Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The legislators of the Second United States House of Representatives faced a set of challenging military and political problems when they met in November 1791. The issue of what would be the primary means of the young nation's defense had not yet been determined. The old British and colonial precedents of a militia as the first line of defense were firmly rooted in the minds of most congressmen meeting in Philadelphia. Many of the legislators had been indelibly imprinted with a fear of a large standing army in peacetime from their own personal experiences in the pre-Revolutionary days. Many of those who would become stalwarts of the Republican Party in later years felt that a militia, while often miltarily ineffective, preserved the republican virtues on which the nation depended for its moral underpinnings. Others, who were usually in the ranks of the future Federalist party, felt that a well-trained regular federal force was the only practical military solution for the nation's long-term needs, barring vast improvements in the training and discipline of the state militia forces.
Underlying both considerations by the members of the Second Congress was the pressing need for a military solution of some sort in the Northwest Territory. With a series of military embarrassments suffered at the hands of the frontier Indian tribes, the issue of how best to achieve military respectability took its place alongside other important matters in the Second Congress. Occurring also at this time was the emergence of factions that would later evolve into two distinct and antagonistic political parties.
Aside from the standard methods of research, such as examining the debates of Congress and studying newspapers and documents of the time, I used the Rice-Beyle cluster bloc analysis technique to discover the existence of congressional voting patterns. This method examines the voting behavior of paired congressmen to determine similar voting behavior. I separated the roll calls dealing with the issues of a stronger, reorganized militia from those pertaining to a more potent regular army for use on the frontier and anlyzed both sets of data for voting patterns. I also examined the voting patterns for all 102 roll calls of this Congress. In the end, I discovered that smaller groups of legislators than I expected voted together consistently on military issues, while voting in opposing factions on the overall business of the House.
Barker, Elbert S. III, "Congress and Early Federalist Military Policy: An Examination of Defense Related Roll Calls in the Second United States Congress, 1792-1793" (1992). Theses and Dissertations. 927.