BioFile - Maj. Gen. Charles W.F. Dick: Father of the National Guard
Charles William Frederick Dick, a lawyer from Ohio, was probably the most important person in the history of the National Guard. Born in Akron in November of 1858, he attended public schools in his native city, and then studied law. Passing the bar, he joined a local law firm. As was common in middle class professional circles in those times, in 1885 Dick enlisted in the Ohio State Militia. The following year he was commissioned a lieutenant in Company B, 8th Regiment, Ohio Infantry. A year later, Dick was promoted to captain and became commander of Company B. .
Over the next 14 years, Dick rose to lieutenant colonel. Meanwhile, his law career prospered, and in 1894 he opened his own practice and began to dabble in politics.
When the war with Spain came, in 1898, Dick went with his regiment to Cuba, where they participated in the siege of Santiago and then performed occupation duties after the Spanish surrender on August 13th. Returning to Ohio, that November Dick was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1900, while still in Congress, Dick became the commander of the Ohio Division, National Guard, with the rank of major general. In 1902, he was elected president of the National Guard Association of the United States, the principal lobbying organization for the state militia, a position which he held for seven years. Meanwhile, Dick became head of the House Militia Affairs Committee, an assignment that offered him a golden opportunity to help shape the future of the National Guard. Dick became the principal author and proponent of the Militia Act of January 21, 1903, which bears his name. The Dick Act, with amendments passed in 1908 and subsequently, remains the principal legal framework for the National Guard.
Meanwhile, in March of 1904 the state legislature elected him to the Senate, where he served until 1911. Having been defeated for re-election, Dick resumed his law practice. In 1922 he tried to return to the Senate, but lost the election. Returning to private life, Dick died in March of 1945, having seen his Guardsmen for a second time spring to the defense of the United States.