Jonathan B. Wight
A few days ago we carried out an active debate about whether requiring someone to buy health insurance from private companies was a “new” event in American history. It turns out it is not.
From Brad DeLong comes this extract from Second Congress, May 8, 1792. The act provides federal standards for a militia and forces every free male to purchase various items from private sellers. These purchases would not have been cheap back in 1792:
Second Congress, Session I, The Militia Act of 1792
1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia.... That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service...