The Militia movement is a political movement of paramilitary groups in the United States that claim legitimacy under the Militia Clause, Second Amendment, and often similar provisions of state constitutions. Members of the movement typically refer to themselves as “militia”, “unorganized militia”, and “constitutional militia”. While groups such as the Posse Comitatus existed as early as the 1980s, the movement gained momentum after controversial standoffs with government agents in the early nineties, and by the mid-nineties, groups were active in all 50 states with membership estimated at between 20,000 and 60,000. Although in unconnected groups, they may be united in their beliefs of the federal government’s threat to their freedom, and in particular the movement’s opposition to any limit of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The Militia movement is a paramilitary outgrowth of the independent survivalist, anti-tax and other causes in the patriot movement subculture in the United States. The formation of the militias was influenced by the historical precedent of existing paramilitary movements such as the Posse Comitatus, and groups associated with protecting liberties of governed people.
Although the far-right Patriot movement had long been marginalized, certain cultural factors paved the way for the wide scale growth of the libertarian or ideological Militia movement. This attitude grew with the federal government’s own expansions of powers.
The ideologies of various Militia movements can be described as political, constitutional, conspiratorial, or community based. Militia groups claim legitimacy based on colonial writings, particularly the Declaration of Independence; Article 1, section 8 and the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution; the Militia Act of 1792; Title 10, Section 311 of the United States Code
American militia firing at the British infantry from behind a split rail fence during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, March 15, 1781
The Sons of Liberty was a political group made up of American Patriots that originated in the pre-independence North American British colonies. The group was formed to protect the rights of the colonists from the usurpations by the British government after 1765. They are best known for undertaking the Boston Tea Party in 1773. which led to the Intolerable Acts (an intense crackdown by the British government), and a counter-mobilization by the Patriots that led directly to the American Revolution in 1775.
After 1765 the major American cities saw the formation of secret groups set up to defend what they considered their rights. Boston had the “Boston Caucus Club,” led by Samuel Adams and comprising artisans, merchants, tradesmen, and professionals, as well as the “Loyal Nine”.Groups such as these were absorbed into the greater Sons of Liberty organization. Its name comes from a speech in the British Parliament by Colonel Isaac Barre referring to the colonials as sons of liberty.
In the popular imagination, the Sons of Liberty was a formal underground organization with recognized members and leaders. More likely, the name was an underground term for any men resisting new Crown taxes and laws. The well-known label allowed organizers to issue anonymous summons to a Liberty Tree, “Liberty Pole”, or other public meeting-place. Furthermore, a unifying name helped to promote inter-Colonial efforts against Parliament and the Crown’s actions. Their motto became, “No taxation without representation.”
Groups identifying themselves as Sons of Liberty existed in almost every colony. The organization spread month by month, after independent starts in several different colonies. August 1765 celebrated the founding of the group in Boston. By November 6, a committee was set up in New York to correspond with other colonies. In December an alliance was formed between groups in New York and Connecticut. January bore witness to a correspondence link between Boston and New York City, and by March, Providence had initiated connections with New York, New Hampshire, and Newport, Rhode Island. March also marked the emergence of Sons of Liberty organizations in New Jersey, Maryland, and Norfolk, Virginia, and a local group established in North Carolina was attracting interest in South Carolina and Georgia.
The leaders of the Sons of Liberty heralded mostly from the middle class- artisans, traders, lawyers and local politicians. Though they were speaking out against the actions of the British government, they still claimed to be loyal to the Crown. Their initial goal was to ensure their rights as Englishmen. Throughout the Stamp Act Crisis, the Sons of Liberty professed continued loyalty to the King because they maintained a “fundamental confidence” in the expectation that Parliament would do the right thing and repeal the tax.
To add weight to their cause, the Sons of Liberty knew they needed to appeal to the masses that made up the lower classes. Several members of the Sons of Liberty were printers/publishers and distributed articles about the meetings and demonstrations the Sons of Liberty held, as well as about the fundamental political beliefs of the group and what they wanted to accomplish. They related in print the major events of the struggle against the new acts to promote their cause and vilify the local officers of the British government. Office holders identified by the Sons of Liberty as being part of the Stamp Act injustice quickly fell out of favor and lost their positions once local elections were held again. The Sons of Liberty would hold meetings to decide which candidates to supportâ€”those that would bring about the desired political change. In return, the British authorities attempted to denigrate the Sons of Liberty by referring to them as the “Sons of Violence”