Members of One Brotherhood
Newly appointed cadets now reported to West Point by the end of June instead of in September. After examination by the Academic Board and Thayer, those who passed the tests were accepted. Despite the very lenient examinations-- essentially only an assurance that the young men were able to read, write, and do basic arithmetic problems--the number of candidates who failed was shocking. Few appointees from small communities or farms had any formal schooling. Sons of prominent men and young men from large cities had attended school as an accepted routine. Consequently, the Corps had far more cadets from "good families" than from poorer homes or rural districts.
To Thayer this was wrong. He sincerely believed that the Academy should reflect a cross-section of the American public. He realized that an entrance examination was necessary, and he believed that the examinations being given were not adequate because many cadets who passed were not able to absorb Academy instruction. He knew this could be corrected only by teaching fundamentals to a potential cadet.
Beginning in 1822, new cadets were required to report by the second week in June. For two weeks, they were taught subjects covered in the July examination. Most of the instruction was given by cadets or young officers, new graduates awaiting assignment orders. Church remembered that instruction consisted of four hours of arithmetic daily, two hours of basic drill, and one hour of reading and writing.
Examinations, recalled Church, were simple. Appointees were asked only two or three mathematics questions. "We were required to read and write in the presence of the Academic Board," said Church, "with more time given to reading than to writing." The results achieved Thayer's objective. As Church reported,