[George Washington] Broadside of the Second Militia Act of 1792: An Act more effectually to provide for the National Defence by establishing an Uniform Militia throughout the United States. One page, 11" x 15", Philadelphia, "Approved, May eighth, 1792." Printed by Francis Bailey.

    The first Act (passed on May 2, 1792) empowered the President to call on state militias "whenever the United States shall be invaded, or be in imminent danger of invasion from any foreign nation or Indian tribe." The militias could also be called into Federal service "whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed or the execution thereof obstructed, in any state, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by this act."

    The second Act, offered here, provided for the organization of said state militias and conscripted "each and every free able-bodied white citizen of the respective states, resident therein, who is or shall be of the age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years." The law required that the men arm themselves at their own expense and detailed the specific equipment necessary. Sec. II of the Act listed all exemptions to conscriptions including members of all branches of government, customs house officers, post masters, ferrymen, and others. The organizations of divisions are carefully outlined in great detail, including the number of musicians.

    Shay's Rebellion in 1787 heightened awareness that the young nation was ill-prepared to enforce its laws and quell internal unrest. The Militia Acts of 1792 sought to amend this weakness. In 1791 Congress imposed an excise on distilled and unrest began to brew in the frontier districts. It is likely that this unrest further impressed the need for these Acts. When frontier unrest exploded into the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, Washington was able to invoke the Militia Acts summoning the militias of several states to support federal forces and quickly dispel any threat.

    Signed in type by George Washington as President, Jonathan Trumbull as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Richard Henry Lee, as President pro tempore of the Senate. Gently toned with a few spots of dampstaining, and a bit of creasing. A similar printing is listed as Evans 24899, but that item calls for 3 pages and cites a different printer.

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