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Among the well known educational institutions in our land during the early part of the past century, was the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy, the forerunner of Norwich University, founded by the late Capt. Alden Partridge in 1819, in Norwich, his native town.
The corner-stone of the Academy building1 was placed August 4, 1819, and September 20th of the following year the institution was opened for the reception of cadets.
From Captain Partridge‘s knowledge of the system of education in force in the higher seminaries of learning in our country, he was convinced that no truly American system of education, such as was designed to meet the needs of the large majority of the young men of the country, was within their reach. It was with a view to remedy that defect that he established this institution, which during the first year of its existence had an attendance of one hundred pupils, and thereafter, until 1825 the annual attendance rapidly increased, at one time being nearly two hundred.
The character of the patronage accorded to this newly launched academy was highly flattering to its founder and its friends. The attendance from the southern states was very large undoubtedly a larger percentage, by far, than any other northern educational institution was favored with; many of whom, in after years, with numbers of their northern classmates, honored themselves and their Alma Mater.
April, 1825, the academy was removed to Middletown, Connecticut, for reasons believed by Captain Partridge to promise a more successful future to the institution than would accrue to it by its remaining at Norwich. While at Middletown, a period of three years, its success was even larger, in many respects, than when at Norwich, the number of cadets in attendance at one time being nearly or quite three hundred.
While at Norwich the institution was a private undertaking by Captain Partridge, the ground, buildings, and other material being owned by him.
In 1845, a rival military school, under the superintendency of Colonel T. B. Ransom, had a home in a wooden building that stood a little south and west of the other academy building; but its duration was short, and its attendance small. Subsequently the building was moved to the opposite side of the highway, and from a home for mental culture became Mr. David Morrill‘s paint shop.
In 1830-1, a building designed for a boarding house for the cadets at the University was erected just north of the one first built, and on the site of the present high-school building.
This building was constructed of brick, was four stories high and forty-seven by one hundred feet on the ground, and was situated just south of the present high school building, and near the east end of the now vacant lot opposite the residence of Mrs. William E. Lewis. ↩