Why did Thomas Jefferson in 1802 establish the United States Military Academy? The answer might soon come into clearer focus, when scholars from West Point and universities throughout the United States come together for a bicentennial conference on “Thomas Jefferson’s Military Academy.”
Sponsored by the Department of History, the November 1-3 event will examine how Jefferson and other proponents of the institution reconciled fears of a standing army and constitutional questions with the need for stronger national defense. Other topics include the Academy’s origins in the American Revolution, its significance to early American education, its place within Jefferson’s reform of the executive branch, and its first generation of graduates. Professor Robert M. S. McDonald, coordinator of the event, will examine Jefferson's changing reputation as founder over the past 200 years.
Other participants include Christine E. Coalwell (International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello), Theodore J. Crackel (East Stroudsburg University and the U.S. Military Academy), Don Higginbotham (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), David N. Mayer (Capital University), Peter S. Onuf (University of Virginia), Elizabeth D. Samet (U.S. Military Academy), Jennings Wagoner (University of Virginia), Samuel J. Watson (U.S. Military Academy), and Jean M. Yarbrough (Bowdoin College).
"This promises to be a real highlight of the West Point bicentennial," says Robert A. Doughty, head of the West Point history department. The conference will be free and open to the public.
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