Front Page Titles (by Subject) A BILL FOR ESTABLISHING A NAVAL MILITIA 1 - The Works, vol. 10 (Correspondence and Papers 1803-1807)
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A BILL FOR ESTABLISHING A NAVAL MILITIA 1 - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 10 (Correspondence and Papers 1803-1807) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 10.
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A BILL FOR ESTABLISHING A NAVAL MILITIA1
Be it enacted etc. that every free, able-bodied, white, male citizen, of the U. S. of 18. years and under 45. whose principal occupation is on the high sea, or on the tide-waters within the U. S. shall be of the militia for the naval service of the U. S. and shall be exempt from the services of the land militia.
The persons so to constitute the said naval militia shall be enrolled in the several ports or harbours, or the towns or country thereto adjacent, to which they belong or are most convenient, by their names, the dates & places of their births, their abodes & personal descriptions: which enrollment shall be made by such person as the Pres. of the U. S. shall authorize in each place in a book to be kept by him for that purpose, without delay as to those now within the descriptions of this act, and from time to time as to others, who shall thereafter become so, always registering the date of the enrolment, and placing in a distinct page or part of the book those born within the limits of one & the same year of the Christian aera. And whenever a person enrolled in one part of the U S. shall remove to another, the enrolling officer of the latter port shall immediately enter his name on his book, noting the date & place of his former enrolment, in addition to the other circumstances before prescribed, and all questions between the enrolling officers of the land and Naval Militia, whether a citizen belongs really to the one or the other service, shall be decided by the Executive authority of the state.
Every person enrolled shall be entitled to receive from the officer possessing the book of enrolment an authenticated transcript from the same, of the entry respecting himself, on paiment of 25 cents, and to have the same renewed on the same condition from time to time, when lost or destroyed, which shall exempt him from the duties of the land militia, & shall be considered otherwise as instead of the certificate of citizenship heretofore given by the Collectors of the Customs, which certificates shall hereafter cease to be given.
Every enrolling officer shall on or immediately after the 1st day of October in every year, make a return of his roll to the Secretary of the Navy of the U. S. according to it’s actual state as affected since the last return, by age, discharge, death, removal, new enrolments or otherwise.
The ld. Naval Militia of each port & of the town & Country thereto adjacent to which they belong shall be distributed into sections, each of which sections shall consist of all those individuals born within the limits of the same year of the Christian aera, & shall be distinguished by the name of the year of their birth: and in cases of insurrection, of opposition to the civil authority or of sudden attack, either actual or imminent, in any port, harbour, or town on the tide-waters, or on the coasts or shores in their vicinities, all persons then and there being who make a part of the said militia, whether of the same or any other place, shall be liable to be called on by the President of the U S. or the person invested by him with authority for that purpose, to do duty with artillery, or on board any armed vessels, for the special occasion of quelling the insurrection, enforcing obedience to the civil authority, or resisting the attack as the case may be. Such call shall be made on them by sections, in the numbers which the exigency may require by regular rotation in the numerical order of the years of their birth, and for a term not exceeding months: & non-residents shall always make a part of the section of the respective year of their birth.
The said Sections when called into service, shall be organized & officered by the state authority, suitably to the service they shall be called to, whether with Artillery or on board any armed vessels, and while engaged in the performance of a tour of duty shall have the pay & rations allowed in the navy of the U S. and be subject to the rules, regulations, & articles provided for the Government of the same.
[1 ]A first draft of this bill, dated Sept 2d. was as follows:
Considering that the important thing is to get the militia classes so that we may get at the young for a year’s service at a time, and that training may be supplied after they are called out, I think we may give up every part of the bill which respects training & arming. Let us once get possession of the principle, & future Congresses will train & arm. In this way we get rid of all those enemies to the bill to whom different details would be objectionable. I send you the bill thus modified, & I have thrown in a few words in the clause beginning with the words ‘The junior class shall be liable &c.’ in order that the law may execute itself without waiting for any legislature. Will you be so good as to communicate it to General Varnum & Mr. Bidwell? The sooner the better.