Tag Archives: Militia
… I take the liberty of urging on you the importance and indispensible necessity of vigorous exertions … [to] render the militia a sure and permanent bulwark of national defence.
None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army. to keep ours armed and disciplined, is therefore at all times important. but especially so at a moment when rights the most essential to our welfare have been violated …
… that I may have a full and correct view of the resources of our country in all it’s different parts, … [furnish me with a report of the] militia, & of the arms & accoutrements of your state, and of the several counties, or other geographical divisions of it.
Circular to the Governors of the States, February 25, 1803
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A ready defense of the nation is a leader’s first responsibility.
The U.S. had no standing army, and the President didn’t want one, for two reasons. First was the cost to maintain it. Second, an army, created to fight, would want to fight and might cause provocations for that reason alone. Far better was a well-armed and trained militia, private citizens ready to provide a first line of defense. If the militia proved inadequate, their existence would provide time to raise a standing army.
Militias were the responsibility of the states. Jefferson wrote to the Governors, reinforcing their role in providing for a militia that was “armed and disciplined.” He asked each Governor to report to him on the men and arms available from each state, county and territory.
The particular violation referenced by Jefferson was at New Orleans, where a Spanish agent had suspended America’s treaty-guaranteed right of free shipping through that essential river port.
“Without question, you enjoy an actor’s sense of timing and theater
that makes a lasting impression.
You demonstrated a steady and clear delivery without relying on histrionics.”
Executive Director, Western Coal Transportation Association
No exaggeration from Mr. Jefferson! Only a “steady and clear delivery.”
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Considering that the important thing is to get the militia classed so that we may get at the young for a year’s service at a time, and that training may be supplied after they are called out, I think we may give up every part of the bill which respects training & arming. let us once get possession of the principle, & future Congresses will train & arm. in this way we get rid of all those enemies to the bill to whom different details would be objectionable.
To General Henry Dearborn, December 31, 1805
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Strategic leaders leave tactics to be sorted out later.
Dearborn (1751-1829) was involved in America’s military affairs for much of his life. He was President Jefferson’s Secretary of War through both administrations.
Jefferson was a strong proponent of using militias for immediate crises and raising a regular army only if needed for prolonged engagements. To make the militia more effective, he favored classifying the type of temporary service required by age, requiring longer terms of service from younger, single men. Congress was considering not only classification-by-age but how the militia would be armed and trained. There was much for Congress to argue about.
The President knew the main issue was getting the classification. Arguments over arming and training threatened to derail the essential principle. He asked his general to stick with the one main goal. Once that principle was established, future Congresses would settle the lesser issues of arming and training. Focusing on the main thing eliminated the enemies who wanted to major in the minors and defeat the entire proposition.