Samuel Nicholas, the first commandant of the Marine Corps never actually had the title of commandant. On 28th of November, 1775 he was commissioned by Continental Congress.
'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 Colonies, fitted out for the defense of American Liberty . . . . "
Nicholas was the thirty-one-year-old only son of a Philadelphia blacksmith, and his qualifications were slim. His maritime experience seems to have consisted of sailing as a super-cargo in merchant ships for Robert Morris, the leading financier of the Revolution, and enjoying an active sporting life on the Schuykill and Delaware rivers. Morris's patronage probably got Nicholas his Marine commission. Although early congressional intentions to field two battalions of Marines soon faded, Nicholas did well in the raid on New Providence in the Bahamas, in raising Marine guards for the new frigates being built in the Delaware, and in Washington's victory at Princeton.