Description: THE OFFICIAL ACT ESTABLISHING A PERMANENT STANDING ARMY IN THE U.S.
TIMOTHY PICKERING (1745 - 1829) American politician and Adjutant General of the Continental Army, Secretary of War (1795) and Secretary of State (1795-1800). Important D.S. "T. Pickering" as Secretary of State, 4pp. folio, Washington, May 13, 1796, a printing of the 1795 Act of Congress, "To ascertain and fix the military establishment of the United States." True to its underlying distrust of standing armies, at the end of the Revolutionary War, Congress resolved to disband the Continental Army leaving only eight companies of infantry and two of artillery as the regular peacetime establishment. Their main objective was to patrol the frontier and guard the U.S. Arsenal at West Point and nothing more. The main source of defensive capability devolved to the state militias. In 1791, in response to St. Clair's defeat, Secretary of War Henry Knox proposed the formation of The Legion of the United States to defeat its' Indian enemies. Congress approved the proposal with the provision that the Legion disband when "the United States shall be at peace with the Indian Tribes." This establishment was in existence from 1792 to 1796. In addition, in 1792, Congress passed the Militia Acts of 1792 which placed state militias under the authority of the President and organized them by state. It would be these laws that George Washington would invoke to put down the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. It was the success of the Legion on the frontier that convinced Congress of the necessity of a permanent, if not small, military establishment, even in peacetime. It had already passed the 1794 Naval Act which established a regular navy for the first time since 1785 due to growing threats from abroad. In 1795 Congress authorized the creation of a regular, standing army commanded by a major and brigadier general and would include, in addition to the "existing corps or artillerists and engineers, as established by the act...' An act providing for organizing a corps of artillerists and engineers,'", passed in 1794, the army was to consists of "two companies of light dragoons... four regiments of infantry, of eight companies each..." The act also provided for surgeons, a paymaster, a quartermaster, as well as musicians. The act also specified pay and recruiting bounties, provided for food and clothing and pensions for wounded veterans among other provisions. The act even dictated an oath to e taken by all officers, NCO's and enlisted men: "'I A, B, do solemnly swear, or affirm, (as the case may be) to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against their enemies or oppressors whomever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the rules and articles of war'" The implications of the act infuriated the Democratic-Republicans as there was no date or criteria for disbandment as did the act that empowered the Legion. But when Jefferson assumed the Presidency in 1801, he did not disband the army. He chose only to cut it's budget while establishing the national military academy at West Point, New York. In essence the 1795 act established a permanent standing army in the United States. Moderate toning and light foxing, light soiling along folds, some marginal chips not affecting text, else very good.