A Well Regulated Militia

Of, By and For the People

                      A Well Regulated Militia: The Original Intent

 
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. Article ll, Bill of Rights


On every question of construction (of the constitution), let us carry ourselves back to the time when the constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one which was passed. Thomas Jefferson June 12, 1823


Nothing has created more debate and dissension than the meaning of the militia and the Second Amendment to the constitution.

The the liberal news media, leftist hate groups, the corrupt con-artists from the District of Criminals and the liberal education (indoctrination) system regularly distort the English language to suit their own socialist agenda. The American public has been dumbed down by the public fool system and the media to the point that most are deceived into believing the lies that equate the word militia with terrorist, extremist, racist and religious fanatic. Most modern day Americans don't have a clue who or what the militia is. Nor do they understand the meaning of the 2nd amendment contained in the Bill of Rights.

Our modern day elected representatives as well as the public at large have no understanding of the proper role of the militia. The militia is the original “homeland defense”and “neighborhood watch”. A careful study of the original intent of the founding fathers show us that the militia is every US male citizen, capable of bearing arms for the “common defense”.

The “common defense” meant defending your country and state from invasion as well as aiding your state government during civil disturbances, unrest, riots terrorist acts. etc.,. by enforcing the “laws” of the union. So, in that sense the militia has a role to act as “military police” to protect their fellow citizens and communities. At the local level, the militia is to serve the community exactly as described in the modern day Neighborhood watch and the CERT programs. And finally, as a last resort, the militia is to resist tyranny and the usurpation of constitutional authority within our own government.

In the original context “bearing arms” meant weapons in “common use” by the military. Further, the founders were clear, that with the right to keep and bear arms comes the responsibility or the civic obligation to serve as militia. Militia service, by law, is mandatory and All members are required to train and equip themselves.


Militia Background
The militia in America predates both the Constitution and the United States government. It was in existence since the beginning of the colonial period. During that time the militia was organized at the local community level and under the control of it’s respective colonial government.

Service in the militia was considered both a right and a civic duty. By law militia service was mandatory. All members were required to provide their own weapons, attend regular training, musters and report for duty when called into service.

The colonial governments could call up the militia for the “common defense” which usually consisted of repelling invasions by the French or the indians. At the local level the militia was the original Neighborhood Watch. They assisted the sheriff by performing “Night Watch or Night Patrols” to protect the community. They were also used in a similar manner as military police during riots or large scale civil disorder.

It is too often assumed that the founding fathers we’re in complete agreement on the use of the militia and the right to keep and bear arms. Nothing could be farther from the truth. During the constitutional convention there were three opposing points of view regarding the militia and the right to keep and bear arms.

Federalist: Strong centralized national government.. Wanted a standing army or “select militia” under federal control. Locally controlled militia’s were considered little more than “a mob”. Right of revolution or resistance to tyranny denied. Right of States and juries to nullify un constitutional legislation denied. Right to keep and bear arms for “the common defense” considered a civic duty and obligation of citizenship. Participation in militia mandatory. Right to keep and bear arms for personal defense considered a “common law” right with no bearing on the militia.

Anti-Federalist: Confederation / Union of States. State control of militia. Right of revolution or resistance to tyranny by the States affirmed. Right of States to nullify un-constitutional federal legislation and the use of militia to resist usurpation.... Right to keep and bear arms for “the common defense” considered a civic duty and obligation of citizenship. Participation in militia mandatory. Right to keep and bear arms for personal defense considered a “common law” right with no bearing on the militia.

"The Anti-Federalists of the 1780's who opposed a strong Federal government spoke of an armed militia indistinguishable from all the able bodied male citizenry. This militia was to be a great source of and training ground for republican virtue. They drew upon the writings of American and British republican theorists for this view. This universal militia was to be drawn from the local community, under the leadership of men of rank and substance, and subordinate to local elected authority."


Radical Anti-Federalist: Populist democracy. Local control of militia. Right of revolution affirmed.. Right to keep and bear arms a civic duty and obligation. Participation in militia mandatory. Right to keep and bear arms for both the common and personal defense considered a right of the militia.

These “conflicting themes, developed at the Constitutional Convention and repeated in debates over military policy during the next century, led to a compromise in the text of the Constitution and in later statutory enactments. On the one hand, there was the a widespread fear that a national standing Army posed an intolerable threat to individual liberty and to the sovereignty of the separate states, while on the other hand, there was the recognition of the danger of relying on inadequately trained soldiers as the primary means of providing for the common defense.

The Constitution watered down this concept when it gave the federal government power over organizing, arming and disciplining the militia and even more so, when it gave the federal government rather than the local (state) authority control over the militia when federalized. However, the 1792 Act, as much as allowed for by the Constitution, called for this universal militia. But the states granted widespread exemptions and eventually ended compulsory militia duty. Service in the militia became voluntary and few served.

The federal government can use the militia for the following purposes as stated in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution:

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, also grants the federal government through Congress, the power to regulate the militia:

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State,”

Well Regulated

Of all the words in the Second Amendment, well regulated probably causes the most confusion. The Random House College Dictionary (1980) gives four definitions for the word regulate, which were all in use during the Colonial period (Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, 1989):

1) To control or direct by a rule, principle, method, etc.

2) To adjust to some standard or requirement as for amount, degree, etc.

3) To adjust so as to ensure accuracy of operation.

4) To put in good order.

The first definition, to control by law in this case, was already provided for in the Constitution. It would have been unnecessary to repeat the need for that kind of regulation. For reference, here is the passage from Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, granting the federal government the power to regulate the militia:

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

Some in their enthusiasm to belong to a well regulated militia have attempted to explain well regulated by using the definition adjust so as to ensure accuracy. A regulated rifle is one that is sighted-in. However well regulated modifies militia, not arms. That definition is clearly inappropriate.

This leaves us with to adjust to some standard... or to put in good order. Let's let Alexander Hamilton explain what is meant by well regulated in Federalist Paper No. 29:

The project of disciplining all the militia of the United States is as futile as it would be injurious if it were capable of being carried into execution. A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, nor a week nor even a month, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry and of the other classes of the citizens to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people and a serious public inconvenience and loss.
--- See The Federalist Papers, No. 29.

To put in good order is the correct interpretation of well regulated, signifying a well disciplined, trained, and functioning militia.

This quote from the Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 also conveys the meaning of well regulated:
Resolved , That this appointment be conferred on experienced and vigilant general officers, who are acquainted with whatever relates to the general economy, manoeuvres and discipline of a well regulated army.
--- Saturday, December 13, 1777.

The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, (1989) defines regulated in 1690 to have meant properly disciplined when describing soldiers:

[obsolete sense]

b. Of troops: Properly disciplined. Obs. rare-1.

1690 Lond. Gaz. No. 2568/3 We hear likewise that the French are in a great Allarm in Dauphine and Bresse, not having at present 1500 Men of regulated Troops on that side.

The text itself also suggests the fourth definition ( to put in good order ). Considering the adjective well and the context of the militia clause, which is more likely to ensure the security of a free state, a militia governed by numerous laws (or just the right amount of laws [depending on the meaning of well ] ) or a well-disciplined and trained militia?

The phrase well-regulated was in common use long before 1789, and remained so for a century thereafter. It referred to the property of something being in proper working order. Something that was well-regulated was calibrated correctly, functioning as expected.

The following are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary:

1709: If a liberal education has formed in us WELL-REGULATED appetites and worthy inclinations.

1714: The practice of all WELL-REGULATED courts of justice in the world.
1812: The equation of time...is the adjustment of the differance of time as shown by a WELL-REGULATED clock and a true sun dial.

1848: A remissness for which I am sure every WELL-REGULATED person may blame the mayor.

1862: It appeared to her WELL-REGULATED mind, like a clandestine proceeding.

1894: The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every WELL-REGULATED American embryo city.

Militia Defined:
The word militia is a Latin abstract noun, meaning military service , not an armed group (with the connotation of plurality), and that is the way the Latin-literate Founders used it. The collective term, meaning army or soldiery was volgus militum . Since for the Romans military service included law enforcement and disaster response, it might be more meaningfully translated today as defense service , associated with a defense duty , which attaches to individuals as much as to groups of them, organized or otherwise. from the 3rd Continental Congress website

A body of civilians enrolled as a military force, drilled and trained for defense, but called into active service only in times of emergency. Webster's 1949

The term “militia” also refers to the eligible pool of citizens callable into military service.


Now, look at the term, ...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Lets define a few more words.

RIGHT: The founders of this country understood that Rights are not government granted privileges to be given or taken away at every political whim. They stated clearly that Rights are unalienable ... meaning Rights are given to man by his Creator, NOT the government and therefore no government may encroach upon them or deny any man his natural born Rights. The Bill of Rights were specifically written to prohibit the government from violating the rights of the people.

Many people may argue that common sense gun-control laws passed by our legislative body properly grants the government permission to restrict or limit the peoples Right to keep and bear arms. This is a blatant lie. ANY law that violates any part of the Constitution or Bill of Rights is in fact illegal.

All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void. Marbury vs.Madison, 5 US137, 174, 176 (1803)

But to be in conflict with the constitution, it is not essential that the act should contain a prohibition against bearing arms in every possible form; it is the right to bear arms in defense of the citizens and the state, that is secured by the constitution, and whatever restrains the FULL and COMPLETE EXERCISE of that right, though not an entire destruction of it, is FORBIDDEN by the explicit language of the constitution. Kentucky Supreme Court 1822

People: From the latin populi meaning armed citizens. In Roman times, for a man to become a Citizen with the right to vote, and own property; he had to first serve the Republic by becoming a soldier. In the original context of the Constitution “people” is synonymous with citizen.

Keep: To have, to own or posses a thing.

Bear: Bearing arms, in terms of the common usage of that time, most likely conveyed a military meaning, ie., to serve as a soldier.

The Second Amendment as passed by the House of Representatives read:

A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the People, being the best security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.

In the conscientious objector clause, bearing arms clearly is intended to convey an exclusively military meaning. The majority of the 1st Congress were lawyers by profession. Standard rules of statutory construction were well established. One of the rules involved, is that when a word or term is used more than once in the same document (let alone the same sentence), it is meant to convey the same, exact meaning. So, it would seem to bear arms had a military meaning. Otherwise, we are talking about different meanings associated with the same word within the same amendment. Highly improbable, again, especially since most of the framers were lawyers.

Note, the drafters did not use keeping and bearing in connection with the conscientious objector clause, although they obviously could have.

Certainly, and usually in conjunction with modifying terms (such as in defense of themselves ) bearing arms was used in a non-military context. However, standing alone, and with no modifiers, it was almost invariably used in a military context. In a legal document, it is not unreasonable to assume bearing arms had a military context, especially with the militia clause preceding it.

Shall: A determination or promise. Inevitability, Command. A directive or requirement. To have to: MUST.

Not: In no way; to no degree. Used to express negation, denial, refusal or prohibition.

Be: Make: cause to become.

Infringed: To encroach upon something. (encroach- To intrude gradually on the right or possessions of another. )

Now that you know the meaning of the words lets take a look at what the founders of this country had to say about the subject.

Samual Adams: The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.

Thomas Jefferson: No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.

John Adams: Arms in the hands of individual citizens may be used at individual discretion...in private self defense.

MEMBERSHIP:

I ask you sir, who are the Militia? They consist now of the whole people except certain public officials George Mason drafter of the Virginia Bill of Rights

Further, according to the Supreme Court, the militia is all males capable of acting in concert for the common defense expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves, arms of the kind in common use (by the military) at the time, part of the ordinary military equipment, bearing some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia. US vs Miller, 1939

...all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia...the States cannot, even laying the constitutional provision in question (2nd Amend.) out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms... Presser vs Illinois, 1886

The militia is ...the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrection, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers...The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are unsuccessful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them. Justice Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833

Sons of Liberty: Patriots or Terrorist?
How A Secret Society of Rebel Americans Made Its Mark on Early America
by Todd Alan Kreamer

SONS OF LIBERTY, or Sons of something altogether different? I suppose it all depends on a particular individual's point of view.

For the American "armchair historian," this American Revolutionary organization conjures up a myriad of confusing images. But, what of this "secret" organization that played such an integral part in advancing the idea of American independence from Great Britain? What were the Sons of Liberty? Who were its members and how widespread was its support among the thirteen colonies comprising British America? What was the ideology and degree of political affiliation within the organization?

Shrouded in secrecy, the origins of the Sons of Liberty are in dispute. Some historical sources claim that the movement began in New York City in January 1765. A more popular claim is that the movement began in Boston, Massachusetts through the leadership of one Samuel Adams (a well known American Revolutionary firebrand) in early 1765. It is quite likely that the Boston and New York City chapters of the Sons of Liberty were organized and developed simultaneously. Tradition has it that the Boston chapter gathered beneath the Liberty Tree for meetings while the New York City chapter met beneath the Liberty Pole for its meetings. For reasons of safety and secrecy, Sons of Liberty groups tended to meet late at night so as not to attract attention and detection of British officials and the American Loyalist supporters of the British Crown.

This secret patriotic society had its roots in the Committees of Correspondence. The "Committees" were colonial groups organized prior to the outbreak of the American War for Independence and were established for the purpose of formally organizing public opinion and coordinating patriotic actions against Great Britain. These original committees were loosely organized groups of private citizens formed in the New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island colonies from 1763-1764.

It was the Boston Committee of Correspondence that directed the Boston Tea Party action of December 16, 1773.1 Upset with the lack of redress concerning the new tax on tea established by the British government for importation of tea to Boston, a small band of the Boston Committee of Correspondence members (approximately fifty in number) lead by Samuel Adams, proceeded to empty three ships worth and 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor in protest.2

Was this an early terrorist action or a patriotic action. Surely, the answer lies with perspective. If you were a British official, this action was treasonous and punishable by death. If you were an American colonial citizen, this event would be seen as a glorious action of the freedom fighters worthy of praise, pride, and acclaim.


Essentially, the Sons of Liberty organized into patriotic chapters as a result of the Stamp Tax imposed by the British government on the American colonists in 1765. As a result of the heavy debt incurred from the French and Indian War (1754-1763) and the resulting burden of increased British possessions in the Americas gained as a result of victory in the war (Canada, Louisiana land area known as "New France," and several former French islands of the West Indies), British Parliament decided to station British "regular" troops in the American colonies to keep the French from attempting to recapture Canada and to defend the colonies against the Native American Indians.3 It should be noted that the vast majority of Native Americans sided with the French in the North American Theater of the Seven Years War (1756-1763) and had a notorious record of carrying out terrifying raids against British colonists in the frontier regions of the New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, and Carolina colonies dating back to the middle seventeenth century.

The Stamp Act of March 1765 was instituted to help defray the costs of maintaining British troops in the American colonies by issuing tax stamps for a wide range of public documents including: customs documents, newspapers, legal papers, and licenses. The British government believed that this stamp tax passed specifically for the American colonies was quite fair and just as a means to help pay their share of the huge national debt incurred from the Seven Years War. After all, reasoned Parliament, had not the colonies directly benefited from the war and the expulsion of the French threat from Canada? While Parliament felt that the American colonies should pay their fair portion of the war debt, the colonists responded with outrage and indignation.

The Stamp Act like the Sugar Act before it, reasoned the colonists, was yet another example of Parliament trampling on the colonial legislature's right to tax their own people. Actions and attitudes of colonists regarding perceived British monetary atrocities against their well being formed the foundation for the rallying cry of American patriots across the land namely, "no taxation without representation." The American colonists had no physical representation or voice in London Parliament, nor did they ever wish to, assert many historians. With actual American representation in Parliament, there would be no need for seeking independence.4

The Sons of Liberty organizations responded to the Stamp Act of 1765 in various ways. The New York Sons of Liberty declared in December 1765 that they would "go to the last extremity" with their lives and fortunes to prevent the enforcement of the Stamp Act. This declaration included the use of violence if necessary. Acts of rebellion against the Stamp Tax in New York City included an incident from January 9, 1766 in which ten boxes of parchment and stamped paper were delivered to City Hall and immediately confiscated, unpacked, and burned by secret leaders of the New York Sons group.5 Some merchants simply refused to pay the stamp excises. Printers, lawyers, laborers and small shopkeepers simply ignored paying the duty and carried on business as usual.6

Sometimes, the actions and reactions of the Sons of Liberty to the Stamp Act took a violent turn as recorded in a local New York City merchant's diary in April, 1765. Violence broke out with the arrival of a shipment of stamped paper to the Royal Governor's residence. Cadwallder Colden, the acting Royal Governor of the New York colony and scholarly correspondent of Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Samuel Johnson, was extremely frightened of the patriotic group and so locked himself up securely inside Fort George immediately after he received the stamped paper from British officials. A few hours after receiving the official papers, a raucous mob captured the governor's gilded and spectacular coach and reduced it to a pile of ashes. From here the mob (consisting largely of extremist elements of the New York Sons of Liberty) raced uptown to the home of Fort George's commander, smashing numerous windows and breaking into the wine cellar to sustain their "patriotism" before descending on the rest of the house in a convulsion of vandalism.7 Tarring and feathering Loyalists-- those individuals who sympathized and were supportive of the British Crown, royal tax collectors, and other officials-- was a common practice carried out by the more radical elements of the organizations.

Ironically, the Sons of Liberty ultimately took their name from a debate on the Stamp Act in Parliament in 1765. Charles Townshend, speaking in support of the act, spoke contemptuously of the American colonists as being "children planted by our care, nourished up by our indulgence...and protected by our arms." Isaac Barre, member of Parliament and friend of the American colonists, jumped to his feet in outrage in this same session to counter with severe reprimand in which he spoke favorably of the Americans as "these Sons of Liberty."8 American colonists had several friends supportive of their views on the tax situation including: William Pitt (the Elder), Charles James Fox, Edmund Burk, and others.

The two original Sons of Liberty organizations (New York City and Boston) quickly established correspondence and communications with ever emerging Sons of Liberty groups in New England, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia. Typically, members of this organization were men from the middle and upper classes of American colonial society. Although the movement began as a secret society, for reasons of safety and anonymity, the organization quickly sought to build a broad, public base of political support among the colonists. Frequently, cooperation with undisciplined and extralegal groups (city gangs) set off violent actions. Even though the Sons seldom looked for violent solutions and eruptions, they did continue to elicit and promote political upheaval that tended to favor crowd action.

While British officials accused the Sons organizations of scheming to overthrow the true and legitimate government of the American colonies, the Sons of Liberty viewed their official aims in more narrow terms, organizing and asserting resistance to the Stamp Act. Outwardly, the Sons of Liberty proclaimed their unfaltering loyalty and allegiance to King George III of Great Britain and emphasized their support of the English Constitution against the usurpation of royal officials.9 For eleven years, 1765 to 1776, American colonists saw British Parliament as the collective "bad guy," not the king!

The Sons of Liberty as a viable movement first broke up with the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766. However, the organizational network was revived in 1768 in response to the Townshend Acts (a series of excise duties on glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea imported into the colonies.) From 1768 until the end of the American Revolution, Sons of Liberty groups remained in active correspondence with one another throughout the thirteen American colonies and each group took charge of organizing and effecting resistance movements against what they perceived as unfair British taxation and financial strangulation within their respective colonies. The Sons of Liberty as an active movement disbanded in late 1783.10

In the end, no universal conclusions, judgments or definitive statements can be made about the Sons Of Liberty. Were they a terrorist organization? The British certainly believed they were. After all, the Sons were advocating overthrow of the status quo government and independence for the thirteen colonies. Were they a patriotic organization? Many American colonists certainly believed they were. The Sons represented to them the American freedom fighter personified, fighting for their rights and ultimate independence. It should be noted that the Loyalists also had their version of Committees of Correspondence and Sons of Liberty namely: the United Empire Loyalists.

One thing is certain about the Sons of Liberty organization: it gave American colonists a voice and vital chance to actively participate in the independence movement.

Finally, the decision on the Sons of Liberty comes down to a variation on an old saying "one man's terrorist is another man's patriot." The ultimate conclusion must be left to the individual.


NOTES

1 - Microsoft (R) Encarta, "Committees of Correspondence" (New York: Funk & Wagnall's Corp. Pub., 1993) CD ROM.
2 - CD Sourcebook of American History, "The Boston Tea Party" by Thomas Hutchinson (1773) America, vol.3, p. 96 (Provo, Utah: Infobase, Inc., Pub., 1995) CD ROM.
3 - Division of Archives and History, The American Revolution in New York: Its Political, Social, and Economic Significance (Albany: The University of the State of New York, 1926) 15.
4 - Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, eds., The Readers Companion to American History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1991) 1023.
5 - The American Revolution in New York 18.
6 - Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. "Stamp Act" (New York: Compton's NewMedia, Inc. Pub., 1994) CD ROM.
7 - Robert Leckie, George Washington's War (New York: Harper Collins, 1990) 49.
8 - Leckie, 48.
9 - Foner and Garraty, 1008.
10 - American Revolution in New York 239.
Who Were the Minutemen?
Although the terms militia and minutemen are sometimes used interchangeably today, in the 18th century there was a decided difference between the two. Militia were men in arms formed to protect their towns from foreign invasion and ravages of war. Minutemen were a small hand-picked elite force which were required to be highly mobile and able to assemble quickly. Minutemen were selected from militia muster rolls by their commanding officers. Typically 25 years of age or younger, they were chosen for their enthusiasm, reliability, and physical strength. Usually about one quarter of the militia served as Minutemen, performing additional duties as such. The Minutemen were the first armed militia to arrive or await a battle.

Although today Minutemen are thought of as connected to the Revolutionary War in America, their existence was conceived in Massachusetts during the mid-seventeenth century. As early as 1645, men were selected from the militia ranks to be dressed with matchlocks or pikes and accoutrements within half an hour of being warned. In 1689 another type of Minuteman company came into existence. Called Snowshoemen, each was to "provide himself with a good pair of snowshoes, one pair of moggisons, and one hatchet" and to be ready to march on a moment's warning. Minutemen also played a role in the French and Indian War in the 1750's. A journal entry from Samuel Thompson, a Massachusetts militia officer, states, "...but when our men were gone, they sent eleven more at one minute's warning, with 3 days provision..." By the time of the Revolution, Minutemen had been a well-trained force for six generations in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Every town had maintained its 'training band'. The adversity that this region faced-Native-American uprisings, war with France, and potential for local insurrections, social unrest, and rioting-provided ample reason to adhere to a sound militia organization. In his recent book, perhaps David Hackett Fischer puts it best, "The muster of the Minutemen in 1775 was the product of many years of institutional development...it was also the result of careful planning and collective effort." (p. 151). By the time of the Revolution, Massachusetts had been training, drilling, and improving their militia for well over a hundred years.

Unfortunately, one thing the Minutemen lacked was central leadership. This disadvantage would lead to their dissolution. In February of 1775 Concord was one of the first towns to comply with the order to create Minutemen companies out of the militia. Of approximately 400 militia from Concord's muster rolls, one hundred would also serve as Minutemen. When a battle took place Minutemen companies from several towns combined their units. An officer from the 43rd Regiment of Foot was sent to the North Bridge in Concord with a number of light infantry. Minutemen from Concord, Acton, Littleton, and other towns combined forces. After a few volleys were fired, the British light infantry retreated back to the Concord Common area. Lacking central command, with each company of Minutemen loyal to their own town, they did not pursue the redcoats. In the running battle that ensued fifteen miles back to Boston the Massachusetts militia would see their last action as Minutemen in history. The militia would go on to form an army, surrounding Boston and inflicting heavy casualties on the British army at Bunker and Breed's Hill.

Thus, although lacking central command, the Minutemen were still better organized and battle-tested than any other part-time military. They were a vital and necessary force, playing a crucial role in not only the Revolutionary War, but in earlier conflicts. Without these "ready in a minute" men, our history may have been written in a very different way.

-Andrew Ronemus
Brandywine Battlefield Park is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in cooperation with the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates.
Rodgers Rangers: The Original Militia Special forces
Robert Rogers was a colonial farmer recruited from New Hampshire in 1755 by the British for service in the French and Indian War (1754-63).

He created a unit called Rogers' Rangers in 1756 (the first Rangers), and by 1758 the British placed him in charge of all colonial Ranger companies. The Rangers wore distinctive green outfits and developed tactics called "Rogers' Ranging Rules", which the British considered unconventional. These tactics are still in use by Rangers today, including the Green Berets.

Rogers' Rangers were most famous for their engagement with the Abenaki St Francis Indians, who lived midway between Montreal and Quebec. These Abenaki were credited with the deaths of over 600 colonists during the duration of the war. After the Indians attacked a retreating British unit under a flag of truce, Rogers led a hand-picked force of 200 Rangers to destroy the Indian's village.

Rogers' Rangers took part in General James Wolfe's expedition against Quebec and in the Montreal campaign of 1760. The Rangers were later sent by General Jeffrey Amherst to take possession of the northwestern posts, including Detroit. In 1763 the Rangers were in the West again, during Pontiac's War (1763-64), and they participated in the Battle of Bloody Bridge

After the war, Rogers went to England to write of his accounts. In 1766 he asked King George III to fund an expedition from the Mississippi River to the Pacific. The King refused, but granted him command of the northwest post called Michilimackinac. From there, Rogers conducted his own expedition anyways. His ambition caused him to be sent to England on the charges of treason, but he was acquitted.

Historians believe the spark of the American Revolution may have begun in the ranks of Rogers' Rangers. One of America's best officers during the Revolution was John Stark, who had been Rogers' Lieutenant. The British had treated the Rangers poorly during the French and Indian War. In 1775 former members of Rogers' Rangers fired upon the British at Concord and Lexington.

Rogers returned to America to join the Revolution when it started. George Washington refused his offer of help, because he feared that Rogers might be a loyalist spy. Outraged by this, Rogers openly joined the British and organized and commanded the Queen's Rangers, which saw service in areas around New York City, and later created the King's Rangers.


History: Rogers' Rangers
Rangers were organized in 1756 by Major Robert Rogers, a native of New Hampshire, who recruited nine companies of American colonists to fight for the British during the French and Indian War. Ranger techniques and methods of operation were an inherent characteristic of the American frontiersmen; however, Major Rogers was the first to capitalize on them and incorporate them into the fighting doctrine of a permanently organized fighting force.

In the French and Indian War (1754-1763), the famous Robert Rogers developed the Ranger concept to an extent never known before. A soldier from boyhood, Rogers had a magnetic personality. Operating in the days when commanders personally recruited their men, he was articulate and persuasive, and knew his trade. He published a list of 28 common sense rules, and a set of standing orders stressing operational readiness, security, and tactics.

A Plan of Discipline
as published in a 1769 Dublin edition.

1. All Rangers are to be subject to the rules and articles of war; to appear at roll- call every evening, on their own parade, equipped, each with a firelock, sixty rounds of powder and ball, and a hatchet, at which time an officer from each company is to inspect the same, to see they are in order, so as to be ready on any emergency to march at a minute's warning; and before they are dismissed, the necessary guards are to be draughted and scouts for the next day appointed.
2. Whenever you are ordered out to the enemies forts or frontiers for discoveries, if your number be small, march in a single file, keeping at such distance from each other as to prevent one shot from killing two men, sending one man, or more, forward, and the like on each side, at the distance of twenty yards from the main body, if the ground you march over will admit of it, to give the signal to the officer of the approach of an enemy, and of their number &c.
3. If you march over marshes or soft ground, change your position, and march abreast of each other to prevent the enemy from tracking you (as they would do if you marched in a single file) till you get over such ground, and then resume your former order and march till it is quite dark before you encamp, which do, if possible, on a piece of ground which that may afford your centries the advantage of seeing or hearing the enemy some considerable distance, keeping one half of your whole party awake alternately through the night.
4. Some time before you come to the place you would reconnoitre, make a stand, and send one or two men in whom you can confide, to look out the best ground for making your observations.
5. If you have the good fortune to take any prisoners, keep them separate, till they are examined, and in your return take a different route from that in which you went out, that you may the better discover any party in your rear, and have an opportunity, if their strength be superior to yours, to alter your course, or disperse, as circumstances may require.
6. If you march in a large body of three or four hundred, with a design to attack the enemy, divide your party into three columns, each headed by a proper officer, and let those columns march in single files, the columns to the right and left keeping at twenty yards distance or more from that of the center, if the ground will admit, and let proper guards be kept in the front and rear, and suitable flanking parties at a due distance as before directed, with orders to halt on all eminences, to take a view of the surrounding ground, to prevent your being ambuscaded, and to notify the approach or retreat of the enemy, that proper dispostions may be made for attacking, defending, &c. And if the enemy approach in your front on level ground, form a front of your three columns or main body with the advanced guard, keeping out your flanking parties, as if you were marching under the command of trusty officers, to prevent the enemy from pressing hard on either of your wings, or surrounding you, which is the usual method of the savages, if their number will admit of it, and be careful likewise to support and strengthen your rear-guard.
7. If you are obliged to receive the enemy's fire, fall, or squat down, till it is over; then rise and discharge at them. If their main body is equal to yours, extend yourselves occasionally; but if superior, be careful to support and strengthen your flanking parties, to make them equal to theirs, that if possible you may repulse them to their main body, in which case push upon them with the greatest resolution with equal force in each flank and in the center, observing to keep at a due distance from each other, and advance from tree to tree, with one half of the party before the other ten or twelve yards. If the enemy push upon you, let your front fire and fall down, and then let your rear advance thro' them and do the like, by which time those who before were in front will be ready to discharge again, and repeat the same alternatively, as occasion shall require; by this means you will keep up such a constant fire, that the enemy will not be able easily to break your order, or gain your ground.
8. If you oblige the enemy to retreat, be careful, in your pursuit of them to keep out your flanking parties, and prevent them from gaining eminences, or rising grounds, in which case they would perhaps be able to rally and repulse you in their turn.
9. If you are obliged to retreat, let the front of your whole party fire and fall back, till the rear hath done the same, making for the best ground you can; by this means you will oblige the enemy to pursue you, if they do it at all, in the face of a constant fire.
10. If the enemy is so superior that you are in danger of being surrounded by them, let the whole body disperse, and every one take a different road to the place of rendezvous appointed for that evening, which must every morning be altered and fixed for the evening ensuing, in order to bring the whole party, or as many of them as possible, together, after any separation that may happen in the day; but if you should happen to be actually surrounded, form yourselves into a square, or if in the woods, a circle is best, and, if possible, make a stand till the darkness of the night favours your escape.
11. If your rear is attacked, the main body and flankers must face about to the right or left, as occasion shall require, and form themselves to oppose the enemy, as before directed; and the same method must be observed, if attacked in either of your flanks, by which means you will always make a rear of one of your flank-guards.
12. If you determine to rally after a retreat, in order to make a fresh stand against the enemy, by all means endeavour to do it on the most rising ground you come at, which will give you greatly the advantage in point of situation, and enable you to repulse superior numbers.
13. In general, when pushed upon by the enemy, reserve your fire till they approach very near, which will then put them into the greatest surprize and consternation, and give you an opportunity of rushing upon them with your hatchets and cutlasses to the better advantage.
14. When you encamp at night, fix your centries in such a manner as not to be relieved from the main body till morning, profound secrecy and silence being often of the last importance in these cases. Each centry therefore should consist of six men, two of whom must be constantly alert, and when relieved by their fellows, it should be done without noise; and in case those on duty see or hear any thing, which alarms them, they are not to speak, but one of them is silently to retreat, that proper dispositions may be made; and all occasional centries should be fixed in like manner.
15. At the first dawn of day, awake your whole detachment; that being the time when the savages chuse to fall upon their enemies, you should by all means be in readiness to receive them.
16. If the enemy should be discovered by your detachments in the morning, and their numbers are superior to yours, and a victory doubtful, you should not attack them till the evening, as then they will not know your numbers, and if you are repulsed, your retreat will be favoured by the darkness of the night.
17. Before you leave your encampment, send out small parties to scout round it, to see if there be any appearance or track of an enemy that might have been near you during the night.
18. When you stop for refreshment, chuse some spring or rivulet if you can, and dispose your party so as not to be surprised, posting proper guards and centries at a due distance, and let a small party waylay the path came in, lest the enemy should be pursuing.
19. If, in your return, you have to cross rivers, avoid the usual fords as much as possible, lest the enemy should have discovered, and be there expecting you.
20. If you have to pass by lakes, keep at some distance from the edge of the water, lest, in case of an ambuscade or an attack from the enemy, when in that situation, your retreat should be cut off.
21. If the enemy pursue your rear, take a circle till you come to your own tracks, and there form an ambush to receive them, and give them the first fire.
22. When you return from a scout, and come near our forts, avoid the usual roads, and avenues thereto, lest the enemy should have headed you, and lay in ambush to receive you, when almost exhausted with fatigues.
23. When you pursue any party that has been near our forts or encampments, follow not directly in their tracks, lest they should be discovered by their rear-guards, who, at such a time, would be most alert; but endeavour, by a different route, to head and meet them in some narrow pass, or lay in ambush to receive them when and where they least expect it.
24. If you are to embark in canoes, battoes, or otherwise, by water, chuse the evening for the time of your embarkation, as you will then have the whole night before you, to pass undiscovered by any parties of the enemy, on hills, or other places, which command a prospect of the lake or river you are upon.
25. In padling or rowing, give orders that the boat or canoe next the sternmost, wait for her, and the third for the second, and the fourth for the third, and so on, to prevent separation, and that you may be ready to assist each other on any emergency.
26. Appoint one man in each boat to look out for fires, on the adjacent shores, from the number and size of which you may form some judgment of the number that kindled them, and whether you are able to attack them or not.
27. If you find the enemy encamped near the banks of a river or lake, which you imagine they will attempt to cross for their security upon being attacked, leave a detachment of your party on the opposite shore to receive them, while, with the remainder, you surprize them, having them between you and the lake or river.
28. If you cannot satisfy yourself as to the enemy's number and strength, from their fires, &c. conceal your boats at some distance, and ascertain their number by a reconnoitering party, when they embark, or march, in the morning, marking the course they steer, &c. when you may pursue, ambush, and attack them, or let them pass, as prudence shall direct you. In general, however, that you may not be discovered by the enemy upon the lakes and rivers at a great distance, it is safest to lay by, with your boats and party concealed all day, without noise or shew; and to pursue your intended route by night; and whether you go by land or water, give out parole and countersigns, in order to know one another in the dark, and likewise appoint a station for every man to repair to, in case of any accident that may separate you.


Rogers Paraphrased
The Book "Northwest Passage" popularized and paraphrased Roger's Standing Orders as this:

1. Don't forget nothing.
2. Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute's warning.
3. When you're on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the enemy first.
4. Tell the truth about what you see and what you do. There is an army depending on us for correct information. You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but don't never lie to a Ranger or officer.
5. Don't never take a chance you don't have to.
6. When we're on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can't go through two men.
7. If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it's hard to track us.
8. When we march, we keep moving till dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at us.
9. When we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.
10. If we take prisoners, we keep'em separate till we have had time to examine them, so they can't cook up a story between'em.
11. Don't ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won't be ambushed.
12. No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout 20 yards ahead, 20 yards on each flank, and 20 yards in the rear so the main body can't be surprised and wiped out.
13. Every night you'll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force.
14. Don't sit down to eat without posting sentries.
15. Don't sleep beyond dawn. Dawn's when the French and Indians attack.
16. Don't cross a river by a regular ford.
17. If somebody's trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your own tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.
18. Don't stand up when the enemy's coming against you. Kneel down, lie down, hide behind a tree.
19. Let the enemy come till he's almost close enough to touch, then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet.


Rogers established a training program in which he personally supervised the application of his rules. In June 1758, Robert Rogers was conducting live-fire training exercises. His operations were characterized by solid preparation and bold movements. When other units were bivouacked in winter quarters, Rangers moved against the French and Indians by the use of snowshoes, sleds, and even ice skates. In a time when the English colonists were struggling, Roger's Rangers carried the war to the enemy by scouting parties and raids.

His most famous expedition was a daring raid against the fierce Abenaki Indians. With a force of 200 Rangers, travelling by boat and over land, Rogers covered 400 miles in about 60 days. Penetrating deep into enemy territory, and despite losses en route, the Rangers attacked and destroyed the Indian settlement and killed several hundred Indians; the Abenaki were no longer a threat.

Rangers continued to patrol the border and defend the colonists against sporadic Indian attacks for the next decade. When the time came for the colonies to fight for their independence, the American Rangers were ready.
The Militia Origins of American Policing
by William Flatt


There were four primary institutions that provided the basis of English and American law enforcement for almost 600 years, from the Statute of Winchester (1285), until the statute of 1856 requiring all English counties to maintain professional police forces: (a) the local constable, appointed in England, elected from small precincts in the U.S.; (b) the neighborhood hue and cry; (c) the night watch, later supplemented by a day watch, on which in theory all adult males were bound to serve; and (d) the posse comitatus, consisting of all males over the age of 15, a variant of the citizen militia established by the Assize of Arms (1181).

Origins of Policing Based in Militia Tradition
The English background of the individual right to possess weapons dates back to the reign of King Alfred the Great in 690 A.D. Under King Alfred, every free male was required by law to possess the weapons of an infantryman and serve in the citizen militia (although the word "militia" itself was not used until the late 16th century). In 1181, King Henry II's Statute of Assize of Arms ordered all freemen to bear arms for national defense. By the late 16th century, gun ownership had become mandatory for all adult males for anti-crime purposes, and for the defense of the realm. Arms were necessary so that all citizens could join in the hutesium et clamor (hue and cry) to pursue fleeing criminals; indeed, citizens were legally required to join in. Any person who witnessed a felony could raise the hue and cry.

In Holland, the night watch was introduced in 14th century and was the responsibility of the Sheriff. But as towns grew every neighborhood got its own department of watchmen. The organization of the night watch was based on the militia, even with titles as lieutenant, captain and colonel. But these titles were reserved for the rich and they never patrolled town.

The English colonies in America quickly established an individual right and duty to bear arms that paralleled the developments in England. In 1658, the Virginia House of Burgesses required every householder to have a functioning firearm. The purpose was to have a citizenry that could be called to militia duty to fight Indians, foreign invaders, or pursue and detain infamous criminals. Additionally, in both Great Britain and America, citizens were required to participate in anti-crime patrols such as a night watch and to obey the commands of sheriffs to pursue fleeing felons. Lastly, as a practical matter, citizens had to possess arms for their own personal protection, since public safety agencies were few and far between.

The night watch as originally conceived was a volunteer body, drawn by lottery from among all adult males. Its expiration began when the hiring of substitutes was permitted. With the rise of professional police, another form of select militia, any effort to enlist or enforce public participation in law enforcement was abandoned. Yet, the inevitability of this decline is far from obvious. Until well into the nineteenth century volunteer watchmen - not policemen - patrolled their communities to keep order.... Their presence deterred disorder or alerted the community to disorder that could not be deterred. And a relative of the night watch survives without controversy: The volunteer fire department continues to serve in many parts of the country. Yet a new form of the night watch is being used, and though the term citizen militia is studiously avoided by modern officials, it is called "neighborhood watch" and "community policing"; the very things that are the responsibility of the citizen militia during peacetime.

A New Model of Policing
Meanwhile in England, British Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel organized the first professional city-police force in 1829 by passage of the Metropolitan Police Act. The structure of this police force placed the control of these men at the disposal of the Home Secretary himself. This in essence became the foundation for the development of nationalized police forces in every nation outside America. The abuses of nationalized police forces are well documented in the examples of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Communist China, and virtually every tyrannical government since.

America resisted the development of a national police force, in large part due to the development of our traditions of decentralized power and local accountability. Another factor is the extreme caution that Americans have toward placing the power of arrest and detainment in the hands of others. Healthy distrust of government has been and remains central to the American tradition of checks and balances, and limits on the powers of those charged with policing is congruent with that tradition. By 1900, however, the growing size and political manipulation of metropolitan police forces drew mounting criticism from many who saw that the police were quickly becoming nothing short of political operatives. This parallels the development of national police forces in foreign countries as tools of persecution and political repression.

C. B. Klockars (The Idea of Police, Sage, 1985) provides a clear and brief definition of this new model of policing that closely mirrors the Maoist model of the theory of political power. "The meaning of police is not found in what is done, it is how it is done. Policing is done by coercive force". Robert Langworthy and Lawrence Travis, in Policing in America (Macmillan, 1994) assert, "The price for more freedom is likely to be less order; the price for more order is likely to be less freedom". He continues, "Police actions must be justified in order to be considered appropriate".

Langworthy and Travis continue with this new definition of policing by expounding on the maintenance-of-order concept. They use the term "peacekeeping" to describe the new role of the police officer. Evocative as that is in describing the maintenance of the peace, we begin to see that the same terms are now being applied to our military, which are entangled in missions of peacekeeping.

"As we prepare for the future, special operations forces will be operating," says H. Allen Holmes, former Assistant Secretary of Defense, "in what I would call the seam between war and crime". In this statement alone, we see the merging of police and military functions in America. How did this happen, in a free nation where the police function and the military function have been circumscribed, that we would begin to adopt the maintenance-of-order mechanisms of other nations whose people are less free?

Clearly here we see there is a radical shift in the concepts and definitions of policing, and the people in whom this responsibility is vested. We start in the mid 18th Century with a concept of policing by the people and for the people, and by the end of the 20th Century policing is now performed by a highly elite cadre - not for the people, but to control the people. Where did we go wrong?

In examining the professionalization of the police function, we can see that the radical shift in police philosophy began with the development of urban centers. The admiration of British institutions produced a rapid introduction of the foreign (British) model of policing into American cities. This is in contrast to rural America, where the county sheriff constituted the primary police function, locally accountable and sworn to uphold the Constitution as a public official who performed many civic duties and was not limited to merely "enforcing the law".

Shift in Policing Returns to Basics
In the mid-1990's, the ongoing federalization of local police departments and the adoption of models of policing by the military were recognized and denounced by various law officials who maintained the integrity of their oaths to uphold the Constitution. Some of the first to do so were Sheriffs in western states such as Richard Mack and Jay Printz, as well as Officers Jack McLamb and Rick Dalton, and the hundreds and thousands of members of the American Citizens & Lawmen's Association.

From the grassroots, these patriotic peace officers began to awaken their fellow officers to the fact that there is still a Constitution! There are more yet who know and understand the militia and 2nd Amendment origins of policing in America, and have quietly participated in militia groups all over America. In these organizations, an emphasis is placed on Constitutional knowledge and understanding, skills development, and character building. Some militias even train on specific aid-to-law-enforcement skills such as communications, search & rescue, and disaster preparedness.

I already covered the emergence of citizen action groups known as "neighborhood patrols" and "Guardian Angels". These are also militia groups. Like the camouflage-clad variety, they work WITH and in support of local police! Add to this the western phenomenon of property-protection groups like Ranch Rescue, which recently interdicted nearly 280 lbs of marijuana being smuggled in from Mexico, and you have a movement that is actually accomplishing a lot to help the police perform their proper functions!

Some private special-interest organizations who are hostile to Americanism, the Constitution, and the patriot movement, have worked long and hard to demonize these fellow defenders of our communities. We are told by these self-proclaimed "experts" that citizen militia groups are "the enemy" and "criminal groups"; waiting to wage war against the police on a scale far grander than even the radical groups of the 1960's - such as the Black Panthers - had threatened... yet their disinformation tactics are easily exposed by the law itself, and the track record of militias themselves.

Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution clearly states that Congress has the power "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions". Read that again! "...calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union..." Think about this: if the police have their origin in the militia, and the militia (which is the whole people;) may be called forth to enforce the law, then the militia is the ally of the peace officer!! Nonetheless, the critics of a free republic are attempting to deceive police into thinking it may be necessary to shoot these people as if they were the problem. Would you shoot your own partner? This is essentially what groups like the ADL and SPLC are asking police to do - and exactly what some policemen have already done in isolated cases.

Oh, I am sure you have heard stories about some whacked-out militiaman breaking the law, but consider this: Of the approximately 1 million people who consider themselves to be formally enrolled in a well regulated citizen militia group, how many have been actually tried, convicted and sentenced for a crime? If you listen to the ADL and SPLC, they would have you believe this happens hundreds of times every year. However I think that the serious researcher would be hard pressed to find 50 instances in the past 10 years, let alone the 500 or 5000 a year claimed by these morons. Statistically, it is plain to see that the per-capita involvement of militia members is well below the norm for the general population!

Given the self-serving rhetoric dished up by these political special-interest groups, who would you trust more to assist in catching real criminals? A political hack whose concern for the people can be measured on the head of a pin? Or real-life concerned, patriotic, law-abiding people who genuinely wish to assist in the apprehension of criminals and illegal aliens and just happen to be in a group that calls itself a militia?

Since the historical and social roots of American policing have already been clearly identified in the militia tradition, anyone who enforces the laws has to examine their philosophy of policing to see whether they are on the side of the people, with the full protection of constitutional rights; or against the people with an eye to arrest them for their exercise of inalienable rights. Which are you?

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This site is dedicated to all of those Americans who have made the "Ultimate Sacrifice" in the defense of their Constitution. From the Patriots of Lexington Green to the present day anonymous militiaman who readies himself each day.


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