The Evolution of U.S. Military Policy from the Constitution to the Present, Volume I

The Old Regime: The Army, Militia, and Volunteers from Colonial Times to the Spanish-American War

by Gian Gentile, Jameson Karns, Michael Shurkin, Adam Givens


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Tracing the evolution of the U.S. Army throughout American history, the authors of this four-volume series show that there is no such thing as a "traditional" U.S. military policy. Rather, the laws that authorize, empower, and govern the U.S. armed forces emerged from long-standing debates and a series of legislative compromises between 1903 and 1940.

Volume I traces the history of U.S. military policy from the colonial era through the Spanish-American War. This period is critical for understanding the genesis of the basic structure of today's Army and the various factors that informed that structure. For a combination of strategic, cultural, economic, ideological, and political reasons, in the 18th and 19th centuries the United States did not establish a standing army large enough to handle a major conflict and instead relied on a variety of mechanisms for raising volunteer units and marshaling state militias to expand or augment the Army. The Spanish-American War (1898) was a major turning point: The difficulties the United States faced in raising and equipping a large-enough Army for the conflict prompted led to major reforms in the early 20th century.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    The Antecedents of U.S. Military Policy: Colonial Times to the Constitution

  • Chapter Three

    Adapting the Constitution to the Security Demands of the New Republic

  • Chapter Four

    Getting By: Increasing the Size of the Army, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the U.S. Civil War

  • Chapter Five

    Attempts at Army Reform: The Post–Civil War Years to the Spanish-American War

  • Chapter Six

    The United States Enters the World Stage: The Army and the Spanish-American War

  • Chapter Seven

    Volume Conclusion

  • Appendix A

    Summary Table of 19th Century Militias and Volunteer Forces

  • Appendix B

    Summary Table of Legislation Pertaining to the Evolution of U.S. Military Policy

  • Appendix C

    Taxonomy of Important Terms

Research conducted by

This research was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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