Visit the museum in Quantico, VA.
Marine Corps Birthday
The United States Marine Corps Birthday is an American holiday celebrated every year on 10 November with a traditional ball and cake-cutting ceremony. On that day in 1775, the Continental Marines were established.
The official birthday of the United States Marine Corps is on 10 November 1775. That was the day when the Second Continental Congress established the Continental Marines with the following decree extracted from the Journal of the Continental Congress, (Philadelphia) Friday, November 10, 1775:
That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates as with other battalions, that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to offices, or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies; unless dismissed by Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and Second Battalions of Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of. Resolved
Tun Tavern, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is regarded as the birthplace of the Corps as the location of the first Marines to enlist under Commandant Samuel Nicholas, though it is disputed if a recruiting drive may have occurred earlier at Nicholas’s family tavern, the Conestoga Waggon. When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the Continental Navy was disestablished, and with it, the Continental Marines. The Corps was re-established on 11 July 1798, when the act for establishing and organizing a Marine Corps was signed by President John Adams.
Each year, the commandant of the Marine Corps provides a message to all Marines commemorating the Marine Corps Birthday. Click here to see the most current message.
As an aid, personal radio operator, and bodyguard to the Battalion Commander and Sargent Major of 2/5, on November 10th, 1969, I (Larry Tyler) was able to assist in the presentation and serving of the birthday cake to all the battalion troops on Hill 65, Quang Nam Province, I Corps, Vietnam.
Which Born On Date?
On Nov. 10, 1775, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Penn. authorized the raising of two battalions of Marines to serve “for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies.” Shortly after this resolution, Marines were recruited and served aboard ships, most notably as sharpshooters taking out enemy officers.
What many Marines don’t know, however, is that the Continental Marine Corps was disbanded after the Revolutionary War in 1783 and ceased to exist for the next 15 years. It wasn’t until July 11, 1798, that what we know as the modern U.S. Marine Corps was established through an act of Congress. For the next 123 years, the Corps recognized July 11, 1798, as its official birthday.
The U.S. Marine Corps History Division writes (emphasis added):
Until 1921 the birthday of the Corps had been celebrated on another date. An unidentified newspaper clipping from 1918 refers to the celebration of the 120th birthday of the Marine Corps on 11 July “as usual with no fuss.” It is doubtful that there was any real celebration at all. Further inspection of documents and publications prior to 1921 shows no evidence of ceremonies, pageants, or parties.
The July date was commemorated between 1798 and 1921 as the birthday of the Corps. During the Revolution, Marines fought on land and sea, but at the close of the Revolution, the Marine Corps and the Navy were all but disbanded. On 11 July 1798, President John Adams approved a bill that recreated the Corps, thereby providing the rationale for this day being commemorated as the birthday of
the U.S. Marine Corps.
It wasn’t until Nov. 1, 1921, with Gen. John A. Lejeune’s issued Marine Corps Order 47 that the birthday changed to the previous date for the Continental Marine Corps that modern Marines still celebrate today. Later this year on Nov. 10, 2015, the Marine Corps will celebrate 240 years of service, but we should really subtract 15 from that number.