Williams to Dearborn, February 4, 1802. Reports that Baron departed West Point on February 2, 1802. But this letter is much more interesting for its discussion of mathematical instruments and curriculum.
West Point. February 4, 1802.
I have the honor of inclosing a Roll shewing the names and Rank of all the Persons attached to the Military Academy. I shall transmit duplicates to the proper Officers in conformity to the rules of the Army.
The separation which has taken place by Artillery orders of Decr. 5th. 1801, between the Gentlemen Officers & Cadets attached to this Academy and those belonging to the Garrison will probably make some alteration as to the arrangements, and other necessary Articles. I would therefore submit to your judgment, the propriety of my directing some one of the Gentlemen under my orders to take upon himself the Charge of Quarter Master, so that instead of drawing from time to time, for every trifling Article, that my be wanted; I may draw for a sufficient Academy stock, the appropriation of which to be from time to time under the Sanction of the Superintendant [sic].
Since the departure of M. Baron on the 2o. Inst. I have taken upon myself the ordinary Academical [sic] duties, and I have pleasure in assuring you that I see no difficulty in carrying, to the fullest extent, all proper Authority, & of preserving perfect harmony. In this respect we have nothing to wish for; but from the nature of my other duties, I feel my own insufficiency to fulfil [sic] this particular charge as it ought, for the whole of my time would be but adequate to it. I must repeat my earnest desire that a Professor be appointed as soon as possible; if he should be a Military Man, it would ensure perfect harmony, and answer the ends of the institution.
Having began my course of instruction with the Elements of Geometry, it came
necessary to furnish the Students with proper Instruments, and none being in
this place, I have written to Ebenezer Stevens Esqr. Agent at New
York, for twelve cases of the cheapest kind. When the Gentlemen are further
advanced it will be proper to teach them Practical Geometry, other instruments
will therefore be necessary, viz.
One Theodilite, with Staff and target
One Compass with Sights & Chain.
One Quadrant or Sextant
One Telescope of sufficient power to observe the Sattellites [sic] of Jupiter distinctly.
One Gunners Quadrant
and for the purpose of reducing, or enlarging plans, one Pentagraph.
If you think proper to order these to be purchased, it will be well to have them chosen by some professional Man.
It will soon be necessary to have here a good drawing Master, and I believe we have Gentlemen of Talents in this way in the Corps. It would certainly be cheaper for the US to employ an Officer with some addition to his pay, than to have a Man who must be compensated for all the Scholars he would lose in coming hither. I was very much pleased when at Pittsburgh with the Talents of Capt. Read of 2Rgt. A[rtillery] & E[ngineers]. in this way, but I have never lisped [???] and Idea on this subject.
It is my opinion Sir, that the time of a student need not be wholly employed in one object, and that two or three objects not incompatible with each other, may be pursued without any injury to either. It is upon this Ground that I have thought proper to introduce Geometry, while the Students are still pursuing Arithmetic & Algebra, according to the plan established before I came, and I am sure there is still time enough in the hours of study to practice drawing in plane and in perspective. These different studies serve as relaxations each to the other, and make that an amusement which would otherwise be a task.
Secretary of War
From Jonathan Williams MSS at the Lilly Library at Indiana University. One reel of microfilm, Cabinet 1, Drawer 9. Not listed in the computer catalog.