History of USMA

West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in America.  It's role in our nation's history dates back to the Revolutionary War.  General George Washington considered West Point to be the most important strategic position in America.  Washington, Knox, Hamilton and John Adams were among those who wanted to eliminate America's wartime reliance on foreign engineers and artillerists.  They urged that an institution devoted to the arts and sciences of  warfare be created.  President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation establishing the United States Military Academy in 1802.  He took this action after ensuring that those attending the Academy would be representative of a democratic society.

After gaining experience and national recognition during the Mexican and Indian wars, West Point graduates dominated the highest ranks on both sides during the Civil War.  Academy graduates, headed by generals such as Grant, Lee, Sherman and Jackson set high standards of leadership for both the North and South.  Of the sixty major battles fought in the Civil War, fifty five were commanded by West Point graduates on both sides.  In the remaining battles, a graduate commanded on one of the two sides.

The Class of 1915, which included Dwight David Eisenhower and Omar Bradley,  is one of the most famous of all West Point classes.  Known as "The Class the Stars Fell On", 59 out of 164 graduates rose to the rank of brigadier general or higher, three to the rank of full general and two to the rank of general of the army.

In World War I, Academy graduates again distinguished themselves on the battlefield.  After the first World War, in recognition of the intense physical demands of modern warfare, Superintendent Douglas MacArthur pushed for major changes in the physical fitness and intramural athletic programs.  Additionally, the cadet management of the Honor System, long an unofficial tradition, was formalized with the creation of the Cadet Honor Committee.  Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley, Arnold, Clark, Patton, Stilwell and Wainwright were among an impressive array of Academy graduates who met the challenge of leadership in the Second World War. 

In conjunction with the increasing role of minorities  and women in society and the military over the past three decades, greater numbers of minorities and the first women were brought to the Military Academy and the Corps of Cadets.  Their presence has enhanced the quality and maintained the traditional representativeness of the institution.

As the Academy approaches the bicentennial in 2002, the institution continues to ensure that all programs and policies support the needs of the Army and nation now as well as in the foreseeable future.  Today the Academy graduates more than 900 new officers annually, representing approximately 25% of the new lieutenants required by the Army each year.  Guided by its timeless motto, "Duty, Honor, Country" the Military Academy is poised confidently to provide the Army and the Nation with its third century of service.


Notable Graduates

CLASS OF 1819
George Washington Whistler - eminent civil engineer; chosen by the Czar of Russia to build a railroad from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

CLASS OF 1828
Jefferson Davis - member of Congress from Mississippi 1845-461; senator from Mississippi 1847-51, 1857-61; Secretary of War from 1853-57; President of the Confederate States of America.

CLASS OF 1829
Robert E. Lee - superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy 1852-55; General in Chief, Confederate Armies; president of Washington & Lee University 1865-70

CLASS OF 1840
William Tecumseh Sherman - president of Louisiana State University; "March to the Sea" Civil War campaign; commander of the Armies of the United States.

CLASS OF 1843
Ulysses S. Grant - General in Chief, Armies of the United States; President of the United States, 1869-77.

CLASS OF 1846
Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson - lieutenant general and a corps commander of the Confederate Army; killed at Chancellorsville

CLASS OF 1854
Oliver O. Howard - founder and president of Howard University.

CLASS OF 1877
Henry O. Flipper - civil and mining engineer in Southwest U.S. and Mexico; first African-American graduate of the Military Academy.

CLASS OF 1880
George Washington Goethals - architect and builder of the Panama Canal.

CLASS OF 1886
John J. Pershing - commander-in-chief of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War I; General of the Armies 1919.

CLASS OF 1903
Douglas MacArthur - superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy 1919-22; Army Chief of Staff 1930-35; Supreme Commander of the Pacific 1941-45; Supreme Commander, UN Forces Korea 1950-51.

CLASS OF 1909
George S. Patton, Jr. - member of the 1912 U.S. Olympic Team; commanding general of the 7th Army 1942-44, commander of the 3rd Army European Theater 1944-45.

CLASS OF 1915
Omar N. Bradley - commanding general, lst Army, 12th Army Group European Theater in World War II; Army Chief of Staff 1948-49; first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1949-53; chairman of the board of Bulova Watch Company 1958.

Dwight D. Eisenhower - Supreme Commander Allied Forces Europe 1943-45; Army Chief of Staff 1945-48; president of Columbia University 1948; President of the United States 1953-61.

CLASS OF 1947
Alexander M. Haig, Jr. - chief of staff to the president 1973-74; Supreme Allied Commander in Europe 1974-79; president, United Technologies Corporation 1980-81; Secretary of State 1981-82.

CLASS OF 1950
Frank Borman - astronaut 1962-70; commander of the first circumlunar flight; president of Eastern Airlines.

CLASS OF 1951
Roscoe Robinson, Jr. - commanding general, 82nd Airborne Division 1976-78; commanding general, U.S. Army Japan 1980-82; U.S. Representative to NATO Military Committee, 1982-85; first African American four-star general in the Army, 1982.

Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin - astronaut 1963-72; participated in the first manned lunar landing.

CLASS OF 1952
Edward White II - astronaut 1962-67; first American to walk in space, 1965; died in Apollo spacecraft fire, 1967.

Michael Collins - astronaut 1964-70; command module pilot, first manned lunar landing; director of the National Air & Space Museum.

CLASS OF 1953
Randolph Araskog - former president and chairman of IT & T.

CLASS OF 1956
H. Norman Schwarzkopf - Commander-in-Chief, Central Command, Operation Desert Storm.

CLASS OF 1959
Pete Dawkins - Rhodes Scholar, Heisman Trophy Winner, Vice Chairman Citibank.

CLASS OF 1962
James Kimsey- Founder and Chairman Emeritus America Online.

CLASS OF 1980
Andrea Lee Hollen - Rhodes Scholar. First woman graduate of USMA.

CLASS OF 1990
Kristin Baker - First woman Brigade Commander, U.S. Corps of Cadets.


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