Militia: Not in any sense Private Establishments

“Militia in this country were always the products of charters, ordinances, acts, and statutes—and, as such, they were both created and “regulated” by governments in, and formed parts of the governments of, the Colonies and States. They were not in any way, shape, or form mere private associations which individuals cobbled together and then “regulated” on their own, independent of government.”

Also see “Militia”: What are They? How are Militia Created? Militia: Separate and Distinct From the Regular Armed ForcesIndependent Militia Companies • National Guard: Not a MilitiaOxymoronic “Unorganized” Militia


 Militia: Not in Any Sense Private Associations

The original Constitution refers to “the Militia of the several States” (footnote 1), not “the Militia in the several States”. This is because the Militia which existed at the time of ratification of the Constitution, and for many decades prior thereto in the Colonies and then the independent States—“settled” and “regulated”, were Colonial and State governmental institutions, not private establishments. Self-evidently, the Militia—howsoever they may have been “regulated” as a matter of fact—were “regulated” as a matter of law by government, not by private individuals, because they were integral parts of the governments in all of the States and Colonies, not mere private associations. Because the original Constitution intends these institutions to continue as permanent parts of its federal system—an intention which the Second Amendment does not negate, challenge, or question—“the Militia of the several States” today are, in terms of their governmental character, the same as “the Militia of the several States” in the late 1700s. So the “regulation” of “the Militia of the several States” today must be just as governmental in nature as was the “regulation” of “the Militia of the several States”, and of the Colonies which preceded them, throughout the 1700s and much of the 1600s. Certainly no basis exists for contending that each of “the Militia of the several States” at the time of ratification of the Constitution (1788) was ever considered by anyone—with respect to any of its characteristics, including its governmental nature—to be other than “[a] well regulated Militia” as the Second Amendment was understood at the time of its ratification (1791).

The original Constitution delegates to Congress the powers “[t]o provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions” (footnote 2); “[t]o provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia” (footnote 3); and “[t]o provide * * * for governing such Part of the[ Militia] as may be employed in the Service of the United States”. (footnote 4) Self-evidently, these are powers of “regulation”. Combining the Second Amendment with the original Constitution compels the conclusion that “[a] well regulated Militia” is one which Congress “regulates” in the foregoing manner for the foregoing purposes. Congress, of course, is the body within the General Government in which the original Constitution “vest[s]” “[a]ll [of the] legislative Powers” (footnote 5) it grants. Therefore, Congress’s exercise of its powers related to the Militia constitutes obviously and inescapably governmental “regulation” of the Militia.

  • Delegation of authority to local governments reflect the Local foundations of the Militia Structures. 14 statutes from pre-constitutional Rhode Island regulating her Militia.

    Reflecting the fundamentally Local foundations of the Militia, throughout the pre-constitutional period Rhode Island’s General Assembly delegated extensive authority to the Colony’s Towns. At various times, the Towns were empowered to: supervise the selection of Militia officers; (footnote 1) regulate the authority of Militia officers; (footnote 2) designate the days for and regimens of training; (footnote 3) judge individuals’ compliance with Militia regulations; (footnote 4) pass on the sufficiency of firearms for Militia purposes; (footnote 5) arrange for inspections and inventories of firearms and ammunition in private hands; (footnote 6) see to it that firearms in individuals’ personal possession were kept in good repair; (footnote 7) ascertain whether individuals had the financial wherewithal to purchase their own firearms and ammunition; (footnote 8) provide firearms and ammunition to the poor; (footnote 9) determine who was physically able to serve in the Militia’s “Alarm List”; (footnote 10) draft individuals into military service; (footnote 11) procure substitutes for men who defaulted on their military duty; (footnote 12) establish “watches” in times of peace and war; (footnote 13) and maintain magazines for firearms, gunpowder, and shot. (footnote 14)

    Footnotes:

    1.) EN-40 — [Number] 18, The General Court of Election began and held at Portsmouth, from the 16th of March to the 19th of the same mo., 1641, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 115. 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 103.

    2.) EN-41 — At the Generall Court of Election held on the 16th & 17th of March, att Newport, 1642, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 120-121. 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 103.

    3.) EN-42 — [General Town Meeting in Portsmouth,] The 10th of Aprill, 1643, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 80. 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 103.

    4.) EN-43 — Proceedings of the Generall Assembly held for the Collony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at Newport, the 4th of September, 1666, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 2, at 171-172. 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 103.

    5.) EN-44 — [Number] 15, The General Court of Commissioners held for the Collony, Warwicke, November the 2d, 1658, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 403. 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 103.

    6.) EN-45 — [A Town Meeting in Portsmouth,] 5th of October 1643], in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 77; [Number] 13, June the 30th, 1655[,] The Court of Commissioners at Portsmouth, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 320-321; [Number] 15, The General Court of Commissioners held for the Collony, Warwicke, November the 2d, 1658, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 403; Acts and Orders of the Generall Assembly, sitting at Newport, May the 3, 1665, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 2, at 117; [Number] 2, By the Governor and Councill att Newport, the 13th and 14th of May, 1667, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 2, at 196; Att a meeting of the Generall Councill, at Newport, on Thursday, August 26, 1669, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 2, at 282; Proceedings of the Generall Assembly of the Collony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, held at Newport, the 13th of March, 1675-6, [Session of] Aprill the 4th[, 1676], in Rhode Island Records, Volume 2, at 536. 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 103.

    7.) EN-46 — Acts and Orders made at the Generall Courte of Election held at Newport, May the 23d, (1650), for the Colonie of Providence Plantations, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 221-222; [Number] 2, By the Governor and Councill att Newport, the 13th and 14th of May, 1667, in Rhode island Records, Volume 2, at 196. 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 103.

    8.) EN-47 — Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Providence, on Monday, the 7th day of July, 1777, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 8, at 278; AT the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the GOVERNOR and COMPANY of the STATE of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, begun and holden (in Consequence of Warrants issued by his Excellency the Governor) at Providence, within and for the State aforesaid, on Thursday the Twenty-eighth Day of May, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy- eight, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 9 [11], at {8}; 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 {31-32}; An ACT in Addition to, and Amendment of, an Act, passed in October, A.D. 1779, entituled, “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, by Adjournment, at South-Kingstown, within and for the said State, on the Third Monday in March, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-one, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 11 [14], at {51-52}. 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 103.

    9.) EN-48 — [Number] 29, Acts and Orders Made and agreed upon at the Generall Court of Election, held at Portsmouth, in Rhode Island, the 19, 20, 21 of May, 1647, for the Colonie and Province of Providence, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 154; [Number] 7, The General Court of Commissioners held for the Collony, at Portsmouth, March the 10th, 1657-8, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 371-373; An ACT in Addition to the several Acts regulating the Militia in this Colony, 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 held by Adjournment at Providence, on the first Monday of February, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty-five, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 2, at {72}; An ACT, regulating the Militia in this Colony, part of An Act, establishing the Revisement of the Laws of this Colony, and for 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 183; Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Providence, on the second Monday in January, 1776, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 7, at 422-423; 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 {304-305}; 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 {16}; 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 the Third Monday in June, One Thousand, Seven Hundred and Seventy-seven, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 9 [10], at {14}; Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Providence, on Monday, the 7th day of July, 1777, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 8, at 278; 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 {37-38}. 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 103.

    10.) EN-49 — 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 103.

    11.) EN-50 — Acts, Orders and Proceedings of the Governor and Councill of His Majestys Collony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, held at Newport, May, 1667, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 2, at 192-193. 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 103.

    12.) EN-51 — 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 204-205; Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Providence, on Monday, the 27th day of October, 1777, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 8, at 318; Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at East Greenwich, on Monday, the 1st day of December, 1777, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 8, at 334. 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 103.

    13.) EN-52 — An Act for the Establishing of Watches throughout this Colony, both in Time of War and Peace, A LAW, Made and pass’d by the General Assembly of His Majesty’s Colony of Rhode-Island, and Providence- Plantations, held at Newport, by Adjournment to the Eighth Day of September, 1719, in Public Laws of Rhode Island, 1744, at 80. 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 103.

    14.) EN-53 — [Number] 29, At the General Courte held on the 14th day of the 7th mo. [September], 1640, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 109; Acts and Orders made at the Generall Courte of Election held at Newport, May the 23d, (1650), for the Colonie of Providence Plantations, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 223-224. 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 103.

  • Rhode Islanders exercised the power and legal authority to select their own Militia officers by and from amongst themselves.

    Evidencing the fundamentally democratic character of an institution in which every able-bodied adult free male participated, common Rhode Islanders, too, often enjoyed a direct and significant say in what went on in their Militia.

    First, they could always petition the General Assembly to authorize the formation of regular Militia “Companies” in their Towns; (footnote 1) to divide an existing overly large Company into two or more smaller Companies; (footnote 2) or even to approve the formation of so-called “Independent Companies” that to a great degree organized, armed, disciplined, and trained themselves separate from the Militia’s regular establishment. (footnote 3)

    Second, in the earliest days, Rhode Islanders were empowered to select their own Militia officers by and from amongst themselves, subject to the approval of public officials in the various Towns or in the General Assembly. For example—

    • • [1639] “It is ordered and agreed upon, that the Body of the people, viz.: the Traine Band shall have free libertie to select and chuse such persons, one or more from among themselves, as they would have to be officers among them; to exercise and traine them; and then to present them to the Magistrates for their approbation”. (footnote 4)

    • • [1642] “[T]he officers for militarie affairs, [namely] Captains, Leiftenants, Ensigns, Sarjeants and Clarks shall be dewlie chosen every yeare at ye Generall Courte of Election; and that also the officers of each Band shall be chosen within themselves or limitts (and not officers) to be chosen one band out of another Towne or Band; and further that their Powre shall be ordered from time to time by the Towne”. (footnote 5)

    Footnotes:

    1.) EN-54 — Proceedings of the General Assembly, for the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Newport, on the third Monday in July, 1780, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 9, at 192-193. 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 103.

    2.) EN-55 — Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Providence, the last Wednesday of October, 1738, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 4, at 548-549; 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 held at Newport by Adjournment, on the second Monday of June, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty-three, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 2 [1], at {24}; 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 held at South-Kingstown in said Colony, on the last Wednesday of October, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty-three, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 2 [1], at {44}; 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 held by Adjournment at Providence, on the first Monday of February, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty-five, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 2, at {76}; Proceedings of the General Assembly, held for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Newport, on the second Monday in June, 1776, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 7, at 568-569; Proceedings of the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Providence, on the fourth Monday in May, 1781, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 9, at 412; Proceedings of the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at Providence, on the last Monday in January, 1782, Rhode Island Records, Volume 9, at 508. 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 103.

    3.) 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 103.

    4.) EN-56 — By the Body Politicke in the Ile of Aqethnec, Inhabiting this present, 25 of 9: month. 1639, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 93. 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 103.

    5.) EN-57— At the Generall Court of Election held on the 16th & 17th of March, att Newport, 1642, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 120-121. 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 103.

  • Sometimes the process of Militia officer selection was open to all the inhabitants of suitable age in each Town. Four statutes spanning the course of 58 years—from 1647 to 1705.

    Sometimes the process of Militia officer selection was open to all the inhabitants of suitable age in each Town:

    • [1647] “It is ordered, that all ye Inhabitants in each Towne shall choose their Military Officers from among themselves”. (footnote 1)

    • • [1665] “And as for choosing the Captaine and other millitary officers, every one that is eighteene yeares old or more, and hath taken the oath or engagement of alegiance, shall vote if they please therein, though not freemen, intending only the officers soe chosen are only for the military exercise of training”. (footnote 2)

    • • [1677] “This Court * * * findinge that his Majesty * * * hath required that the inhabitants of his Collony are to be led, conducted and trained up in martiall affaires, doe * * * order * * * that the inhabitants of every respective towne within this Collony, shall * * * have their free choyce or election of their millitary commanders and officers; and that yearly * * * . And that [a public official] * * * shall give forth warrant * * * to warne the inhabitants to assemble in armes * * * to make choyce and elect their commanders and millitary officers. And that for the future * * * the Captaine * * * of the respective Traine Bands, shall give forth warrant * * * to warne and require the inhabitants yearely * * * to assemble in armes and elect their respective commanders and millitary officers for the exercisinge of the people in martiall affaires in each * * * towne.” (footnote 3)

    • • [1699, 1701, and 1705] “[T]hose who shall list themselves under the command of the respective Train Bands, * * * are ordered to give in their names to [certain officers] * * * ; so that when they find there is a suitable number, not exceeding fifty persons for each troop, the said persons so listing themselves, may have liberty to make choice of their own commander”. (footnote 4)

    Footnotes:

    1.) EN-58 — Acts and Orders Made and agreed upon at the Generall Court of Election, held at Portsmouth, in Rhode Island, the 19, 20, 21 of May, 1647, for the Colonie and Province of Providence, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 1, at 153. 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 104.

    2.) EN-59 — Acts and Orders of the Generall Assembly, sitting at Newport, May the 3, 1665, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 2, at 116. 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 104.

    3.) EN-60 — Proceedings of the Generall Assembly held for the Collony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at Newport, the 1st of May, 1677, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 2, at 568. 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 104.

    4.) EN-61 — At the Generall Assembly and Election held for the Collony at Newport, the 7th of May, 1701, in Rhode Island Records, Volume 3, at 433-434. This statute is dated “1699” in LAWS AND ACTS OF RHODE ISLAND, AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS Made from the First Settlement in 1636 to 1705, at 92, reprinted in J.D. Cushing, Editor, The Earliest Acts and Laws of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (Wilmington, Delaware: M. Glazier, 1977), at 107. Reprinted from a compilation dated “1705”, it appears in Military Obligation, Rhode Island, at 37. 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 104.

  • Rhode Islanders of the founding era invoked the primacy of social duty over the individual right.

    Rhode Islanders of the founding era knew that, as invoked by society, “th[e] great and fundamental Law of Nature” compels a near-universal duty of service and sacrifice (even if not a strict equality thereof) among all those who constitute society and who benefit from their membership in it. So they held that:

    “WHEREAS the preservation of this State and the maintenance of its liberties, at all times depend, under God, in a great measure, upon an acquaintance with military discipline * * * it becomes the indispensable duty of every American citizen, to place himself in a situation where he can be useful in repelling the attacks of its enemies.” (footnote 1)

    Footnotes:

    1.) EN-32 — An Act to incorporate the Bristol Grenadiers, 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 Ninety-nine, in Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, Volume 18 [20], at {23}. 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 97.

 The Minutemen were no happenstance bunch of individuals some of whom accidentally gravitated to Lexington Green and the North Bridge on the 19th of April in 1775. They were no mere crowd of farmers, artisans, and tradesmen who stumbled together with no coherence, no general self-consciousness, no collective purpose or resolve. To the contrary: They were members of an organization which included all free adult able-bodied men throughout Massachusetts, with like organizations in each of the other twelve American Colonies. An organization which had existed in Massachusetts herself for almost 150 years. An organization with legal—indeed, governmental—authority: The Militia of Massachusetts. (footnote 6)

True constitutional “Militia” are governmental establishments of the several States, “well regulated” by statutes according to certain definite constitutional principles. In contrast, being the products of purely private action, no “private militias” can claim any governmental, let alone specifically constitutional, authority. And without such authority no “private militias” can assert the constitutional right, power, and duty to execute the laws of the Union and of the several States in a “martial” fashion against usurpers and tyrants who attempt to inflict “martial law” upon Americans anywhere within this country.

  • Footnotes

    1.) U.S. Const. art. II, § 2, cl. 1.

    2.) U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 16.

    3.) Id.

    4.) Id.

    5.) U.S. Const. art. I, § 1.

    6.) Lexington Green Public Address by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Committees of Safety rally held at Lexington Green, Massachusetts on 19 April 2009.