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CHAP. V. find much difficulty in employing; and he returned 1791. the bill to the house in which it originated, accom
panied with his objections* to it. In observance of the forms prescribed in the constitution, the question was then taken on its passage by ayes and noes, and it was rejected. A third bill was soon afterwards brought in which received the assent of both houses, and which apportioned the representatives on the several states at a ratio of one for every thirty three thousand persons in each state. Thus was this interesting part of the American constitution finally settled.
During this session of congress, an act passed for establishing a uniform militia.
* The following is the message which was delivered on
this occasion. Gentlemen of the house of representatives... . I have maturely considered the act passed by the two houses, entitled “ an act for the apportionment of representatives among the several states according to the first enume. ration" and I return it to your house, wherein it originated, with the following objections.
First. The constitution has prescribed that representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, and there is no proportion or divisor which, applied to the respective numbers of the states, will yield the number and allotment of representatives proposed by the bill.
Secondly. The constitution has also provided, that the number of representatives shall not exceed one for thirty thousand, which restriction is by the context, and by fair and obvious construction, to be applied to the separate and respective numbers of the states, and the bill has allotted to eight of the states more than one for thirty thousando
Impressed alike from reason, from observation, CHAP. V. and from feeling, with the necessity imposed 1791. upon a nation as powerful as the United States, to provide adequate means for its own security : convinced that in America the objections to a military establishment which might serve even as the germ of an army were insurmountable; and that the militia, without great improvements to the existing systems, must be found in time of danger, a very inadequate resource ; the president had manifested from the commencement of his administration a peculiar degree of solicitude on this subject. In a message to congress on Indian affairs as early as August 1789, he subjoined the following recommendation. “ Along with this object I am induced to suggest another, with the national importance and necessity of which I am deeply impressed. I mean some uniform and effective system for the militia of the United States. It is unnecessary to offer arguments in recommendation of a measure on which the honour, safety, and well being of our country, so evidently and essentially depend. But it may not be amiss to observe, that I am particularly anxious it should receive as early attention as circumstances would admit, because it is now in our power to avail ourselves of the military knowledge disseminated throughout the several states by means of the many well instructed officers and soldiers of the late army, a resource which is daily diminishing by deaths and other causes. To suffer this peculiar advantage to pass away unimproved, would be to neglect an opportunity
CHAP. V, which will never again occur, unless, unfortunately, 1791. we should be again involved in a long and arduous
At the succeeding session of congress, not only was this recommendation repeated, but a plan which had been digested during the recess, was transmitted to both houses in the form of a report from the secretary of war, “that they might make such use thereof as they might think proper." A bill conforming to this .plan in many of its essential principles was introduced into the house of representatives at an early stage of the session, but the subject was found to be involved in much greater difficulties than had been apprehended. To reconcile the public interest with private convenience was a task not easily to be performed. Those provisions which were required to render the bill competent to the great purposes of national defence, involved a sacrifice of time and money, which the representatives of the people were unwilling to exact from their constituents, and the propriety of demanding which was the more questionable, as the burden would be imposed not so much on property, as on persons. The different ideas entertained on this subject in different parts of the union, and the difficulty of drawing the precise line between continental and state authority, created additional obstacles to the progress of the measure; and the first congress passed away without being able to devise any system in which a majority could concur.
In his speech at the opening of the present ses. sion, the president again called the attention of the legislature to this important subject; and at CHAP. V. length, a law was enacted which is far less effica. 1791. cious than the plan reported by the secretary of war, but which will probably not soon be carried into complete execution. In fact, it may well be doubted whether the attempt to do more than to organize and arm the militia of a country under the circumstances of the United States, can ever be successful. Those habits of subordination and of implicit obedience which are believed to constitute the most valuable part of discipline ; and the art of moving in an unbroken body, are per. haps to be acquired only in camp; and experience has not yet rendered it certain that arrangements which aim at an object by means unequal to its attainment, will yield a good proportioned to the burden they impose.
In December, intelligence was received the president, and immediately communicated to congress, that the American army had been totally defeated on the fourth of the preceding month.
Although the most prompt and judicious mea. sures had been taken to raise the troops, and to march them to the frontiers, yet they could not be assembled in the neighbourhood of fort Wash. ington until the month of September, nor was the establishment even then completed. The lateness of the season when congress authorized this augmentation of force, the slowness with which the recruiting business progresses in America, the distance to the scene of action, the low state of the water in the Ohio, and it was alleged an un.
Defeat of Str
CHAP. V. pardonable negligence in the quarter master and 1791. commissary departments, occasioned this delay.
The immediate objects of the expedition were, to destroy completely, the Indian villages on the Miamis, to expel the savages from that country, and to conneet it with the Ohio by a chain of posts which would prevent their return during the war.
On the seventh of September, the regulars moved from their camp in the vicinity of fort Washington, and marching directly north, towards the object of their destination, established two intermediate posts* at the distance of rather more than forty miles from each other, as places of deposit, and of security either for convoys of provision which might follow the army, or for the army itself should any disaster befal it. The last of these works, fort Jefferson, was not completed until the 24th of October, before which time re. enforcements were received of about three hundred and sixty militia. After the necessary garrisons had been placed in the forts, the effective number of the army including militia, amounted to some. what less than two thousand men. With this force, the general continued his march, which was rendered Loth slow and laborious by the ne. cessity of opening a road. Small parties of Indians were frequently seen hovering about them, and some unimportant skirmishes took place. As the army approached the country in which they might expect to meet an enemy, about sixty of the militia
* Forts Hamilton and Jefferson.