Hamilton did not explain, however, on what grounds “a select corps of moderate size”, even if well disciplined, but without significant support from the remainder of the people, could be expected to oppose a domestic “standing army” (let alone a force of foreign invaders) presumably larger in size and composed of at least equally competent soldiers. Neither did he preëmptively refute the obvious objection that the members of “a select corps” might envision themselves as separate from, independent of, and even antagonistic to the people, and thus become, not just “subservient to the views of arbitrary power”, but an actual source and instigator of such “views”. In any event, Hamilton must have been familiar with the relevant literature of the period, including the definition in Article 13 of Virginia’s Declaration of Rights of 1776 that “a well regulated militia” is “composed of the body of the people, trained to arms” (footnote 1)—with which patriots in every other State as well would doubtlessly have agreed. He surely would have known that, in common parlance, “the body of the people” meant “[a] collective mass; a joint power” and “[t]he main part; the bulk”. (footnote 2) And more likely than not he would also have been familiar with the specifically political—and radical—implication that “the body of the people” was the embodiment of constitutional democracy in its truest and best sense: incorporating and empowering the entirety of the free adult individuals from all walks of life, occupations, and economic and social classes throughout the community in service of the community’s aggregate and permanent interests. (footnote 3) Nonetheless, Hamilton frankly opposed preparing most of the citizenry for some sort of effective Militia service, other than requiring the mere personal possession of arms. Surely he realized that, even if “the people at large” were “properly armed and equipped”, they would remain otherwise unorganized, and largely if not completely undisciplined and untrained—and therefore would not constitute a “militia” at all, any more than contemporary Americans who happen to possess firearms constitute a “militia” merely as a consequence of such possession. (footnote 4)
1.) EN-1 — CHAP. I, A DECLARATION of RIGHTS made by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free Convention; which rights do pertain to them, and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government [Unanimously adopted June 12, 1776], Article 13, At a General Convention of Delegates and Representatives, from the several counties and corporations of Virginia, held at the Capitol in the City of Williamsburg, on Monday the 6th of May, 1776, in Laws of Virginia, Volume 9, at 111.
2.) S. Johnson, Dictionary, ante note 50, definition 5 in both the First (1755) and the Fourth (1773) Editions, and definitions 9 in the First Edition and 8 in the Fourth Edition.
3.) On this then-contemporary understanding of “the body” made notorious in Boston in the 1770s, see, e.g., Benjamin L. Carp, Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party & the Making of America (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2010), at 99; Esther Forbes, Paul Revere & The World He Lived In (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1948) at 195-196.
4.) 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 40-41.