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Constitution Island & Marsh

Constitution Island is part of West Point, the United States Military Academy, a National Registered Landmark. The Island is most famous for the Great Chain that was placed across the Hudson during the Revolutionary War and the Warner family who lived on the Island during the 19th century. The Warner House and ruins of the Revolutionary War fortifications are the primary points of interest. The Island's 280 acres are covered with hiking trails that are enjoyed by the Island's visitors. The Constitution Island Association was founded in 1916 to preserve and protect the history and traditions of this unique American site.

On September 21, 1775, John Berrien used the name “Constitution Fort” for the first time in an official document of the New York Provincial Congress.

Gen. George Washington was appointed by the Continental Congress to work with the New York Provincial Congress to make plans on how the Hudson River should be fortified against the British. Subsequently, Bernard Romans, an engineer, was appointed to begin the construction of the large fort on the island which was to be named “Fort Constitution.” When Sir Henry Clinton's British troops went up the Hudson River from New York City in 1777, the small group of American soldiers encamped on the island destroyed as much as possible of the unfinished fort and fled. British troops occupied the island for twenty days. Fort Constitution was never rebuilt.

West Point was the new site of the forts built by the Americans in January 1778 and where a chain was stretched across the river to Constitution Island, Col. Thaddeus Kosciusko directed the construction at West Point and, on Constitution Island, built three redoubts and a battery to protect the east end of the great chain. A large barracks was built and American soldiers were stationed on the island until December 20, 1783 when Gen. Washington's personal “lifeguard” was disbanded there.

Warner House

The lovely old house on Constitution Island was the home of the Warner family from 1836 to 1915. Susan and Anna Warner were well-known writers in the nineteenth century. Susan wrote The Wide, Wide World in 1850 which became a best seller of its day. Anna is best known for writing the words to the hymn Jesus Loves Me. The sisters taught Bible classes to West Point cadets for forty years.

The oldest part of the Warner House includes a thick stone wall existing from Revolutionary War days. The Victorian wing of eight rooms was built by Henry Warner in 1836 when he moved his family from New York City to the island. The house is furnished with original Warner family possessions. The Warner House is a living museum and is kept as nearly as possible as it was when Miss Anna Warner lived there until her death in 1915.

Visiting Constitution Island

The Association runs tours to Constitution Island for the general public from June 25th until September 25th. To reach the Island visitors take a ferry from the South Dock at West Point. Tours leave the South Dock at 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tours are approximately 2 1/4 hours in duration.

Specifics on visiting the Constitution Island & Marsh were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
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