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

By George S. Pappas | Go to book overview

II
I Have the Honor to Tender My Resignation

When Andrew Jackson was inaugurated on March 4, 1829, Democrats throughout the country rejoiced that a man of the people was now President. Jackson's actions fostered this belief, for he rewarded his supporters with appointments to government positions. This was not unusual. Patronage for political purposes was common in most states. Jefferson had been the first President to use the system but with restraint. Senator William Marcy of New York applied the term "spoils system" to Jackson's activities by stating in a congressional debate that "they see nothing wrong in the rule that to the victor belong the spoils of the enemy."

Opponents of a strong national military force and supporters of the militia concept assumed that they could count on the backing of the new President. It is true that Jackson had hoped to rely on the militia for defense of the nation. That hope, however, was based upon the belief that the militia would be composed of well-trained units. The Battle of New Orleans taught Jackson that poorly trained units could be effective only in a prepared position; such units could not be relied upon in a mobile situation. That lesson was emphasized during Jackson's battles with the Florida Seminole Indians in 1818. His Regular Army units were the primary means of defeating superior Indian forces; his militia were for the most part unreliable.

Never adequately trained, the militia degenerated into organized and disorganized units during the Jackson presidency. The unorganized militia in theory included every man of military age but in actuality was non-existent. The organized militia consisted of active companies with only a part of their theoretical strength. Volunteer membership all too often was sought because of social desirability rather than military patriotism. As Russell Weigley indicated in Towardsan American Army

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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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