Lord Protector referring to Oliver Cromwell. By 1642, there was a Civil War between Parliament and the Crown. In 1644 the Battle of Marston Moor
commenced the bloodletting. 1648 saw the last of the Royalist forces defeated. 1649 saw the trial and execution of the first King Charles. Cromwell
dissolved Parliament and declared himself Lord Protector of the United Kingdom. After rejecting Parliament’s offer to crown him king, he died in
1658. Footnote: His body was exhumed in 1661 and “he” was executed on orders of King Charles II, son of King Charles I. They carried a grudge
pretty far in those old days.
The Founding Fathers meant for the military and naval forces to be under the command of a civilian, the president, who they designated as “commander
in chief” of those forces. They added that the president would also command the states militias when called into national service. This designation
is found in Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution. See Note 1.
Who was the highest ranking American general of all time? George Washington was promoted to lieutenant general after the Revolutionary War ended.
Three stars. But by position, the Continental Congress made him General of the Armies. After Washington’s loss to the British in New York, General
Horatio Gates “offered” to take command of the Continental Army. Fortunately for America, the Congress declined his offer. How would you like to
visit the Gates Monument in Gatesville, DC?
The 1861-1865 War of the Rebellion - its official name - was the largest army America had fielded up to that time, by far. But we had only two general
ranks, brigadier and major. When Lincoln named Major General U.S. Grant the general in command of all the Union armies, Congress promoted him to
Lieutenant General, the first person after Washington, to hold that rank and gave him the designation of General of the Armies of the United States.
This rank and title were later shared with Gen. Sherman and Gen. Sheridan. These are the only instances of this rank designation.
The next time America had a large military force was in World War One. The 45,000 man Army of 1914 became the 3 million man army of 1917. Major
General Leonard Wood, Army Chief of Staff, believed he would lead the American forces in Europe. unfortunately or otherwise, Wood was a Republican
and a potential presidential candidate. Woodrow Wilson was a Democrat. Instead, Wood was assigned the less noble task of training this new army, and
Major General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing got the nod to go off to Europe.
Pershing had commanded an all black regiment in the Spanish American War, hence the moniker "Black Jack" was bestowed on him by his fellow officers.
To make Pershing equal to his European counterparts, the new rank of General with 4 stars was created. He was designated as General of the Armies.
Only Pershing and Washington have been so designated.
For perhaps ulterior motives or under a grand delusion, Wilson instructed Pershing that America’s forces would fight only as a unit under American
officers. If that had not been his order, the French and British would have divided the Americans to replace depleted units in their own ranks. We
would have likewise suffered those same outrageous casualty rates. Rather than have 120,000 men to die in France, we could have had a half million
dead men before the war ended!
During World War 2, a total of 16 million men and women served in the Armed Forces of the United States. AFUS. As opposed to USAF, the Air Force
after 1947. On VJ Day, September 2, 1945, there were 13 million men and women in uniform. The largest army and navy we ever assembled.
I believe we have overused the term commander in chief. When I learned English, there could be only one commander in chief. All the other commanders
must be subordinate. Anyone who enjoyed the movie “Midway” soon learned that ‘sink-pack’ was not a slang word, but an acronym derived from
CiCPac. Commander in Chief, Pacific. That was Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. As opposed to Commander in Chief, South Pacific, which was General of the
Army Douglas MacArthur.
And lest we forget, General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower was promoted to Commander in Chief of the Supreme Headquarters of American Forces in Europe
- SHAFE. And made C in C of the invasion of Europe, Operation Overlord. In 1944, Congress created a new rank, a 5 star rank, and promoted George
Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and H.H. “Hap” Arnold to General of the Army. In 1950, Omar Bradley was promoted to that rank. An
equivalent rank for the Navy, Admiral of the Fleet, was awarded to William Leahy, Ernest King, Chester Nimitz and William Halsey. Until the 1970s, the
highest rank in the USMC was Lieutenant General, the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The current Chairman of the JCS is a 4 star USMC, Gen. Peter
It is true that Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt violated our civil rights during the prosecution of the 3 wars they were acting
as commander in chief. Lincoln’s actions were primarily done in Maryland, under the belief that should Maryland secede from the Union, thereby
forcing the removal of the nation’s capital, it was likely European powers would recognize the Confederacy.
Woodrow Wilson censored newspapers and had German sympathizers arrested without warrants on that draconian charge of sedition. It was unclear which
side the US would enter War 1. The July 30, 1916, Black Tom Railroad Yard in NYC was blown up by German saboteurs. Pieces of metal damaged the skirt
of the Statue of Liberty and because of this explosion that the Lady's torch has been permanently closed off to visitors. Congress immediately passed
the Espionage Act, which outlawed a variety of crimes associated with German agents.
Franklin Roosevelt was faced with persistent rumors of possible sabotage along the West Coast. Unwilling to see the US suffer one more set back after
Pearl Harbor, the loss Wake Island, Guam and then the Philippines, he improperly but by Executive Order, put 120,000 persons of Japanese descent into
concentration camps for the duration of the war. Pure racial stereotyping unbecoming of FDR.
To me it is clear the Constitution makes the sitting president the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the US. Sitting atop the chain of
command. Of the military and naval establishment. But this is not to be the single person who is made responsible for the whole country. There is no
hint of this intent in the Constitution. Just the contrary. And no prior president has ever claimed the power to run the country single-handedly.
It is equally clear to me this grant of authority and power must function under the laws of the United States. It cannot be a grant or license to make
laws - some in secret - and to do acts or deeds inconsistent with exiting laws. Within that framework, he is the Commander in Chief. But the president
is not America’s Generalissimo!
Note 1. Article II, Section 2. The president shall be commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militias of the several
states, when called into the actual service of the United States . . “
This should be read together with the following from Article I, Section 8: Congress shall have power to . . provide for the common defense . . to
constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court . . to define and punish . . felonies committed on the high seas and against the Law of Nations . .
to declare war . . make rules concerning captures on land and water . . to raise and support armies . . to provide . . a navy . . to make rules for
the government and regulation of the land and naval forces . . to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the
foregoing powers and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United Stats or in any department or official thereof.
[edit on 8/21/2006 by donwhite]