One year before the formation of the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy in 1869, George Cullum, Class of 1833, published the first edition of his three-volume Biographical Register of the Officers of the United States Military Academy, a “record of West Point graduates’ services to the nation, so as to give world-renown to their Alma Mater.” Later, in 1871, Cullum became a member of AOG’s Executive Committee, which he chaired until his death in 1892. It was evident from the earliest days of AOG that Cullum’s legacy would be forever linked to championing the accomplishments of graduates for the glory of West Point.
At its Annual Meetings beginning in 1884, the Association of Graduates discussed the need for a hall for the Association’s use for meetings and to house the many manuscripts, portraits, books and letters that had been given to the organization since its establishment. It was proposed to petition Congress for an appropriation to fund this hall, but the proposal was tabled for several years and debated again in 1887. At that time, AOG members felt that Congress would not be responsive to a funding request, and also felt that the AOG itself could not raise the funds required, and the matter was dropped. It seems that Cullum, however, privately determined to persevere with the project. Upon his death in February 1892, he bequeathed the considerable sum of $250,000 (worth more than $6.5 million in 2018) to the U.S. government for the purpose of erecting a memorial hall at West Point. Furthermore, Cullum wanted AOG to move forward with construction in a timely fashion, and explicitly stated in his will a wish for the memorial hall to be built “at farthest within five years after my death.” Read the entire article in West Point magazine.