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Standing Army

Standing Army

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The idea of maintaining a standing army, now an accepted necessity, was hotly debated at the time of the creation of the United States. Alexander Hamilton made the argument against in The Federalist Papers of which he was one of the three primary authors:

A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss.

This was certainly not due to any excess of pacifism. Elsewhere in the same Federalist Papers, Hamilton expressed the view that, "The rights of neutrality will only be respected, when they are defended by an adequate power. A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral."So it was not the military force of the national government to which Hamilton objected, but the maintenance of a army of soldiers in times of peace.