While the need for national defense began almost at once to suppress internal rebellions such as Shays’ Rebellion (1786-1787), the Whiskey Tax Rebellion in 1794 and a Pennsylvania protest against war taxes called Fries’ Rebellion in 1799, the country relied
almost exclusively on volunteer or militia forces. The idea of a standing Army seemed a real threat to the civilian government. Minuteman volunteer militias seemed to be the American way besides which it was more economical than paying for a standing army.
During this first thirty plus years of our new nation, regular and volunteer Army and Navy
Commanders were honored for their service with large military medallions authorized by Congress (as described earlier) or with special commemorative swords often paid for by public subscription from a patriotic and grateful community. Enlisted soldiers and sailors were rewarded in various monetary ways with naval prize money or land grants for soldiers in the newly-acquired territories.
With the exception of Congressionally-awarded military medals, the Congress rejected the use of military decorations, orders and medals as being in the image of royalty and aristocracy. It was an attitude that lasted almost 100 years until the Army and Navy began to reflect the Republic’s rise as a world power at the beginning of the twentieth century. The development of America’s pyramid of military honors reflects the nation’s ascendancy as a world power beginning with the War with Spain, through its significant role in World War I and finally emerging as leader of the Free World in World War II.The Republic 1783-1811 - History of United States Military Awards,