Why were the Militia Acts of 1792 created?

MilitiaMay 8, 1792 — The second part of the Militia Act was passed today, enabling the president to take command of the state militias in times of imminent invasion or insurrection.

The two Acts were passed in response to the overwhelming US losses at St. Clair’s Defeat. It provided for the organization of the state militias, and conscripted every “free able-bodied white male citizen” between the ages of 18 and 45 into a local militia company.

This was later expanded to all males, regardless of race, between the ages 18-54. The first Act, which passed six days earlier — on May 2, 1792 — provided for the authority of the president to call out the militias of the several states, “whenever the United States shall be invaded, or be in imminent danger of invasion from any foreign nation or Indian tribe.”

That law also authorized the president to call the militias into federal service “whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed or the execution thereof obstructed, in any state, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by this act.”