Academic journal article Military Review

The Birth of the U.S. Army

Academic journal article Military Review

The Birth of the U.S. Army

Article excerpt

In its first session in the summer of 1789, Congress faced numerous decisions regarding the administration of policies granted in the recently ratified U.S. Constitution. These included approving President George Washington's cabinet appointees and federal judges, setting up the federal treasury, writing the Bill of Rights and further amending the Constitution, determining how to deal with Native American neighbors, preparing a plan to reduce the Revolutionary War debt, and deciding on a location for the U.S. capital. Lastly, it needed to come to terms on the creation of one national, professional U.S. military.

While vestiges of the Continental Army still remained from American Revolution, there was no official U.S. army. Under the Articles of Confederation (the precursor to the Constitution, ratified in 1781), individual states had the power to organize civilian-soldier militias, but the Articles held no real long-term solutions for a professional national military. Recognizing this as a serious shortfall to the security of the new Nation, Washington wrote a letter to the members of Congress on 7 August 1789 urging them to authorize an official U.S. military.

Washington wrote, "It may not be amiss to observe that I am particularly anxious it should receive an early attention as circumstances will admit, because it is now in our power to avail ourselves of the military knowledge disseminated throughout the several States by means of the many well-instructed officers and soldiers of the late Army, a resource which is daily diminishing by death and other causes. …

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