Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


National Guards in the Great Plains developed later than in states to the east or west. Territorial status and sparse population hindered guard development, as did limited financial support. South Dakota, for example, appropriated only $500 for its guard in 1895, and Texas, despite its large population, could support only 3,000 guardsmen until 1910. In part, Great Plains states appropriated limited funds for the guard because few of them faced labor disorders or urban upheavals. Colorado was the great exception, with labor turbulence in its mining region from the 1880s through the "Ludlow Massacre" of 1914. But even with an extensive record of policing mining regions, the Colorado guard garnered only limited state support.

The Great Plains National Guard became effcient only after 1900, when federal subsidies began to underwrite state military budgets. Guardsmen continued to assist state officials during natural disasters and civil disorders, but increased federal support inevitably led to greater federal control. By the 1980s federal support accounted for more than 90 percent of the guard's support. Federal aid also imposed mandatory service on guardsmen. Great Plains guardsmen have served in World War I, World War II, Korea, the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and Iraq in 2003 under this obligation. The National Guard remains a locally oriented institution, proudly aware of its state and regional identification, but is nonetheless more a product of the federal government than of the states.

Jerry Cooper University of Mssouri, St. Louis

Cooper, Jerry. The Rise of the National Guard: The Evolution The American Militia, 1865–1920. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Previous: Military Bases | Contents | Next: Nimitz, Chester

XML: egp.war.030.xml