From the first day of classes in 1865, military training has existed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Originally, MIT students were required to take part in compulsory military instruction, including drill, under the terms of the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862. Students were to receive instruction in "military tactics." The objective of the Morrill Act, passed in the midst of the Civil War, was to provide a "means by which a democratic people could gain a competent officer corps for a military reserve without endangering basic liberties." Since it was feared that the war might establish a large, centrally-controlled standing army, responsibility for creating such an officer corps would be assigned, not to a military agency of the federal government, but rather to at least one college in each state and under the jurisdiction of that state. MIT was designated a Land Grant College and so established a Department of Military Science and Tactics at its inception, as specified in its state charter. Since this time, MIT has built a military heritage second only to West Point, the United States Military Academy.
Today, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosts one of the best leadership development programs in the nation. Through the Army, Airforce and Naval ROTC programs at the Institute, more than 12,000 officers have been commissioned from MIT, of whom 150 have reached the rank of general or admiral.
The Paul Revere Battalion, an Army ROTC unit, was established at MIT in 1917, shortly after the passage of the National Defense Act of 1916. This is believed to be one of the first ROTC units in the Nation. During World War I, there were more Regular Army Officers serving in the Army from MIT than from any other school except West Point. Of the 1538 military participants in World War II from the Institute, 1335 were commissioned officers. The battalion now consists of students from MIT, Harvard University, Tufts University, Lesley University, Endicott College, Gordon College, Salem State College, Wellesley College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
The Battalion's history would fill many pages with individual actions of bravery on the battlefield as well as scientific and technical achievements in military laboratories. The history does not stop here, but continues to be made by the men and women of the Paul Revere Battalion whenever the call may come.