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BOARD OF VISITORS
VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE,
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA,
EXECUTIVE OFFICE, 24th January, 1874. To the Senate and House of Delegates :
I have the honor to transmit herewith the semi-annual report of the board of visitors of the Virginia Military Institute, dated the 23d instant, and the accompanying papers.
Your attention is specially invited to the enclosed letter, addressed to me on behalf of the board, in respect to the memorial in honor of the late Commodore M. F. Maury, proposed by eminent foreign authorities. It is fit that Virginia, who gave Maury to mankind, should afford moral support to this tribute to his great name, and I commend it to your most favorable consideration.
JAMES L. KEMPER.
VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE,
January 19, 1874. Gen. Wm. H. Richardson, Adjutant-General :
General—I have the honor to submit herewith my semi-annual report of the operations of this institution, with the names of those cadets who have been most distinguished in their studies or conduct, as determined at the examinations just closed.
The course of studies has been the same as usual, and has been prosecuted with regularity. Those cadets who have evinced an incorrigible habit of culpable neglect, have been sent to their homes under the general regulation imposing this duty upon the superintendent, while it has also been the duty of the superintendent to apply discipline in extreme cases for violations of the regulations of the institution. Some of these cases came before the board of visitors at this meeting upon an appeal, and the papers in connection with them are herewith submitted.
The academic board, on the resumption of academic duties in September, found that it was possible to make such an arrangement of studies as to introduce the German language into the first class course. The necessity for this has been long felt, but the pressure upon the academic course has been such as to make it impossible to provide for this important study before.
The first class was duly examined at the late examination, and the proficiency which had been reached in this language was very gratifying to the faculty, considering the brief time that had been given to the study-four months. This class will continue the language by a daily recitation until July, when still better results may reasonably be anticipated.
The absence of Dr. R. L. Madison, on sick furlough, necessarily suspends the second class recitation in physiology from January to July, and the academic board have directed the substitution of German into the second class, in the hope that provision may be made for a daily recitation in this class, thus providing eighteen months full instruction in this language.
The chair of modern languages, in charge of Col. Tho. M. Semmes, will, under these arrangements, be charged with instruction in the French and German, embracing instruction in all the four academic classes, and it is respectfully submitted to the board of visitors whether the best interests of the institution may not be advanced by the appointment of an adjunct professor of modern languages, thus providing a permanent and competent adjunct instructor for them, rather than to seek the precarious supply which the yearly selection of young and inexperienced assistants necessitates.
There is no indispensable necessity of determining the question at this time, but if it shall be deemed expedient to do so in June, the expression of the views of the board now may enable the institution to make such arrangements as will secure in the fall a competent adjunct for this important department.
Under the instruction of the board of visitors, provisional arrangements have been made for medical services to the cadets during the absence of Surgeon Madison, by the temporary appointment of Dr. John A. Graham as associate surgeon. He entered upon his duties on the 1st October, and has given a faithful diligence to them. The health of the institution has been good, no case of serious indisposition having occurred during the last six months.
The institution has severely felt the monetary pressure which has so universally oppressed the country since the last of September, and it is my duty to report large balances as due by parents and guardians for the expenses of cadets. The suspension of the payment of interest on securities constitutes one of the causes of this delay, while the difficulty of moving crops and low prices present embarrassments to a large number.
To meet the contingency of a larger pressure from these causes, it is earnestly recommended that the legislature be requested to authorize the payment of the annuity of the institution for the next fiscal year in advance, if such advance should be deemed necessary by the board of visitors.
It is well known to the board that the institution has borne the entire expense involved in the reconstruction of its buildings and in the outfit of various departments without imposing one dollar as a charge to the Commonwealth. There is a debt due of $5,000, being one-half of the cost of our hospital building, which it is very important should be paid. Could the institution command its means this debt could be paid from the collection of outstanding dues. But the recovery of these debts is so precarious that it would be a great relief to the institution if provision could be made, by legislative aid, to pay it.
In like manner, a supply of water is a great desideratum. Provision had been made before the war to this important object, but the funds, which were on special deposit in bank, were lost by the issues of the war. We have purchased and paid for a large spring. The right of way has been secured from this spring to the institution, and an appropriation of $5,000 would enable the board to secure such a supply of water as is demanded for the health and comfort of the cadets.
When it is considered how earnest an effort has been made by the institution to restore the ruin of the war, involving a burthen which it has sustained of over two hundred thousand dollars, it is hoped that the special circumstances which give such financial embarrassment at this time may warrant this application for the appropriation of ten thousand dollars for purposes so essential as a hospital and water supply.
I respectfully submit for the consideration of the board at this time correspondence with Commodore Jansen, of Holland, suggesting an international memorial to the late Commodore Maury. The proposed memorial contemplates the erection of a light house on the Rocos, a point in the Atlantic ocean on the path to Brazil. The scheme will have the support of the geographical society of Great Britain. All that is needed is to secure an approval of the plan by this country. No money is asked in furtherance. This will be secured by the other nations. What is asked is such an endorsement of the memorial by the people of this country, through their chambers of commerce, boards of trade, or other interests, as will constitute a proper beginning of the undertaking, and that foreign nations and societies will promptly respond in substantial ways.
The resignation of Col. Wm. E. Cutshaw of his appointment of adjunct professor of engineering to accept the office of city engineer of the city of Richmond, made it necessary that provisional arrangements should be made by the superin
tendent, under the orders of the board of visitors, to supply instruction in this department.
I was so fortunate as to secure the services of Major Wm. M. Patton, a distinguished graduate of the institution, who had been an assistant professor of engineering under General Lee in 1860-'67, and who for the last four years had held honorable appointments as a civil engineer in Alabama and Costa Rica. Major Patton entered upon his duties 1st September, and I respectfully ask the confirmation of his appointment as adjunct professor of civil and military engineering.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
FRANCIS H. SMITH, Superintendent.