Thesis: Chapter One Sent to Committee

Well, now that I am no longer acting as a head coach for the wrestling program where I teach, I can finally get back to the thesis grind. I submitted chapter 1 of my thesis today. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the introduction below. Enjoy. 


The same month that news of the Treaty of Ghent officially ended the war, debates broke out in Congress concerning the future of the army. The most important aspect under discussion was the size of the regular army.[1] Advocates of a larger peacetime standing army contested the old Jeffersonian arguments that remained fearful of standing armies during peacetime.[2] Before the War of 1812, much of the country remained suspicious of large standing armies. Additionally, the government was too new to impose such a measure, and lacked the fiscal resources to maintain a standing force.[3] During Jefferson’s presidency, the army contracted to as few as three thousand men. When the threat of the Napoleonic Wars loomed over America, the Madison administration gradually raised the number of enlisted men in the regular army from three to six thousand.[4] During the years of the early republic, America relied on its citizens, the militia, for its defense. The ideology of the citizen soldier to provide defense was deeply engrained in the American psyche, a carryover from the revolution. It was only after catastrophe, such as the British firing of the President’s House, that many leaders decided a change must occur.

With memories of such failures fresh in many lawmakers’ minds, the government set out to reform the American military. During the years immediately following the War of 1812, commonly called the “Era of Good Feelings,” American lawmakers provided funding and set the parameters that reformed the American military. Among these changes are the establishment of a large peace time military for defense and the reorganization of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  The Regular soldiers of the peace time army and the appointees to West Point shaped the martial culture that persisted throughout the nineteenth century. The reforms in structure and combat highlighted in this chapter, laid a foundation that the American Army would build on in subsequent years.

[1] Francis Paul Prucha, The Sword of the Republic: The United States Army on the Frontier, 1783-1846, (London: The Macmillan Company, 1969), 119.

[2] Lawrence D. Cress refers to this as the “radical Whig” tradition in his book Citizens in Arms: The Army and Militia in American Society to the War of 1812. Cress defines this as an ideological opposition to large armies as dangerous to liberty and civic virtue. Radical Whig tradition placed emphasis on the citizen soldier (i.e. militia).

[3] Russell F. Weigley, The American Way of War: A History of the United States Military Strategy and Policy, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1973), 41.

[4] Weigley, 46.

6 thoughts on “Thesis: Chapter One Sent to Committee

  1. Ah, serious academic writing.
    Once I asked a True Southron his opinion of Chicago Style, and he replied that he preferred thin crust instead.

    1. I decided to let this through. I just think it’s amazing, and incredibly juvenile, how you took the time out of your day to spew such vitriol. Honestly, grow up and grow a pair rather than hide behind your numerous aliases. I’m adding your IP to the spam file, run back to the racist echo chamber that is Connie Chastain’s blog.

  2. Everything I’ve got shows the overwhelming desire for the militia instead of the regular army in that era. The actions of Alexander Hamilton during John Adams’ term as president didn’t help out the cause of the regular army. I think not having a regular army might have been a very good thing in that era. Hamilton wasn’t alone in his way of thinking either. I can only be speculative about it, but I think if we would have a large standing army it is probable that somebody would have tried to use it for some purpose.

    The militia concept looked good on paper. It was backed by the Militia Act of 1792 and other acts like it. However, in reality it never worked well. As long as militia went up against troops of the same caliber it was okay. When it left its home area and went into battle against seasoned warriors the militia’s flaws became deadly. Incidentally, just to give you an idea of how Americans thought about the militia, as late as 1940 the US still depended on the militia, this time in the form of the National Guard. When a deep look at the NG began that year it quickly became apparent that they had absolutely no chance of stopping a Wehrmacht panzer division.

    The US Army Green Books are wonderful sources on how the US built an army. The oceans have always aided the US and they definitely did in WWII. I don’t even want to consider a militia system like we had in the past today. Today’s NG is a great fighting force of well trained men and women capable of taking on any military at any time. It is a far cry from the old militia system which failed repeatedly.

    1. Right. What I am demonstrating is a shift. That government began to place the Regular Army as the nuclear element in America’s national defense.

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