In the opinion of many, he contributed more to the welfare and development of the United States than many presidents. Without him there may have been no Grant, Lee, Jefferson Davis, Pershing, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley or even the Panama Canal (George Goethals, chief engineer of the canal was a West Pointer). Fifty of the fifty-five major battles in the Civil War were commanded on both sides by his graduates. The other five battles had one of his grads commanding one side or the other. He is Sylvanus Thayer, honored by West Pointers as the "Father of the Military Academy." He became superintendent of West Point in 1817, while only in his early thirties. The academy was in a shambles, with many cadets AWOL and discipline non-existent. He turned it into the icon that it is today. Sylvanus Thayer was also elected in 1965 to New York University's Hall of Fame for Great Americans as the "Father of Technology in the United States."
Having been a Cadet for a time at West Point, I was aware of most of this history. When my association with Dartmouth started in the early 1990s I was interested in the fact that the engineering school was called "The Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth." Could it be the same Thayer? It actually came as little surprise to me that this great man, late in life, founded and endowed engineering at Dartmouth, his Alma Mater before West Point.
There is more interesting history here that I will share at a later time.