Article 1, Section 8, Clause 15

Document 10

A [New Hampshire] Farmer, no. 1

11 Jan. 1788Storing 4.17.4

Standing armies are dangerous in time of peace to the liberties of a free people, provided they are kept and voted their continuance yearly, they soon get ingrafted into and become a part of the Constitution, therefore they ought not to be kept up, on any pretext whatsoever, any longer than till the enemy are driven from our doors. War is justifiable on no other principle than self-defence, it is at best a curse to any people; it is comprehensive of most, if not all the mischiefs that do or can afflict mankind; it depopulates nations; lays waste the finest countries; destroys arts and sciences, it many times ruins the best men, and advances the worst, it effaces every trace of virtue, piety and compassion, and introduces all kind of corruption in public affairs; and in short, is pregnant with so many evils, that it ought ever to be avoided if possible; nothing but self-defence can justify it. An army, either in peace or war, is like the locust and caterpillers of Egypt; they bear down all before them--and many times, by designing men, have been used as an engine to destroy the liberties of a people, and reduce them to the most abject slavery. I have both summered and wintered with an army: You, my friends, in general, know nothing of the evils that attend it; guard and secure it well in your Bill of Rights, that it may not be in the power of any set of men to trample your liberties under their feet with it. Organize your militia, arm them well, and under Providence they will be a sufficient security. I have once born arms in defence of my country;--I am now willing to risque myself and property, together with my liberties and privileges, (with a well regulated militia) and when they are invaded, I will gird on my sword and appear in their defence. And, if my children after me will not do it, let them loose theirs with their heads into the bargain.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 3, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 15, Document 10
The University of Chicago Press

Storing, Herbert J., ed. The Complete Anti-Federalist. 7 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

Easy to print version.