25 Facts About Alden Partridge


Alden Partridge, was an American author, legislator, officer, surveyor, an early superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and a controversial pioneer in US military education, emphasizing physical fitness training, advocating the concept of citizen soldier and establishing a series of private military academies throughout the country, including Norwich University.


Alden Partridge was born and raised on a family farm in Norwich, Vermont, the son of Elizabeth Partridge and soldier Samuel Partridge Jr.


Tall and hardy, the younger Partridge hiked the Green and White Mountains, worked on his father's farm, and matriculated in local district schools.


Never profane or intemperate, superintendent Alden Partridge required cadets to attend church services, occasionally preparing and delivering the sermon on Sundays.


Alden Partridge refused to relinquish his command when former student Sylvanus Thayer was appointed to replace him as superintendent and was court-martialed for insubordination and neglect of duty.


Alden Partridge received a pension for his service at West Point during the War of 1812, and after his death his wife received a pension as the widow of an 1812 veteran.


Alden Partridge argued that the national academies produced a professional officer class, and was creating a new military elite, which was at odds with examples of the country's great generals, such as George Washington and Andrew Jackson.


Alden Partridge proposed the nation be divided into state-based military departments, local citizen soldiers organized into militias and officers appointed by department, and units mustered on a regular basis for instruction and drill, much like the Minutemen of the well-remembered American Revolution.


Alden Partridge was appointed chief of the surveying expedition to establish boundaries between the US and Canada as required under the Treaty of Ghent.


Alden Partridge mapped the natural watersheds of the Saint Lawrence River and Hudson River.


In 1819, Alden Partridge founded the "American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy" in Norwich, Vermont.


Alden Partridge moved the school, and in Middletown, it drew nearly 1,200 students in three years, but the academy was operating again in Norwich by 1829.


The curriculum Alden Partridge advanced incorporated the study of liberal arts, agriculture, modern languages, and engineering in addition to the sciences and various military subjects.


Field exercises and drills, for which Alden Partridge borrowed cannon and muskets from the federal and state governments, supplemented classroom instruction and added an element of realism to the college's program of well-rounded military education.


One of America's first exercise enthusiasts, Alden Partridge became a strong proponent of physical education as an essential part of school curriculum.


On one climb of Vermont's Green Mountains in 1822, Alden Partridge led 27 pack-laden cadets on a 150-mile hike from Norwich to Manchester in just four days.


When John Thomas Lewis Preston worked to influence public opinion in favor of creating the Virginia Military Institute in the 1830s, Alden Partridge assisted by providing open letters of support to members of the Virginia General Assembly and letters to the editors of Virginia newspapers.


An avid hiker, Alden Partridge is described as "a noted pedestrian" in A History of Norwich.


Alden Partridge had reportedly already ascended Mount Monadnock and Mount Moosilauke in New Hampshire when in 1818 he walked 76 miles from Norwich to climb both Camel's Hump and Mount Mansfield in two days.


Alden Partridge was an early traveler on a path to the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire that had been constructed in 1821 by the pioneering Ethan Crawford.


Alden Partridge served four terms in the Vermont House of Representatives,.


In 1837, Partridge married Ann Swasey, with whom he had two sons, George M C Partridge and Henry V Partridge.


Alden Partridge's widow did not remarry, and survived him by 48 years.


In 1823 Alden Partridge adopted a young Greek boy, George Colvocoresses, whom he raised and educated at Norwich University.


Alden Partridge wrote widely, mostly in local newspapers and in books, about his many travels, several mathematical and scientific subjects, and his constant, vocal opposition to the academy at West Point.