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.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Justice William Smith House" -- A New Painting by Kevin Rice

Kevin Rice's new painting of Mercersburg's "Justice William Smith House" doesn't disappoint.

He has, as in his other works for the Conococheague Institute, once again transported the viewer to the Conococheague of the 1760's.  Using light, texture and fantasy elements, he transforms a 20th century dwelling into a form and place that James and William Smith would recognize.

Underneath a 20th century renovation, preservationists are finding a very old and very important house.  A house that is not only connected to the time of the Indian Wars (1750 to 1760) but, more importantly, to the stirrings of the American Revolution and the principles of the 2nd Amendment.

Speculation abounds as to what the now two-story Smith House looked like in 1765.  Kevin Rice gives us his vision.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Tragedy in the Making

By JW Ross

For months the militia patrols had been effective in reducing if not completely eliminating Indian incursions and settlement deaths in the Conococheague. James Smith and his militia had effectively made raids in the eyes of the Indians too costly and risky to endeavor. This was an enormous feat as the frontier was 200 miles of extended woodlands in which no man, it was said, "could go to sleep within 10 or 15 miles of the "border" without the danger of having his house burned and himself and his family scalped or led into captivity before the next morning."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Enoch Brown Massacre . . . the flash point of the American Revolution?

By JW Ross

This year, 2014, is the 249th Anniversary of the "Sideling Hill" Incident which many scholars believe was the beginning of the Revolutionary War on the frontier. Historians point to the incident at "Sideling Hill" in March of 1765, as the cause of the Smith rebellion and the spark that started the American Revolution. It is important to note, and commemorate, because it is contrary to what we have been taught - "the shots heard round the world" were not on Lexington Bridge and the commons in Boston in 1775, but in Pennsylvania at Sideling Hill in 1765.

Friday, August 20, 2010

2nd Amendment House - "Revealed" (Part II)

By Paula Reed, PhD

The house retains a remarkable amount of original material including its kitchen fireplace, mantelpiece with heavy ogee molding (found in the basement), wide tongue and groove floors, window and door trim with ovolo molding and some plaster. The original front door with six raised panels beneath a four light transom remains in place. One 18th century raised four panel door was reused at a second floor closet. An arched cellar way in the north wall is another noteworthy early feature. Ovolo moldings and trims around the windows and doors at the exterior and interior are typical of the period. The first floor door and windows in the east end wall are much later than the other first floor openings and appear to date from the mid 19th century, suggesting that these openings were added at a later date to provide partial orientation toward Mercersburg’s main street.

Smith's Rebellion and the 2nd Amendment


By Karen Ramsburg

As the most significant Pre Revolutionary war site west of the Susquehanna river the Justice William Smith House is the most important historical site in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. In 1765 it served as the meeting place over a nine month period of time where the first armed resistance was organized against British Military Authority. This rebellion changed the course of American History and gave rise to ideas that would later impact our U.S Bill of Rights 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Revolution and "Riffraff"

By JW Ross

Individuals of Irish descent know too well the term, "No Irish Need Apply", and its meaning. Although not commonly used until the mid - 1800's, the sentiment was the same in the 1750's when boat loads of Irish (and Scot) immigrants landed in the colonies. Anti-Irish sentiment was pervasive and residents of Philadelphia, for example, couldn't wait to see the "backside" of these new immigrants to the America.

Most history books little note the contributions of those who immigrated from Scotland and Northern Ireland in the early 1700's. Those who settled the Western areas of PA (Mercersburg, for example) and some parts of the South were essentially the British Isles . . "riffraff". Not only were many of them poor, and uneducated, but worse . . they were branded by the "southern" Englishmen of Boston and Philadelphia with vile stereotypes.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A History Lesson

By Tim McCown

A number of America's best historians and authors are coming to new conclusions about the colonial frontier and the American Revolution based on new primary source documentary evidence - Terry Bouton's, "Taming Democracy", Patrick Griffen's, "American Leviathan", Marjoleine Kars's, "Breaking Loose Together" (about the North Carolina Regulator Movement), and Kevin Kenny's book, "Peaceable Kingdom Lost", (about The Paxton Boys), all point to the fact that Lexington and Concord were not the beginning, but the culmination of a process that began on the frontier . . . the revolution began, not in Boston or Philadelphia, but on the frontier in places such as today's - Mercersburg, Pa.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Stamp Act and Sideling Hill Incident

By JW Ross

By the mid-eighteenth century, the economies of the American colonies had matured. The colonies chafed under the rules of British mercantilism, which sought to exploit the colonies as a source of raw materials and a market for the mother country. During the French and Indian War, the colonies asserted their economic independence by trading with the enemy, flagrantly defying customs laws, and evading trade regulations. These actions convinced the British government to bring the colonies into proper subordination and to use them as a source of revenue.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2nd Amendment House - "Revealed" (Part I)

By JW Ross

In Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, underneath a 20 century renovation preservationists are finding a very old and very important house. A house that is not only connected to the time of the Indian wars (1750 to 1760) but, more importantly, to the stirrings of the American Revolution and the principles of the 2nd Amendment.

Speculation abounds as to what the now two-story Smith House looked like in 1765.

...Let Them Take Arms - Thomas Jefferson

The "Right to Bear Arms"...  or the Second Amendment is one of the most discussed and contentious of all the amendments of the Bill of Rights. It is, in fact, the only amendment that contains not only the seeds but the actual instruments of the revolution itself.  Further, it gives real affirmation to Thomas Jefferson's quote:
"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
It is for this reason, if no other, that the Government and its functionaries vociferously assail and obfuscate the text of this simple assertion. More, it is for this reason, and in the face of the perennial onslaught that its defense and affirmation is essential to the survival of the republic.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why the "2nd Amendment House" is Important!

By JW Ross

Why the Justice William Smith House is Important!

Why it matters where the principles of our "Right to Bear Arms" were first established!  Why the origins of the 2nd amendment are important!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Scot Irish in the Conococheague (Mercersburg)

By JW Ross

In the 1600's land clearances in Scotland and the chance of a better life lead to a vast migration from Scotland, especially the lowlands, to Ireland which was a short boat ride away. This migration was aided by similar land clearances in Ireland by ruthless London-based companies.

But by the 1700's, the several hundred thousand Scots in Northern Ireland were becoming increasingly impatient with the endless fighting, land clearances, and large increases in their rental amounts. The entire feudal system, a remnant of the Dark Ages was under attack, in both Ireland and Scotland, serfs, in addition to working the land, were required to be armed and serve their "lords" when the "castle" was attacked.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

American Unity

[Benjamin Franklin's woodcut from May 9, 1754.
Newspaper Serial and Government Publications Division,
Library of Congress.]
Benjamin Franklin is famous for his sense of humor. In 1751, he wrote a satirical commentary in his Pennsylvania Gazette suggesting that as a way to thank the Brits for their policy of sending convicted felons to America, American colonists should send rattlesnakes to England.

Three years later, in 1754, he used a snake to illustrate another point. This time not so humorous.

Franklin sketched, carved, and published the first known political cartoon in an American newspaper. It was the image of a snake cut into eight sections. The sections represented the individual colonies and the curves of the snake suggested the coastline. New England was combined into one section as the head of the snake. South Carolina was at the tail. Beneath the snake were the ominous words "Join, or Die."

Plain Truth - MDCCXLVII (1747)

Nearly all of Franklin's printing and writing was undertaken for profit, but in the two months before his retirement in 1748, he devoted his press to a political cause: pressuring the Quaker-dominated Assembly to establish a militia for defense against marauding attacks on the frontier. A pamphlet which Benjamin Franklin published, "Plain Truth", showing the helplessness of the colony against the French and Indians, led to the organization of a volunteer militia, and funds were raised for arms by a lottery. Benjamin Franklin himself was elected colonel of the Philadelphia regiment. In spite of his militarism, Benjamin Franklin retained the position which he held as Clerk of the Assembly, though the majority of the members were Quakers opposed to war on principle. This was 17 years before James Smith and the Black Boys began to bring some order to the Conococheague.

Friday, August 6, 2010

More on the Conococheague Rangers of 1763 (Part II)

By Eric I. Manders

When I wrote the text to accompany the drawing I did of the Conococheague Ranger, I was satisfied that the Conococheague Ranger Company represented an ad hoc attempt at local defense in Pennsylvania during Pontiac’s War.[1] The only record of it I could find was in the memoir of its commander, James Smith, published some thirty-six years after the fact.[2]

Since then I have found a contemporary account of the unit in an obvious enough place, the Pennsylvania Archives. That the Great Cove and Conococheague settlements petitioned for official recognition of their little band of defenders is recorded in the journal of the Pennsylvania Assembly for 17 September 1763:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

James Smith - Conococheague Rangers - 1763 (Part I)

By Eric I. Manders

James Smith some 40 years after his captivity by the Indians, published his memoirs entitled, "An account of the remarkable occurrences in the life and travels of Col. James Smith during his captivity with the Indians :  in the years 1755 -59   ...editors note

Virtually everything known about James Smith’s company of rangers appears in a passage from the captain’s memoir:

"Sometime in May, this year (1763), I was married, and about that time the Indians again commenced hostilities, and were busily engaged in killing and scalping the frontier inhabitants in various parts of Pennsylvania. The whole Conococheague Valley, from the North to the South Mountain, had been almost entirely evacuated during Braddock’s war…As the people were now beginning to live at home again, they thought (it) hard to be driven away a second time, and were determined if possible, to make a stand: therefore they raised as much money by collections and subscriptions, as would pay for a company of rifle-men for several months. The subscribers met and elected a committee to manage the business. The committee appointed me captain of this company of rangers, and gave me the appointment of my subalterns. I chose two of the most active young men that I could find, who had also been long in captivity with the Indians. As we enlisted our men, we dressed them uniformly in the Indian manner, with breech-clout, leggings, moccasins and green shrouds which we wore in the same manner that the Indians do, and nearly as the Highlanders wear their plaids. In place of hats we wore red handkerchiefs, painted our faces red and black, like Indian warriors. I taught them the Indian discipline, as I knew of no other at that time, which would answer the purpose much better than British."[1]