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The History of the Marine Corps

Updated on March 1, 2011


The United States Marine Corps began its existence through a resolution from the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775.  This action established the Continental Marines and marked the birth date of the United States Marines.  There is a long proud history of the Marine Corps since its inception.  The facts being presented may be known by those who are close to the Marine Corps but the heritage of the Marines is important and should be known by all citizens.  This is what the purpose of this article is about. 

     The first thing I want to do is to identify the code of conduct which all Marines live by.  There are six articles as identified below:


      Article 1 - I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.


      Article 2 - I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.


   Article 3 -   If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.


       Article 4 - If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information nor take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them in every way.


    Article 5 - When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country or its allies or harmful to their cause.


     Article 6 - I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.     


     When looking at the events in the subsequent paragraphs consider the code about by which the Marines live and think about the situations in which they have been placed throughout our history.  The Marine Corps is a proud organization and we as Americans should be proud of it as well.  The high standards to which the Corps has in place make it what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.

     Captain and later Major Samuel Nicholas is considered to be the first Marine Commandant.  His first action was to lead the first amphibious raid in the Bahamas in March 1776.  The Treaty of Paris in April 1783 brought an end to the Revolutionary War and the Continental Navy and Marines went out of existence.  This situation would remain until the Marine Corps was reestablished On July 11, 1798.  The recreation of the Marine Corps was an important action and impacted historical events beginning with the War of 1812.  The Marines helped defend Washington at Bladensburg, Maryland and fought alongside Andrew Jackson in the defeat of the British at New Orleans.

     Another action with which the Marines were involved was the Mexican War (1846-1848).  During this war the Marines seized enemy seaports on the Gulf and Pacific coasts.  Marines also served ashore and afloat during the Civil War (1861-1865).  The last third of the 19th century saw Marines making numerous landings throughout the world including the Orient and the Caribbean area.  Other conflicts in which the Marines were involved included Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines and then began an era of expansion and professional development.

     The activity of the Marine Corps is well known in World War I and World War II but what may not be known is the involvement in the post-war occupation of Japan and North China.  The United States Marine Corps was also involved in the conflict in Viet Nam.  In the 1970’s the Marine Corps had a significant role in defending NATO’s northern flank as amphibious units participated in exercises in northern Europe.  In the 1980’s there were increasing terrorists attacks on U.S. embassies and the Marines served as security guards under the direction of the State Department.

    The next conflict in which the Marines participated was the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait.  The Marine involvement in Operation Desert Storm was the largest movement of the Marine Corps since World War II.  The main attack was from the Marines when the breached the Iraqi defense lines.  Other actions around this time period included non-combatant evacuation operations in Liberia and Somalia and life saving operations in Bangladesh, the Philippines and Northern Iraq.

During the 1990’s the Marine Corps was also deployed to several African nations to provide security and assist in the evacuation of American citizens during periods of political and civil instability.

     The history of the Marine Corps as present in this article is only a glimpse of what the Marine Corps have done throughout our history.  The United States Marines serve as an example of our capabilities as a country in meeting the challenges around the world that have an impact not only on our security but the security of our allies and peace in the world.  We as Americans should be proud of this organization and those who can proudly call themselves a Marine. 






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    • DavePrice profile image

      DavePrice 6 years ago from Sugar Grove, Ill

      There is more, much more, but you have done a fine job here and for that I'll give you a hearty Marine OORAH!