Tag Archives: Second Amendment

Jefferson on Guns

     “A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.” 

                            Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to his nephew Peter Carr, August 19, 1785.

    Jefferson over years owned numerous firearms.  The most well known firearms owned by Jefferson were a pair of Turkish pistols received from the estate of General Isaac Zane in place of a money bequest. Jefferson described them and, at the same time, modestly alluded to his ability as a pistol shot: “They are 20. inch barrels so well made that I never missed a squirrel at 30 yards with them…” 

    In a letter to Payne Todd dated August 15, 1816, Jefferson wrote:  “You must now accept a keep-sake from me, which may suit you as a sportsman, better than myself who have ceased to be one. I send by the stage, to be lodged for you at Orange C.H. a box containing a pair of Turkish pistols. They were originally with wheel-locks, which not being convenient, I had locks of the modern form substituted, but so that they can be changed for the former in a moment. They are 20. inch barrels so well made that I never missed a squirrel 30. yards with them. I fixed one in a wooden holster to hang in the loop of the pommel of [my saddle] to be handily taken out and in…I had other holsters also made for both [to] hang them at the side of my carriage for road use, and with locks and staples to secure them from being handled by curious people. One of the wheel locks is a little out of order, and will require a skilful gunsmith to put to rights.”

For more info:  http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/firearms

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Washington on Weapons

Washington's Pistol

     George Washington was a warrior before he became the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, a statesman that helped fashion the Constitution, and the first President of the United States.  He wrote in support of firearms:  “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”  His favorite weapon was this decorative flintlock pistol with embossed wood and metal grips is 13.5″ long and weighs 1.2 lbs. 

     George Washington wore this simple hanger sword as his battle sword while serving as commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  The sword has a slightly curved, grooved forged steel blade, a silver mounted cross guard and pommel, and a green ivory grip.  The scabbard was leather with silver trim. The dimensions were: 3.5″ H x 36.25″ W x 1.25″ D.  It was made in Fishkill, New York by John Bailey, an immigrant cutler from Sheffield, England. The sword was inherited by Washington’s nephew, Samuel T. Washington, an army captain.  Samuel’s son donated the sword to the United States government in 1843.  It is housed at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Behring Center.

     According to Washington’s will, his swords were bequeathed “To each of my Nephews, William Augustine Washington, George Lewis, George Steptoe Washington, Bushrod Washington, & Samuel Washington, I give one of the Swords or Cutteaux of which I may die possessed; and they are to chuse in the order they are named. These swords are accompanied with an injunction not to unsheath them for the purpose of shedding blood, except it be for self defence, or in defence of their Country & its rights; and in the latter case, to keep them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them in their hands, to the relinquishment thereof.”

Tomorrow, Sunday’s Storytellers: An Eyewitness Account of the Death of George Washington.   Rita Bay

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