Every year on November 10th the United States Marine Corps Birthday is celebrated with a traditional ball and cake-cutting ceremony. On that day in 1775, the Continental Marines were established.
On November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia passed a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces with the fleet. This resolution established the Continental Marines and marked the birth date of the United States Marine Corps. Serving on land and at sea, these first Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations, including their first amphibious raid into the Bahamas in March 1776, under the command of Captain (later Major) Samuel Nicholas. The first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines, Nicholas remained the senior Marine officer throughout the American Revolution and is considered to be the first Marine Commandant. The Treaty of Paris in April 1783 brought an end to the Revolutionary War and as the last of the Navy’s ships were sold, the Continental Navy and Marines went out of existence.
Following the Revolutionary War and the formal re-establishment of the Marine Corps on 11 July 1798, Marines saw action in the quasi-war with France, landed in Santo Domingo, and took part in many operations against the Barbary pirates along the “Shores of Tripoli”.
Marines took part in numerous naval operations during the War of 1812, as well as participating in the defense of Washington at Bladensburg, Maryland, and fought alongside Andrew Jackson in the defeat of the British at New Orleans.
The decades following the War of 1812 saw the Marines protecting American interests around the world, in the Caribbean, at the Falkland Islands, Sumatra and off the coast of West Africa, and also close to home in operations against the Seminole Indians in Florida.
The Marine Corps continued its tradition of innovation to meet new challenges as the adaptability and reliability of Marine forces continued to be highlighted around the world from the Horn of Africa to Haiti and to the Philippines.
Across the U.S., Marine units from both coasts fought and contained wildfires, and also supported hurricane relief efforts in various parts of the country.
Today’s Marine Corps stands ready to continue in the proud tradition of those who so valiantly fought and died at Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, and Khe Sanh. Combining a long and proud heritage of faithful service to the nation, with the resolve to face tomorrow’s challenges will continue to keep the Marine Corps the “best of the best.”
The Marine Corps Motto
“Semper Fidelis” (“Always Faithful”) is the motto of the Corps. That Marines have lived up to this motto is proved by the fact that there has never been a mutiny, or even the thought of one, among U.S. Marines.
Semper Fidelis was adopted about 1883 as the motto of the Corps. Before that, there had been three mottoes, all traditional rather than official. The first, antedating the War of 1812, was “Fortitudine” (“With Fortitude”). The second, “By Sea and by Land,” was obviously a translation of the Royal Marine’s “Per Mare, Per Terram.” Until 1848, the third motto was “To the Shores of Tripoli,” in commemoration of O’Bannon’s capture of Derna in 1805. In 1848, after the return to Washington of the Marine battalion that took part in the capture of Mexico City, this motto was revised to: “From the Halls of the Montezumas to the Shores of Tripoli” – a line now familiar to all Americans. This revision of the Corps motto in Mexico has encouraged speculation that the first stanza of “The Marines’ Hymn” was composed by members of the Marine battalion who stormed Chapultepec Castle.
It may be added that the Marine Corps shares its motto with England’s Devonshire Regiment, the 11th Foot, one of the senior infantry regiments of the British Army, whose sobriquet is “the Bloody Eleventh” and whose motto is also Semper Fidelis.
Other Information on the Marine Corps
Everyone should celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday this November 10, 2015. Join us on social media using the hashtag #mspotmarinesbday to share your photos and stories!
Our thanks and gratitude go out to all of those who have served or are currently serving in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. We salute you and thank you for all that you do!