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 UARF's The Citizen Soldier White Paper/TOMB

Manual of the Constitution UARF's The Citizen Soldier

Get Your Free UARF White Paper/TOMB "The Citizen Soldier" [215 pages].

In medieval times it was a matter of law that common folk must purchase at their own expense and keep ready in their homes some basic weapons to serve and protect their king and state. The rulers expected the peasants to have acquired certain skills with their weapons prior to deployment, although they failed to provide any sort of funding for training.

The English Assize of Arms (1181), promulgated by Henry II, required that each man keep at his own expense in his home a weapon appropriate to his rank and position.1 The American use of militia was, in reality, a return to traditional practices of this earlier age. In medieval Europe the law defined a militia as "the whole body of freemen" between the ages of fifteen and forty years, who were required by law to keep weapons in defense of their nation.2 In the later Middle Ages the militia was the whole body of "citizens, burgesses, free tenants, villeins [serfs] and others from 15 to 60 years of age" who were obliged by the law to be armed.3

Trained Bands (or Trainbands) are found primarily in Elizabethan and Stuart England. The concept and term may be found as early as the reign of Alfred the Great (849-899). "For greater security, certain men in or near each settlement or City, who volunteered or were selected otherwise, were given, or agreed to procure, arms in advance of any emergency."4 These men became the mainstay of Cromwell's army during the Puritan Revolution and these units developed from the broader militia. The term is occasionally encountered referring to select militia in the American colonies, especially in New England.

Most European nations had abandoned the militia system by the sixteenth century.5 Americans chided the English for abandoning the militia system which had worked so well here. The militia, alone, had served as a check on the native aborigine in the colonial period of American history. For instances, when General Braddock was defeated near Pittsburgh, then Fort DuQuesne, the Virginia militia under Colonel George Washington's command stood against the French and Indians. The British army fled to the eastern seaboard. During the colonial period Americans came to trust the militia to a far greater extent than they trusted the regular royal army. The fancy uniforms and European battle formations may have served the British well in wars in the old world, but they were ill suited for backwoods America.

America's colonial citizen-soldier citizens soldier had their counterparts throughout history, as in ancient and medieval times when the peasants were conscripted to fight as foot soldiers. After the wars were over the peasants, too, returned to their fields. Tradesmen, farmers, men in all walks and vocations of life, had one thing in common: they stood as brothers in arms against the enemy as part of the citizen-soldiery.

The citizen-soldier stands in marked contrast to the professional soldier whose vocation is war. The citizen-soldier does not enter war for pay or booty. He goes to war only reluctantly, spurred on by notions of patriotism, nationalism and duty. He deplores war. He fights only as a last recourse when his nation is threatened and not in imperialistic adventures. There is no human institution any where more fundamental than the militia. As we shall show in this and the ensuing four volumes, excepting only religious dissenters, the true, traditional citizens owned firearms, less as a privilege than as a matter of duty. They came to equate firearms ownership with freedom. A free man is armed; a slave is dispossessed of his arms. No man can trust a government that seeks to disarm him. Those who claim the right to bear arms over and against tyrannical government stand arm in arm with his ancestors who refused to give up their arms at Lexington, Concord, and on a thousand other locations.

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