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The Military Bill.


January/February 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, February 2, 1861.


Some Account of its Atrocious Provisions.


Editors Missouri Democrat:

You have already been advised of the nature of the military bill which will, I am afraid, pass the Legislature.  I regard it as the most wicked attempt at legislative despotism ever before known in this State.  The bill is forty pages long, and is a bold, defiant, reckless scheme to place the State under an absolute military despotism.

It divides the State into nine military districts, the officers of which are to be appointed by the Governor.  All citizens between eighteen and forty-five years are to be put upon the military roll, each to pay 50 cents annually to the military fund.  Whenever the Governor may think it necessary he may order a draft.  Every person drafted for twelve months must serve or pay $150.  If for a shorter or longer time the proportion will be preserved.  If he serves, he must swear to support and defend Missouri against all enemies, and to obey all orders of the Commander-in-chief (the Governor,) and his subordinate officers.

If any officer or soldier speaks contemptuously or disrespectfully of the Governor or the Legislature, he is to be tried by a drum head court martial, and punished at their discretion, which, in time of war, extends to death!

These are some of the many obnoxious features of the bill, which is certainly the very climax of legislative audacity and wickedness.  I ought to have mentioned, also, that five per cent. of the revenue is appropriated to the military fund, and that citizens are prohibited from forming companies or clubs, with arms, unless in the service of the State, under the bill; and if the military have notice of any such thing, they are to disperse them, take their arms from them, and turn them over to the State armory.

I will try to send you the bill, but I doubt whether I can get one.  It has not yet bee introduced.  It was prepared by outside leaders here, and they have had it printed, but hesitate to have it introduced.  They say they can pass it, but are afraid of the people, and well they may be.

Yours, etc.,     L.