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Article 1, Section 8, Clause 12



Document 9

Records of the Federal Convention

[2:329; Madison, 18 Aug.]

Mr. Ghorum moved to add "and support" after "raise". Agreed to nem. con. and then the clause agreed to nem. con- as amended.

Mr Gerry took notice that there was no check here agst. standing armies in time of peace. The existing Congs. is so constructed that it cannot of itself maintain an army. This wd. not be the case under the new system. The people were jealous on this head, and great opposition to the plan would spring from such an omission. He suspected that preparations of force were now making agst. it. (he seemed to allude to the activity of the Govr. of N. York at this crisis in disciplining the militia of that State.) He thought an army dangerous in time of peace & could never consent to a power to keep up an indefinite number. He proposed that there shall not be kept up in time of peace more than thousand troops. His idea was that the blank should be filled with two or three thousand.

[2:509; Madison, 5 Sept.]

To the (2) clause Mr. Gerry objected that it admitted of appropriations to an army. for two years instead of one, for which he could not conceive a reason--that it implied there was to be a standing army which he inveighed against as dangerous to liberty, as unnecessary even for so great an extent of Country as this. and if necessary, some restriction of the number & duration ought to be provided: Nor was this a proper time for such an innovation. The people would not bear it.

Mr Sherman remarked that the appropriations were permitted only, not required to be for two years. As the Legislature is to be biennally elected, it would be inconvenient to require appropriations to be for one year, as there might be no Session within the time necessary to renew them. He should himself he said like a reasonable restriction on the number and continuance of an army in time of peace.

The clause (2). was agreed to nem: con:

[2:616; Madison, 14 Sept.]

Col: Mason, being sensible that an absolute prohibition of standing armies in time of peace might be unsafe, and wishing at the same time to insert something pointing out and, guarding against the danger of them, moved to preface the clause (Art I sect. 8) "To provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the Militia &c" with the words "And that the liberties of the people may be better secured against the danger of standing armies in time of peace" Mr. Randolph 2ded. the motion

Mr Madison was in favor of it. It did not restrain Congress from establishing a military force in time of peace if found necessary; and as armies in time of peace are allowed on all hands to be an evil, it is well to discountenance them by the Constitution, as far as will consist with the essential power of the Govt. on that head.

Mr Govr. Morris opposed the motion as setting a dishonorable mark of distinction on the military class of Citizens

Mr Pinkney & Mr. Bedford concurred in the opposition.

On the question

N. H--no--Mas--no--Ct no. N--J--no. Pa. no. Del. no. Maryd no Va ay-- N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. ay.

[Ayes--2; noes--9.]


The Founders' Constitution
Volume 3, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 12, Document 9
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_12s9.html
The University of Chicago Press

Farrand, Max, ed. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Rev. ed. 4 vols. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1937.

Easy to print version.


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