The crisp air of March 16, 1802, carried whispers of a nascent nation still finding its footing.

The echoes of the American Revolution had barely faded, the ink on the Constitution a mere five years dry.

Yet, on that day, a seed was sown that would blossom into a cornerstone of American defense: the United States Military Academy at West Point.

This wasn’t just the founding of a school; it was a strategic masterstroke, a deliberate act to safeguard a young nation still etching its place on the global stage.

A Site Steeped in History

West Point’s location itself held the weight of history.

Strategically perched on the west bank of the Hudson River, it had played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War.

Keenly aware of its importance, General George Washington selected it as the most critical strategic point in America. He even established his headquarters there in 1779, a testament to the site’s significance.

West Point 1780
French map of West Point in 1780 (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

But West Point also held a darker memory—Benedict Arnold’s attempted betrayal, a stark reminder of the ever-present vulnerability of a young nation.