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The Articles of War governed the code of conduct for United States Army personnel until 1951. That's when the Uniform Code of Military Justice, (UCMJ), became effective. The Continental Congress adopted the articles in 1755 to administer justice and enforce discipline in the Continental Army.

The articles were based on the British Army Code which was adopted in the English mutiny Act of 1689. They were revised in 1776, 1786, 1806, and in 1916. Congress made significant other changes after both World War I and World War II to assure more leniency was granted to soldiers. In 1950, Congress established the UCMJ and applied it to all branches of the armed services. The UCMJ replaced the Articles of War.