Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Calvin Jones, 26 July 1801

From Calvin Jones

Smithfield N.C. July 26. 1801.


The importance of the Militia I trust will be duly appreciated by an administration that is unfriendly to a Standing military force. I have for 3 years laboured to improve their discipline and with some little success—but not in a degree proportionate to the importance of the object. The Laws have been in many respects defective and though lately revised, come far short of perfection. I had the honour to be a member of a committee of the Legislature of this state which framed a Bill to revise the whole System of Militia laws. It became a law and though it increased the power of an enterprizing officer to reform the Militia, they still remain defective. I mention these circumstances because I believe the imperfections of these laws cannot be completely remedied but by an act of Congress

The pamphlet which I have now the honour to enclose was written to assist in disciplining the militia—I take the liberty of presenting it to you because I believe you will be pleased with any endeavour however trifling, that is directed to an object of such high consequence

I am with perfect consideration your Excellency’s Most humble Servant

Calvin Jones

RC (MiU-C); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson President of the U.S.”; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Aug. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

Massachusetts native and physician Calvin Jones (1775–1846) moved to North Carolina around 1795, where he was the first to promote Edward Jenner’s vaccination against smallpox. A man of varied interests and accomplishments, he was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons three times (1799, 1802, and 1807) and was adjutant general of the state militia from 1808 to 1813 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

The North Carolina General Assembly revised the state’s Militia Laws in December 1800. The new act subjected officers and enlisted men to an extensive list of penalties for neglecting their service requirements (Collection of the Militia Laws in Force in North Carolina [Raleigh, 1805], 1–18; Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 9029).

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