In 1802, Thomas Jefferson, recognizing the new nation's need for its own source of trained military personnel, established the United States Military Academy at the location. Until the establishment of the Academy, the United States' troops had been trained by foreign officers or not at all.
Then, in 1817, Colonel Sylvanus Thayer was appointed Superintendent of West Point. He introduced a reliance on civil engineering and strengthened the Academy's Honor Code. As a result of the increased engineering focus, West Point graduates were able to fill the infrastructure needs of the developing nation, constructing thousands of miles of railway and roads, and dozens of bridges and harbors.
During World War I, the emphasis of the Academy was again broadened. The physical requirements of war were included in the Academy's new every Cadet an Athlete philosophy.
In 1964, the Academy's cadet class size was increased from 2,500 to 4,400, corresponding with a dramatic expansion of facilities.
In 1976, the first women were admitted to West Point. 62 women graduated West Point in the class of 1980.
Today, West Point Military Academy remains a selective and prestigious officer school, allowing Cadets to major in fields ranging from sciences to humanities.