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

By Harry S. Laver | Go to book overview

3
PUBLIC GATHERINGS
AND SOCIAL ORDER

“The American Fair—Although the last toasted the first in our hearts.” Thus concluded the afternoon's festivities in July 1800, just beyond the dusty roads of Lexington at Maxwell's Spring, where town fathers, the militia, and citizens had gathered under a canopy of shade trees to mark the anniversary of the nation's birth. The day began, reported the Lexington Kentucky Gazette, as previous July Fourths had across the nation and as they would for the next fifty years. The Lexington Light Infantry and the Fayette Troop of Horse, two volunteer militia companies, assembled in the town square around noon to parade through the streets among “a considerable concourse of citizens.” Halting in front of the courthouse, this day's celebrants strained to hear above the crowd a young politician they knew as a friend and neighbor, a man who would go on to achieve national political prominence, Henry Clay. Upon the conclusion of Clay's oration, a procession formed: the Fayette Troop of Horse in the lead (perhaps unwisely), the Lexington Light Infantry bringing up the rear, and the townspeople secure in between. One citizen enjoyed the honor of carrying a pole with a Liberty Cap gracing its top and bearing the inscription “4th JULY, 1776.” The parade proceeded in formation to Maxwell's Spring outside of town, where at three o'clock, they “sat down to a handsome dinner.” Once plates were empty and stomachs full, the militia's senior officers, accompanied by civil officials, rose to offer toasts, each receiving the audience's approbation. “The day which gave birth to American Independence—May it never be forgotten” was the toast that began the public ritual; and the acknowledgment to the “fairer sex”—the toast to the “American Fair”—concluded the salutes. Following the toasts, the procession “returned in the same order to the public square, where the infantry company fired sixteen rounds in honor of the day. The evening concluded with a Ball.”1

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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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