Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - Bill of Rights

"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."

Preservation and Proposition

Our mission is to document the pivotal Second Amendment events that occurred in Frontier Mercersburg, and its environs, and to heighten awareness of the importance of these events in the founding of our Nation.

We are dedicated to the preservation of the place where the Second Amendment was "born" and to the proposition that the Second Amendment (the "right to bear arms") is the keystone of our Liberty and the Republic.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wild, Wild Mercersburg

By JW Ross

It is hard to imagine that for over 30 years (between the 1750's and 1770's), frontier Mercersburg was a wild and very dangerous place. Although we are entirely familiar with the stories associated with the phrase, "Wild, Wild, West!", one might be surprised to know that the experiences of the inhabitants of frontier Mercersburg, PA and its environs were very similar.

Like much of the newly settled West, cultural tensions were high, alcohol readily available, firearms were at hand, and "lawmen" were few and far between. In spite of this, the British government and the Penn Quakers attempted to reign in both settler and Indian actions and expectations.  Sadly, disagreements more often than not led to horrific conflicts, and responses to provocations, innocent or aggravated, were quick and deadly.
No one was spared... pregnant women, men, children, the elderly, or the afflicted. No means were spared... tomahawks, knives, pistols, rifles, clubs, ropes. Both sides garroted, stabbed, shot, hung, scalped, quartered, decapitated, and tortured each other in almost unimaginable ways.

The attacks were rarely predictable, or anticipated. Both sides lived in a state of terror and pathologic resignation. Women fetching water, men plowing the fields, and children playing in sight of their mothers, were chased down, brutally murdered, and often scalped. Actual accounts from survivors are numerous and graphic. Officials, churchmen, and battle scarred military officers were shaken by the savagery, which was excessive even by the sensibilities of the times. Nor was there any relationship between the provocation, the body counts and the nature or the means. In fact, with the tools of violence becoming more available to both the Indians and the settlers, the level of moral or simple human sensibilities, over time, just disappeared. Settlers scalped Indians and Indians having acquired muskets shot and bayoneted settlers.

Despite the repeated efforts of the military and religious authorities to bring the Mercersburg frontier under control, their efforts as well as their successes were scattered and short lived. The frontier was too vast and the need too great. With little or no restraints on the tools, means both sides had little reason to moderate their actions.

Stereotypes and color, although apparent to us, were overshadowed by sheer rage and vengeance. With generations or more of grudges and unsettled wrongs, seemingly innocent meetings often ended in violence.

In the middle to late 1760's, in order to try bring this state of perpetual chaos to an end, settlers formed (or supported) militias to patrol wilderness areas west of the settlements. The leader of one of the most written about militias was Mercersburg's own, James Smith, of James Smith and the "Black Boys".

For more infomation about unrest on the frontier read, "American Leviathan - Empire, Nation, and Revolutionary Frontier" by Patrick Griffin

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