Commandants of the Marine Corps:  (excerpt from Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines, copyright 2001 Marion F. Sturkey) 

Since its birth in 1775, the Marine Corps has been led by 32 different men.  The first of these Marine leaders, Samuel Nicholas, technically never held the title of Commandant.  His commission, signed by John Hancock, begins as follows:

IN CONGRESS.  The Delegates of the United Colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode-Island, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Counties of New-Castle, Kent, and Suffex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina, and Georgia, to Samuel Nicholas Esquire.  We, reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Patriotism, Valour, Conduct and Fidelity, Do by these Presents, constitute and appoint you to be Captain of Marines in the service of the Thirteen United Colonies of North-America, fitted out for the defense of American Liberty . . . .  

The term "Commandant" did not come into use for over a quarter-century.  Notwithstanding technicalities, Samuel Nicholas is considered the first of the lineage, the first Commandant.  These 33 United States Marine Corps leaders are listed below:

1 Samuel Nicholas  1775-1781
2 William W. Burrows  1798-1804
3 Franklin Wharton  1804-1818
4 Anthony Gale  1819-1820
5 Archibald Henderson  1820-1859
6
John Harris  1859-1864
7
Jacob Zeilin  1864-1876
8
Charles G. McCawley  1876-1891
9
Charles Heywood  1891-1903
10
George F. Elliott  1903-1910
11
William P. Biddle  1911-1914
12
George Barnett  1914-1920
13
John A. Lejeune  1920-1929
14
Wendell C. Neville  1929-1930
15
Ben H. Fuller  1930-1934
16
John H. Russell, Jr.  1934-1936
17
Thomas Holcomb  1936-1943
18
Alexander A. Vandegrift  1944-1947
19
Clifton B. Cates  1948-1951
20
Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.  1952-1955
21
Randolph M. Pate  1956-1959
22
David M. Shoup  1960-1963
23
Wallace M. Greene, Jr.  1964-1967
24
Leonard F. Chapman, Jr.  1968-1971
25
Robert E. Cushman, Jr.  1972-1975
26
Louis H. Wilson, Jr.  1975-1979
27
Robert H. Barrow  1979-1983
28
Paul X. "PX" Kelley  1983-1987
29
Alfred M. Gray, Jr.  1987-1991
30
Carl E. Mundy, Jr.  1991-1995
31
Charles C. Krulak  1995-1999
32
James L. Jones, Jr.  1999--2003
33 Michael W. Hagee  2003--2006
34 James T. Conway  2006--

Note:  On 16 March 1861, The Congress of the Confederate States of America established the Confederate States Marine Corps.  On 23 May 1861, Col. Lloyd J. Beall (a West Point graduate who resigned his U.S. Army commission to "go south") was appointed as the Colonel-Commandant.  Col. Beall served as Colonel-Commandant of the C.S. Marine Corps until the end of the American Civil War in 1865.

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