A Well Regulated Militia
"A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well digested plan is requisite: And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others, for essential, particularly for military supplies." ---George Washington First Annual Message to Congress (January 8, 1790)
The Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded in 1630. Over 5,000 men, women, and children made the two-month voyage to the New World, leaving the relative comfort and safety of England behind in an effort to break free of religious intolerance, and to manage their communities the way they saw fit. In doing so, their actions tread new ground in the country that would become the United States of America. On13 December 13, 1636, the Massachusetts General Court in Salem, for the first time in the history of the North American continent, established that all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 were required to join the militia. The North, South, and East Regiments were established with this order. The decree excluded ministers and judges. Simply stated, citizen-soldiers who mustered for military training could be and would be called upon to fight when needed.