The National Militia was made up in almost the exact proportion of all those layers which composed the people of Madrid, and whose likeness they sought to preserve, as well many of the "looters" sitting on high around the queen and serving as her coterie, as of the "populacho," the rabble which quickly would turn itself into a mob and be capable of destroying everything.
Those who rushed in greatest numbers, and perhaps eagerly, to enlist in the ranks of the Militia were also the most numerous and therefore, the best part of the people. Clerks, liberal professionals and salaried workers held a significant presence, while property-holders, who in general held posts of leadership, did not desert from the Militia even in the years of the 50's.
And in a Romantic society and with an aristocracy - of blood, of money or of intelligence, - purebred and commoner, to feel oneself in close fellowship with the people could attract a handful of landowners and even an occasional rich banker, not to speak of the literati, lawyers and journalists.
And in all and in each one of these public demonstrations, the people will demand, above anything else a national militia or, what is the same, uniforms and arms in their own hands.
In Madrid of the 19th century, and again in 1930, one cannot conceive of a politically alive people that is not armed, by itself, as militia or lending its ardor to armed insurrection and recognizing themselves imaged in the person of some military chief.
Armed to fight for liberty, to defend it from the halting steps of the half-hearted, and to be vigilant against the enemy.!
Armed as if it were taken for granted that, to attain power, participate in it and administer it, legal routes would be impassable; as if power could be obtained, or nor lost, only by force of arms.
Each eruption by the people in the streets of Madrid is accompanied by that demand for arms, to which only those who guide them will accede, if handing them arms is to be done in a minimally organized way, if there is control, if there are ranking officers, and actions are channeled with precautions taken to avoid mishaps.
That is precisely the function of the Urban Militia of the first years of the 20's, of the National Guard when it reappears with Mandizábal in the mid-30's, and which will rise again, for the last time, in the glorious revolution of September, 1868, as a civic force of Volunteers for Liberty, a protagonist of all the attacks, revolts, insurrections, and revolutions that Madrid witnesses in a century rich in these popular demonstrations.
In fact, there is no republican, democrat, progressive or even one who boasts himself a temperate moderate, - the last link before the final slide into Moderantism, - who has not promoted, once he is helped into power, the enlisting of the people in the National Militia.
It could be said, in the same way that the union is the natural form for the working class organized for class action, that the armed militia, and not the political party, which a thing of lawyers and literaties more than it is of the masses, is the people's organ for political action.
The initiatives lie in the City Government, the first institution that will reflect in tis composition the arrival of the people to power, and then are taken over and legalized by the Boards that provisionally take charge of the governing.
The progressives mark very soon the road when, from their recently won City Government, they establish in 1835 boards in each district to register those who are seeking entry into the National Guard.
Then, history does nothing more nor less than repeat itself. After it is converted into a National Militia, it is seen again in the streets during the first years of the 40's, being abolished by the Moderates when they triumph over Espartero.
Even Cánovas del Castillo himself, - who inspired if he did not actually dictate the Manifesto of Manzanares with which O'Donnell general sought popular support in his insurrection in July, 1854, - included in his program for the future government the restoration of the National Militia as a guaranty for the fulfillment of some promises, among which the preservation of the throne and the respect for law and order, figured in prominent place.
Throne, liberty and order. Such appears to be the whole program of the National Militia, which the Moderates take the precaution to dissolve and which reappears newly when the Moderate order becomes unfit for breathing midst the effluvia of corruption, and a new revolution is necessary.
But not even then, in the middle of revolution and after knowing, by practical experience, the capacity for reaction by their enemies, will the Militia seek anything other than a return to the program of its origins: "liberty, and order without looting."
Such are again the vindications of the people of Madrid in July of 1854, when they are in arms and keep guard in the streets.
Likewise, finally in the revolution of 1868 when the popular mayor Nicolás María Rivero proceeded almost immediately to legalize what he termed, not very clearly, a Popular Force or a City Force and then it becomes City Force of the Volunteers of Liberty, to which are given the tasks that the mayor had taken over for himself, from the first day of his mandate: Make liberty come with order.!
Let it be Guard, Militia or Force, citizens and volunteers are there to guarantee the throne and private property, which are the bases of order as established in 1835. Uniformed and with a gun over the shoulder, militiamen transmit the necessary security, that the change of political situation is not going to disintegrate into chaos and general disorder.
Viva liberty!, cry those who do not doubt, at the hour of putting their lives at risk by confronting the army or the security forces. Viva liberty with order! responds like an echo the official answer of the speech-makers, the exhortation by the new mayor to his people, for one does not conceive of liberty without order, nor order whitout private property.
As immediate representative, - without any bureaucratic mediation at all - of the people of Madrid, the Militia, its make-up, its program and its action, give testimony precisely to that common and social ground, on which is based the people's hope for liberty with order.
This popular character of the Militia explains its presence as a matter of revolution in the streets of Madrid during the thirty-odd years that run from the anti-absolutism revolution of the 30's to the triumph of the anti-Bourbon revolution of the 60's; from the defense of the throne which Isabel II will inherit to the day she loses that throne.
It is a relatively short but very confused process that flares out in the fall of absolutism, with the people and its militia as defenders of liberty and order and guardians of the throne, and will end with the political revolution that will liquidate, supposedly forever, the Bourbon monarchy.
A people that was invited since the last years of the 30's to "abolish forever the throne of that depraved family," but will not have ears for such a radical proposal until 1866, when the terrible suppression of the revolt led by the sergeants and the troop of the San Gil Barrack, will make it look with new eyes at this queen of noble descent.
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