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WEST Point, N. Y., June 17, 1834. To the Secretary of War :
SIR : Io compliance with your request, the undersigned have attended, as a Board of Visiters, during the general examination at the United States' Military Academy, jusi concluded, and have “ directed their inquiries to a full and free investigation in regard to the course of instruction, both military and scientific, and to the internal police, discipline, and fiscal concerns of the institution." That these several objects of insquiry might be attended to as thoroughly and successfully as possible, the board, at its organization, referred them to separate committees, who have presented full reports with regard to them, accompanied by some suggestions for the improvement of the institution. Copies of these reports are forwarded to you ; and the board take the liberty of referring you to them for details, while they confive their joint report to a general and brief view of the present condition of the academy.
The fidelity of the professors, and the assiduity and proficiency of their pupils, were tested by an examination on the several subjects, extending over eleven days, and continued each day for eight hours.
The sciences not strictly professional, included in these examinations, were mathematics, taught here from the elements of arithmetic, to the profound theorems of the integral calculus ; natural philosophy, including mechanics and astronomy ; chemistry, in connexion with mineralogy and geology ; and, lastly, rhetoric, and moral and political science.
The subjects of professional study are, civil and military engineering, and infantry and artillery tactics ; with the last of which are connected ballistics and pyrotechny.
A part of the first two years is devoted to the study of the French language, with which a competent acquaintance is required of the cadets.
Lastly, great attentiou is very properly paid, in this academy, to the art of drawing, the practical applications of which are so frequent and important in the military profession.
These subjects, combined, certainly constitute an excellent preparatory education for officers of the army, and the examinations proved that they were faithfully and skilfully taught. Marked inequalities were, indeed, oliserved in the proficiency of the cadets, and defects remain to be corrected in the organization of some of the departments ; but still the exhibition was, on the whole, highly satisfactory and gratifying.
Frequent opportunities were presented to the board of witnessing the practical skill of the corps in infantry and artillery exercises ; and their fine and soldierlike appearance in the ranks, and the accuracy with which they executed their various evolutions, proved that this essential part of the duties of a military academy was sedulously attended to by both officers and cadets.
The discipline of the institution was carefully examined in its various bearings, and the board have reason to think that it is in an excellent state, The laws seem to be executed with a stern regard to the good of the service, yet with kind and paternal feelings ; and the officers and pro. fessors are believed to be generally both beloved and respected.
The internal police of the institution was found to be carefully attended 10. The rooms in the barracks, uccupied by the cadets, exbibit) a gratilying a ppearance of neatness and order, while, at the same time, they give rise to regret on arcount of the inadequate accommodation which they offer. The mess table is well supplied with plain, but good and wholesome food. In the event of sickness, which the board are happy to find has been lately of rare occurreuce, suitable and comfortable accommodations are provided at the hospital, with the best medical attendance.
The board directed an inquiry to be instituted, with as much minuteIness as circumstances would admit, into the fiscal concerns of the institution. The result, which will be found fully retailed in one of the relports sent here with, is, that the accounts are krpt w a correct and satisfractory mauner ; thit the expenditures are made in accordance with the appropriatious; and that a proper attention is paid to economy in the expenses of every kind. To prevent extravagance in the cadets, there is a regulation which probibits to them the possession of money, or the use of it, or expenditure of it, except with the consent of the superintendent, who stands, with regard to them, in the place of a parent, and who, it is believed, exercises his authority witb enlightened discretion.
The whole investigations of the board lead them to the conclusion that the Military Acadeny is the most valuable and essential part of the army lestublishment of the United States ; that, at a cost so low as not to exceed that of a second rate man-of-war, it prepares, and can spread over the whole country, officers instructed, and capable of giving instruction, in the military art ; and thus, without the danger arising to liberty from large standing armies in time of peace, enables the government to fulfil the duty which the constitution so solemnly enjoins, of “providing for the common defence ;' and, lastly, that if our young citizens were com missioned in the army as lii.utenants, in the first instance, as they must be is this institution be abolished, they could not obtain, in four years, even the same military knowledge as the cadets, while their probation and education would be far inore expensive to the country.
G. VAN SCHOOHOVEN, President. ALVIN BRONSON,
ACHILLE MURAT, JAMES HOOKER,
W. P. DUVAL, CHARLES B. PENROSE, WRIGHT C. STANLEY, H. P. COMINGE,
PHILIP LINDSLEY, JOHN T. ANDERSON, J. L. SMITH, Capt. of Eng’rs. R M. PATTERSON,
JAMES LATIMER, Jr.
T. B. DALLAS, Secretary. The undersigned freely subscribe to the within report, without expressfing an opinion with regard to the last paragraph.
The undersigned, having been invited to be present, as a visiter, at the general examination of the cadets of the United States Military Acad. jemy, can, with the greatest pleasure, bear testimony to the proficiency, generally, of the pupils in the various deparimeuts of learning, both military and scieptific, which have occupied their attention; but, in con
forming to the letter of instructions forwarded to him by the honorable the Secretary of War, which is as follows: “The object of this regulation is, that the War Department may be correctly informed of the condition and management of all the concerns of the academy ; it is, there fore, desired, in conjunction with the other members of the board, that your inquiries may be directed to a full and free investigation in regard to the course of instruction, both military and scientific; to the interval police, discipline, and fiscal conceros of the institution; for which purpose every facility will be affordet by the Superintendent The result of your observations, with any suggestions for the improvement of the academy, will be communicated to this departmeut”-feels it to be his duty without an utter abandonment of opinions long since formed, and deliberately entertained and expressed for years, but with great deference to the opwions of other menibers of the board, to dissent for some of the views contained in the general report which has been submitted by ibe Military Committee.
Deeming it unnecessary to inquire whether a military academy is ne. cessary and proper for the existence or support of a free republican go
veroment, where every citizen will be, at all times, ready to stand forth in defence of the liberty and indepeodence of his country, the undersigned will proceed simply to make a few observations, which, he thinks, may justly be presented, with regard to the administration, and as suggestions for the inprovement of this establishinent.
By reference to the history of the military school at West Point, it is worthy of remark that, in the early usage of the government of the institution, the pupils were selected inostly froin the indigent sons of that class of revolutionary worthies who had shed their blood in defence of our national rights and independence. It would seem, then, that this institution was principally designed, by its founders, for the education of indigent and meritorious young men. A list of those, however, who have been adınitted as cadets, shows, conclusively, that a large proportion of them have been drawn froin the rich, the influential, and the wealty classes of the community ; and this, doubtless, may be attributed to the power of nomination and selection being lodged in the hands of Senators and Representatives.
That such a mode of recommendation and selection is every way uh\jectionable and unjust, there certainly can be but one opinion among men of candid and impartial miods ; to say nothing of the bad policy of edu
cating and rearing up, either for the army or for the walks of civil life, the sons and relatives of the rich and powerful at the public expense.
An institution, supported by the funds of the national government, which closes its doors to any class of merit, however friendless and indigent, seems to the undersigned to be unequal and partial in its operations,
inconsistent with the spirit and genius of our liberal institutions, anti-republican in its tendency, and should not be tolerated.
Another and most important objection is the erclusive privilege to which its graduates are entiiled, of being promoted to stations in the army, while other individuals in society, who have not had the advantages (free of expense) of instruction at this Military Academy, though their talents and qualifications may be sufficient, and in every way equal to those of the cadets, are entirely excluded.
The undersigned has thus briefly and candidly sketched some of the objections which, it seems to him, must occur to the mind of every one to the administration of this establishment. Nor is he singular in these views. The people of the State of Ohio, of which he has long been an humble citizen, have been led to examine into the merits of this institu tion, and have, unless he is greatly deceived, very distinctly declared their opinions, not only through their legislative body, but by an expression of public meetings of intelligent and respectable citizens, against the expediency as well as constitutionality of this seminary,
It is not the province of the undersigned to suggest the remedy : thay rests with the Congress of the United States, and not with the Board of Visiters. But he believes that nothing, at present, can have a tendency to allay the well-grounded objections and prejudices against this establishment, until merit and talents, aud not the influence of wealth, or of personal or of political favoritism, shall be the tests of admission.
JOHN HAMM, of Ohio. WEST Point, N. Y, June 16, 1834.
The Commillee un Fiscal Concerns report : That, in the discharge of the duties assigned to them, they have examined, with as much minuteness as circunstances would admit, the accounts of the institution, and they take pleasure in saying that the result of their investigations has been highly satisfactory
The committee directed their attention to three points involved in the resolution under which they were appointed 1st. To inspect the ac counts of the institution, so far as to see that they are kept in a correct and satisfactory maoner. 2d. That the expendituies are made in accordance with the appropriations. 3d. That attention is paid to economy in the expenses of every kind.
Heretofore, two separate appropriations under different heads, for the support of the Military Academy, have been made by Congress. The one is embraced under the item “ for the pay of the army, and subsistence of
officers,” for u bich the appropriation is general, and does not discriminate the amount appropriated for the pay and subsistence of the cadets from the pay and subsistence of the residue of the army, but the whole is included in one general item. This fund is disbursed by the paymaster stationed at West Poini, who by “ the regulations,” is “creasurer of the cadets." The amount of this fund annually expendert, including the pay of the professors, has been estimated at $99,566 52 cents, and this may be sately considered a fair estimate of the annual expense of the institution for this branch of espenditure.
The other appropriation for the support of the institution is made for the Military Academy, and is specifically appropriated to the different objects of expenditure connected with the institution. These are, usually, for fuel, forage, stationery, printing, transportation, and postage, for repairs, improvements, and expenses of buildings, &c., for the pay of adjutant and quartermasters' clerks, for increase and expenses of the library, for philosophical apparatus, for models for the department of engineering, for models for the drawing department, rapairs of instruments for the mathematical department, apparatus and contingencies for the department of chemistry, miscellaneous items, and incidental expens