James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Calvin Jones, 30 December 1811 (Abstract)

§ From Calvin Jones1

30 December 1811, Raleigh. Encloses a return of the militia of North Carolina for 1811 [not found]. “The Militia of this state would afford good materials for an Army. They have the necessary talents, courage and patriotism, but they are very defectively armed. Many are entirely destitute of arms, and of those reported a great proportion are totally unfit for service.” Wishes to bring this situation to the notice of the general government. Adds that improvements in discipline are “retarded by the knowledge that the prescribed mode has been superceded by Modern Improvements, and by the great variety of forms, which officers, departing from the antiquated system of Stüben, have undertaken on their own authority to substitute.” Is gratified to see that a step has been taken in Congress “in [an] advance towards a more perfect system of Modern Tactics.”2 Cannot speak for the state militia but offers his services “whenever the Government shall deem them necessary, and be pleased to require them.”

RC (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, J-51:6). 2 pp. Docketed by a War Department clerk as received 13 Jan. 1812.

1Calvin Jones (1775–1846) was a Massachusetts-born physician who in 1795 moved to North Carolina, where he played a leading role in introducing smallpox vaccination into the state. He edited and published the Raleigh Star, was elected to the House of Commons in 1807, and also served as adjutant general for the state militia during the War of 1812 (Powell, Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 3:315–16).

2In his 5 Nov. message JM had suggested that Congress make such provisions for the “great Body” of the states’ militias “as will proportion its usefulness, to its intrinsic capacities.” On 30 Dec. 1811 David R. Williams reported from the House select committee on military affairs a bill to supplement the existing laws “establishing a uniform militia throughout the United States” and “arming and equipping the whole body of the militia of the United States.” This measure established the principle of classifying the militiamen according to age and provided funding for every militiaman to receive a stand of arms upon his enrollment. The House, however, rejected the reforms (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 12th Cong., 1st sess., 589, 1004, 1007–9, 1019–20, 1021–29).

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