On March 16, 1802, West Point, the United States Military Academy is founded by Congress.  Located in West Point, New York, it was the first military school in the United States and its purpose was for the educating and training young men in the theory and practice of military science.west_pointLocated on the high west bank of New York’s Hudson River, West Point was the site of a Revolutionary-era fort built to protect the Hudson River Valley from British attack. In 1780, Patriot General Benedict Arnold, the commander of the fort, agreed to surrender West Point to the British in exchange for 6,000 pounds.

iarnolb001p1Benedict Arnold, engraving by H.B. Hall, 1865.

However, the plot was uncovered before it fell into British hands, and Arnold fled to the British for protection.

west_pointWest Point

Ten years after the establishment of the U.S. Military Academy in 1802, the growing threat of another war with Great Britain resulted in congressional action to expand the academy’s facilities and increase the West Point corps. Beginning in 1817, the U.S. Military Academy was reorganized by superintendent Sylvanus Thayer–later known as the “father of West Point”–and the school became one of the nation’s finest sources of civil engineers.

220px-SylvanusThayerSylvanus Thayer, painting by Robert Weir

During the Mexican-American War, West Point graduates filled the leading ranks of the victorious U.S. forces, and with the outbreak of the Civil War former West Point classmates regretfully lined up against one another in the defense of their native states.

Female Graduates 1980-West-PointThe first female graduates of West Point 1980

In 1870, the first African-American cadet was admitted into the U.S. Military Academy, and in 1976, the first female cadets.

Flipper_CadetFlipperHenry Flipper as a cadet at the United States Military Academy,Library of Congress

 The academy is now under the general direction and supervision of the department of the U.S. Army and has an enrollment of more than 4,000 students.


3 responses

  1. enjoyed this. I pass West Point every time I visit my relatives in NY,


  2. Birgit says:

    Great to read and I am happily surprised that they let an African American in so early but sad to see it took until 1976 for women to enter