United States Military Academy at West Point United States Military Academy at West Point
Tadeusz Kościuszko was hand-selected by George Washington to build a fortress at West Point during the Revolutionary War to keep the important Hudson River valley from the hands of the British. Today it stands as the oldest continually inhabited fort in the western hemisphere.
Enabling legislation for a military academy on the site of Kosciuszko's fortress was signed by President Thomas Jefferson on March 16, 1802 and the Academy opened its doors on July 4, housing a group of cadets in a tent city. Life was not easy for the early graduates. Food was of poor quality and housing conditions were squalid. It wasn't until Colonel Sylvanus Thayer assumed command of the institution that curriculum began to improve. Thayer also introduced an "honor code."
By the 1830's West Point was gaining national and international respect as its graduates worked on internal improvements in the United States. The first true test of its graduates came in the Mexican American War when Winfield Scott (not a graduate but a strong supporter of the institution) and Zachary Taylor obliterated an army of superior numbers in a foreign country. Even the Duke of Wellington didn't think it was possible, but when the United States won the English nobleman correctly laid credit on the Military Academy on the banks of the Hudson River.
It was The Civil War that began giving the institution the worldwide respect it deserved. Time and again the institutes's graduates, fighting on either side in America's greatest conflict, showed the triumph of education, honor and duty.
Location:On 9W between Cornwall-on-Hudson and Highland Falls, NY Directions:Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway north to its end at the Bear Mountain Traffic Circle.
From the Bear Mountain traffic circle, just west of the Bear Mountain Bridge, take 9W north to the first Highland Falls exit. This road will take you to Thayer Gate, the southern entrance to the Military Academy.
Addtional Information:United States Military Academy
626 Swift Rd,
West Point, NY 10996
Phone: (845) 938-2703