West Point Military Academy Historical Question

Most of the questions I ask don’t seem to be answerable, but really, the Teeming Millions who are represented upon this board are still my best hope…

I’m trying to find any information on the possible purchase of land on the Hudson River by West Point military academy - the legend I’m chasing down is that somewhere between 1865 - 1900, West Point (or the Federal Government) bought out landowners living across the Hudson on the opposite bank due to fears that they were too close to the Academy and could be spying on them. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the purchase claims, motives, or even date, but it’s my best guess. I don’t suppose this stirs anyone’s recollection?

I did some searches in scholarly and newspaper databases, and couldn’t find what you’re describing.

There is a West Point Timeline on the Academy’s website, and the only land acquisition i can find that’s in the ballpark is the 1909 acquisition of Constitution Island, in the river directly across from the main campus.


I found a New York Times article about the proposed purchase or acquisition of the island, and while the article never mentions spying, it does hint at the general strategic and practical advantages of bringing the island under control of the Academy.

I’ve uploaded the whole article, in PDF form, to my webspace, if you want to download it.


Thank you very much for finding that information, mhendo - I’ll download it tonight when I get home. It’s a shame you were not able to find anything in your search. I do hope someone else knows about other possible acquisitions; that information could be something which could end a lot of stress on my part.

I haven’t examined mhendo’s article extensively, but offer some links about the same thing which might be interesting. Sorry if duplicated.

http://books.google.com/books?id=TvQoAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA596&dq=“west+point”+government+purchase+land+opposite+side+hudson&lr=&as_drrb_is=b&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=1860&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=1909&num=50&as_brr=0&cd=3#v=onepage&q=“west%20point”%20government%20purchase%20land%20opposite%20side%20hudson&f=false a 1907 estimate of how much it would take to buy the land at a bargain price and why it’s a bargain.

A link to a Google book cite which would indicate that it was donated by Ms. Sage and Ms. Warner.http://books.google.com/books?id=2gNLAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA55&dq="west+point"+government+purchase+land+opposite+side+hudson&lr=&as_drrb_is=b&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=1860&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=1909&num=50&as_brr=0&cd=2#v=onepage&q&f=false

IMHO, it sound like the urban legend about land on the opposite shore being purchased spun off from this post-1900 incident.

Actually Sam, your first link says this interesting note at the top:

So the legend got one thing right - West Point bought the land - but the names of the people who owned the island do not seem to match my records. Thank you for finding that; I was hoping it would give me the answers I needed but it seems to have only moved me one step closer. Damn, I’d pay good money to find out what I really need to know.