The founding documents of the United States, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, established the principles and institutions that defined the role of the military in American life. Although these principles and military institutions were central to the Revolution against England, they reflected one hundred and fifty years of colonial military tradition and experience. At the core of these traditions lay several apparent paradoxes that persist in American culture to the present day. The first is that in most colonies and local communities all free adult white males were involuntarily enrolled in the permanent militia, yet there was a deep distrust of permanent military institutions. The second is that involuntary enlistment in the militia came into conflict with a growing belief, especially during the eighteenth century, in individual freedom and rejection of social hierarchies. A third paradox is that although militia service was officially associated with the status of free white males, increasingly during the eighteenth century, and continuing into the Revolutionary War, it was the poor, the indentured servants, and sometimes former slaves who actually did the fighting, when it came to that.