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Palmer Eddy Pierce
A historical picture of Palmer E. Pierce in 1919, as the commander of the 27th Infantry Division
Born October 23, 1865
Died January 17, 1940 (aged 74)
Place of birth Savannah, Illinois
Place of death New York City
Buried at United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, New York
Allegiance Flag of the United States.svg United States
Years of service 1916–1930
Rank Brigadier General (at time of retirement)

Spanish–American War
Pancho Villa Expedition
World War I

Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Other work Founder of NCAA and Assistant President of the Standard Oil Company.

Palmer Eddy Pierce (October 23, 1865 – January 17, 1940) was a United States Army brigadier general who commanded the 54th Infantry Regiment on the Western Front of World War I.

Born in 1865 to a privileged family, Pierce later attended Grinnell College, and later the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, receiving his lieutenant's commission in 1891. Pierce saw his first actions during the Spanish–American War and the Boxer Rebellion in 1898, later becoming the athletic director at West Point. He was an advocate of organizing and restructuring amateur sports (including football) at West Point and other colleges. He founded the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), in part to keep professionals out of amateur sports, and served as its president from 1905 to 1930 when not on the Western Front. He went to the Army War College and became an Honor Graduate, and served in the Villa Expedition in 1916. He later served in the First World War, commanding the 54th Infantry Regiment and the 27th Infantry Divisions, then became the Assistant Chief of Staff of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), receiving a Distinguished Service Medal and a promotion to Brigadier General for his actions.

After he retired from the United States Army, he became Assistant President of the Standard Oil Company. Pierce died of a stroke on January 17, 1940 while talking to the Pan-American Society in New York, New York.

Early lifeEdit

Palmer E. Pierce was born in October 25, 1865[1] in Savannah, Illinois to Henry C. Pierce and Laura Shepard. He was the second of three brothers.[2] He attended Grimwell college, and later West Point in 1890, before receiving a lieutenant's commission in 1891. He also became athletic director at West Point for a short time in the early 1890's.[1]

Early ServiceEdit

He first served in the Spanish-American war of 1898 during the Invasion of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the resurrection of the Philippines. He later served during the Boxer Rebellion in 1899. He later graduated from the Army War college and the school of the line and the staff class at Fort Leavenworth.[3] He later became the founder of the NCAA, to avoid professionals from messing with amateur sports.[1]


He served in the Villa Expedition in 1916.[1] He later became an aide to the Sectretary of War, Chauncy B. Baker. On one occasion after the declaration of war, he came in front of the Senate Finance Committee, to figure out how to spend the three billion dollars requested to send to the War Department, he recited: "Clothing, cots, camps, food, pay … And we may have to have an army in France!". "Good Lord!" said Senator Thomas S. Martin "You're not going to send soldiers over there, are you?".[4] He later served as the commmander of the 27th Infantry Division and the 54th Infantry Regiment, which then he became the Assistant Chief of Staff of the AEF, and got a promotion to Brigadier General and earned a Distinguished Service Medal for his actions as the commanders of the respective formations.[5]

Later lifeEdit

After he retired from the Army, he became the assistant of the President of the Standard Oil Company. He died of a stroke on January 17, 1940 when he was talking to the Pan-American Society.[1]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Find a Grave
  2. Palmer E. Pierce 2
  3. The Rotarian (1911) Volume 11 Issue 3, p. 408.
  4. Kennedy (2004), p. 144.
  5. Rinaldi (2004), p. 37.


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