Reports to Congress on militia, 1789-1819

We have just uploaded a searchable PDF file of Military Affairs, Vol. 1, a collection of reports to the U.S. Congress from March 3, 1789, through March 3, 1819, on military and militia matters. It is interesting for the insight it provides on early thinking on militia and the right to keep and bear arms. Of special interest are the following reports:
  1. Organization of the Militia, 1789 — Page 7ff
  2. Militia Return, 1803 — Page 163ff
  3. Militia Report, 1815 — Page 604ff

There are also militia returns for the years 1794, 1805, 1809, 1810, 1812, 1813, 1814, 1816, 1818, and 1819, which can be found using the Table of Contents or the Index.

It is planned to expand this discussion to comment on particular points in these reports and what they reveal.

What does clearly emerge is the total absence of any consideration of restricting firearms possession or use, other than for training purposes. The focus was on arming, organizing, and training citizens. If some could not afford to purchase weapons, there was discussion of paying for weapons from tax funds to be given to them. It is also clear that the weapons were to be the state of the art in military equipment.

We can also get a picture from these reports of what the Founders envisioned for how militia was supposed to be used for many of the functions of governance that has been taken over by paid professionals in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Centurion said...

This is great information! Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to the cause.

Edward said...

Very interesting information. For those that haven't had the opportunity, I recommend you read the last supreme court ruling regarding the 2nd ammmendment, I recommend it's review. It separates the "militia" issue and the right to keep and bear arms. I am hopefull that the court continues the defense of the intent of our founding fathers in the establishment of our country and it's constitution. It's amazing, out of all the ammendments of our constitution, the 2nd ammendment is under constant attack and thankfully defended with logic and sound reasoning based on the intent of it's writers.

Scott said...

I appreciate the information given. I am not a fanatical gun owner but a gun owner nonetheless. I have argued for years against those who would otherwise disarm me. I always believed the intent by our forefathers was to keep us armed for self protection and the protection of our country.

Erica said...

Capitalization, The Constitution, And The Meaning Of Natural Born Citizenship

billy-b said...

Yes. In 1789 "arms" meant muskets and flintlock pistols. The Founders certainly never envisioned Uzis, Cop-killer bullets and automatic weapons. We need common sense gun laws. Not laws based on the greed of weapons manufacturers or some misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment.


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