West Point in the Making of America

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Restoring the Academy

In the massive mobilization of World War I, the United States Military Academy was almost destroyed. As class after class graduated early and new classes were added, West Point more resembled an officers’ training school than a military academy, its larger educational mission almost lost.



The postwar reestablishment under a new superintendent, Douglas MacArthur (Class of 1903), began a new era in the institution’s history. MacArthur’s reforms reinvigorated the academy and helped prepare it for a new role.

For over a century, West Point graduates were leaders in the national development of science, education, engineering, exploration, public works, business, manufacturing, communications, and transportation. Thanks in considerable part to West Point, when World War I ended, the United States was no longer a developing nation but an established world power.



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Douglas MacArthur




Key Figures






Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
1880–1964
Class of 1903





Smithsonian National Museum of American History


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West Point in History Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Restoring the Academy The Class the Stars Fell On Making the Modern Academy Class of 1980