Thayer, Sylvanus

Thayer, Sylvanus,

1785–1872, American soldier and educator, b. Braintree, Mass., grad. Dartmouth, 1807, and West Point, 1808. During the War of 1812 he served as an engineer, and afterward he was sent to Europe to study military schools and fortifications. From 1817 to 1833 he served as superintendent at West Point, which he so thoroughly reorganized, placing it on a sound basis, that he is known as the "father of the Military Academy." He endowed an academy at Braintree and established and endowed (1867) the Thayer School of Civil Engineering at Dartmouth.
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Thayer, Sylvanus

(1785–1872) engineer, educator; born in Braintree, Mass. After graduating from Dartmouth and a year at West Point, he served by constructing fortifications (1809–15). Appointed superintendent of West Point (1817–33), he totally transformed it into a first-rate institution—thereby becoming known as "the father of West Point"—but his rigid discipline led to so much unrest among cadets that he was forced to resign. From 1833 on he supervised the construction of harbor improvements and coastal fortifications in New England.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.