When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few.
July 11, 1789 – The US Congress chartered the US Marine Corps as an independent force from the Navy. These marines would be deployed by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 and 1804 to combat piracy in the North African principality of Tripoli. “From the Halls of Montezuma, To the shores of Tripoli, We fight our country’s battles, On the lands, and on the sea…”
During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress passes a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces for the recently formed Continental Navy. The resolution, drafted by future U.S. president John Adams and adopted in Philadelphia, created the Continental Marines and is now observed as the birth date of the United States Marine Corps.
Serving on land and at sea, the original U.S. Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations during the Revolutionary War. The first Marine landing on a hostile shore occurred when a force of Marines under Captain Samuel Nicholas captured New Providence Island in the Bahamas from the British in March 1776. Nicholas was the first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines and is celebrated as the first Marine commandant. After American independence was achieved in 1783, the Continental Navy was demobilized and its Marines disbanded.
In the next decade, however, increasing conflict at sea with Revolutionary France led the U.S. Congress to establish formally the U.S. Navy in May 1798. Two months later, on July 11, President John Adams signed the bill establishing the U.S. Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the jurisdiction of the Department of Navy. U.S. Marines saw action in the so-called Quasi-War with France and then fought against the Barbary pirates of North Africa during the first years of the 19th century. Since then, Marines have participated in all the wars of the United States and in most cases were the first soldiers to fight. In all, Marines have executed more than 300 landings on foreign shores.
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