“ALARM LIST”
During “alarms”, Rhode Island required all able-bodied free men from sixteen to sixty years of age to muster in defense of their Towns and the Colony as a whole.”

The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 220.

Also see Rhode Island “Regulating” Her MilitiaVirginia “Regulating” Her MilitiaExemptions: A means to Organize the Militia • Militiamen Firearms Kept in the Home • 2nd Amendment: “Necessary”


Alarm List

As in the other Colonies, in Rhode Island “times of general alarm” were “when the whole military force of th[e] state shall be ordered upon duty together, and at the same time”. (footnote 1)

During “alarms”, Rhode Island required all able-bodied free men from sixteen to sixty years of age to muster in defense of their Towns and the Colony as a whole. Those from sixteen to fifty years of age were listed in the Trained Bands, whereas those from fifty to sixty years of age were separately designated “the Alarm List”:

  • • [1718, 1730, and 1744] “That upon any Alarm in time of War, or other eminent danger of any Assault or Invasion, all Male Persons, both Listed Soldiers and others in this Colony, of and between the Age of Sixteen Years and Sixty, shall upon notice of the same, forthwith Repair to the Colours and Ensigns of such Company, within whose Precincts they Inhabit or dwell, provided with Arms & Ammunition required of Trained Soldiers upon Training Days[.] (footnote 2)

  • • [1766] “[U]pon any Alarm in Time of War or other imminent Danger of any Assault or Invasion, all male Persons, both enlisted Soldiers and others in this Colony, of and between the Ages of Sixteen Years and Sixty, shall upon Notice of the same forthwith repair to the Colours and Ensigns of such Company, within whose Precincts they inhabit or dwell, provided with Arms and Ammunition required of trained Soldiers upon training Days[.]” (footnote 3)

  • • [1779] “That all Male Persons between the Ages of Fifty and Sixty, if able in the Judgment of the respective Town-Councils, shall be at all Times armed, accoutred and equipped * * * upon the same Penalty as though they were held to military Duty, provided that they be enrolled, and an exact List be taken of them, by the Colonel of the Battalion in whose District they live; that upon any Deficiency in Arms, &c. he issue his Warrant * * * : And that they be considered as the Alarm-List of the State, and be subject to all other Duties as those exempted from bearing Arms [in the Trained Bands].” (footnote 4)

  • During an ‘alarm’, exemptions even for those serving in high public office were limited.

    During an “alarm”, exemptions even for those serving in high public office were limited. (footnote 1) For instance, in 1777 Rhode Island’s General Assembly allowed “all [of its] Members * * * who are drawn in the second or third Division of the Alarm-List of this State, [to] be excused from doing Duty in said Divisions at any Time during a Session of this Assembly, and one Day before the Sitting thereof, and two Days after the Rising of the same”. (footnote 2) Otherwise they were required to serve.

    Footnotes:

    1.) The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 221.

    2,) EN-440 — At the General Assembly of the Governor and Company of the State of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, begun and holden by Adjournment, at Providence, within and for the State aforesaid, on the First Monday in February, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-seven, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 8 [10], at {10}. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 221.

  • Those on the Alarm List who were unable to provide their own firearms were supplied by Local governments.

    Those on the Alarm List who were unable to provide their own firearms were supplied by Local governments. For example, in 1776 the General Assembly directed “[t]hat Two Thousand Stand of good Fire-Arms, with Bayonets, Iron Ramrods, and Cartouch-Boxes, be purchased for the Use of the Colony * * * and distributed to each Town, in Proportion to the Number of Polls upon the Alarm List therein”, and “[t]hat the Town-Council of each Town shall have Power * * * to determine what Persons in their respective Towns shall have the Benefit and Use of the Arms provided * * * and be exempted from providing themselves as the Law requires”. (footnote 1) That same year, when “all Male Persons subject by Law to bear Arms, whether of the Militia, Alarm List or Independent Companies” were “draughted in three Divisions”, the General Assembly directed “[t]hat the Town- Councils of each Town furnish such Persons as they shall certify to be unable to furnish themselves, with Arms * * * and Accoutrements, as by Law required; and that the same be paid out of the General Treasury”. (footnote 2) And in 1777, when “one Half of the Militia, Alarm, Independent, and Artillery Companies” were drafted, “if any Person * * * appear[ed] not duly equipped, * * * the Commanding Officer of the Company to which he belong[ed was] empowered to impress a Gun, or whatever Accoutrements he m[ight] stand in Need of”. (footnote 3)

    Footnotes:

    1.) EN-447 — An Act for purchasing Two Thousand Arms for the Colony, &c., At the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the GOVERNOR and COMPANY of the English Colony of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, in New- England, in America, begun and holden (in Consequence of Warrants issued by his Honor the Governor) at East-Greenwich, within and for the said Colony, on Monday the Eighteenth Day of March, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-six, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 8 [9], at {303, 304-305}. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 223.

    2.) EN-448 — At the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the GOVERNOR and COMPANY of the STATE of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, begun and holden, by Adjournment, at Providence, within and for the said State, on Monday the Twenty-third Day of December, One Thousand, Seven Hundred and Seventy-six, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 8 [9], at {15, 16}. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 223.

    3.) EN-449 — AT the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the GOVERNOR and COMPANY of the STATE of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, begun and holden, by Adjournment, at South-Kingstown, within and for the State aforesaid, on Monday the Twenty-second Day of September, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-seven, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 9 [10], at {8, 9}. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 223.

  • The only excuse generally allowed for avoidance of duty during “alarms” was physical disability.

    The only excuse generally allowed for avoidance of duty during “alarms” was physical disability. For example, in 1777 the General Assembly ordered “the first division of the second draft of the * * * alarm * * * companies” to “march to such part of the shores within their respective counties, as shall be directed by the commanding officer * * * , properly equipped, to relieve those that are now upon duty”, but also provided “that in case of sickness and inability to do duty (which alone shall excuse any person), it shall be in the power of * * * the field officers * * * to permit such a person to hire a man to do his tour of duty; and if such sick and unable person shall be so extremely poor * * * as to be unable to hire a person in his stead, * * * such field officer be empowered to remit such poor person’s fine.” (footnote 1) Exemptions from service on account of disability, though, were closely confined. For example, in 1713, in response to the petition of one John Gavet to be released and acquitted from martial discipline, by reason of an incurable lameness in one of his feet”, the General Assembly enacted that “Gavet shall be, and is hereby acquitted and discharged for ever hereafter from all manner of martial discipline, alarms only excepted ”(footnote 2)

    Footnotes:

    1.) EN-441 — Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at South Kingstown, on Thursday, the 17th day of April, 1777, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 8, at 197-198 (emphasis supplied). Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 222.

    2.) EN-442 — Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Newport, the 6th day of May, 1713, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 4, at 149 (emphasis supplied).  Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 222.

Most Americans do not possess the variety of practical knowledge and personal skills that their Colonial predecessors mastered as a matter of course—knowledge and skills that would be desperately needed everywhere in the event of (say) a catastrophic collapse of this country’s economic infrastructure, leading to a prolonged depression. In the face of such major and widespread economic, social, or political crises, “emergency management” of the “top-down”, centralized bureaucratic variety simply will not suffice. Inasmuch as the effects of these crises will likely differ in various places even within each State, let alone throughout the country as a whole, appropriate responses must be carefully tailored to the unique and probably constantly changing circumstances in each Locale, employing to the best possible degree the particular people and resources on hand at the time. Therefore, Local preparedness and Local responses through Local organization under Local command in “the Militia of the several States” will be necessary. (footnote 5)

  • Footnotes

    1.) EN-436 — An Act in addition to an act, entituled “An act for the relief of persons of tender consciences; and for preventing their being burthened with military duty”, Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at South Kingstown, on Thursday, the 17th day of April, 1777, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 8, at 206-207. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 220-221.

    2.) EN-437 — An Act for the Repealing several Laws relating to the Militia within this Colony, and for further Regulation of the same, LAWS Made and Past by the General Assembly of His Majesties Colony of Rhode- Island, and Providence-Plantations, in New-England, begun and Held at Newport, the Seventh Day of May, 1718, and Continued by Adjournments to the Ninth Day of September following, in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1719, at 89; in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1730, at 94-95; and in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1744, at 69. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 221.

    3.) EN-438 — An ACT, regulating the Militia in this Colony, part of An ACT, establishing the Revisement of the Laws of this Colony, and for the putting the same in Force, in A LAW, Made and passed at the General Assembly of the Colony of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, held at Providence on the First Monday in December, 1766, in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1767, at 185. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 221.

    4.) EN-439 — An ACT for the better forming, regulating and conducting the military Force of this State, AT the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the Governor and Company of the State of Rhode-Island, and Providence-Plantations, begun and holden at South-Kingstown, within and for the State aforesaid, on the last Monday in October, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-nine, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 10 [12], at {35}. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 221.

    5.) The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 18.