Citizens More Than Soldiers: The Kentucky Militia and Society in the Early Republic

By Harry S. Laver | Go to book overview

4
STABILITY AND SECURITY
IN A TIME OF TRANSITION

In the early republic, Americans had yet to establish professional police forces that could maintain civil order or put down insurrections. Communities instead looked to sheriffs, justices of the peace, and town watchmen, but when circumstances required greater force, they issued a call for the militia. Citizen-soldiers performed a number of tasks that contributed to the public peace and an orderly society. In the late eighteenth century, militiamen's responsibilities included a variety of activities that would later become the province of police departments, including guarding prisoners and tracking down felons. After the turn of the century, as civilian authority grew, the militia's duties evolved and became twofold. First, citizen-soldiers worked to protect neighbor from neighbor. When a gang of ruffians menaced a community or a political rivalry turned violent, the militia answered the alarm. Second, when an insurrection—a more serious threat than a brawl among neighbors—appeared imminent, only the militia wielded sufficient force to confront the insurgents. Adapting to the evolving social environment, citizen-soldiers provided stability and security to a maturing American society.

The militia also contributed to the country's economic stability and growth by facilitating the transition from a frontier barter economy to a system of market exchange. They did this in three ways. First, in the 1780s and 1790s, they protected isolated roads, salt licks, and iron furnaces from Indian attack. Second, united through their militia companies, citizen-soldiers sought to influence the political process in relation to economic policy. Speaking with a united voice, companies of militiamen called for boycotts and price controls, issued resolutions, and sought relief during hard times. Finally, the militia influenced the developing economy through direct participation. By carrying out their

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Citizens More Than Soldiers: The Kentucky Militia and Society in the Early Republic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Rethinking the Social Role of the Militia 1
  • 2 - The Hunters of Kentucky 9
  • 3 - Public Gatherings and Social Order 20
  • 4 - Stability and Security in a Time of Transition 48
  • 5 - Proponents of Democracy and Partisanship 66
  • 6 - A Refuge of Manhood 98
  • 7 - Fighters, Protectprs, and Men 128
  • Conclusion - Citizens More Than Soldiers 144
  • Appendix 147
  • Notes 155
  • Bibliography 199
  • Index 211
  • Studies in War, Society, and the Military 217
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