The Continental Congress established two battalions of Marines to fight for American independence both at sea and on shore on November 10, 1775 — months before the start of the American Revolution.
Samuel Nicholas was made the captain and commanding officer. The first Marines were recruited by him at inns and taverns throughout Philadelphia.
One of the first recruits was Robert Mullan, the owner of Tun Tavern. The Tavern has since been considered the birthplace of the Marines.
In 1776, the Marines launched their first amphibious attack. Led by Samuel Nicholas, 234 Marines sailed to Fort Nassau to capture England’s supplies of gunpowder. Enemy troops surrendered within minutes.
Another iconic tradition, the Marines’ dress blue uniforms, replaced the original green uniforms in 1798. Their motto “Semper Fi,” short for “Semper Fidelis” or “Always Faithful” in Latin, was established in 1883.
The November 10 birthday was declared a Marine Corps holiday in 1921. Every year, Marines celebrate with a formal Birthday Ball, where two slices of birthday cake are given to the youngest and oldest marines present.