In America, however, militias survived. The Military Company of Massachusetts was the first militia organization in America and was followed by similar groups in the other colonies. Local control and voluntary service prevailed. Although the militia was valuable throughout the American Revolution, it proved undependable in the War of 1812. Therefore, no militia forces were used in the Mexican War. However, during the Civil War, when manpower needs were greater, both sides resorted to the use of militia. After World War I, state military units were established under the term National Guard. In other countries the militia is known generally as the special reserve or the territorial reserve.
In 1995 the bombing of Oklahoma City's federal building focused national attention on self-appointed
militias or, as they often call themselves,
Patriots. These armed, typically rural and predominantly male organizations, many of which are in Western states, have a membership largely consisting of a mix of survivalists, white supremacists, gun-control opponents,
Christian Identity adherents, and others adamantly opposed to most involvement of the federal government in the daily lives of U.S. citizens. Many in the militia movement were particularly angered by the FBI siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho (1992), the destruction of the Branch Davidians at Waco, Tex. (1993), and the passage of the Brady Bill handgun control legislation (1993); these events spurred the further growth of the American militia movement in the 1990s.
See K. S. Stern, A Force upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate (1996); D. Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right (2002).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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