For the time the influence of the Directors was sufficient to prevent so great a change from being effected, but in 1853, on a further renewal of the Charter, the system of competition was definitely adopted, and the first open examination for cadetships took place in 1855.
All of the young men now gathered in the room were candidates for cadetships at West Point; candidates who had been appointed by the Congressmen or Senators of their home districts or states, and who must now pass satisfactory physical and mental examinations, after which they would be enrolled as cadets in the United States Military Academy.
Then and there the four chums executed a war dance. It seemed too wonderful to believe. "But isn't Gridley the whole show?" demanded Dave presently. "Four cadetships in the same year to one little city!" "Well, we had to win 'em from other comers," retorted Greg. "And none of us are out of the woods yet. We've got to pass at West Point and at Annapolis. "This is great!" quivered young Prescott.
"I shouldn't care a bit if only the boys were through Sandhurst and safely into the Indian Army but I do hate them having to go without nearly everything. Trevor's a King's Cadet, but they wouldn't give us two cadetships ... Still," she added, more cheerfully, "it's cheaper than anything else for a soldier's son." "Is your father a soldier?" asked Jan.
"Next they will try each other for various smaller irregularities, like the sale of appointments to West Point cadetships, and that sort of thing mere trifling pocket-money enterprises that might better, be passed over in silence, perhaps, but then one of our Congresses can never rest easy till it has thoroughly purified itself of all blemishes and that is a thing to be applauded."
The bulletin is bad. Two most impertinent letters from Lord Arbuthnot and Mr. Arbuthnot asking for, or rather demanding, cadetships. They will find I am not to be bullied. June 21. The King expectorated blood yesterday. He is failing in strength, and now certainly dying. Read a memorandum of Wilson's on a proposed remodelling of the army.
Nominations to cadetships were made by the Secretary of War, on the recommendation of members of Congress, and in 1842 a vacancy occurred which was to be filled by a youth from the Congressional District in which Clarksburg was included. Jackson, informed of the chance by a friendly blacksmith, eagerly embraced it, and left no stone unturned to attain his object.
The same readers will remember how Greg Holmes secured his own nomination from Senator Frayne. Our former readers will also recall that Dave Darrin and Dan Daizell "ran away" with the nominations for cadetships at Annapolis, while Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton, the last of famous Dick & Co., went West seeking their careers as young engineers.
"Such as what?" "Dave, old fellow, can you keep a secret?" "Bosh! You know I can." "A big secret?" "Stop that!" "Well, I'll tell you, Dave. By and by there are going to be, in this state, two appointments to cadetships at West Point. Our Congressman will have one appointment. Senator Alden will have the other.
As early, therefore, as 1833, the Government Bill introduced by Macaulay for the renewal and revision of the Company's charter contained a clause providing that East India cadetships should be thrown open to competition.