Friday, November 10, 2006
"...I am much pleasd to find that there is an End put to the Contest between the two Houses concerning the Establishment of a Militia, and that you are in hopes of making an effectual Law for that Purpose.(1) It is certainly of the last Consequence to a free Country, that the Militia which is its natural Strength, should be kept upon the most advantageous Footing. A standing Army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the Liberties of the People. Soldiers are apt to consider themselves as a Body distinct from the rest of the Citizens. They have their Arms always in their hands. Their Rules and their Discipline is severe. They soon become attachd to their officers and disposd to yeild implicit Obedience to their Commands. Such a Power should be watchd with a jealouse Eye. I have a good Opinion of the principal officers of our Army. I esteem them as Patriots as well as Soldiers. But if this War continues, as it may for years yet to come, we know not who may succeed them. Men who have been long governd by military Laws, and inurd to military Customs and Habits, may lose the Spirit and Feeling of Citizens. And even Citizens, having been used to admire the Heroism which the Commanders of their own Armies have displayd, and to look up to them as their Saviours, may be prevaild upon to surrender to them those Rights, for the Protection of which against an Invader, they had employd & paid them. We have seen too much of such a Disposition among some of our Countrymen. The Militia is composd of free Citizens. There is therefore no Danger of their making Use of their Power to the Destruction of their own Rights, or suffering others to invade them. I earnestly wish that young Gentlemen of a military Genius, and many such I am satisfied there are in our Colony might be instructed in the Art of War, and taught at the same time the Principles of a free Government, and deeply impressd with a Sense of that indespensible Obligation which every Individual is under to the whole Society. These might in Time be fit for officers in the Militia; and being thoroughly acquainted with the Duties of Citizens as well as Soldiers, might be intrusted with a Share in the Command of our Army, at such Times as Necessity might require so dangerous a Body to exist...."