Feb 01, 2011 3:20 AM GMT
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-winkler/the-founding-fathers-indi_b_523001.htmlThe mandate was included in a series of laws known as the Militia Acts. Early Americans were were fearful of a standing army so they relied on ordinary citizens organized into state militias to fight off Natives and invading armies. States, however, couldn't always be counted on to send their militias to help out other states. Comity was an unreliable basis for national security. And ordinary citizens couldn't always be relied upon to have the equipment they would need to be an effective fighting force.
Congress sought to rectify these problems by passing federal legislation. In the first Militia Act, Congress gave the President authority to call out the militias and imposed penalties on any militiaman who refused to obey orders. In the second Militia Act, Congress included an individual mandate: all free, able-bodied male citizens between the ages of 18 and 45 "shall, within six months... provide himself with a good musket or firelock" or "a good rifle." All men of age were also ordered to equip themselves with ammunition and "a knapsack" to carry supplies. Many citizens already had these items. Those who didn't had to go out and buy them, like it or not, presumably from a private seller.
In many ways this individual mandates was much more burdensome than the requirement that individuals buy health insurance. In early America, rural people had little consumable income and many people only used or ate what they themselves made. In cities, many people had no personal need for a military-style firearm. Regardless of the burden, people had to equip themselves, even if they might never have any need to use that equipment.
Of course, opponents say, the Framers never imagined national health care legislation. Or did they? The Militia Acts also provided that "if any person whether officer or soldier... be wounded or disabled, while in actual service, he shall be taken care of and provided for at the public expense."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militia_Acts_of_1792The second Act, passed May 8, 1792, provided for the organization of the state militias. It conscripted every "free able-bodied white male citizen" between the ages of 18 and 45 into a local militia company overseen by the state. Militia members were to arm themselves with a musket, bayonet and belt, two spare flints, a cartridge box with 24 bullets, and a knapsack. Men owning rifles were required to provide a powder horn, 1/4 pound of gun powder, 20 rifle balls, a shooting pouch, and a knapsack. Some occupations were exempt, such as congressmen, stagecoach drivers, and ferryboatmen. Otherwise, men were required to report for training twice a year, usually in the Spring and Fall.