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The Seventh New York
and the Naming of the National Guard

Park Avenue Armory


Colonial Militia
Constitutional Force
Lafayette and the National Guard
New Name for the Organized Militia

Colonial Militia

The modern National Guard stems directly from the militia of the thirteen original English colonies making it the oldest component of the armed forces of the United States. In the beginning, the greatest cultural influence on the early colonies came from Great Britain. English settlers brought with them English military ideas.

During the American Revolution, which began in 1775 -just 12 years after the Treaty of Paris, 1763 which ended the French and Indian War -militia regiments contributed heavily to the Continental Army. The new American Army was commanded by a former militia colonel who became our nation's first President - George Washington.

Constitutional Force

Following the Revolution, the framers of the Constitution compromised between opposing views from federalists who wanted a strong central government with a large regular army and militia firmly under its control, and those in believed in states rights, did not want a large regular Army and felt states should control the militias.

The 1792 Militia Law remained in effect for 111 years. It required all males between the ages of 18 to 45 to enroll. Volunteer companies of men, who would buy their own uniforms and equipment, were also authorized. The federal government would provide limited funds for weapons and ammunition.

Lafayette and the National Guard

Lafayette and the National Guard New York City, July 14, 1825 - The 2nd Battalion, 2nd Regiment of Artillery, New York State Militia welcomes the visiting hero of the American Revolution Marquis de Lafayette. To honor him on his day of departure home to France, the unit adopted the name "National Guard" in remembrance of the Garde National de Paris, once commanded by Lafayette during the early days of the French Revolution. Taking note of the unit and its new name, Lafayette left his carriage and went down the line of troops clasping hands. Artist rendering from the National Guard Heritage Series.

In 1847, the battalion was reorganized as infantry and redesignated the 7th Regiment. There would be many name changes and new designations throughout its history. Its campaign credits include the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I (Somme Offensive, Ypres-Lys, Flanders 1918) and World War II (Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe, Western Pacific, Leyte, Ryukyus).

New Name for the Organized Militia

In the late 19th century, following the Civil War, more states began naming their militia regiments National Guard. In 1903, landmark legislation opened the way for increased modernization of the militia and increased federal control. It also made the name National Guard official. Congress declared that from then on the organized militia would be known as the National Guard. Also included in the law was the requirement for members to attend 24 drills per year and five days of annual training for which they would be paid for the first time.


New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: March 19, 2008

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