"I abominate and detest the idea of a government, where there is a standing army," exclaimed the immortal George Mason, during his state's constitutional ratifying convention of 1788.
A a forceful and principled defender of individual liberty, Mason was the irritant in the constitutional oyster that eventually created the pearl we call the Bill of Rights. During the June 14 session of the convention, Mason -- ably assisted by his fellow Anti-Federalist Patrick Henry -- conducted a critical examination of the congressional power to call out the state militias to enforce the laws of the union.
Their eyes, keenly perceptive of the potential for government to abuse any powers alloted to it, discerned in the womb of that delegated power an embryonic rough beast that could eventually destroy any semblance of liberty in America.
Eager to defend a document that was largely his handiwork, James Madison blithely told the convention that the reason for granting Congress the power to call out the militia was quite obvious: "If resistance should be made to the execution of the laws ... it ought to be overcome. This could be done only in two ways -- either by regular forces or by the people [meaning that portion of the people organized into militias]. By one or the other it must unquestionably be done. If insurrections should arise, or invasions take place, the people ought unquestionably to be employed, to suppress and repel them, rather than a standing army."