In the widest sense, the whole military force of a nation, including both those engaged in military service as a business, and those competent and available for such service; specifically, the body of citizens enrolled for military instruction and discipline, but not subject to be called into actual service except in emergencies.
For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security. Thomas Jefferson
A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country. James Madison
The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws. John Adams
I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials. George Mason
What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins. Elbridge Gerry