On March 20, 1843, twenty young men from South Carolina assembled on Marion Square in Charleston to begin the educational experiment called The Citadel. In 2018, over 2300 cadets from all over the world, of varied race and gender, gathered to celebrate 175 years of tradition and excellence. This book explores that journey.
The school’s survival into the 21st century overcame long odds. Prior to the Civil War, state-supported military colleges like The Citadel proliferated, particularly in the South, as a way to prepare young men for careers in education, law, medicine and engineering. Yet one by one, those military colleges either closed or found themselves absorbed into larger civilian environments. Today, only two state-supported military colleges remain; The Citadel is one.
The college closed after the Civil War and remained closed until 1882, when a single vote in the South Carolina Senate revived it. In 1965, General Mark Clark retired after 11 years as The Citadel’s president. The following year, the college admitted its first African-American cadet, Charles Foster. More controversy arrived in the demand by women for admission. Coeducation, admittedly unpopular when forced upon the school by the courts, tested the skill, patience and resolve of administrations charged with the assimilation of women.
The years since General Clark’s retirement have seen a steady increase in admission standards, faculty development, academic proficiency and leadership training. U.S. News and World Report has acknowledged this march toward excellence by ranking The Citadel for seven years in a row as the top public college in the South offering up to a masters degree. The school’s rise in the last fifty years is a story worth telling, told here by one of its own.
John Warley is a graduate of The Citadel and the University of Virginia School of Law. He is the author of three novels, the most recent being A Southern Girl, the first book published by Story River Books (Pat Conroy editor), an imprint of the University of South Carolina Press. He is the author of The Citadel War Memorial’s welcoming inscription and of “The Citadel at War,” a narrative history etched into the Memorial’s walls. He lives and writes in Beaufort, South Carolina.
“In Pat Conroy’s iconic 1980 novel The Lords of Discipline, protagonist Will McLean vows to write the history of his military college. Conroy’s classmate John Warley, ’67, has deftly achieved that in his modern history of The Citadel. Interwoven with the remembrances of alumni, faculty and college and community leaders, Warley’s narrative account is an enlightening chronicle of change over time—a microcosm of our larger American experience—as told from the vantage point of one who wears the ring.”
— Jonathan Haupt, executive director, Pat Conroy Literary Center
“John Warley understands the history and ethos of The Citadel better than the rest of us. Stand Forever, Yielding Never is a well-researched, compelling read for all Citadel graduates and anyone interested in an objective review of the recent history of this enduring and endearing institution.”
— Frank Mood, The Citadel, 1960
“A must read for Citadel Alumni. John Warley’s compelling work Stand Forever, Yielding Never tells the story of The Citadel’s past half-century of success through the eyes of its presidents. The book was thoroughly researched using The Citadel archives and personal interviews with past presidents, college and Citadel Foundation officials, Bulldog supporters, faculty and cadets.”
— W. Michael Steele, LTG, U. S. Army (Ret.), The Citadel, 1967
“My late husband, Pat Conroy, ’67, would be rightfully proud of his classmate, John Warley, and his skillfully written book of modern Citadel history, which details through well-documented research the progress that Pat believed was so essential to the school’s future and prosperity.”