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Origin and Evolution of America’s Militia is the Focus of a New Major Exhibition at Fort Ticonderoga

militia exhibit detailsFort Ticonderoga unveils a major new exhibition “A Well Regulated Militia: Citizen, Soldier, and State” drawn from the museum’s unparalleled collection of artifacts from across the United States and beyond. This new exhibit explores the critical institution of the militia in early American history, from colonization through nationhood, and the unique system that developed in the United States that relied on citizens to bear the burden of national defense.

The exhibit follows the institution of the militia from its creation in the 17th century through its gradual decline in the mid-19th century. Topics that are explored using over 100 rare artifacts include: who were obliged or expected to serve in the militia; who authorized the militia; how militiamen were trained; and how they were armed and equipped. The artifacts on display include examples of uniforms, weaponry, musical instruments, manuscripts, paintings, printed books, and accouterments from the museum’s collection, many on display for the first time in decades.

Beyond the battlefield, and across the nation, the story of the militia displayed in this exhibit reflects our national values, as well as the changing obligations and benefits of citizenship and participation in American society.

“The militia remains a poorly understood institution that is virtually absent from our modern world but was central to debates over the Constitution and American identity as the nation was being founded,” said Fort Ticonderoga Curator, Dr. Matthew Keagle. “Although intended as a military force, the history of the militia reflects the history of our nation, including debates about citizenship and military service, as well as the relative power of states versus the federal government, that are topics all Americans still encounter to this day.”

Fort Ticonderoga’s exhibitions and living history programs actively and accurately tell the story of the military experience of early America, and the collision of cultures from America, Europe, and Africa that shaped North American history and the creating of the United States.

This major exhibition can be viewed at the ground floor exhibition gallery in the Mars Education Center. Fort Ticonderoga is open from 9:30am-5pm Tuesday-Sunday through October 31, 2021.

Funding for this exhibit is made possible in part by John Ben Snow Memorial Trust; International Paper Foundation; Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New York; Society of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and General Society of Colonial Wars. Museum cataloging is made possible in part through the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

About Fort Ticonderoga:

Welcoming visitors since 1909, Fort Ticonderoga preserves North America’s largest 18th-century artillery collection, 2,000 acres of historic landscape on Lake Champlain, and Carillon Battlefield, and the largest series of untouched Revolutionary War era earthworks surviving in America. As a multi-day destination and the premier place to learn more about our nation’s earliest years and America’s military heritage, Fort Ticonderoga engages more than 75,000 visitors each year with an economic impact of more than $12 million annually and offers programs, historic interpretation, boat cruises, tours, demonstrations, and exhibits throughout the year, and is open for daily visitation May through October. Fort Ticonderoga is supported in part through generous donations and with some general operating support made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Photo: Fort Ticonderoga unveils a major new exhibition “A Well Regulated Militia: Citizen, Soldier, and State” drawn from the museum’s unparalleled collection of artifacts from across the United States and beyond.

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