The Massachusetts Bay colony’s first muster of militia, circa 1637, arguably the birth of the
United States National Guard
Each colony had its own militia laws, but most enlisted the aid of all able-bodied white males, usually between the ages 18 and 45. These units were to be formed under the auspices of the colony’s charter and individuals were responsible for equipping themselves. The first muster of full militia regiments took place in 1636 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
The idea of the “citizen-soldier” retained a strong romantic hold over the new nation’s leaders. However, militia were still governed by state laws, most of which did not allow service either outside the state or outside the nation.
Ultimately, the Framers of the Constitution agreed on establishing a larger standing army and giving the United States Congress authority over the militias.
Article I, Section 8 (the Militia Clause) states:
“Congress shall have the power to: provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.”
The Second Amendment to the Constitution added the often-cited phrase: “a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
It was the Militia Act of 1903 created the National Guard out of the Organized Militia and designated the Reserve Militia, to consist of males 17 to 45, those eligible for the draft. This removed more control of the militia from the states. The National Defense Act of 1916 fully modernized the National Guard, provided federal funding for training, drills, annual training, and equipping. It did, however, stipulate that in return, the War Department and the army gained far more control over the militia. The act also removed the issue of militia serving outside the United States by stipulating that when called into service by the president, the National Guard would function like regular federal troops.
From then on, the National Guard has served with distinction in all the major conflicts of the United States. The idea of a citizen-soldier still retains its popularity, and for good reason: the National Guard ensures a link between our communities and the military.
While the proud men and women of the National Guard serve our nation,
who is there to serve their unique needs?
On December 13, 1636, the National Guard was created and exists to protect and serve 383 years later.
Just three years ago, however, the National Guard Association of Indiana Foundation was formed to promote and serve the talented men and women of Indiana’s National Guard.
We fund vital programs supporting thousands of Hoosiers and their families,
including programs that focus on:
To purchase a copy of this print click here!