Little Bits of History

August 6

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2017

1819: The American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy is founded in Northfield, Vermont. Today it is known as Norwich University – The Military College of Vermont. It is the oldest private military college in the United States. Captain Alden Partridge was a military educator and had been a superintendent at West Point. He left there after confrontation with Congress over his methods which included a traditional liberal arts curriculum as well as instruction in civil engineering. Sure of his methodology, Partridge returned to his native Vermont and established the school he wanted at West Point. Opposition was fronted by Sylvanus Thayer who was fearful of the US military being run by an aristocratic officer class.

Partridge was sure a well trained militia was essential to the young country’s safety. His newly founded Academy was so successful, it became an inspiration for a number of other military colleges around the nation. Partridge was also the creator of the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps). These were part of the requirements for land grants under the Morrill Act of 1862 which made training of military tactics part of the curriculum to be offered to students enrolled there. Eventually, it became mandatory for all male college students to have some of this training, but during the 1960s, this requirement was dropped.

Partridge included his own military system into the curriculum offered at the Academy. He borrowed cannons and muskets from both the state and federal governments in order to train his cadets, called Rooks for part of the first year. While Rooks, the young men would receive Basic Training and Basic Leadership Training. Around Thanksgiving, if they demonstrated proper acquisition of skills, they were accepted into the Corps of Cadets. Their education would then continue and normal academic classes would be taken alongside military training. Partridge founded six other military institutions. Three in Pennsylvania, two in Delaware, and one in New Hampshire.

Partridge hoped to move the college to Connecticut in 1825 to offer better naval training, but he could not get a charter from the Connecticut government, so his testing there was temporary. He remained in Vermont and the school became known as Norwich University in 1834. In 1866, there was a fire which destroyed the Old South Barracks and the entire Military Academy. This fire and the Civil War were devastating and enrollment declined so that by 1881 there were only a dozen men enrolled. The University slowly recovered and today has over 2,000 undergraduate students and over 1,300 postgraduates. They offer 29 majors in six academic divisions. Their most popular major is criminal justice.

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. – Colin Powell

The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it. – Norman Schwarzkopf

We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship. – Omar Nelson Bradley