American historian, George Bancroft, called Calvin "the father of America," and added: "He who will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty." To John Calvin and the Genevan theologians, President John Adams credited a great deal of the impetus for religious liberty (Adams, WORKS, VI:313). This document includes a justification for rebellion to tyrants by subordinate government officials; this particular justification was at the root of the Dutch, English, and American Revolutions.
The Journey of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza De Vaca (1542)
Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies, Bartolome de la Casas (1542)
On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies, Copernicus (1543). This document touched off the Scientific Revolution as it repudiated the Geocentric theory and asserted a Heliocentric theory of the solar system.
The Council of Trent (1545) The Roman Catholic responses to the Protestant Reformation.
Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius Loyola (1548). Rules for the Jesuits written by the founder of the Jesuit Order.
The Genevan Book of Order (1556) The Form of Prayers and Ministration of the Sacraments, etc. Used in the English Congregation at Geneva
A Short Treatise on Political Power, John Ponet, D.D. (1556) President John Adams credited this Calvinist document as being at the root of the theory of government adopted by the the Americans. According to Adams, Ponet's work contained "all the essential principles of liberty, which were afterward dilated on by Sidney and Locke" including the idea of a three-branched government. (Adams, Works, vol. 6, pg. 4). Published in Strassbourg in 1556, it is one of the first works out of the Reformation to advocate active resistance to tyrannical magistrates, with the exception of the Magdeburg Bekkentis (the Magdeburg Confession).
How Superior Powers Ought to Be Obeyed by Their Subjects, Christopher Goodman (1558). Justifying a Christian's right to resist a tyrannical ruler. Goodman indicated that he had presented the thesis of this book to John Calvin, and Calvin endorsed it.
The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, John Knox (1558). A vigorous critique of the tyranny of "Bloody Mary's" reign in England, and a call to resist. A large portion of the Americans who fought in the American Revolution were adherents to Knox's doctrines as set forth in this document.
Act of Supremacy, Elizabeth I (1559). After the brief and bloody reign of her sister, Mary I, who executed numerous Protestants for the cause of Roman Catholicism, this document states Elizabeth's intention to reaffirm the English Church's independence from Rome. Her beloved status among her subjects caused the first settlers of America to name their colony "Virginia" in honor of this virgin queen.
Complete Works of Elizabeth I, Including her letters and her poems.
Writings and Speeches of Elizabeth I
Foxe's Book of Martyrs (1563). Detailing the bloody persecutions of Puritans during the reign of Mary I, this book was second only to the Bible in its popularity in the American colonies.
Supralapsarian Calvinism, Theodore Beza (1570) Laying out the principle that God willed and predestined the fall of Adam and the existence of sin and evil. This assertion became the most controversial philosophical conflict among American colonists up through the 19th century.
The Scholemaster (1570) Philosophy of Education among English people, particularly with respect to the importance of learning Latin.
The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1571) The official statement of faith of the Church of England; this document formally adopts the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination and repudiates common notion of "free will."
Treasons Act  (1571) Forbidding criticism of Queen Elizabeth.
The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1572)
The Right of Magistrates Over Their Subjects, Theodore Beza (1574). Expanding upon Calvin's political resistance theory set forth in the final chapters of his Institutes, this work by Calvin's successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza, was published in response to the growing tensions between Protestant and Catholic in France, which culminated in the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre in 1572. This text suggests that it is the right of a Christian to revolt against a tyrannical King: a principle central to the American colonists' cause.
Of the Tabaco and of His Greate Vertues, Nicholas Monardes (1577)
The Works of Sir Walter Raleigh, Sponsor of the First Settlements in Virginia
De Jure Regni apud Scotos, George Buchanan (1579) Considered the most important piece of political writing in the 16th century as it articulated the doctrine of "the rule of law."
Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, or, A Vindication Against Tyrants (1579). This Calvinist document is one of the first to set forth the theory of "social contract" upon which the United States was founded. The idea was disseminated through the English Calvinists to the pen of John Locke, and eventually into the Declaration of Independence. John Adams reported the relevance of this document to the American struggle.
The Dutch Declaration of Independence (1581); This Calvinistic document served as a model for the U.S. Declaration of Independence. In his Autobiography, Jefferson indicated that the "Dutch Revolution" gave evidence and confidence to the Second Continental Congress that the American Revolution could likewise commence and succeed. Recent scholarship has has suggested that Jefferson may have consciously drawn on this document. John Adams said that the Dutch charters had "been particularly studied, admired, and imitated in every State" in America, and he stated that "the analogy between the means by which the two republics [Holland and U.S.A.] arrived at independency... will infallibly draw them together."
A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, Thomas Hariot.
Discourse of Western Planting, Richard Hakluyt, (1584)
First Voyage To Virginia, Arthur Barlowe (1584)
Adam Winthrop's Commonplace Book (1586) Early diary of a Puritan whose family eventually settled in America.
The Colony of Roanoke, Ralph Lane (1586). The first English attempt at colonizing the New World
Return To Roanoake, John White (1590) Relating the surprise of the loss of the Roanoake colony and the few clues left regarding their fate.
An Act Against Papists (1593) Parliament's tough words against those who would attempt to depose Elizabeth for her Protestantism.
Works of Richard Hooker (1593) Anglican political commentator and major influence upon John Locke.
A Trew Law of Free Monarchs, James I Stuart (1598). Championed the doctrine of "Divine Right of Kings." This oppressive political theory contributed to the exodus of the Puritans to America in 1630, and resistance to it was the ultimate goal of three revolutions: 1) the Puritan Revolution of the 1640s, 2) the Glorious Revolution, and 3) the American Revolution.
The Dutie of A King, Sir Walter Raleigh (1599) Promoting the doctrine of "Divine Right of Kings."
The Geneva Bible, 1599 update of the translation made by the Puritans in Geneva 1560. This was the Bible of choice in New England. These are the footnotes which provide a Calvinistic theological interpretation of the Bible

Seventeenth Century Sources Relating to American History

Colonial Maps
Charters of all the Colonies
Original Dictionaries of the 16th & 17th Centuries, six bilingual dictionaries -- John Palsgrave (1530; English-French), Sir Thomas Elyot (1538; Latin- English), William Thomas (1550; Italian-English), Thomas Thomas (1587; Latin-English), John Florio (1598; Italian-English), and Randle Cotgrave (1611; French-English) -- these give pairs of French, Italian, and Latin dictionaries, each pair separated by 50-80 years; four English hard-word dictionaries -- Edmund Coote (1596), Robert Cawdrey (1604; courtesy of Raymond Siemens), John Bullokar (1616), and Henry Cockeram (1623) -- and one English word-list by Richard Mulcaster (1582); the first full English-only dictionary -- Thomas Blount (1656).
Queen Elizabeth's Farewell (1601)
The Works of King James I
Voyages, Samuel de Champlain (1604)
Primary Sources Pertaining to the Gunpowder Plot (1605)
The First Virginia Charter (1606)
Instructions for the Virginia Colony (1606)
Works of Francis Bacon, Identified by Jefferson as one of his three most profound influences.
Works of Shakespeare
The Settlement at Jamestown, John Smith (1607) Including the famous account of Smith being saved by Pocahontas.
The Foundation of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain (1608)
Full Text of Robert Juet's Journal (1609)
The Second Virginia Charter (1609)
John Smyth's Confession (1609) the religion of a Baptist.
The Church At Jamestown, William Strachey (1610)
The Third Virginia Charter (1612)
Good News From Virginia, Alexander Whitaker (1613)
An Ordinance and Constitution of the Virginia Company in England for a Council
Pocahontas, John Smith (1616)
The Starving Time, John Smith.
Laws of Virginia (1610)
Pory to Carelton from Jamestown (1619)
Laws in Virginia (1619)
Jamestown Laws
Indentured Servant's Contract (1619)
Works of Arminius Arminius was a Dutchman who dared to challenge Luther and Calvin on the predestination issue. His writings led to a major controversy in Holland while the "Pilgrims" were residing there. Arminius's views were adopted by Archbishop Laud of England, which greatly contributed to the English Calvinists' desire to leave England in 1630.
Canons of Dort (1619). The Synod at Dort in the Netherlands was called to respond to the views of the Arminians. Participating in this Synod moderated by Gomarus was the leader of the Pilgrims, as well as William Ames (the leading Puritan theologian of the day). As a result of this synod, the "five points of Calvinism" were developed. The "five points," also called TULIP, became a centerpiece of Puritanism and were ardently defended by American Calvinists such as Jonathan Edwards. The conflict between Calvinists and Arminians was perhaps the most explosive debate in America in the early 18th century. On the Calvinist side, Americans such as Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Edwards wrote philosophical defenses; on the Arminian side, John Wesley was the premiere mouthpiece. While Madison wrote in defense of Calvinism, Thomas Jefferson utterly repudiated it.
Charter of New England (1620)
Mayflower Compact (1620). The first political covenant of the New England migration.
Of State and General Assembly, 24 July 1621.
Of Plymouth Plantation (Written 1630-1654, first published 1854). This is Governor William Bradford's history of Plymouth, the most comprehensive primary source available on early Plymouth.
Of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford. An eyewitness history of the first English settlers of New England.
Mourt's Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. (London, 1622). This journal, written by several Pilgrims--namely William Bradford and Edward Winslow--records events at Plymouth from the Mayflower's arrival in November 1620 through the First Thanksgiving in October 1621, and everything in between.
The Sin and Danger of Self-Love (1621) There were no clergymen among the pilgrims at Plymouth when they first settled. This sermon was written and given by a layman, Robert Cushman, to the Plymouth congregation in December 1621. Robert Cushman was a member of the Pilgrims church in Leyden, Holland, and came on (and returned in) the ship Fortune.
Letters of the Plymouth Settlers
Letter of an Indentured Servant (1623)
Last Wills and Testaments of the Settlers at Plymouth  We can tell a lot about a culture by looking at their wills.
Good Newes from New England (London, 1624). This book, authored by Edward Winslow, continues the journal in Mourt's Relation, covering the years 1622 and 1623 at Plymouth.
An Appeal for War Against Spain (1624)
Of the Law of War and Peace, Hugo Grotius (1625, Latin) One of the first works on international law.
Account of the Purchase of Manhattan (1626) The source of the $24 dollar legend.
The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, Sir Edward Coke (1628) Written by a Puritan leader of Parliament, this document was almost the only textbook for lawyers (e.g., Jefferson) during the American Colonial Period. Coke's influence over the minds of American politicians is inestimable. Clear traces between Coke and the U.S. Constitution are apparent in this work.
The Petition of Right, Sir Edward Coke (1628). This document set forth complaints of the members of Parliament to King Charles I regarding rights of due process. Charles did not receive this complaint warmly. As a result, Charles I shut down Parliament, which ultimately culminated in the English Civil War, and contributed to the exodus of 20,000 Puritans to New England.
Protests of the House of Commons, Documents showing the growth of Parliament's hatred for King Charles I, first complaining against his closet Catholicism, his Arminianism, and his presumptuousness in levying taxes without the consent of Parliament.
Experiencia, John Winthrop. A Journal of Religious Experiences.
The Salem Covenant (1629)
Charter of Massachusetts Bay (1629). This document sets forth the Puritans' commission in New England.
The Library of John Winthrop's Father, A catalogue of the books available for the Puritan Laywer who founded Boston.
Pratt's Memoir of the Wessagussett Plantation, (1622/23)
Reasons for the Plantation in New England (circa 1628). This document states clearly and forcefully that the motivations of the Puritans who came to New England @ 1630 were fundamentally religious.
Adventurers who founded the Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth (1628-1630)
Savage's Genealogical Dictionary of New England This comprehensive source lists the entire families who lived in New England in the early 17the century.
A Short and True Description of New England, by the Rev. Francis Higginson (1629)
The Cambridge Agreement among the leaders of the settlement (1629)
History of the First Settlements as told by Capt. John Smith, Admiral of New England (1629)
The Constitution of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay (1629)
Medulla Theologica (The Marrow of Theology), William Ames (1629). The Medulla was the principal required textbook in the Ivy League in the American Colonial Period. One cannot adequately grasp the intellectual climate of New England without understanding the concepts in this book. The following two sections on the Decrees of God and Predestination highlight the central peculiarities of Puritan theology. Ames was unequivocal in stating that God controls the universe and that humans do not "change" or "determine" God's behavior in any way.
The Marrow of Theology, William Ames (1629), Excerpts.
A Model of Christian Charity by John Winthrop (1630). A sermon preached aboard one of the ships carrying the Puritans to New England.
The Boston Covenant (1630)
The Watertown Covenant (1630)
The Humble Request of the Puritan emigrants (1630)
The Oath of a Freeman, including a list of men who took this oath (1630-36)
Advertisements to Planters of New England, by Capt. John Smith (1631)
Advertisements, continued, by Capt. John Smith (1631)
Letter to William Pond (1631)
The Indictment of Galileo (1633) The height of the conflict between religion and science.
The Glorious Work in Maryland, Andrew White, S.J. (1633)
Account of A Maryland Jesuit (1634)
Excerpts From Lion Gardiner's Journal (1635)
The Constitution of Plymouth Colony (1636)
The Salem Covenant (1636)
The Dedham Covenant (1636)
Winthrop's Testimony (1636), the Boston Governor's account of his Christian experience.
John Cotton Condemns Democracy (1636)
Transcript of The Trial of Anne Hutchinson (1636)
Revels in New Canaan, Thomas Morton (1637)
Description of Indians, Thomas Morton (1637)
Essay Against the Power of the Church To Sit in Judgement on the Civil Magistracy, John Winthrop, Esq. (1637) A treatise indicating an early desire among the Puritans to keep church and state separate.
Officers of the Commonwealth from 1630 to 1686.
Freemen of the Commonwealth: the complete rolls from 1630 to 1636.
Sermons of Thomas Shephard
Letter of Thomas Shephard to his son at Harvard College
Residents of New Towne, (later called Cambridge) from the original town Court records, 1632-1635, alphabetized.
The Memoir of Capt. Roger Clapp (1609 -1691) Events in Massachusetts Bay Colony to about the year 1640.
The National Covenant (1639) Scotland's declaration of resistance to Charles I.
Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639) Acknowledged by scholars to be a prototype of the U.S. constitution.
The New Hampshire Compact (1639)
The Exeter Covenant (1639)
Description of New England Indians, William Wood (1639)
John Winthrop's Journal, John Winthrop (excerpts), Tremendous and valuable insights into the mind of the Puritan leader.
The Wicked Capitalism of Robert Keayne, John Winthrop (1639) A merchant named Robert Keayne was practicing capitalistic economics in Boston and was squarely rebuked for it by John Cotton and Governor Winthrop.
Laws Regulating the Price of Tobacco in Virginia (1639-40)
A Brief Discourse Concerning the Power of Peers, John Selden (1640)
The First Constitution of Rhode Island (1640) A document guaranteeing liberty of conscience.
The Bay Psalm Book (1640) With an Introduction written by Richard Mather.
New England's First Fruits, The first written history regarding the founding of Harvard College (@1640)
Court Records of Springfield, Massachusetts, Including information about crimes and punishments.
Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641) Early written expression of the liberties asserted by the colonists in reaction to the oppressions of European governments.
The Citizen, Thomas Hobbes (1641-47) Discussion of the natural law foundations of government.
Protestation (1641) An oath taken by British citizens loyal to the Puritan interests in Parliament.
Declaration to Justify Their Proceedings and Resolutions to Take Up Arms (1642) Thomas Jefferson, in his Autobiography,said that this Puritan "precedent" was an inspiration to the American cause.
The True Constitution of a Particular Visible Church, by John Cotton (1642)
Massachusetts Bay School Laws (1642) Requiring that every father teach his children the Catechism; if not, the children shall be taken from the home.
Harvard College Admission and Graduation Requirements (1642-1700)
Jesuit Encounters With the Indians (1642-43)
The Establishment of the United Colonies of New England (1643) The first attempt at a union of colonies, foreshadowing the United States. This document combines several colonies together for the primary purpose of national defense. This is the first document resembling a federal constitution in America.
Religio Medici, Thomas Browne (1643) The Religion of a Physician; showing the link between religion and Enlightenment science in the 17th century.
The Bloody Tenet of Persecution for the Cause of Conscience, Roger Williams
A Plea for Religious Liberty, Roger Williams (1644) Early expression of the principle of religious tolerance by the founder of the colony of Rhode Island.
The Solemn League and Covenant (1643-44) The document which allied the Scotch Presbyterians and the Puritans in their struggle against Charles I.
First-Hand Military Accounts of the English Civil War
Lex Rex, Samuel Rutherford (1644). This treatise systematized the Calvinistic political theories which had developed over the previous century. Rutherford was a colleague of John Locke's parents. Most of John Locke's Second Treatise on Government is reflective of Lex Rex. From Rutherford and other Commonwealthmen such as George Lawson, through Locke, these theorists provided the roots of the Declaration of Independence. This page provides the list of questions Lex Rexaddresses.
Lex, Rex, Samuel Rutherford (1644). This excerpt shows Rutherford's social contract theory and includes the Puritan theory of resistance to a tyrant.
Areopagitica, John Milton (1644). A treatise arguing that true Christianity can win its own arguments, and does not need to worry about challenges from other points of view, and therefore, the Government should not prevent the publication of any ideas. This idea was later articulated by Locke in his Letters Concerning Toleration, and picked up by Madison and Jefferson in their establishment of religious liberty in the U.S.
A Description of New Amsterdam by Isaac Joques (1644)
Description of the Iroquois, Rev. John Megapolensis (1644)
Massachusetts Government Vindicated, John Winthrop (1644)
On Liberty, John Winthrop (1645) Discusses liberties demanded by the colonists.
Hypocricie Unmasked (London, 1646). This is a religious treatise written by Edward Winslow.
The Character of A Puritan, John Geree (1646)
The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) In addition to being the decree of Parliament as the standard for Christian doctrine in the British Kingdom, it was adopted as the official statement of belief for the colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut. Although slightly altered and called by different names, it was the creed of Congregationalist, Baptist, and Presbyterian Churches throughout the English speaking world. Assent to the Westminster Confession was officially required at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Princeton scholar, Benjamin Warfield wrote: "It was impossible for any body of Christians in the [English] Kingdoms to avoid attending to it."
The Westminster Catechism (1646) Second only to the Bible, the "Shorter Catechism" of the Westminster Confession was the most widely published piece of literature in the pre-revolutionary era in America. It is estimated that some five million copies were available in the colonies. With a total population of only four million people in America at the time of the Revolution, the number is staggering. The Westminster Catechism was not only a central part of the colonial educational curriculum, learning it was required by law. Each town employed an officer whose duty was to visit homes to hear the children recite the Catechism. The primary schoolbook for children, the New England Primer, included the Catechism. Daily recitations of it were required at these schools. Their curriculum included memorization of the Westminster Confession and the Westminster Larger Catechism. There was not a person at Independence Hall in 1776 who had not been exposed to it, and most of them had it spoon fed to them before they could walk.
A Petition to Establish the Laws of England in America (1646)
New England's Salamander Discovered (London, 1647). This is another religious treatise written by Edward Winslow.
The Old Deluder Act (1647)
The Simple Cobbler of Aggawamm in America, Nathaniel Ward (1647).
An Agreement of the People (1647) A proposal for a republican government in England.
The Laws of Massachusetts (1648)
The Treaty of Westphalia (1648) An attempt at religious peace in Europe.
Blue Laws, New Haven
The Original Indian Deed for East-Hampton (1648)
The Cambridge Platform (1649)
The Maryland Toleration Act (1649)
King Charles I's Speech at His Trial (1649); Including Judge Bradshaw's response appealing to social contract theory.
The Execution of Charles I Stuart (1649)
King Charles I's Speech Just Before His Execution (1649)
Of the Non-Compelling of Heathens, Samuel Rutherford (1649) Exploring the extent to which a government can coerce religious conformity.
An Agreement of the Free People of England (1649) The manifesto of the Levellers, the leaders of the 1649 English Civil War that deposed Charles I and brought a period of parliamentary rule. It expresses many of the ideals that later inspired the American Revolution.
The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1650) by John Milton in defense of the execution of Charles I by the British Parliament a few days after its occurence. It includes an excellent evaluation and summation of the political literature produced on the Continent in the 16th Century. Charles I was the first monarch executed in Europe by his subjects, setting the stage for a religious struggle which would grip Britain for several decades to come. The language and spelling of this edition has been done directly from the 1650 edition.
Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes (1651) Laid basis for social contract theory, providing branching point for the theories of constitutionalism and fascism.
Salem Residents, to the year 1651
The Gospel Covenant, Rev. Peter Bulkely (1651)
Sumptuary Laws in New England (1651) Laws regarding what one may and may not wear.
The Deed Assignment to the Inhabitants of East-Hampton (1651)
The Instrument of Government, 1653; The Constitution of the English Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. Many of the founders, such as Samuel Adams, considered Oliver Cromwell their hero, and considered the Commonwealth as the glory years of England.
Healing Question, Sir Henry Vane, 1656, published the following tract, expounding the principles of civil and religious liberty, and proposed that method of forming a constitution, through a convention called for the purpose, which was actually followed in America after the Revolution.
The Commonwealth of Oceana, James Harrington (1656) Outline of a plan for republican government.
The Flushing Remonstrance (1657) Proclamation granting liberty to "Jews, Muslims, and Quakers" on Long Island, New York, on the grounds of New Testament graciousness. Extremely progressive for the American colonies.
Goody Garlick Testimony in Witchcraft Trial (1657)
Forward to the Revision of the New Plymouth Laws (1658)
A Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes; Showing That it Is Not Lawful For Any Power on Earth to Compel in Matters of Religion, John Milton (1659). A formative influence upon the ideals of religious toleration adopted by John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.
The Declaration of Breda, King Charles II Stuart (1660), As the Stuart King was to be restored to the throne after the end of the reign of the Puritan Protectorates, one of his first decisions was to attempt to avoid another religious war, by granting religious liberty to "tender consciences," so long as they did not disturb the peace.
The Restoration of Charles II to the Throne of England (1660); A Declaration of Both Houses of Parliament.
Excerpts from the Navigation Acts, 1660-1696, The first Parliamentary legislation toward the colonies which would lead to the colonial rebellion of the eighteenth century.
Institutes of Elenctic Theology, [excerpt on predestination] Francis Turretin (1660) The principle textbook used by students in American colleges in the 18th century (used at Princeton into the late 19th century).
Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Francis Turretin (1660). Excerpts.
Narrative of the Pequot War, Lion Gardiner (1660)
Narrative of the Pequot War, John Mason
The Status of Religion in Virginia (1661)
Court Records Dealing with Runaway Slaves in Virginia
Virginia Fornication Laws
The Book of Common Prayer (1662) As the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell came to an end and Charles II was restored to the throne of England, the Church of England once again introduced a new Book of Common Prayer. This was the guiding document for many throughout the American colonies, particularly in Virginia
The Anglican Catechism (1662) The document which provided the religious training for many of the founding fathers of the U.S. (e.g., Washington, Madison, Henry, Wythe, Mason).
Connecticut Colony Charter (1662)
Deposition of Phineas Pratt (1662) Recounting the settlement at Plymouth
The Day of Doom and other Poems, Michael Wigglesworth (1662)
Death Penalties in Maryland (1664)
Fines and Punishments in Massachusetts (1664-1682)
Witchcraft Trials in New York (1665)
Excerpts From The Duke of York's Laws (1665-75)
A Description of Carolina, Robert Horne (1666)
The Nicolls Patent (1666)
Paradise Lost, John Milton (1667)
Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, John Locke (1669)
Theologico-Political Treatise, Baruch de Spinoza (1670) Discussed the ultimate source of legitimate political power.
Groton in Witchcraft Times, Samuel Green, ed. (c.1671)
De Jure Naturae, Samuel Puffendorf (1672, tr. Basil Kennett 1703)
De Officio Hominis Et Civis Juxta Legem Naturalem Libri Duo, Samuel Pufendorf (1673). The political theorist of choice among American Puritans in the early 18th century.
Works of John Bunyan, According to Ben Franklin's Autobiography, Bunyan was his "favorite author."
Barclay's Apology, Robert Barclay (1675). A Quaker treatise later used in favor of American Independence.
First Thanksgiving Proclamation (1676)
A Compleat Body of Divinity, Samuel Willard. The primary textbook used at Harvard College.
The New England Primer, The best-selling textbook used by children in the colonial period. Millions of copies were in print. Filled with Calvinist principles, the influence of this little document is inestimable.
Memoir... Dangers That Threaten Canada and the Means to Remedy Them, January 1687
Bacon's Declaration in the Name of the People, 30 July 1676
On Bacon's Rebellion, Governor William Berkely, 19 May 1676
The Captivity of Mary Rowlandson (1676)
Political Treatise, Baruch de Spinoza (1677) Constitutional considerations of various forms of government, including ideas that later influenced the Founders.
Anne Bradstreet's Poetry (1678)
Poems for Her Husband, Anne Bradstreet (1678)
Edward Taylor's Poems
Habeas Corpus Act (1679) English Parliament established key right which was embraced in America.
Findings of the New England Synod (1679), a "Jeremiad."
Patriarcha, Robert Filmer. A treatise defending the "divine right of Kings." This was the document which Locke and Sydney both had in mind as they wrote their political tracts which formed the American founders' political theory. Although this was written around 1640 in defense of Charles I's divine right, it was not published until 1680.
Bill to Exclude the Duke of York (1680), Attempts by the Whig Party to keep James II off the throne.
Proposals for the Carrying on the Negro's Christianity, Morgan Goodwyn (1681).
Plato Redivivus, Henry Neville (1681)
Frame of Government of Pennsylvania, William Penn (1682) Early model for written constitutions.
Some Fruits of Solitude In Reflections And Maxims, William Penn (1682)
William Penn to His Family (1682)
Petition for a Democratic Government (1682)
Condemnation of the Massachussetts Bay Company, Edward Randolph, 12 June 1683
The Original Constitution of New York (1683)
Causes of King Phillip's War, Edward Randolph (1685)
Instructions to Sir Edmund Andros (1686)
Charter of East Hampton (1686)
Commercial Orders to Governor Andros (1686-1687)
Principia, Isaac Newton (1687) One of the three most significant influences upon Jefferson.
On the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural Law, Samuel Pufendorf (1688) Based law and right on natural law.
James II Creates the Dominion of New England, April 7, 1688
Parliament Invites William of Orange to England (1688)
Declaration of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal (1688) Parliament pledges its loyalty to William and Mary.
The Full Text of Huntington's Declaration of Rights
Orders For Sending Sir Edmund Andros To England (1689)
The King's Oath (1689) Established the requirement that the monarch uphold "the Protestant reformed religion"
English Bill of Rights (1689) Early model for recognizing natural rights in writing. Much of its language appeared later in the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.
Second Treatise on Government John Locke (1689) Principal proponent of the social contract theory which forms the basis for modern constitutional republican government.
A Letter Concerning Toleration, John Locke (1689) Classic statement of the case for toleration of those holding different views.
The Reasonableness of Christianity, John Locke.
Toleration Act of William and Mary (1689)
The Boston Uprising, Samuel Prince (1689)
The London Confession of Faith (1689) Drawn from the Westminster Confession, this document set for the beliefs of English Baptists during this era.
The Re-Establishment of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland (1690)
Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions, Cotton Mather (1698)
Discourses Concerning Government, Table of Contents. Algernon Sidney (1698) Built principles of popular government from foundation of natural law and the social contract. This book has been considered by scholars the "textbook of the American Revolution."
Discourses Concerning Government, Algernon Sidney, excerpts.
Journal of George Fox, Founder of the Quakers.
Transcripts of the Salem Witch Trials (1692) This is one of the web's best and most complete primary source documents, containing all of the court records of the Salem Witch trials. An invaluable resource.
Salem Witch Trials: Other Primary Sources
The Confession of Anne Foster at Salem (1692)
Wonders of the Invisible World (excerpts), Cotton Mather (1693)
Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits, Increase Mather (1693)
The Character of a Good Ruler, Samuel Willard (1694)
Penn's Plan for a Union (1697)
Judge Samuel Sewall Repents His Participation in the Salem Witch Trials (1697)
The Story of Squanto, Cotton Mather (1698)
The Execution of Hugh Stone, Cotton Mather (1698)
An Account of West Jersey and Pennsylvania, Gabriel Thomas (1698)

Eighteenth Century Sources Which Profoundly Impacted American History

One Hundred Documents Pertaining to Africans and Slavery in America Massive collection of primary sources regarding slavery in America.
The Selling of Joseph, Samuel Sewall (1700) An argument against the slave trade.
A Memorial Representing the Present State of Religion on the Continent of North America, Thomas Bray, D.D. (1700) Documenting the Anglican view of the colonists and appended with a proposition to found the SPG (Society for Progating the Gospel).
King William Addresses Parliament on the French Question, 31 December 1701
A Christian At His Calling, Cotton Mather (1701)
Magnalia Christi Americana, Cotton Mather (1702)
Robert Beverley on Bacon's Rebellion (1704)
Money and Trade Considered With a Proposal for Supplying the Nation with Money, by John Law (1705)
Slave Laws in Virginia (1642-1705)
The Repentance of a Salem Witchcraft Accuser, Ann Putnam (1706)
Act of Union (1707) The document creating "Great Britain"
Philosophical Commentary, Pierre Bayle (1708) A writer recommended by Thomas Jefferson, Bayle criticised French Catholic persecution of Protestants; and argued for toleration as a matter of Biblical principle.
William Byrd's Diary [excerpt] (1709)
William Byrd's Diary [excerpts regarding slave punishments] (1709)
Theopolis Americana ("God's City: America"), Cotton Mather (1709) This excerpt from Mather's sermon shows how Mather, with other Puritans, believed that America was truly the "Promised Land." This thinking led ultimately to the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, whereby Anglo-Americans believed that it was their divine commission to spread their culture from Atlantic to Pacific.
Awakening Truths Tending to Conversion, Increase Mather (1710). A sermon wrestling with the paradox between predestination and man's effort toward salvation. Mather appears nearly contradictory throughout.
About the Duties of Husbands and Wives, Benjamin Wadsworth (1712)
Curriculum of the Boston Latin Grammar School (1712)
The History of the Common Law of England, Matthew Hale (1713)
Documents Concerning the Jacobite Rebellion
The North Carolina Biennal Act (1715)
Vindication of the Government of New England Churches, John Wise (1717) A Puritan political sermon which included most of the principles of government embraced by the founders of the U.S.
The Angel of Bethesda, Cotton Mather. Here, as a watershed in the history of medical science in America, Mather takes a position in favor of inoculation.
Selections from Cato's Letters, John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon (1720-23) English newspaper articles advocating Whig principles, which much influenced the American colonists.
Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy A model for a federal system of government for several Native American nations, Franklin lauded the Iroquois for their ability to confederate.
Statutes of the College of William and Mary (1727) The rules governing the college where Thomas Jefferson received his training.
Massachusetts House of Representatives on the Governor's Salary, 11 September 1728
Governor Burnet of Massachusetts on the Governor's Salary, 17 September 1728
The Story of Venture Smith (1729-1809)
Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting, Andrew Clarkson (1731); arguing against unconditional submission to the National Church and magistrates.
Dissertation Upon Parties, Henry St. John Bolingbroke (1733). A heavy influence upon Jefferson.
Founding Vision for Georgia, General James Oglethorpe (1733)
Negotiations Regarding the Settlement of the Georgia Colony, Count Zinzendorf (1733)
Transcript of the Trial of Peter Zenger (1735)
Defense of Peter Zenger, Andrew Hamilton (1735)
Letters on the Study and Use of History, Henry St. John Bolingbroke (1735)
On Patriotism, Bolingbroke (1736)
Governor Gabriel Johnston's request to repeal the Biennal act, 18 October 1736
Disposition of the North Carolina Biennal Act (1737)
The Idea of a Patriot King, Bolingbroke (1738)
Discourse on the Five Points [Of Calvinism], Daniel Whitby. The text which incited Jonathan Edwards to write his most important book, The Freedom of the Will.
On Efficacious Grace, John Gill (1738) Defense of Calvinism by a celebrated English Calvinist.
Intentions of the SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) (1740) The desire of this group to land an Anglican Bishop in the American colonies ignited the American Revolution.
The True Scripture-Doctrine Concerning Some Important Points of the Christian Faith, Jonathan Dickinson (1741) Jonathan Dickinson was the first President of the College at Princeton, New Jersey. In this excerpt, Dickinson states that atheism is pure "stupidity" and "madness." Dickinson's opinion in this regard represented the consensus in America. Subsequently all of the founders of the United States were certain of the existence of a Deity. On the other hand, Dickinson here emphasizes the doctrine of Predestination, which was the central controversy of the eighteenth century in the Colonies. Colonists' opinions were divided in this regard. Earlier in the century predestination was the majority view, but by the end of the century a belief in "free-will" had become prevalent among many such as Methodists.
The Works Of Jonathan Edwards, Enlightenment Philosopher, Theologian, Orator, Scientist; Edwards was the most important American-born Great Awakening preacher and defender of orthodox Calvinism.
Sermons of George Whitefield, Known for his supreme oratory skills, Whitefield was the most famous inter-colonial celebrity during the Great Awakening. The inter-colonial nature of Whitefield's ministry was an important step in the development of the intercolonial union which commenced in the 1760's and 70's. A strong advocate of predestination, Whitefield entered into a bitter dispute with his Methodist colleague, John Wesley over the issue, and the movement was split.
The Works of John Wesley, An English preacher, Wesley developed the practice of itinerant preaching: out of doors, traveling long distances on horseback. Wesley was a strong opponent of the Calvinism which was prevalent in America.
Letters of John Wesley
The Essential Rights and Liberties of Protestants, Elisha Williams (1744) An excerpt explaining what makes something a person's property, from a Boston minister who vigorously promoted liberty of conscience.
Regulations at Yale College (1745) Showing the centrality of Calvinism and the Westminster Confession in colonial higher education.
The Presence of Great God in the Assembly of Political Rulers, John Barnard (1746) A early warning against tyranny from one of Boston's ministers.
Narrative of the Deliverance of Briton Hammond, An account of an African-American taken captive by Native Americans (1747)
The Principles of Natural Law, J. Burlamaqui, tr. Thomas Nugent (1748, tr. Thomas Nugent 1752) This was the textbook on political theory used at Harvard. It was this book that gave James Otis, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, and John Adams their understanding of political science.
The Principles of Politic Law, J. Burlamaqui, tr. Thomas Nugent (1748, tr. Thomas Nugent 1752) Sequel to The Principles of Natural Law carrying natural law into constitutional law. Commentary on the ideas of Grotius, Hobbes, Puffendorf, Barbeyrac, Locke, Clarke, and Hutchinson.
The Spirit of Laws, Charles de Montesquieu, (1748, tr. Thomas Nugent 1752) Laid the foundations for the theory of republican government, particularly the concepts of the separation of powers into legislative, executive, and judicial, a federal republic, representatives elected from political subdivisions, a bicameral legislature, and a system of checks and balances. Montesquieu was the most frequently cited political theorist during the founding of the U.S.
An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy, James Steuart. Recommended by Jefferson as one of the best books on political science.
History of Massachusetts Bay, Thomas Hutchinson, excerpt regarding coinage.
Remarks on the Fable of the Bees, Frances Hutcheson (1750)
Indian Captivity Narrative, Mary Jemison (1750)
A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers, Jonathan Mayhew (1750) About this document, John Adams wrote, "It was read by everybody; celebrated by friends, and abused by enemies... It spread an universal alarm against the authority of Parliament. It excited a general and just apprehension, that bishops, and dioceses, and churches, and priests, and tithes, were to be imposed on us by Parliament." This sermon has been called the spark which ignited the American Revolution. This illustrates that the Revolution was not only about stamps and taxes but also about religious liberty.
Petition to Parliament: Reasons for Making Bar, as well as Pig or Sow-iron (ca. 1750)
Petition to Parliament: Reason Against a General Prohibition of the Iron Manufacture in Plantations
Memoir on the English Aggression, October 1750
Memoir on the French Colonies in North America, December 1750
Adams, Franklin, and Madison: Accounts of Their Original Plans to be Christian Clergymen
Of Party Divisions, William Livingston (1753)
A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Jean Jacques Rousseau (1754) Discussion on political inequality, its origins and implications.
A Discourse on Political Economy, Jean Jacques Rousseau (1755) Discussion on the economic principles affecting the politics of a society.
Dictionary, Samuel Johnson (1755) This was the standard dictionary of the late 18th century.
The Value and Purpose of Princeton College, Samuel Davies and Gilbert Tennent (1754); an appeal to British citizens to support the seminary which became Princeton University.
Religion and Patriotism the Constituents of a Good Soldier, Samuel Davies (1755). Davies, a Presbyterian preacher and president of the College at Princeton, here interprets the French and Indian war as a religious war. In this excerpt from a sermon preached in Virginia, Davies rouses the anti-Catholic sentiment of his hearers to rally them to arms against the French in the Ohio country.
Military Documents of the French and Indian War
Primary Sources Pertaining to the French and Indian War
A Complete Poem by Jupiter Hammon (1760)
The Social Contract, Jean Jacques Rousseau (1762) Discussed legitimate government as the expression of the general will.
The Curse of Cowardice, Samuel Davies (1758)
Against the Writs of Assistance, James Otis (1761)
The Role of the Indians in the Rivalry Between France, Spain, and England, Governor Glen (1761)
Elements of Criticism, Lord Kaims [Henry Homes] (1762), Highly recommended by Jefferson, in this excerpt Kaims discusses the problems with fiction.
Treaty of Paris (1763) Ended the French and Indian War and gave the English control of all the land east of the Mississippi River.

Acts of Parliament concerning the American Colonies

The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved, James Otis (1764)
Blackstone's Commentaries (1765) Considered the book that "lost the colonies" for England. This text delineates the legal principles of common law which ensure the fundamental rights of Englishmen. Blackstone was quoted by the colonists twice as often as they quoted Locke.
Blackstone's Contents (1765)
"Offenses Against God and Religion," William Blackstone (1765). Showing the common understanding that the integrity of the judicial system depends upon the participants' belief in God.
"Offenses Against the Public Peace" William Blackstone (1765)
"On Husband And Wife", William Blackstone (1765)
Considerations, Daniel Dulany, October 1765
The Objections to the Taxation Consider'd, Soame Jenyns (1765)
The Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress, October 19, 1765
The Declaration of Rights of the Stamp Act Congress (1765) Developed the concept that people could not legitimately be taxed except by their elected representatives.
William Pitt's Speech on the Stamp Act, January 14, 1766
Examination of Benjamin Franklin in the House of Commons (1766)
On Crimes and Punishments, Cesare Beccaria (1766) Set out rights of the accused in criminal proceedings. Argues for crime prevention over punishment, and against the death penalty and torture.
On the History of Civil Society, Adam Ferguson
John Dickinson's Letter 2, from Letters from a Farmer, 1767-1768
John Dickinson's Letter 4, from Letters from a Farmer, 1767-1768
On the Misfortune of Indentured Servants, Gottlieb Mittelberger
An Election Sermon, Daniel Shute; Delivered in Boston, Massachusetts-Bay, 26 May 1768.
Charter of Dartmouth College (1769)
Virginia Nonimportation Resolutions (1769)
Excerpts From Mary Cooper's Diary (1769)
Daniel Boone's Journal
Anna Bergen Rapelje's Full Manuscript (1770-1797)
The Boston Massacre, The Boston Gazette, 12 March 1770
Anonymous Account of the Boston Massacre, 5 March, 1770
Captain Thomas Preston's account of the Boston Massacre, 13 March 1770
The Hymnbook of Isaac Watts, After the Bible and the Catechism, this was the third most commonly used book in colonial New England.
The Rights of the Colonists, Samuel Adams (1772) John Adams indicated that all the concepts which Jefferson later set forth in the Declaration of Independence were first introduced here.
An Oration on the Beauties of Liberty, Reverend John Allen (1772)
Oration Deliverd at Boston, Joseph Warren (1772)
Second Oration Delivered at Boston, Joseph Warren (1772)
An Election Sermon, Simeon Howard (1773) Demonstrating that an armed war against a tyrant was a Christian's duty.
The Sovereign Decrees of God, Isaac Backus (1773)
Eyewitness Account of the Boston Tea Party, George Hewes (1773)
Resolution of the Virginia House of Burgesses for Establishing an Intercolonial Committee of Correspondence (1773)
Early Virginia Religious Petitions (1774-1802) Thomas Jefferson, a member of the Virginia Committee on Religion, was greatly impacted by these petitions in developing his thoughts about religious liberty.
Boston Massacre Oration, John Hancock (1774)
A Plea Before the Massachusetts Legislature, Isaac Backus (1774)
Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament, James Wilson (1774)
To the Inhabitants of the Several Anglo-American Colonies, William Livingston (1774)
Declaration of Colonial Rights of the Continental Congress (1774) John Adams said that the Declaration of Independence was not much more than a recapitulation of this document.
First Prayer Given in the Continental Congress, Rev. Jacob Duche (1774)
Journals of the Continental Congress, 34 Volumes. This invaluable collection of documents tells what took place in Philadelphia as the United States was being birthed.
Resolution of the House of Burgesses in Virginia (1774) This resolution was inspired by similar resolutions made in the Puritan Revolution of 1641; the Burgesses resolved to commit their crisis to prayer and fasting.
Sermon on Civil Liberty, Nathaniel Niles (1774) An example of how clergymen stoked the revolutionary spirit.
The Olive Branch Petition (1774). This document is a last-ditch attempt to mend the tears between Britain and America. But George III never read this petition.
A Plan for the Union of Great Britain and the Colonies, Joseph Galloway (1774)
The Suffolk Resolves, Joseph Warren (1774)
Phyllis Wheatley to Samson Occam (1774)
Works of Henry Laurens, President of the Continental Congress
Authors Most Frequently Cited by the Founders
John Adams Discusses the Historic Sources Which Provided the Intellectual Foundations of American Political Theory

Works of Benjamin Franklin


Works of Sam Adams

  • Writings of Samuel Adams One of the most thorough internet sites of its kind including numerous letters and newspaper articles.

Works of George Washington

Works of John Adams

Works of Thomas Jefferson

Famous Works

Annual and Special messages to CongressInaugural AddressesMessages to CongressIndian AddressesMiscellaneous PapersLetters  

Works of James Madison

The Works of Thomas Paine

American Revolution Military Documents

Works of Ethan Allen, Revolutionary War hero and Deist.
The Farmer Refuted, Alexander Hamilton (1775). In this defense of the American cause in response to an Anglican minister's criticism of the revolution, Hamilton states that laws, rights, and political principles are all based in the existence and law of God.
John Newton Criticizing Arminians (1775) A letter from the author of "Amazing Grace" claiming that repentance is the not key to atonement.
Daniel Leonard's Letter of January 9, 1775
Defensive War in a Just Cause Sinless, David Jones (1775). Sermon justifying the revolution.
Speech on Conciliation with America, Edmund Burke, March 22, 1775; Burke describes the character of the American colonists and links their commitment to liberty to their Protestantism.
Government Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by Righteousness, Samuel Langdon, May 31, 1775; This sermon preached a year before Jefferson wrote his declaration, included this phrase: "By the law of nature, any body of people, destitute of order and government, may form themselves into a civil society, according to their best prudence, and so provide for their common safety and advantage."
On Civil Liberty, Passive Obedience, and Nonresistance, Jonathan Boucher (1775)
A Calm Address To Our American Colonies, John Wesley (1775)
The American Vine, Jacob Duche (1775)
The Charlotte Town Resolves (1775) Resolutions of Presbyterians of Mecklenberg, North Carolina.
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death, Patrick Henry (1775). Famous oration which motivated Southerners to join in the battle already taking place in New England.
Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms, Jefferson and Dickinson, July 6, 1775. This document was inspired by the Puritan Declaration of August, 1642, "Declaration of the Lords and Commons to Justify Their Taking Up Arms," available in John Rushworth, ed., Historical Collections of Private Passages of State, Weighty Matters in Law, Remarkable Proceedings in Five Parliaments (1680-1722),vol. 4, pp. 761-768.
Yankee Doodle The anthem of the Continental Army
The Church's Flight into the Wilderness, Samuel Sherwood, January 17, 1776; A sermon which labels British tyranny Satanic.
The Virginia Declaration of Rights, George Mason (1776) Unquestionably a document which Jefferson had in mind when writing the Declaration of Independence.
Sources of the Declaration of Independence (1776) Documents which prove that Jefferson modeled the Declaration largely upon the 1689 Declaration of Rights.
The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, John Witherspoon, May 1776. This sermon was preached by a member of the Second Continental Congress during the period in which the members were deciding upon American Independence.
The Declaration of Independence (1776) According to recent scholarship, this document was modeled after the Dutch Calvinist Declaration of Independence. In other words, this statement of basic principles was simply a restatement of what Protestant Political theorists and preachers had been saying for centuries.
Reflections on the Mood at the time of the Signing, Benjamin Rush
State Constitutions A collection of the constitutions of each colony.
Religious Clauses of State Constitutions Demonstrating that most states had establishments of religion.
On the Right to Rebel against Governors, Samuel West (1776)
The True Interest of America Impartially Stated, Charles Inglis (1776). A statement of an American loyal to the King.
Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith (1776). The manual for capitalism, the economic backbone of the United States. Jefferson said this was the best book of its kind.
Resolves of the Continental Congress
Divine Judgements Upon Tyrants, Jacob Cushing, April 20, 1778; a sermon on the three year anniversary of the war.
Election Sermon, Phillips Payson (1778)
Defensive Arms Vindicated (1779) A sermon vindicating the activity of General George Washington.
A Sermon on the Day of the Commencement of the Constitution, Samuel Cooper (1780)
U.S. Articles of Confederation The first Constitution of the United States.
The Origins and Progress of the American Revolution Peter Oliver (1781). Oliver, a tory, names the persons he feels are most responsible for the rebellion. James Otis and the Calvinist clergy ("black regiment") were the chief culprits.
United States Articles of Confederation (1781)
Letters From an American Farmer, Crevecour (1782)
Essay on Money, John Witherspoon, Presbyterian theologian and president of Princeton University.
The Lord's Supper, Joseph Priestly (1783) Another author who Jefferson and Franklin commended.
Sketches of American Policy, Noah Webster (1785)
Memorial and Remonstrance, James Madison (1785). Championing the principal of religious liberty.
Land Ordinance of 1785 (Jefferson). Detailing the manner in which the Northwest Territory shall be partitioned and sold.
Treaty With the Cherokee (1785)
The Annapolis Convention (1786), prelude to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
The Federalist Papers 1-85, Madison, Jay, and Hamilton's defense of Federalism
Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, James Madison. These are the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia, an essential guide to interpreting the intent of the Framers.
Denominational Affiliations of the Framers of the Constitution, contrary to the myth, this chart shows that only 3 out of 55 of the framers classified themselves as Deists.
Records of the Constitutional Convention (Farrand's Records)
United States Constitution (1787)
Elliot's Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution
Northwest Ordinance (1787) Detailing the manner in which new states may be added to the United States.
Northwest Ordinance
Shay's Rebellion (1787)
Letter of Transmittal of U.S. Constitution
Debates in the First Federal Congress Regarding A Religious Amendment to the Constitution (1789), edited by Jim Allison. An important source for understanding the intention of the framers concerning religious liberty. Mr. Allison has collected together the debates in the House and the Senate on this most important subject.
Bill of Rights and the Amendments to The Constitution (1791) The concession to the Anti-Federalists to win their acceptance of the Constitution.
Federal Statutes
Statutory Laws and Judicial Precedents in Early America
Federal Legislative Documents
Records of the First Sixteen Federal Congresses
Slave Trade and the Middle Passage, Alexander Falconbridge (1788)
The Life of Olaudah Equiano, A Slave's Autobiography (1789)
The Virginia Chronicle, John Leland (1790). Champion of religious disestablishment. Friend and influence upon James Madison.
On Dissenting from the Episcopal Church, John Leland (1790)
Of the Natural Rights of Individuals, James Wilson (1790-91)
On the Equality of the Sexes, Judith Sargent Murray (1790)
The Funeral of Arminianism, William Huntington (1791)
The Rise and Progress of the Young Ladies' Academy of Philadelphia, Molly Wallace (1794)
Fugitive Slave Law of 1793
Greenville Treaty with a number of Indian Tribes (1795)
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, William Godwin (1793) Part of Jefferson's library of political works.
William Godwin's Works
Treaty of Tripoli (1795)
Washington's Farewell Address
The Sedition Act (1798)
On the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic (1798), Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, emphasizing the religious foundation and goal of all education.
Four Discourses On The General First Principles of Deism (1798), Samuel E. McCorkle, D. D. The biggest intellectual controversy of the 1790's was called the "deist controversy." On the one side were the followers of Thomas Paine, on the other side were the orthodox Christians as represented here by the Rev. McCorkle.
The Kentucky Resolutions (1799)
Obituaries of George Washington

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