There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation, and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors, that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot, but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army.
Thomas Jefferson to David Humphreys, 1789, 549
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
For a variety of reasons, Jefferson always opposed a standing army. One of those reasons is given here, that it put too much power in the hands of the few who controlled that army. That power could be at odds with the interests and rights of the nation.
Other reasons for Jefferson’s opposition will be explained in future posts.