As we pause to celebrate the anniversary of our nation's independence, it seems appropriate to consider the vital role played by the American military in the birth of our nation.

Long before the 1776 Declaration of Independence, Americans were fighting in foreign lands on our behalf. In 1741, during the War of Jenkins' ear, about 3,600 American colonial troops supported a British assault on Cartagena in what is now Colombia. Admiral Edward Vernon of the Royal Navy, nicknamed "Old Grog," was the commanding officer of this expedition. Among the troops was Lawrence Washington, the older half-brother of George. The assault was not a success; nevertheless, Lawrence must have spoken highly of his commanding officer to his brother, as George would later name his home in Virginia in honor of the English admiral — Mount Vernon.

American troops supported their mother country by helping to invade French Canada during the Seven Years War (or the French and Indian War, 1754–1763). George Washington gained his first military experience fighting in the Ohio Valley in this conflict. At the battle of Quebec, which took place on September 13, 1759, Wolfe defeated Montcalm, with six companies of American rangers participating alongside British force. The French lost Canada to the British.

The United States Marine Corps was famously founded on November 10, 1775 at the Tun tavern in Philadelphia. The very first American Navy was founded by Rhode Island on June 12, 1775. In addition about 1,700 Letters of Marque were issued by the Continental Congress from 1776 on to authorize American merchant ships to capture British shipping.

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