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

By Harry S. Laver | Go to book overview

Conclusion
CITIZENS MORE THAN
SOLDIERS

The militia's range of activities and its influence on definitions of masculinity provide evidence of the citizen-soldiers' continued relevance and vitality in the early republic. The prevailing interpretation of the militia as either defunct or irrelevant, as manned by tipsy semi-soldiers under the command of clownish colonels, does not survive close scrutiny. The militiamen's influence reached beyond the narrow responsibilities of a purely martial institution as they made significant contributions to the social, political, and cultural maturation of the public sphere.

The militia reveled in the public eye, taking to holiday streets for parades or crowded fields for political barbecues. On each occasion they reinforced the corporate nature of society, reminding audiences of the ties that bound one to another in community and fellowship. Rich and poor, black and white, male and female joined in when citizen-soldiers paraded through town or when militia officers and town elders gave a holiday oration. All who smelled hickory smoke and barbecue could gather at Maxwell's Spring in Lexington and partake of the summer's bounty.

The shared beef and bourbon, however, concealed a subtext of social division hidden in the comity of these festivals. The militia's decision to mark particular events and the messages communicated through word and ritual reinforced and legitimated social distinctions and the political philosophies of the hegemonic culture. Each muster and each parade of the smartly uniformed volunteers reaffirmed the ideals of a wellordered, disciplined society and respect for authority. Moreover, the militia's celebratory rituals promoted loyalty to country and political party, prescribed appropriate behavior for the men who were included and the women who were excluded, and reinforced the social pecking order.

-144-

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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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