The gift of faith was not the only gift from Anna Warner to the Military Academy. In 1908, through the generosity of Mrs. Russell Sage, she was able to make the gift of her property, Constitution Island, to be added to the military reservation of West Point. The following correspondence between Mrs. Sage and President Theodore Roosevelt explains precisely the details of this transaction.
Lawrence, L. I.
September 4, 1908
I take pleasure in tendering as a gift to the United States from myself and Miss Anna Bartlett Warner, Constitution Island, opposite West Point, embracing about 230 acres of upland and 50 acres of meadow, the same to be an addition to the Military Reservation of West Point and to be for the use of the United States Military Academy. “My attention has been called by Captain Peter E. Traub, one of the professors at West Point, to the importance of adding this island to the West Point Reservation, and to the unsuccessful efforts of successive administrations of the Military Academy and Secretaries of War to secure the necessary appropriation to purchase it. In historic interest it is intimately connected with West Point. It formed during the Revolution a part of the defenses of the Hudson River. Upon it are now the remains of some ten breast-works commenced in 1775 by order of the Continental Congress, and completed later by Kosciusko. The guns mounted upon the Island then commanded the river channel as I rounded Gees Point, and to the island was attached one end of the iron chain intended to prevent the British warships from sailing up the Hudson. Washington’s Life Guard was mustered out on this island in 1783. It is distant only about three hundred yards from West Point, and in its present natural condition forms an essential part of the landscape as viewed from the West Point shore. The occupation of the Island as a Summer resort for profit, or its use for manufacturing purposes, would, in the opinion of the West Point authorities, be extremely detrimental to West Point, both from an aesthetic and from a practical standpoint. Moreover, its acquisition is desirable for the future development of the academy. Purchase of the Island by the Federal Government has been recommended both by the Hon. Elihu Root and Hon. William H. Taft, as Secretaries of War, as well as by the Board of Visitors of the present year. Bills appropriating $175,000 for the purchase of the island have been repeatedly before both houses of Congress, and I find that such a bill passed the Senate in 1902, but was never brought to a vote in the House.
“Miss Warner has received repeated offers from private parties, of a much larger sum than that for which she was willing to sell to the United States Government, but had steadily refused, from patriotic motives, to accept them in order that it might ultimately become a part of the West Point Reservation.
“Under these circumstances, after conference with friends officially connected with the Military Academy, and with Miss Warner, I have become the owner of the Island in consideration of the same amount for which Miss Warner has been willing to sell it to the United States, upon the understanding that I offer the Island to the Government for the use of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and so that it shall form a part of the Reservation there, and upon the further understanding that Miss Warner, who is well advanced in years, may continue to occupy the small part of the island now used by her for the remainder of her life, using her house, grounds, springs, pasture and firewood as heretofore. In view of the great pecuniary sacrifice to Miss Warner in parting with the Island at this price, she becomes with me a donor of the property to the United States Government.
I am prepared to execute a proper deed whenever I am assured that my gift will be accepted for this purpose, and that any necessary authority has been obtained from Congress or from the State of New York so as to vest in the United States the same jurisdiction over the Island which now exists over the military reservation at West Point. My deed will be accompanied by full abstract of title and will contain no conditions except:
“First’. That the Island be for the use forever of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N. Y., and form a part of the military reservation of West Point, and (pursuant to the covenant in Miss Warner’s deed to me, which runs with the land) ‘that no part of it shall ever be used as a public picnic, or excursion, or amusement ground, operated by private enterprise, individual or corporate, for profit; and
“Second: That Miss Anna Bartlett Warner have the right to reside as at present on Constitution island, in full possession of her house and the gardens appurtenant thereto during her natural life, and to the use of such spring or springs from which she now gets her water supply, together with the right to pasture her cows and horses, and to take such firewood as will be necessary while she resides on said Island, it being clearly understood that these reservations in her favor are restricted to her own life only.
“It is a great satisfaction to me to be thus able to carry out the great desire of Miss Warner’s life, and I am sure that her unselfish and high minded refusal to sell Constitution Island for other than Government purposes will be a tradition dear to the heart of every West Point graduate.
(Signed) Margaret Olivia Sage”
“Oyster Bay, N. Y.
September 5, 1908
My dear Mrs. Sage:
Through Mr. de Forest I have received your letter of September 4th. I wish to thank you for your very generous gift to the Nation, and I have written Miss Warner thanking her. I have sent your letter at once to the Secretary of War, directing him to see that whatever action may be necessary, if any such there be, whether by Congress or by the State authorities, in order to consummate the gift, may be taken. Permit me now, on behalf of the Nation, to thank you most heartily again for a really patriotic act.
(Signed) Theodore Roosevelt”
To Miss Warner the President wrote:
“Oyster Bay, N. Y.
September 5, 1908
My dear Miss Warner:
I have written to Mrs. Sage thanking her, and I write to thank you for the singular generosity which has prompted you and her to make this gift to the Nation. You have rendered a real and patriotic service, and on behalf of all our people I desire to express our obligation and our appreciation. With regard, believe me,
(Signed) Theodore Roosevelt”