It's not about guns...
It's about citizenship

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George Washington wrote his "Sentiments on a Peace Establishment," in 1783. Henry Knox wrote his "A Plan for the General Arrangement of the Militia of the United States," in 1786. Washington as the first President and Knox as the first Secretary of War organized their thoughts into to their elaborate plan below and submitted them to the First Congress in January, 1790. The is No. 2 in the American State Papers Military Affairs. Knox's militia plan was greatly diluted by Congress into the Militia Act of 1792. The Federalists who dominated Congress wanted to see the militia institution die out and were not going to give it any encouragement or support. Washington and President Adams did not require the militia "Return of Militia" to be reported to the Federal Government as authorized in the Militia Act. President Jefferson for ideological reasons want to emphasize the militia over the regular army and required the Militia Returns starting in 1802. The Returns were reported to the President through the 1820s. These listed the militia resources state by state including the muskets in private ownership available for militia duty. The NRA's greatest fear today is that the Federal Government will have a list of gun owners, but that was not a concern in the early republic.

This is a thorough statement of the militia consciousness of the early republic. The plan here was for moral uplift and to instill civil virtue through conscript duty. There is no mention of the civil rights of private individuals, no insurrectionist fantasies as have now been advanced in federal court. The armed populace fantasy does not have its roots in the Second Amendment or the early militia consciousness.

Readers are welcome to try to find in here the armed populace fantasy or Stephen Halbrook's "libertarian republicans" who are armed first, consent to be governed second; or, the NRA's "armed citizen guerrilas"; or, the NRA's armed "populace at large" argued in Perpich v. DOD.

The American State Papers Military Affairs are now available on the Library of Congress website.

The "turn to image" box roughly corresponds to the page numbers in the papers. Enter numbers in the image box or change the last number in URL to get to certain pages.

Secretary of War Henry Knox's 1790 militia proposal to Congress, "Organization of the Militia," No. 2 in the ASPMA is available.

The only remote mention of a constitutional militia right we could find are in No. 57 and No. 98
ASPMA No. 57.

ASPMA No. 98.

The first "Return of Militia" was ASPMA No. 51 reported to Congress March 1, 1803. ASPMA No. 52, reported to Congress March 22, 1804 for the years 1802 and 1803 was more complete. It is on the Potowmack Institute website at
and on Library of Congress website:
ASPMA No. 51.

ASPMA No. 52.

Other militia returns running through the 1820s can be found in the INDEX of ASPMA and located through the page numbers. Page numbers roughly correspond to the last number of the URL.

American State Papers Military Affairs
No. 2



Gentlemen of the State and House of Representatives:

The Secretary for the Department of War has submitted to me certain principles to serve as a plan for the general arrangement of the militia of the United States.

Conceiving the subject to be of the highest importance to the welfare of our country, and liable to be placed in various points of view, I have directed him to lay the plan before Congress, for their information, in order that they may make such use thereof as they may make such use thereof as they may judge proper.


United States, January 21, 1790.

WAR OFFICE, January 18, 1790

Sir: Having submitted to your consideration a plan for the arrangement of the militia of the United States, which I had presented to the late Congress, and you having approved the general principles thereof, with certain exceptions, I now respectfully lay the same before you modified according to the alteration you were pleased to suggest.

It has been my anxious desire to devise a national system of defense adequate to the probably exigencies of the United States, whether arising from internal or external causes: and at the same time to erect a standard of republican magnanimity, independent of, and superior to, the powerful influences of wealth.

The convulsive events, generated by the inordinate pursuit of riches or ambition, require that the Government should possess a strong corrective arm.

The idea is therefore submitted, whether an efficient military branch of Government can be invented, with safety to the great principles of liberty, unless the same shall be formed of the people themselves, and supported by their habits and manners.

I have the honor to be, sir, with the mo-t perfect respect. your most obedient servant,

Secretary for the Department of War.

The President of the United States


That a well constituted republic is more favorable to the liberties of society, and that its principles give a higher elevation to the human mind than any other form of Government, has generally been acknowledged by the unprejudiced, and enlightened part of mankind.

But it is at the same time acknowledged, that, unless a republic prepares itself by proper arrangement to meet those exigencies to which all States are in a degree liable, that its peace and existence are more precarious than the forms of Government in which the will of one directs the conduct of the whole, for the defense of the nation.

A government, whose measures must be the result of multiple deliberations, is seldom in a situation to produce instantly those exertions which the occasion may demand; therefore it ought to possess such energetic establishments as should enable it, by the vigor of its own citizens, to control events as they arise, instead of being convulsed or subverted by them.

It is the misfortune of modern ages, that governments have been formed by chance and events, instead of system; that, without fixed principles, they are braced or relaxed, from time to time according to the predominating power of the rulers or the ruled: the rulers possessing separate interests from the people, excepting in some of the hightioned [?] monarchies in which all opposition to the will of the princes seems annihilated.

Hence we look round Europe in vain for an extensive government, arising on the power inherent in the people, and performing its operations entirely for their benefit. But we find artificial force governing everywhere, and the people generally made subservient to the elevation and caprice of the few: almost every nation appearing to be busily employed in conducting some external war; grappling with internal commotion; or endeavoring to extricate itself from impending debts, which threatened to overwhelm it with ruin. Princes and ministers seem neither to have leisure nor inclination to bring forward institutions for diffusing general strength, knowledge, and happiness; but they seem to understand well the Machiavellian maxim of politics— divide and govern.

May the United States avoid the errors and crimes of other governments, and possess the wisdom to embrace the present invaluable opportunity of establishing such institutions as shall invigorate, exalt, and perpetuate, the great principles of freedom— an opportunity pregnant with the fate of millions, but rapidly born on the wings of time, and which may never again return.

The public mind, unbiased by superstition or prejudice, seems happily prepared to receive the impressions of wisdom. The latent springs of human action, ascertained by the standards of experience, may be regulated and made subservient to the noble purpose of forming a dignified national character.

The causes by which nations have ascended and declined, through the various ages of the world, may be calmly and accurately determined: and the United States may be placed in the singularly fortunate condition of commencing their career of empire with the accumulated knowledge of all the known societies and government of the globe.

The strength of the Government, like the strength of any other vast and complicated machine, will depend on a due adjustment of its several parts: its agriculture, its commerce, its laws, its finance, its system of defense, and its manners and habits, all require consideration, and the highest exercise of political wisdom.

It is the intention of the present attempt to suggest the most efficient system of defense which may be compatible with the interests of a free people— a system which shall not only produce the expected effect, but which, in its operations, shall also produce those habits and manners which will impart strength and desirability to the whole government.

The modern practice of Europe, with respect to the employment of standing armies, has created such a mass of opinion in their favor, that even philosophers and the advocates for liberty have frequently confessed their use and necessity in certain cases.

But whoever seriously and candidly estimates the power of discipline, and the tendency of military habits, will be constrained to confess, that, whatever may be the efficacy of the standing army in war, it cannot in peace of considered as friendly to the rights of human nature. The recent instance in France cannot with propriety be brought to overturn the general principle, built upon the uniform experience of mankind. It may be found, on examining the causes that appear to have influenced the military of France, that, while the springs of power were wound up in the nation to the highest pitch, the discipline of the army was proportionably relaxed. But any argument on this head may be considered as unnecessary to the enlightened citizens of the United States.

A small corps of well disciplined and well informed artillerists and engineers, and a legion for the protection of the frontiers and the magazines and arsenals, are all the military establishment which may be required for the present use of the United States. The privates of the corps to be enlisted for a certain period, and after the expiration of which returned to the mass of the citizens.

An energetic national militia is to be regarded as the capital security of a free republic, and not a standing army, forming a distinct class in the community.

It is the introduction and diffusion of vice, and corruption of manners, into the mass of people, that renders a standing army necessary. It is when public spirit is despised, and avarice, indolence, and effeminacy of manners predominate, and prevent the establishment of institutions which would elevate the minds of the youth in the paths of virtue and honor, that a standing army is formed and riveted forever.

While the human character remains unchanged, and societies and governments of considerable extent are formed, a principle ever ready to execute the laws, and defend the state, must constantly exist. Without this vital principle, the government would be invaded or overturned, and trampled upon by the bold and ambitions. No community can be long held together, unless its arrangements are adequate to its probable exigencies.

If it should be decided to reject a standing army for the military branch of the government of the United States, as possessing too fierce an aspect, and being hostile to the principles of liberty, it will follow that a well constituted militia ought to be established.

A consideration of the subject will show the impracticality of disciplining at once the mass of the people. All discussions on the subject of a powerful militia will result in one or other of the following principles:

First, Either efficient institutions must be established for the military education of the youth, and that the knowledge acquired therein shall be diffused throughout the community, by the mean of rotation: or,

Secondly, That the militia must be formed of substitutes, after the manner of the militia of Great Britain.

If the United States possess the vigor of mind to establish the first institution, it may reasonably be expected to produce the most unequivocal advantages. A glorious national spirit will be introduced with its extensive train of political consequences. The youth will imbibe a love of their country; reverence and obedience to its laws; courage and elevation of mind; openness and liberality of character; accompanied by a just spirit of honor: in addition to which their bodies will acquire a robustness, greatly conducive to their personal happiness, as well as the defense of their country; while habit, with its silent but efficacious operations, will durably cement the system.

Habit, that powerful and universal law, incessantly acting on the human race, well deserves the attention of legislators— formed at first in individuals, by separate, and almost imperceptible impulses, until at length it acquires a force which controls with irresistible sway. The effects of salutary or pernicious habits, operating on a whole nation, are immense, and decide its rank and character in time world.

Hence the science of legislation teaches to scrutinize every national institution, as it may introduce proper or improper habits; to adopt with religious zeal the former, and reject with horror the latter.

A republic, constructed on the principles herein stated, would be uninjured by events, sufficient to overturn a government supported solely by the uncertain power of a standing army.

The well informed members of the community, actuated by the highest motives of self-love, would form the real defense of the country. Rebellions would be prevented or suppressed with ease; invasions of such a government would he undertaken only by mad men; and the virtues and knowledge of the people would cordiality oppose the introduction of tyranny.

But the second principle, a militia of substitutes, is pregnant, in a degree, with the mischief of a standing army; as it is highly probable the substitutes from time to time will be nearly the same men, and the most idle and worthless part of the community. Wealthy families, proud of distinctions which riches may confer, will prevent their sons from serving in the militia of substitutes; the plan will degenerate into habitual contempt; a standing army will be introduced, and the liberties of the people subjected to all the contingencies of events.

The expense attending an energetic establishment of militia may be strongly urged as an objection to the institution. But it is to be remembered that this objection is leveled at both systems, whether by rotation or by substitutes: for, if the numbers are equal the expense will also be equal. The estimate of the expense will show its unimportance, when compared with the magnitude and beneficial effects of the institution.

But the people of the United States will cheerfully consent to the expenses of a measure calculated to serve as a perpetual barrier to their liberties: especially as they well know that the disbursements will be made among the members of the same community, and therefore cannot be injurious.

Every intelligent mind would rejoice in the establishment of a institution, under whose auspices the youth and vigor of the constitution would be renewed with each successive generation, and which would appear to secure the great principles of freedom and happiness against the injuries of time and events.

The following plan formed on these general principles:

First, That it is the indispensable duty of every nation to establish all necessary institutions for its own perfection and defense.

Secondly, That it is a capital security to a free state, for the great body of the people to possess a competent knowledge of the military art.

Thirdly, That this knowledge cannot be attained, in the present state of society, but by establishing adequate institutions for the military education of youth; and that the knowledge acquired therein should be diffused throughout the community by the principles of rotation.

Fourthly, That every man of the proper age, and ability of body, is firmly bound, by the social compact, to perform, personally, his proportion of miltary duty for the defense of the state.

Fifthly, That all men, of the legal military age, should be armed, enrolled and held responsible for different degrees of military service.

And sixthly, That, agreeably to the constitution, the United States are to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such a part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States: reserving to the States, respecively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia, according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.


The period of life, in which military service shall be required of the citizens of the United States, to commence at eighteen, and terminate at age of sixty years.

The men comprehended by this description, exclusive of such exceptions as the Legislatures of the respective States may think proper to make, and all actual mariners, shall be enrolled for different degrees of military duty, and divided into three distinct classes.

The first class shall comprehend the youth of eighteen, nineteen, and twenty years of age; to be denominated the Advanced Corps.

The second class shall include the men from tweny-one to forty-five years of age; to be denominated the Main Corps.

The third class shall comprehend, inclusively, the men from forty-six to sixty years of age; to be denominated the Reserved Corps.

All the militia of the United States shall assume the form of the legion, which shall be the permanent establishment thereof.

A legion shall consist of one hundred and fifty- three commissioned officers, and two thousand eight hundred and eighty non-commissioned officers and privates, formed in the following manner:

1. The Legionary Staff



One Lieutenant Colonel Commandant.
Two Majors.
One Adjutant.
One Paymaster, or Agent.
One Quartermaster.


Each brigade of two regiments; each regiment of eight companies, forming two battalions; each company of a captain, lieutenant, ensign, six sergeants, one drum, one fife, and sixty-four rank and file.


Each company to have a captain, lieutenant, ensign, six sergeants, a bugle-horn, one drum, and sixty-four rank and file.


Consisting of four companies; each to have a captain, captain lieutenant, one lieutenant, six sergeants, twelve artificers, and fifty-two rank and file.


Consisting of four companies; each to have a captain, two lieutenant, a cornet, six sergeants, one farrier, one saddler, one trumpeter, and sixty-four dragoons.

In case the whole number of the advanced corps in any State should be insufficient to form a legion of this extent, yet the component parts must be preserved, and the reduction proportioned, as nearly as may be, to each part.

The companies of all the corps shall be divided into sections of twelve each. It is proposed, by this division, to establish one uniform vital principle which in peace and war shall pervade the militia of the United States.

All requisitions for men to form an army, either for state of federal purposes, shall be furnished b the advanced and main corps, by means of the sections.

The Executive Government, or commander in chief of the militia of each State, will assess the numbers required, on the respective legions of these corps.

The legionary general will direct the proportions to be furnished by each part of his command. Should the demand be so great as to require one man from each section, then the operation hereby directed shall be performed by single sections. But if a less number should be required, they will be furnished by an association of sections, or companies, according to the demand. In any case, it is probable that mutual convenience may dictate an agreement with an individual to perform the service required. If, however, no agreement can be made, one must be detached by an indiscriminate draught, and the others shall pay him a sum of money equal to the average sum which shall be paid in the same legion for the voluntary performance of the service required.

In case any sections or companies of a legion, after having furnished its own quota, should have more men willing to engage for the service required, other companies of the same legion shall have permission to engage them. The same rule to extend to the different legions in the State.

The legionary general must be responsible to the commander-in-chief of the militia of the State that the men furnished are according to the description, and that they are equipped in the manner, and marched to the rendezvous conformably to the orders for that purpose.

The men who may be draughted shall not serve more than three years at one time.

Reserved corps, being destined for the domestic defense of the State, shall not be obliged to furnish men, excepting in cases of actual invasion or rebellion; and then the men required shall be furnished by means of the sections.

The actual commissioned officers of the respective corps shall not be included in the sections, nor in any of the operations thereof.

The respective States shall be divided into portions or districts; each of which to contain, as nearly as may be, some complete part of a legion.

Every citizen of the United States, who shall serve his country in the field for the space of one year, either as an officer or soldier, shall if under the age of twenty-one years, be exempted from the service required in the advanced corps. If he shall be above the age of twenty-one years, then every year he shall so serve in the field shall be estimated to be equal to six years in service in the main or reserved corps, and shall accordingly exempt him from every service therein for the said term of six years, except in cases of actual invasion of, or rebellion within, the State in which he resides. And it shall also be a permanent establishment, that six years' actual service in the field shall entirely free every citizen from any further demands of service, either in the militia or in the field, unless in cases of invasion or rebellion.

All actual mariners, or seamen, in the respective States, shall be registered in districts, and divided into two classes. The first class to consist of all the seamen from the age of sixteen to thirty years, inclusively. The second class to consist of all those of the age of thirty-one to forty-five, inclusively.

The first class shall be responsible to serve three years on board of some public armed vessel or ship of war as a commissioned officer, warrant officer, or private mariner; for which service they shalt receive the customary wages and emoluments.

But, should the State not demand the said three years' service during the above period, from the age of sixteen to thirty years, then the party to be exempted entirely therefrom.

The person so serving shall receive a certificate of his service, on parchment, according to the form which shall be directed, which shall exempt him from any other than voluntary service. Unless in such exigencies as may require the services of all the members of the community.

The second class shall be responsible for a proportion of service in those cases to which the first class shall be unequal. The numbers required shall be furnished by sections, in the same manner as is prescribed for the sections ut the militia.


The advanced corps are designed not only as a school in which the youth of the United States are to be instructed in the art of war, but they are, in all cases of exigence, to serve as an actual defense to the community.

The whole of the armed corps shall be clothed according to the manner hereafter directed, armed and subsisted at the expense of the United States; and the youth of the said corps, in each State, shall be encamped together, if practicable, or by legions, which encampment shall be denominated the annual camps of discipline.

The youth of eighteen and nineteen years shall be disciplined for thirty days successively in each year; and those of twenty years shall be disciplined only for ten days in each year, which shall be the last ten days of the annual encampments.

The non-commissioned officers and privates are not to receive any pay during the said time; but the commissioned officers will receive the pay of their relative ranks, agreeably to the federal establishment for the time being.

In order that the plan shall effectually answer the end proposed, the first day of January shall be the fixed period, for all who attain the age of eighteen years, in any part, or during the course of each year, to be enrolled in the advanced corps, and to take the necessary oaths to perform, personally, such legal military service as may be directed, for the full and complete term of three years, to be estimated from the time of entrance into the said corps, and also to take an oath of allegiance to the State and to the United States.

The commanding officer, or general of the advanced legions of the district, shall regulate the manner of the service of the youth, respectively, whether it shall be in the infantry, artillery, or cavalry; but, after having entered into either of them, no change should be allowed.

Each individual, at his first joining the annual camps of discipline, will receive complete arms and accouterments, all of which, previously to his being discharged from the said camps, he must return to the regimental quartermaster, on the penalty of _____ dollars, or _____ months imprisonment.

The said arms and accouterments shall be marked, in some conspicuous place, with the letters. M. U. S. And all sales or purchases of any of said arms or accouterments, shall be severely punished, according to law.

And each individual will also, on his first entrance into the advanced corps, receive the following articles of uniform clothing; one hat, one uniform short coat, one waistcoat, and one pair of overalls, which he shall retain in his own possession, and for which he shall be held accountable, and be compelled to replace all deficiencies during his service in the annual camps of discipline.

Those who shall serve in the cavalry shall be at the expense of their own horses and uniform helmets, and horse furniture; but they shall receive forage for their horses, swords, pistols, and clothing, equal in value to the infantry.

At the age of twenty-one years, every individual having served in the manner and for the time prescribed, shall receive an honorary certificate thereof, on parchment, and signed by the legionary general and inspector.

The names of all persons to whom such certificates shall be given, shall be fairly registered in books, to be provided for that purpose.

And the said certificate, or an attested copy of the register aforesaid, shall be required as an indispensable qualification for exercising any of the rights of a free citizen, until after the age of ____ years.

The advanced legions, in all cases of invasion or rebellion, shall, on requisition of lawful authority, be obliged to march to any place within the United States; to remain embodied for such time as shall be directed, not to exceed one year, to be computed from the time of marching from the regimental parades; during the period of their being on such service to be placed on the continental establishment of pay, subsistence, clothing, forage, tents, camp-equipage, and all such other allowances as are made to the federal troops at the same time, and under the same circumstances.

If the military service so required should be for such a short period as to render an actual issue of clothing unnecessary, then an allowance should be made in proportion to the annual cost of clothing for the federal soldier, according to estimates to be furnished for that purpose from the War Office of the United States.

In case the legions of the advanced corps should march to any place in consequence of a requisition of the General Government, all legal and proper expenses of such march shall be paid by the United States. But, should they be embodied and march in consequence of an order, derived from the authority of the State to which they belong, and for State purposes, then the expenses will be borne by the State.

The advanced corps shall be constituted on such principles that, when completed, it will receive one-third part and discharge one-third part of its numbers annually. By this arrangement, two- thirds of the corps will at all times be considerably disciplined; but, as it will only receive those of eighteen years of age, it will not be completed until the third year after its institution. Those who have already attained the age of nineteen and twenty years will, in the first instance, be enrolled in the main corps.

But one half of the legionary officers to be appointed the first, and the other the second year of the establishment.

The officers of each grade in the States, respectively, shall be divided into three classes, which shall by lot be numbered one, two, and three, and one of the said classes, according to their numbers, shall be deranged every third year. In the first period of nine years, one-third part will have to serve three, one-third part six, and one-third part nine years. But, after the said first period, the several classes will serve nine years, which shall be the limitation of service by virtue of the same appointment; and in such cases, where there may not be three officers of the same grade, the limitation of nine years' service shall be observed. All vacancies occasioned by the aforesaid derangements, or any casualties, shall be immediately filled by new appointments.

The captains and subalterns of the advanced corps shall not be less than twenty-one, nor more than thirty-five, and the field officers shall not exceed forty-five years of age.

Each company, battalion, and regiment, shall have a fixed parade or place at which to assemble. The companies shall assemble at their own parade, and march to the parade of the battalion, and the battalions to the regimental parade; and when thus embodied, the regiment will march to the rendezvous of the legion. Every commanding officer of a company, battalion and regiment, will be accountable to his superior officer that his command is in the most perfect order.

The officers to receive subsistence money, in lieu of provisions, in proportion to their respective grades, and those whose duties require them to be on horseback will receive forage in the same proportion.

Every legion must have a chaplain, of respectable talents and character, who, besides his religious functions, should impress on the minds of the youth, at stated periods, in concise discourse, the eminent advantages of free governments to the happiness of society, and that such governments can only be supported by knowledge, spirit, and virtuous conduct of the youth— to be illustrated by the most conspicuous examples of history.

No amusements should be admitted in camp, but those which correspond with war— the swimming of men and horses, running, wrestling, and such other exercises as should render the body flexible and vigorous.

The camps should, if possible, be formed near a river, and remote from large cities. The first is necessary for the practice of maneuvers, the second to avoid the vices of populous places.

The time of the annual encampments shall be divided into six parts or periods, or five days each; first of which shall be occupied in acquiring the air, attitudes, and first principles of a soldier; the second in learning the manual exercise, and to march individually, and in small squads; the third and fourth, in exercising the maneuvering in detail, and by battalions and regiments; in the fifth, the youth of twenty, having been disciplined during the two preceding annual encampments, are to be included. This period is to be employed in the exercise and tactic of the legion; or, if more than one, in executing the grand maneuvers of the whole body— marching, attacking, and, defending, in various forms, different grounds, and positions; in fine, in representing all the real images of war, excepting the effusion of blood.

The guards, and every other circumstance of the camp, to be perfectly regulated.

Each State will determine on the seasons in which its respective annual encampment shall be formed; so as best to suit the health of the men, and the general interests of the society.

The United States to make an adequate provision to supply the arms, clothing, rations, artillery, ammunition, forage, straw, tents, camp equipage, including every requisite for the annual camps of discipline; and also for the pay and subsistence of the legionary officers, and for the following general staff: One inspector general, one adjutant general, one quartermaster general, with a deputy for each State.

These officers will be essential to the uniformity, economy, and efficacy of the system, to be appointed in the manner prescribed by the constitution of the United States.

The quartermaster general shall be responsible to the United States for the public property of every species, delivered to him for the annual camps of discipline; and his deputy in each State shall be responsible to him.

At the commencement of the annual camps of discipline, the deputy quartermaster will make regular issues of the legionary or regimental quartermasters, as the case may be, of all the articles, of every species, provided by the United States.

The returns for the said articles to be examined and certified by the highest legionary or regimental officer, as the case may be, who shall be responsible for the accuracy thereof.

At the expiration of the annual camps of discipline, all public property (clothing excepted) shall be returned to the deputy quartermaster of the State, who shall hold the legionary quartermaster accountable for all deficiencies. All the apparatus and property so returned, shall be carefully examined, repaired, and deposited in a magazine, to be provided in each State for that purpose, under the charge of the said deputy quartermaster, until the ensuing annual encampment, or any occasion which may render a new issue necessary.

Corporal punishment shall never be inflicted on the annual camps of discipline; but a system of fines and imprisonment shall be formed for the regular government of said camps.


As the main and reserved corps are to be replenished by the principle of rotation from the advanced corp, and ultimately to consist of men who have received their military education therein, it is proper that one uniform arrangement should pervade the several classes.

It is for this reason the legion is established as a common form of all corps of the militia.

The main regions, consisting of the great majority of the men of military age, will form the principle defense of the country.

They are to be responsible for their proportion of men, to form an army whenever necessity shall dictate the measure; and on every sudden occasion to which the advanced corps shall be incompetent, and adequate number of noncommissioned officers and privates shall be added thereto, from the main corps, by means of the sections.

The main corps will be perfectly armed, in the first instance, and will practice the exercise and maneuvers, four days in each year, and will assemble in their respective districts, by companies, battalions, regiments, or legions, as shall be directed by the legionary general; but it must be a fixed rule, that, in the populous parts of the States, the regiments must assemble once annually, and the legions once in three years.

Although the main corps cannot acquire a great degree of military knowledge in the few days prescribed for its annual exercise, yet, by the constant accession for the youth from the advanced corps, it will soon command respect for its discipline, as well as its numbers.

When the youth are transferred from the advanced corps, they shall invariable join the flank companies, the cavalry or artillery, of the main corps, according to the nature of their former services.


The reserved corps will assemble only twice, annually, for the inspection of arms, by companies, battalion, regiments, as shall be directed by each State. It will assemble by legions, whenever the defense of the State may render the measure necessary.

Such are the propositions of the plan, to which it may be necessary to add some explanations.

Although the substantial political maxim, which requires personal service of all the members of the community for the defense of the State, is obligatory under all forms of society, and is the main pillar of a free government, yet the degrees thereof may vary at the different periods of time, consistent with the general welfare. The public convenience may also dictate a relaxation of the general obligation as it respects the principal magistrates, and the ministers of justice and of religion, and perhaps some religious sects. But it ought to be remembered that measures of national importance never should be frustrated by the accommodation of individuals.

The military age has generally commenced at sixteen, and terminated at the age of sixty years; but the youth of sixteen do not commonly attain such a degree of robust strength as to enable them to sustain, without injury, the hardships incident to the field; therefore the commencement of military service is herein fixed at eighteen, and the termination, as usual, at sixteen years of age.

The plan proposes that the militia shall be divided into three capital classes, and that each class shall be formed into legions; the reasons for which shall be given in succession.

The advanced corps, and annual camps of discipline, are instituted in order to introduce an operative military spirit in the community. To establish a course of honorable military service, which will, at the same time, mould the minds of the young men to due obedience of the laws, instruct them in the art of war, and by the manly exercises of the field, form a race of hardy citizens, equal to the dignified task of defending the country.

An examination into the employments and obligations of the individual composing the society, will evince the impossibility of diffusing an adequate knowledge of the art of war, by any other means than a coarse of discipline, during the period of nonage. The time necessary to acquire this important knowledge cannot be afforded at any other period of life with so little injury to the public or private interests.

Without descending to minute distinctions, the body of the people of the United States may be divided into two parts— the yeomanry of the country, and the men of various employments, resident in towns and cities. In both parts it is usual for the male children, from the age of fourteen to twenty-one, to learn some trade or employment, under the direction of a parent or master. In general, the labor or service of the youth, during this period, besides any repaying the trouble of tuition, leaves a large profit to the tutor. This circumstance is stated to show that no great hardships will arise in the first operations of the proposed plan; a little practice will render the measure perfectly equal, and remove every difficulty.

Youth is the time for the State to avail itself of those services which it has a right to demand, and by which it is to be invigorated and preserved. In this season, the passions and affections are strongly influenced by the splendor of military parade. The impressions the mind receives will be retained through life. The young man will repair with pride and pleasure to the filed of exercise; while the head of a family anxious for its general welfare, and perhaps its immediate subsistence, will reluctantly quit his domestic duties for any length of time.

The habits of industry will be rather strengthened than relaxed by the establishment of the annual camps of discipline, as all time will be occupied by various military duties. Idleness and dissipation will be regarded as disgraceful and punished accordingly. As soon as the youth attain the age of manhood, a natural solicitude to establish themselves in the society, will occur in its full force. The public claims for military service will be too inconsiderable to injure their industry. It will be sufficiently stimulated to proper exertions, by the prospects of opulence attending on the cultivation of a fertile soil, or the pursuits of a productive commerce.

It is presumed that thirty days annually, during the eighteenth and nineteenth, and ten days during the twentieth year, is the least time that ought to be appropriated by the youth to the acquisition of the military art. The same number of days might be added during the twentieth and during the two preceding years, were not the expense an objections.

Every means will be provided by the public to facilitate the military education of the youth, which it is proposed shall be an indispensable qualification of a free citizen: therefore they will not be entitled to any pay. But the officers, being of the main corps, are in a different predicament. They are supposed to have passed through the course of discipline required by the laws, and to be competent to instruct others in the military art. As the public will have but small claims for personal services on them, and as they must incur considerable expenses to prepare themselves to execute properly their respective offices, they ought to be paid while on actual duty.

As soon as the service of the youth expires in the advanced corps, they are to be enrolled in the main corps. On this occasion, the republic receives disciplined and free citizens, who understand their public rights, and are prepared to defend them.

The main corps is instituted to preserve and circulate throughout the community the military discipline, required in the advanced corps; to arm the people and fix firmly, by practice and habit, those forms and maxims which are essential to the life and energy of a free government.

The reserved corps is instituted to prevent men being sent to the field whose strength is unequal to sustain the severities of an active campaign. But, by organizing and rendering them eligible for domestic service, a greater proportion of the younger and robust part of the community may be enabled in case of necessity, to encounter the more urgent duties of war.

It would be difficult, previously to the actual formation of the annual camps of discipline, to ascertain the number in each State of which it would be composed. The frontier counties of several States are thinly inhabited, and require all their internal force for their immediate defense. There are other infant settlements, from which it might be injurious to draw away their youth annually for the purpose of discipline.

No evil would result, if the establishment of the advanced corps should be omitted in such districts for a few years. Besides, the forbearance in this respect would lessen the expense, and render the institution more compatible with the public finances.

The several States Legislatures, therefore, as best understanding their local interests, might be invested with a discretionary power to omit the enrollments for the advanced corps, in such of their frontiers and thinly inhabited counties, as they may judge proper.

If the number of three millions may be assumed as the total number of the inhabitants within the United States, half a million may be deducted therefrom, for blacks, and, pursuant to the foregoing ideas, another half million may be deducted, on account of the thinly settled parts of the country.

The proportion of men of the military age, from eighteen to sixty years inclusively, of two millions of people, of all ages and sexes, may be estimated at four hundred thousand. There may be deducted from this number, as actual mariners, about fifty thousand, and a further number of twenty five thousand, to include exempts for religious sects, and of every other sort which the respective States may thing proper to make.

Three hundred and twenty-five thousand, therefore, may be assumed, as a number of operative, fencible men, to compose the militia. The proportion of the several classes of which would be nearly as follows:

Firstly, The advanced corps, one-tenth composed of the youth of the ages of eighteen, nineteen, and twenty years, 32,500

Secondly, The main corps, six-tenth and one twentieth, 211,250

Thirdly, the reserved corps, two tenth and one- twentieth, 81, 250


The following estimate is formed for the purpose of exhibiting the annual expense of the institution of the advanced corps, stating the same at thirty thousand men.

Estimate of the expense of the annual camps of discipline, as proposed in the foregoing plan, arising on each of
the first three years, and, after that period, of 1/ac annual expense of the institution.


10,000 suits of uniform clothing, stated at eight dollars, each suit of which shall serve for the three years discipline $80,000
10,000 rations per day, for 30 days, each ration at 10 cents, $30, 000.
The expense of four complete corps of legionary officers, of all descriptions, for 30 days, including pay, subsistence, and forage, $27,870.
Forage for cavalry, $4,800.
Straw, camp kettles, bowls, axes, canteens, and fuel, $20,000
Annual proportion of the expense of tents for officers and soldiers, which may serve for eight annual encampments, $3,000
For legionary standards, $2,000
Consumption of powder and ball, shot, and shells, damage to arms and accouterments, and artillery, and transportation of the same, stated at, $25,000
Hospital department, $5,000
Contingencies of the quarter master's and other departments, $15,000
General staff, adjutant general, quartermaster general, inspector genral, and their deputies, $12,000

Entire expense of the first year, $225,670


10,000 rations per day, for 30 days, are 300,000 rations, at 10 cents, $30,000
The expense of four complete corps of legionary officers of all the descriptions for 30 days, including pay, subsistence, and forage, $27,870
For legionary standards, $2,000
Regimental colors, $1,000
Forage for the cavalry, $4,800
Tents, straw, camp kettles, bowls, axes, canteens, and fuel, $20,000
Hospital department, $5,000
Contingencies in the quartermaster's and other departments, $15,000
Ammunition, damage to arms and accouterments, $15,000


The expense of 10,000 rations for 10 days, is 100,00 rations, at 10 cents, $10,000
Forage, $1,600
For the camp equipage, $10,000
Tents, $1,500
Hospital stores, $1,000
Ammunition, damage to arms and accouterments, $10,000
Contingencies in the quartermaster's and other departments, $10,000


Combined expenses of the first and second years, $346,440

The total expenses of the first three years, $390,440

It is to be observed, that the officers for the four legions will be adequate to command the youth of eighteen, who commence their discipline the first year; and that the same number of officers will be required for the second year. The youth of the third year may be incorporated by sections in the existing corps, so that no additional officers will be required on their account.

If the youth of the three ages of eighteen, nineteen, and twenty, be disciplined at once, the 1st mentioned sum will be about the fixed annual expense of the camps of discipline; from which, however, is to be deducted 6,000 dollars, being the expense of the standards and colors, the former of which will be of a durable nature, and the latter will not require to be replaced oftener than once in twenty years, $6,000

The annual expense of the advanced corps, $384,440

Thus, for a sum less than four hundred thousand dollars, annually, which, apportioned on three millions of people would be litte4l more than one-eighth of a dollar each, an energetic republican militia may be durably established, the invaluable principles of liberty secured and perpetuated, and a dignified national fabric erected on the solid foundation of public virtue.

The main and reserved corps must be perfectly organized, in the first instance, but the advanced corps will not be completed until the third year of its institution.

The combination of troops, of various descriptions, into one body so as to invest it with the highest and greatest number of powers, in every possible situation, has long been a subject of discussion and difference of opinion. But no other form appears so well to have sustained the criterion of time and severe examination as the Roman legion. The formidable organization, accommodated to the purpose of modern war, still retains its original energy and superiority. Of the ancients, Polybius and Vegetius have described and given the highest encomiums of the legion. The former, particularly, in his comparative view of the advantages and disadvantages of the Macedonian and Roman arms, and their respective orders of battles, has left to mankind an instructive and important legacy. Of the moderns, the illustrious Marschal Saxe has modeled the legion for the use of fire arms, and strenuously urges its adoption, in preference to any other form. And the Respectable and intelligent veteran, late inspector general of the armies of the United States, recommended the adoption of the legion.*
*Vide letter addressed to the inhabitants of the United States, on the subject of an established militia.

"Upon a review," says he, "of all the military of Europe, there does not appear to be a single form which could be safely adopted by the United States. They are unexceptionably different from each other; and, like all other human institutions, seem to have started as much out of accident as design. The local situation of the country, the spirit of the government, the character of the nation, and in many instances, the character of the prince, have all had their influence in settling the foundation and discipline of their respective troops, and render it impossible that we should take either as a model.

"The legion, alone, has not been adopted by any; and yet I am confident in asserting, that, whether it be examined as applicable to all countries, or as it may immediately apply to the existing or probable necessity of this, it will be found striking superior to any other.

"1st. Being a complete and little army of itself, it is ready to begin its operations on the shortest notice or slightest alarm.

2d. Having all the component parts of the largest army of any possible description, it is prepared to meet every species of war that may present itself.

"And, 3d, as in every case of detachment, the first constitutional principle will be preserved, and the embarrassments of draughting the detail, which in armies differently framed, too often distract the commanding officer, will be avoided.

"It may easily suggest itself, from this sketch, that, in forming a legion, the most difficult task is to determine the necessary proportion of each species of soldiers which is to compose it. This must obviously depend upon what will be the theater, and what the style of the war. On the plains of Poland, whole brigades or cavalry would be necessary against every enemy; but, in the forests and among the hills of America, a single regiment would be more than sufficient against any. And, as there are but two kinds of war in which we are much exposed, viz. an attack from the sea side, by an European power, aided by our sworn enemies settled on our extreme left, and an invasion of our back settlements, by an Indian enemy, it follows, of course that musketeers and light infantry should make the greatest part of your army."

The institution of the section is intended to interest the patriotism and price of every individual in the militia, to support the legal measures of a free Government, to render every man active in the public cause, by introducing the spirit of emulation, and a degree of personal responsibility.

The common mode of recruiting is attended with too great destruction of morals to be tolerated; and is too uncertain to be the principal resource of a wise nation in time of danger. The public faith is frequently wounded by unworthy individuals, who hold out delusive promises, which can never be realized. By such means, an unprincipled banditti are collected for the purpose of defending everything that should be dear to free men. The consequences are natural: such men either desert in time of danger, or are every ready, on the slightest disgust, to turn their arms against their country.

By the establishment of sections, an ample and permanent source is opined, whence the State, in very exigency, may be supplied with men whose all depends upon the prosperity of their country.

In cases of necessity, an army may be formed of citizens, whose previous knowledge of discipline will enable it to proceed to an immediate accomplishment of the designs of the State, instead of exhausting the public resources, by wasting whole years in preparing to face of the enemy.

The previous arrangements, necessary to form and maintain the annual encampments, as well as the discipline acquired therein, will be an excellent preparation for war. The artillery and its numerous appendages, arms and accouterments, of every kind, and all species of ammunition, ought to be manufactured within the United States. It is of high importance that the present period should be embraced to establish adequate institutions to produce the necessary apparatus of war.

It is unworthy the dignity of a rising and free empire, to depend on foreign and fortuitous supplies of the essential means of defense.

The clothing for the troops could with ease be manufactured within the United States, and the establishment in that respect would tend to the encouragement of important manufacturies.

The disbursements made in each State for the rations, forage, and the other necessary article for the annual camps of discipline, would most beneficially circulate the money arising from the public revenue.

The local circumstances of the United States, their numerous seaports, and the protection of their commerce, require a naval arrangement. Hence the necessity of the proposed plan, embracing the idea of the States obtaining men on republican principles for the marine as well as the land service. But one may be accomplished with much greater facility than the other, as the preparation of a soldier for the field requires a degree of discipline, which cannot be learned without much time and labor; whereas the common course of sea service, on board of merchant vessels, differs but little from the service required on board of armed ships; therefore, the education for war, in his respect, will be obtained without any expense to the State. All that seems to be requisite on the head of marine service is, that an efficient regulation should be established in the respective States, to register all actual seaman, and to render those of a certain age amenable to the public for personal service, if demanded within a given period.

The constitutions of the respective States, and of the United States, having directed the modes in which the officers of the militia shall be appointed, no alteration can be made therein. Although it may be supposed that some modes of appointment are better calculated than others to inspire the highest propriety of conduct, yet there are none so defective to serve as a sufficient reasons for rejecting an efficient system for the militia. It is certain that the choice of officers is the point on which the reputation and importance of a corps must depend; therefore, every person who may be concerned in the appointment, should consider himself as responsible to his country for a proper choice.

The wisdom of the States will be manifest by inducing those citizens of whom the late American army was composed to accept of appointments in the militia. The high degree of military knowledge which they possess was acquired at too great a price, and is too precious, to be buried in oblivion. It ought to be cherished, and rendered permanently beneficial to the community.

The vigor and importance of the proposed plan will entirely depend on the laws relative thereto. Unless the laws shall be equal to the object, and rigidly enforced, no energetic national militia can be established.

If wealth be admitted as a principle of exemption, the plan cannot be executed. It is the wisdom of political establishments to make the wealth of individuals subservient to the general good, and not to suffer it to corrupt or attain undue indulgence.

It is conceded that people, solicitous to be exonerated from their proportion of public duty, may exclaim against the proposed arrangement as an intolerable hardship. But it ought to be strongly impressed that, while society has its charms, it also has its indispensable obligations. That, to attempt such a degree of refinement as to exonerate the members of the community from all personal service, it to render them incapable of the exercise, and unworthy of the characters of freemen.

Every State possesses, not only the right of personal service from its members, but the right to regulate the service on principles of equality for the general defense. All being bound, none can complain of injustice, on being obliged to perform his equal proportion. Therefore, it ought to be a permanent rule, that those who youth decline or refuse to subject themselves to the course of military education, established by the laws, should be considered as unworthy of pubic trust or public honors, and be excluded therefrom accordingly.

If the majesty of the laws should be preserved inviolate in this respect, the operations of the proposed plan would foster a glorious public spirit, infuse the principles of energy and stability into the body politic, and give a high degree of political splendor to the national character.
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