The War of Independence in the United States which started in 1775 and lasted till 1783 resulted in great liberation of many states within the country from the colonial rule of the British Empire (Krieger 53). The war started as a resistance towards payment of taxes, it became a protest before escalating to boycotts. The British authorities responded by closing Boston port and putting restriction as a way of punishing the locals (Koonings 12). A group of freedom fighters calling themselves Patriots formed their own government in Boston to coordinate the activities of the locals.
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Twelve colonies supported this new movement and together they formed Continental Congress. This was a group of civilians and militia willing and ready to liberate their country from the colonial powers through any way possible. As the War of Independence gained momentum, the liberators realized that although the military played the main role in fighting the colonial masters, it was important to maintain civilian control over them because of the desire to have a democratic government other than a dictatorial rule of the military. In this paper, the researcher will look at how civilian control of the military was established and maintained throughout the War of Independence and after (Forsythe 38).
Civilian control of the military was established at the initial stages of the war. The revolution was started by civil groups who were dissatisfied by the way British government was governing the country. At first, their actions did not involve the use of force hence there was no need for a military group. It then turned into protests and boycotts to destruction of properties. The revolutionists then realized that they needed military force to drive away the colonial masters (Masciulli 42). The first step that was made to ensure that the military remained under the rule of civilians was the appointment of General George Washington as to head the militia group. The military general knew that he was exercising authority given to him by the civilians.
During the war, General Washington had to consult Continental Congress- a body of civilian rulers- when making important decisions. This helped in installing a civilian leadership during the war. The militias knew that they derived their authority from the masses who wanted to gain independence from the colonial masters. They knew that they were working on behalf of the citizens of the United States (Marston 81). Their interest when engaging in the war was to achieve victory for the people and to establish a rule for the locals. The Continental Congress gave Washington powers to command the military and to ensure that the country was liberated from the colonial rule, but he did this based on the regulations given to him by the Congress.
After the War of Independence, important precedents were set to ensure that there was civilian control of the military. The country gained independence and elected a president in a democratic election. The constitution stipulated that the president of the United States of America had to be a civilian. This means that if a military officer wanted to vie for a political position, he had to resign and become a civilian (Chartrand 89). The constitution also made the civilian president the commander-in-chief, giving him full control over the military. The supremacy of the civilian president over military commanders was demonstrated when President Harry Truman terminated the command of celebrated General Douglas MacArthur’s command.
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Forsythe, David. Encyclopedia of Human Rights: Vol. 5. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.
Koonings, Kees. Political Armies: The Military and Nation Building in the Age of Democracy. New York: Zed Books, 2013. Print.
Krieger, Joel. The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.
Marston, Daniel. The American Revolution 1774-1783. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Limited, 2012. Print.
Masciulli, Joseph. The Ashgate Research Companion to Political Leadership. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2009. Print.