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The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) can be traced back to the Articles of War recommended by George Washington in 1775. The Second Continental Congress complied with Washington’s request by establishing 69 articles of war. Because the authors of the articles were already familiar with the British Articles of War, the American code was remarkably similar. The following year, Washington convinced Congress that the focus of the American code should be on military conduct and the maintenance of military discipline. When the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787, it assigned Congress the right to regulate the land and naval forces of the United States.

Initially, military courts were denied jurisdiction over cases such as rape and murder unless the country was at war. The Articles ...

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