Image of MIT Corps of Cadets MIT Corps of Cadets
MIT Corps of Cadets, 19th century

MIT Corps of Cadets

19th Century

Uniform

Worn by Frederic N. LeBaron, Class of 1897

c. 1894–1897

The U.S. Congress passed the Morrill Act of 1862 to provide states with federal lands that could be sold and whose proceeds could be used to fund colleges for the study of agriculture and mechanic arts. Massachusetts Governor John Andrew asked MIT founder William Barton Rogers for a proposal that might fund the newly established Institute as part of a much larger educational organization. In the end, the state legislature voted to provide 3/10s of the funds to MIT. (The remainder went for an agricultural college now known as the University of Massachusetts—Amherst.) The funds proved a powerful aid to the fledgling enterprise. Once classes began in 1865, first-year and second-year students were required to drill and receive instruction in military tactics each week as part of the MIT Corps of Cadets. The requirement met with some faculty skepticism, and the military officers assigned to MIT struggled with poor equipment and limited resources. However, the hour-and-a-half sessions brought students together and helped to nurture the first student life activities.

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