Article 1, Section 6, Clause 1

Document 15

James Madison, Militia Bill, House of Representatives

16 Dec. 1790Papers 13:323

Mr. Madison moved, to strike out that part which related to the members of Congress, with their officers and servants attending either house, and to insert the members of the House of Representatives, whilst travelling to, attending at, or returning from the session of Congress, and the members of the Senate in similar circumstances, or in case of a separate session of the Senate. He did not see any reason for a total exemption from the service of the militia, and it was a principle with him, that on every occasion where an exception was made in favour of the framers of a law, that exception should not be extended or carried beyond what is evidently proper and necessary. Now to exempt the members of Congress at all times is unnecessary, because during the recess of the houses, they may be at liberty to pursue their ordinary avocations, and participate in the duties and exercises of their fellow-citizens. They ought ever to bear a share of the burthens they lay on others, in order that their acts may not slide into an abuse of the power vested in them.

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Mr. Madison thought it an important principle, and one that ought in general to be attended to--That all laws should be made to operate as much on the law makers as upon the people; the greatest security for the preservation of liberty, is for the government to have a sympathy with those on whom the laws act, and a real participation and communication of all their burthens and grievances. Whenever it is necessary to exempt any part of the government from sharing in these common burthens, that necessity ought not only to be palpable, but should on no account be exceeded. He thought the amendment, together with the constitution, provided on this occasion for all that was necessary, and that the clause as it stood at present, went beyond that necessity.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 2, Article 1, Section 6, Clause 1, Document 15
The University of Chicago Press

The Papers of James Madison. Edited by William T. Hutchinson et al. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1962--77 (vols. 1--10); Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1977--(vols. 11--).

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