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

By Harry S. Laver | Go to book overview

5
PROPONENTS OF DEMOCRACY
AND PARTISANSHIP

In the summer of 1810, Charles Curryman, a self-described “old man,” took time from the demands of the small farm he rented to write a letter to the Lexington Kentucky Gazette in nearby Lexington. Curryman's sons had recently returned from the local militia muster, telling stories not of marching and drilling but of speeches promising “great things” by candidates for the state assembly. The old farmer was even more surprised when his youngest boy said that “Mr. such and one, and he is a lawyer and a candidate, told my brother that he and you could vote, and so could every man above 21 years of age.” Not sure whether to believe his son's story, Curryman attended the next muster to see for himself. Describing the day, Curryman wrote that soon after he arrived at the muster grounds, “Mr. Z. the friend of my candidate asked me to drink some grog, and took me to a Booth, and there I was saluted with a hearty shake of the hand from all the candidates, who seemed to be as much my friends as if they had known me all our lives.” A few minutes later the Curryman boys' tale was confirmed: “The candidates began to speak, and they promised a great deal of good things to us people if we would elect them.”1

Following the speeches, Curryman joined a small crowd of his neighbors to mull over the candidates' merits. Was so-and-so a true republican? questioned one man. If he was, came a reply, we'd see him on more than just Election Day. Besides, added another, they all claim to be republicans and patriots when it's vote-counting time. Curryman didn't quite know what to make of this exchange and the events he had witnessed, but what he saw and heard captured his imagination and taught him about his “sacred and important” duty and right as a citizen to participate in the electoral process. Curryman's exposure to the world of politics at a county militia muster was not an unusual event

-66-

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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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