Whereas this province was first settled by (and a majority of the assemblies have ever since

been of) the people called Quakers, who, though they do not, as the world is now

circumstanced, condemn the use of arms in others, yet are principled against bearing

arms themselves; and to make any law to compel them thereto against their consciences would not

only be to violate a fundamental in our constitution and be a direct breach of our charter of

privileges, but would also in effect be to commence persecution against all that part of the

inhabitants of the province. And for them by any law to compel others to bear arms and exempt

themselves would be inconsistent and partial. Yet forasmuch as by the general toleration and

equity of our laws great numbers of people of other religious denominations are come amongst us

who are under no such restraint, some of whom have been disciplined in the art of war and

conscientiously think it their duty to fight in defense of their country, their wives, their families

and estates, and such have an equal right to liberty of conscience with others.

And whereas a great number of petitions from the several counties of this province have been

presented to this house, setting forth that the petitioners are very willing to defend themselves and

their country and desirous of being formed into regular bodies for that purpose, instructed and

disciplined under proper officers with suitable and legal authority; representing withal that unless

measures of this kind are taken, so as to unite them together, subject them to due command and

thereby give then confidence in each other, they cannot assemble to oppose the enemy without the

utmost danger of exposing themselves to confusion and destruction.

And whereas the voluntary assembling of great bodies of armed men from different parts of the

province on any occasional alarm, whether true or false, as of late hath happened, without call or

authority from the government and without due order and direction among themselves, may be

attended with danger to our neighboring Indian friends and allies, as well as to the internal peace

of the province,

And whereas the governor hath frequently recommended it to the assembly that in preparing and

passing a law for such purposes they should have a due regard to scrupulous and tender

consciences, which cannot be done where compulsive means are used to force men into military


Therefore as we represent all the people of the province and are composed of members of

different religious persuasions we do not think it reasonable that any should through a

want of legal powers be in the least restrained from doing what they judge it their duty to

do for their own security and the public good, we, in compliance with the said petitions and

recommendations, do offer it to the governor to be enacted:

[Section I.] And be it enacted by the Honorable Robert Hunter Morris, Esquire, with the King’s

royal approbation Lieutenant-Governor under the Honorable Thomas Penn and Richard Penn,

Esquires, true and absolute Proprietors of the Province of Pennsylvania and of the counties of

Newcastle, Kent and Sussex upon Delaware, by and with the advice and consent of the

representatives of the freemen of the said Province in General Assembly met, and by the authority

of the same,

That from and after the publication of this act it shall and may be lawful for the freemen of this

province to form themselves into companies, as heretofore they have used in time of war without

law, and for each company by majority of votes in the way of ballot to choose its own officers, to

wit: a captain, lieutenant and ensign, and present them to the governor or commander-in-chief for

the time being for his approbation; which officers so chosen, if approved and commissioned by

him, shall be the captain, lieutenant and ensign of each company respectively according to their

commissions; and the said companies being divided into regiments by the governor or

commander-in-chief, it shall and may be lawful for the officers so chosen and commissioned for

the several companies of each regiment to meet together and by majority of votes in the way of

ballot to choose a colonel, lieutenant-colonel and major for the regiment and present them to the

governor or commander-in-chief for his approbation, which officers so chosen if approved and

commissioned by him, shall be the colonel, lieutenant-colonel and major of the regiment,

according to their commissions, during the continuance of this act.

Provided always, That if the governor or commander-in-chief shall not think fit to grant his

commission to any officer so first chosen and presented, it shall and may be lawful for the electors

of such officer to choose two other persons in his stead and present them to the governor or

commander-in-chief, one of whom at his pleasure shall receive his commission and be the officer

as aforesaid.

[Section II] And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That as soon as the said

companies and regiments are formed and theft- officers commissioned as aforesaid, it shall and

may be lawful to and for the governor or commander-in-chief, by and with the advice and consent

of the colonels, lieutenant-colonels and majors of all the regiments, being for that purpose by him

called and convened, or by and with the advice and consent of a majority of the said officers that

shall be met and present together on such call, to form, make and establish articles of war for the

better government of the forces that shall be under their command and for bringing offenders

against the same to justice; and to erect and constitute courts-martial, with power to hear, try and

determine any crime or offenses by such articles of war and inflict penalties by sentence or

judgment of the same on those who shall be subject thereto in any place within this Province;

which articles of war, when made as aforesaid, shall be printed and distributed to the captains of

the several companies, and by them distinctly read to their respective companies; and all and every

captain, lieutenant, ensign or other freeman who shall, after at least three days’ consideration of

the said articles, voluntarily sign the same in presence of some one justice of the peace,

acknowledging his having perused or heard the same distinctly read and tbat he has well

considered thereof and is willing to be bound and governed thereby, and promises obedience

thereto and to his officers accordingly, shall thenceforth be deemed well and duly bound to the

observance. of the said articles and to the duties thereby required, and subject to the pains,

penalties, punishments and forfeitures that may therein be appointed for disobedience and other


Provided always, That the articles so to be made and established shall contain nothing repugnant,

but be as near as possible conformable to the military laws of Great Britain and to the articles of

war made and established by His Majesty, in pursuance of the last act of Parliament for punishing

mutiny and desertion, the different circumstances of this province compared with Great Britain,

and of a voluntary militia of freemen compared with mercenary standing troops, being duly

weighed and maturely considered.

Provided also, That nothing in this act shall be understood or construed to give any power or

authority to the governor or commander-in-chief and the said officers to make any articles or rules

that shall in the least affect those of the inhabitants of the province who are conscientiously

scrupulous of bearing arms, either in their liberties, persons or estates, nor any other persons of

what persuasion or denomination soever who have not first voluntarily and freely signed the said

articles after due consideration as aforesaid.

Provided also, That no youth under the age of twenty-one years nor any bought servant or

indented apprentice shall be admitted to enroll himself or be capable of being enrolled. in the said

companies or regiments without the consent of his or their parents or guardians, masters or

mistresses, in writing under their hands first had and obtained.

Provided also, That no enlistment or enrollment of any person in any of the companies or

regiments to be formed and raised as aforesaid shall protect such person in any suit or civil action

brought against him by his creditors or others except during his being in actual service in field or

garrison, nor from a prosecution for any offense committed against the laws of this province.

Section III. Provided also, That no regiment, company or party of volunteers shall by virtue of this

act be compelled or led more than three days’ march beyond the inhabited parts of the province,

nor detained longer than three weeks in any garrison, without an express engagement for that

purpose first voluntarily entered into and subscribed by every man so to march or remain in


This act to continue in force until the thirtieth day of October next and no longer.

Passed November 25, 1755. Repealed by the King in Council, July 7, 1756. See Appendix XXI,

Section I.