September 29, 1789 – The U.S. Congress Legalizes a U.S. Army

On this day in history, Congress, on its final day of its first session, passed “An act to recognize and adapt to the Constitution of the United States, the establishment of the troops raised under the resolves of the United States in Congress assembled and for other purposes, 29 September 1789.” The act legalized the existing U.S. Army, a small force inherited from the Continental Congress that had been created under the Articles of Confederation.

Section 3 of the act set forth an oath to be taken by members of the Army:

That all commissioned and non-commissioned officers, and privates, who are, or shall be, in the service of the United States, shall take the following oaths or affirmations, to wit: “I, A. B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the constitution of the United States.” “I, A. B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me.”

Section 5 added a provision for additional troops as necessary:

That, for the purpose of protecting the inhabitants of the frontiers of the United States from the hostile incursions of the Indians, the President is hereby authorized to call into service, from time to time, such part of the militia of the states, respectively, as he may judge necessary for the purpose aforesaid; and that their pay and subsistence, while in service, be the same as the pay and subsistence of the troops above mentioned.”

President George Washington here seen as Major General and Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army

President George Washington here seen as Major General and Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army

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