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Obama Snubs Florida and Puerto Rico, Signs Law Designating Salem, Mass. As National Guard Birthplace

President Barack Obama has signed a law designating Salem, Massachusetts as the official birthplace of the National Guard. According to the law that Congress somehow found time for, the National Guard was ‘born’ when the early militia first held muster in the town in 1629.

That’s news to the people of St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest still-existing city in the continental United States. According to the Florida National Guard, the first recorded mustering of an organized militia on the U.S. continent occurred on September 16, 1575 – over half a century before the first claimed muster in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

“First Muster” is a famous artistic rendering by Jackson Walker of the first recorded militia gathering on the Continental United States — somewhere that is not Salem, Massachusetts.

The militia tradition of Puerto Rico is even older – dating back to around 1511, when Spanish settlers under the command of Ponce De Leon formed a citizen’s militia to protect themselves against a rebellion by native tribesmen called the Taino. The fighting lasted until 1518 – more than a century before the first muster in Salem.

Indeed, by the time the Massachusetts Bay Colony had managed their own first muster of able-bodied men, Puerto Rican Spaniards, including a contingent of irregulars from the island’s interior, had already engaged in pitched battle against a European foe, defeating a Dutch force at the Battle of San Juan in 1625 -- years prior to the formation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony militia as described in the law Obama signed.

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