Theodore Roosevelt was appointed a second lieutenant in Company B, Eigth Regiment, New York National Guard in 1882. He resigned from the National Guard a captain in 1886. Years later he described his experience in the National Guard as “invaluable.” With a clear memory of some of his experiences in the National Guard and as a colonel with the United States Army in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt became 26th president of the United States in 1901. His first message to the United States Congress called for a “thorough military education” not only for the Regulars but for officers of the Guard “and others in civil life who desire intelligently to fit themselves for possible military duty.” Roosevelt stated, “I believe no other great country has such fine natural materials for volunteer soldiers as we have, and it is the obvious duty of the nation and the states to make such provision as will enable the volunteer soldiery to be organized with all possibly rapidity and efficiency in time of war, and furthermore to help in every way the National Guard in time of peace. Roosevelt was instrumental in enacting much of the legislation which modernized the National Guard. By the time he left office, the National Guard had been incorporated with the Army as part of the nation’s military forces . . . with uniform equipment, clothing, and training.
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