To the Point: The United States Military Academy, 1802-1902

By George S. Pappas | Go to book overview

20
Guard Well Your Heritage

The turmoil caused by problems at West Point was not unnoticed by graduates. The obvious mishandling of the black cadet problem, hazing incidents, and the cadet attempted punishment of honor code violations caused much concern. Near the end of his second term, President Grant and General in Chief William T. Sherman, both graduates of the Academy, realized that strong and effective action had to be taken immediately. Their first step was to persuade Major General John M. Schofield, Class of 1853, to be superintendent. This was unusual. Schofield was the third ranking general officer in the Army; although brevet general officers had served as both commandant of cadets and superintendent, this was the first time a general of regular rank was named superintendent. Schofield had little to gain from this appointment and realized that without major support in Washington he would be unable to improve the Academy operations and academic activities.

Schofield realized that his efforts would be hampered by three different groups: Congress, the Academic Board, and the War Department, specifically the Secretary of War. Difficulties with individual Congressmen and Senators had plagued superintendents since Thayer's time. Congressmen too often appointed cadets who did not have the educational background to pass even the simple entrance exams, let alone maintain proficiency in Academy studies. Efforts by superintendents, including Thayer, to have Congress enact legislation making entrance examinations more difficult were fruitless. As a result, only a small percentage of each class graduated four years later. Congressmen insisted that simple examinations were necessary if every young man was to have equal opportunity to enter the Academy. They also pressured the Secretary of War and the President to reinstate cadets dismissed for academic deficiencies or

-387-

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To the Point: The United States Military Academy, 1802-1902
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • 1775-1802 1
  • 1 - The Foundation is Laid 3
  • 1802-1817 23
  • 2 - Struggle for Survival 25
  • 3 - Existence in Name Only 45
  • 4 - Right Man at the Right Time? 61
  • 5 - Deliver Your Sword to the Bearer 75
  • 1817-1828 97
  • 6 - The Rebuilding Begins 99
  • 7 - Governed by the Rules and Articles of War 119
  • 8 - Still in a State of Progressive Development 129
  • 9 - Members of One Brotherhood 149
  • 1829-1833 183
  • II - I Have the Honor to Tender My Resignation 185
  • 12 - I Believe It the Best School in the World 205
  • 1833-1852 219
  • 13 - A Firm Hand is Needed 221
  • 14 - Preparing for the Ultimate Test 239
  • 15 - We Follow, Close Order, Behind You 261
  • 1852-1865 279
  • 16 - The Ante-Bellum Army 281
  • 17 - When Shall We Meet Again? 287
  • 18 - Adhere to Your Purpose 323
  • 1865-1902 351
  • 19 - All Institutions Are Imperfect and Subject to the Law of Change 353
  • 20 - Guard Well Your Heritage 387
  • 1902 417
  • 21 - The Corps and the Corps and the Corps 419
  • Appendix A Superintendents, U.S. Military Academy 423
  • Appendix B Commandants of Cadets 427
  • Appendix C Deans of the Academic Board 431
  • Appendix D The 1780 Map of West Point: An Unintentional Historical Hoax 433
  • Appendix E Comments on Sources 437
  • Bibliography 447
  • Index 467
  • About the Author *
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