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improvement, and binding its different sections indissolubly together by ties of economic interest, such as river improvements, canals, roads, bridges, and other great public works described under the comprehensive name of engineering.” It is not infrequent that men, graduates of this school, have done their country great service by devoting themselves to the study of science. It is through this institution that our meager but necessary standing army is kept respectably well officered.

As a means of defence in time of war it gives little enough military education for a great people, and the experience of war shows that the great majority of our able military leaders have arisen from this school. It is fortunate when in war they are all upon the same side; otherwise the conduct of the officers of West Point fighting against one another after having sworn to defend the nation may shake the faith of the people in the supposed advantages of a military academy.

Although the first expression on record of sentiments in favor of a military academy did not come from Washington, it is due to him more than to any other that such an institution was established. He maintained that in times of peace training for war is necessary to prepare for emergencies that may rise.


It was near the beginning of the War for Independence that the necessity for a national military academy forced itself upon the leaders of the young nation. It was the growing sentiment of nationality, together with the consciousness of entering upon the struggle with few efficient commanders and a poorly disciplined army, that taught the need of such an institution.

As early as September, 1776, a committee was appointed to inquire into the state of the army at New York.” After a thorough investigation, the committee reported the army in a state of disorganization, the soldiers insubordinate, and the commanders incapable. There was embodied in this report, among other things, a resolution “that the board prepare a continental laboratory and a military academy, and provide the same with officers.” ” *

Two days prior to the reception of the report of this committee a second committee was appointed by the Continental Congress and instructed to submit to that body a plan for a military academy.” In the work of these committees is foreshadowed the events which led to the establishment of the peace arrangements of the army, and finally to the Academy at West Point. It seems that the latter committee never reported. The precipitation of imminent war engrossed the attention of the leaders, while the raw recruits and the half-trained officers found WEST POINT MILITARY ACADEMY. 57

1 The College of William and Mary, 48. 2 American Archives, series V, II, 1373. *Ibid., 1387. “Ibid., 1383.

ample instruction in military tactics in the severe school of experience. Nothing further was attempted toward a school until the close of the war in 1783, at which time the question was again agitated under the discussion of the peace arrangements for the army. Alexander Hamilton was appointed by Congress chairman of the committee for preparing a plan for the peace arrangement of the army. Hamilton at once addressed a letter to General Washington, soliciting his views on the subject. Washington replied in his clear and decisive manner, and recommended, among other things, that a military School should be established at West Point." At this time General Timothy Pickering was in command of the forces near West Point, and General Washington addressed a letter to him for his views and report concerning the situation and the condition of the army. Pickering replied to this letter on April 22, 1783, giving his views at some length on the peace arrangements of the army. It is to be noted that the suggestions of Pickering became the policy of the Government to a considerable extent. At the close he says: “If anything like a military academy in America be practicable at this time it must be grounded on the permanent military establishment for our frontier posts and arsenals, and the wants of the States separately of officers to command the defenses on the sea-coasts. On this principle it might be expedient to establish a military school or academy at West Point.” The military organization was in a state of confusion for several years, the chief attention of legislation being directed toward civil af. fairs. But the first President of the United States had no intention to allow the subject to be forgotten which he deemed to seriously affect the people. Therefore in his annual message of 1793 he recommended that a military academy be established. In the discussion of this clause in the cabinet, Thomas Jefferson thought the power to create a military school unconstitutional, but his opinion was not of sufficient weight to overrule the strong convictions of Washington. It seems that when Thomas Jefferson became President he had changed his views, and strongly recommended the support of the military academy.


Preparations were made for a peace organization of the army for the education of cadets, and in fact for executing all the plans of Washing.

ton, except the immediate formation of a local school after the design

which he had in mind. In the year 1802 an act was passed which made more ample provisions for the military peace establishment. The army was reorganized, the artillery corps was separated from the engineer corps, and both were stationed at West Point, the former having forty Cadets attached to it and the latter only ten.”

Sparks’ Washington, XIII, 417.
° Life of Timothy Pickering, IV, 442, Appendia.
*History of West Point, by E. C. Boynton.

From this time on the number of cadets was increased at intervals, and the educational facilities were constantly improved until the school attained its present high rank. The Federal Government has by appropriate legislation attended punctually to the maintenance and direction of the school. The small amount expended for the support of the school has been repaid by manifold service to our common country. In 1867 the school was made a department of the army, and so continued until 1882, when the Commander of the Army had visitorial and advisory powers given him, while the school was placed in charge of the Chief of Engineers, as formerly.


The amount expended by the Government from 1802 to 1843, inclusive, for the support of the school, given in yearly appropriations, was $4,002,901. The grand total from 1802 to 1886 was $13,789,194. This makes an average annual appropriation of $164,157.13. The maximum appropriation was in 1866, when it amounted to $354,740, while the annual appropriation of 1885–86 was $309,921. These figures include all expenses and the pay of cadets, which was fixed in 1878 at five hundred

and forty dollars per annum. *


The doubt might be entertained by some whether or not the United States Naval Academy comes properly within the class of those institutions established for the inculcation of higher education among the people. No doubt the first and prime object of the founding of this institution was to afford a more efficient national defense; but since this was to be brought about—in fact, has been brought about—through the means of instruction of the higher order, it seems only proper that at least a short treatment of the Naval Academy and its work should be

given here, if only for the purpose of comparison.


The Navy Department was established by an act of Congress in 1768.” Previous to this time the Navy could hardly be said to have had an independent existence, and, for a number of years after, its organization was of the most imperfect kind. Under the act of organization, the President was empowered to appoint eight midshipmen for each ship. They, as a rule, were appointed from civil life, without proper regard to age, education, or fitness.

At first no provision was made for the instruction of these midshipmen. They were dependent upon their own efforts for what they

I Logan: Volunteer Soldiers of America, 240. * For a number of facts contained in this sketch I am greatly indebted to Soley's History of the Naval Academy.



learned of the art of navigation. Experience and observation were their tutors. In 1802 the Naval Regulations provided "school-masters" who should diligently and faithfully instruct the midshipmen in those sciences appertaining to their department. This provision proved of little consequence, however, since no new officers were created, but the duties of the school-master” were simply laid upon the chaplain, who of the whole ship's crew probably knew the least about navigation. This defective system continued in force with but slight alteration for many years.

Different Secretaries of the Navy during the period down till 1845 urged upon Congress the necessity of establishing a naval academy for the systematic instruction of midshipmen upon land; but nothing came of these appeals more than the establishment of the office of schoolmaster as distinct from that of chaplain, and some slight changes in the qualifications and duties of midshipmen and instructors. During this period, however, different Secretaries of the Navy, with the tacit approval of Congress, had established several small naval schools at suitable ports for the instruction of midshipmen off regular duty, and had yearly turned over part of the regular Navy appropriation to their support.


The United States Naval Academy was opened October 10, 1845.! The credit of its foundation is attributed to Hon. George Bancroft, who was then Secretary of the Navy. When Mr. Bancroft entered his office as Secretary there were in existence four small naval schools, one at New York, one at Philadelphia, one at Boston, and one at Norfolk. These schools were designed for the instruction of midshipmen when not engaged in other duties. At this time there were in the service for the instruction of midshipmen twenty professors and teachers, fourteen of whom were at sea and the others stationed at the naval school. The yearly cost of maintaining this force was $28,200. This sum was not, however, directly appropriated by Congress for this purpose, but it was the custom to take this amount from the regular appropriations to the Navy.

The weakness of this system is evident. Its force was not concentrated, but was spread out in fragments at navy-yards and in cruisingships. This was seen by Secretary Bancroft, and he at once set about to remedy it. He found the means already at hand for accomplishing his purpose.' By placing a number of the professors on waiting orders, and by concentrating a few of the best professors in one place, a naval academy was established, and a large amount of the sum which was previously expended in instruction, necessarily inefficient, in small and unorganized schools, was centered upon one independent organization.

1 Annual Register of United States Naval Academy, 1884.
Soley: History of the Naval Academy,

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The place chosen as that most suitable for the Naval Academy was Fort Severn, an old army post, the site of which had been bought by the Government in 1808, at a time when Annapolis was considered a point of military importance. Upon application by the Secretary of the Navy this post was transferred from the War to the Navy Department. Commander Franklin Buchanan, ef the United States Navy, was appointed Superintendent of the Academy, and at once drew up rules and regulations for its government.

The course of instruction embraced six departments, viz, naval tactics and practical seamanship, mathematics, natural and experi. mental philosophy, gunnery and infantry tactics, ethics, and modern languages."

The number of students enrolled during the first year was one hun

dred and one, ninety-one of whom were seniors.

In July, 1850, new regulations for the government of the Academy were prepared. The main features of the change were the extension of the course of study, and in the requirements for admission. Up to 1850 the course of instruction occupied five years, of which three were passed at sea. In 1850 it was made seven years, four in 1851, and six, the last two of which were to be spent at sea, in 1873, where it now remains.” o

On account of the Civil War then in progress the Naval Academy was removed to Newport, R. I., in May, 1861, but re-established at Annapolis in 1865, at the close of the strife.

The number of naval cadets allowed to enter the Naval Academy is one for each Member or Delegate of the House of Representatives, appointed at his recommendation, one from the District of Columbia, and ten appointed at large by the President. The number of appointments that can be made is limited to twenty-five each year, named by the Secretary of the Navy after competitive examinations, the cadets being fourteen to eighteen years old. The pay of the naval cadet is five hundred dollars à year. The course of instruction, as remodelled and improved, is thorough, involving a close pursuit of mathematics, steam-engineering, physics, mechanics, seamanship, ordnance, history, law, etc.

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It seems from an examination of the records of that time that, during the first three years after the establishment of the Academy, no extra appropriations were made for its support by Congress other than the sum of twenty-eight thousand two hundred dollars regularly set aside for the salaries of professors and teachers under the old system. In 1848, however, Congress appropriated nineteen thousand three hundred and eighty dollars for repairs and improvements, in addition to

1 Soley, 91. * Annual Register, 1884, Introduction.


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