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United States Military Academy Library

Jefferson Hall Tour Guide

Points of Interest

USMA Coat of Arms Terrazzo


On the floor of the rotunda is a terrazzo depiction of the United States Military Academy Coat of Arms, given to the Academy by the Class of 1968. An official Coat of Arms for the United States Military Academy was adopted on 13 October 1898. A slight revision was approved by the Adjutant General of the Army on 2 July 1923. The emblem consists of the helmet of Pallas Athena, a symbol of wisdom and learning. This helmet is over the Greek sword which is generally known as the universal symbol of war. The emblem is attached to a shield, bearing the arms of the United States, and on the shield's crest is a bald eagle, the national symbol. The eagle's claws hold 13 arrows representing the 13 original states and oak and olive branches, symbols of peace.


Thomas Jefferson - 1802 Statue


A bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson, sculpted by James N. Muir, a non-graduating member of the Class of 1968, overlooks the terrazzo crest and "greets" visitors to Jefferson Hall. This sculpture, entitled "Thomas Jefferson - 1802" depicts Jefferson in the act of signing the law that formally established West Point as the United States Military Academy.


Appearing at the base of the statue is the quotation from the law on March 16, 1802:

"And be it further enacted, that the said corps ... shall be stationed at West Point in the state of New York and shall constitute a military academy ... ".


The statue was cast by James Muir, an artist who was originally a member of the Class of '68, but due to unforeseen circumstances had to leave West Point before graduation. He eventually served in the Air Force, and stayed in close touch with his former classmates who commissioned him to create a statue of Jefferson as their gift to us.


The Jefferson statue delivery has its own story. Mr. Muir lives and works in the Pacific Northwest, and the statue was transported across the country by truck. Along the way, the truck driver noticed the drivers of passing cars trying to get his attention, and when he pulled  over he discovered smoke seeping out the back of the truck. Some of the packing materials around the statue had caught fire. The driver was able to extinguish the fire, and the slightly sooty and very lightly scorched statue and pedestal were taken to a foundry just up the river in Newburgh for examination before being installed at here their final destination. Since bronze is born in fire, Jefferson was no worse for wear and simply required a bit of cleaning and a new patina finish. The base, however, showed more distinct signs of the blaze. Scouring and some sand blasting removed most marks of the fire, but the members of the Class of '68 chose to leave some hints of the trial by fire as a testament to Mr. Jefferson and his ordeal.

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