Claudius Berard (1786-1848)

Claudius Berard was born in France in the port city of Bordeaux on November 21, 1786. Of a relatively wealthy family, he received a classical education and when his conscription order came to enter the Napoleonic armies his father purchased for him a substitute. This substitute was later killed in the Peninsula Campaigns in 1805. Whether or not this influenced his decision to leave France is unclear but he did arrive in New York in early 1807. Some time soon after he arrived in Carlisle and was enrolled in the class of 1812. In 1810, his superior capacities in Latin and Greek, along with his capability and interest in modern languages, found him engaged at the College as a "teacher" of French and some Spanish - this was, at last, Rush's "long wished for" completion of the curriculum to include modern languages.

Berard never graduated but continued to teach at the College. In September, 1814, his post was upgraded to Professor of the Modern Languages, although he still was being paid on a fee basis. These were the days of turmoil in the faculty concerning the administration of Jeremiah Atwater and Berard was associated with the opposition that Thomas Cooper had come to lead. With the mass resignations of 1815, Berard went, too, and took a position as professor of French at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He held this post for thirty-three years, until his death, expanding his knowledge to most European languages and publishing several French textbooks. He also served as the U.S. Postmaster at West Point.

He married Mary Anne Nichols. Claudius Berard died at West Point, New York on May 6, 1848. He was sixty-two years old and still teaching.

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Dickinson College Archives
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