Ohio History Journal

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When the Revolutionary War ended, the new United States

of America faced a problem that is acutely familiar to us today:

Nobody wanted to remain in the Army or Navy. At the conclu-

sion of the Revolution, there were probably 20,000 to 30,000 men

under arms. The single, unifying aim of the war -- independence

from Great Britain -- appeared to have been won, at least on the

battlefield. Acknowledgement of that independence remained to

be secured by a treaty of peace. The soldier and the sailor believed

that their work was done; and if they had been serving their

country for eight years, ever since the Battle of Lexington, every-

one agreed that they had done their duty. In fact, if they had

joined the armed forces only in time to participate in the final

campaign at Yorktown, everyone agreed that they had done

enough. The "homing instinct" of the American soldier was as

strong then as it is now. None of them liked the military life.

Yet the happy issue of the Revolutionary War did not remove

all danger for the new republic. Great Britain was to exhibit a

disgraceful stubbornness in failing to evacuate the northwest posts

along the line of the Great Lakes. Lecherous, ambitious Spain

was entrenched at New Orleans and up along the west bank of the

Mississippi River and casting covetous eyes at the eastern shore.

The Indian tribes which had been allied with Great Britain did

not forget or forgive their recent enemies, the "long knives," and

regardless of the treaty making in Paris were not going to sur-

render the lands on which they lived and hunted to the hated

Americans. In fact, they denied the right of Britain to give away

their -- the Indians' -- land, since the Indians argued that the

British had only a tenant's rights to the posts they held.

So then as now, the United States stood in dire need of

military protection to prove or make good its dearly bought vic-

tory. And yet its military force was melting away like ice in


* Delivered on the Museum Lecture series, sponsored by the Ohio State Archaeologi-

cal and Historical Society, Thursday, April 11, 1946, in the Auditorium of its Museum

and Library Building.