Marines at Tun Tavern
Credit: Bingham, courtesy of Marine Corps' History Division

Birth of the Marine Corps

Less than a month after the Navy was created, the Second Continental Congress saw the need for Marines.

On November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress at Independence Hall passed a resolution, drafted in Tun Tavern near the Delaware River, to raise two battalions of Marines.

Major Samuel Nicholas. Credit: National Museum of the Marine Corps.
Credit: for images below and at top - Col. Charles Waterhouse

John Adams nominated Captain Samuel Nicholas as the first Marine officer. Captain Nicholas enlisted Tun Tavern’s owner Robert Mullan. Together, they held the Marine Corps’ first recruiting drive at Tun Tavern.

From Philadelphia, Nicholas and the Marines soon launched their first amphibious operation. They sailed from the Delaware to the British Bahamas to seize desperately needed gunpowder in the Navy and Marines’ first overseas campaign. After General Washington crossed the Delaware, he led the Marines in their first land engagement at nearby Princeton.

Marines Landing at New Providence, Bahamas; Marines with Washington at Princeton

Like the Continental Navy, the Continental Marines were disbanded after the Revolution but reborn in 1798 in Philadelphia, then the Nation’s Capital. In Congress Hall, Congress passed an Act creating the “corps of marines.” President John Adams signed the Act and appointed the first official Commandant, who created the famed Marine Band in Philadelphia. Launched from the banks of the Delaware, the U.S. Marine Corps has served the Nation ever since.

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