Fort Jackson was created in 1917 as Camp Jackson as the U.S. entered World War I. The site was announced by Douglas MacArthur, who was then a major but became one of the most famous generals in American history.
The Columbia Chamber of Commerce raised $50,000 to purchase former Hampton Estate. Residents donated 1,192 acres. And the federal government purchased 19,700 acres and leased thousands more for the facility.
In 1922, after the end of the Great War, Camp Jackson was shut down. It was reactivated in 1940 as Fort Jackson for World War II. Expanding the fort became one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken in the Southeast.
In March 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt inspected the fort in a tour that was closed to the public. In June 1942, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill conducted a very public tour of the facility, inspecting every phase of training, cigar clamped firmly in his mouth.
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Today, Fort Jackson is the largest and most active training facility in the nation, turning out 50 percent of all soldiers and 60 percent of the women entering the Army each year. In 2014, 42,000 soldiers received their basic training there.
Besides basic training, the fort also provides advanced training for such jobs as drill sergeants and chaplains. It also provides facilities for training sailors and Marines, and hosts a South Carolina National Guard training camp.
Altogether, Fort Jackson trains 70,000 soldiers, sailors and Marines each year, pumps $2 billion into the local economy and employs 7,000 active duty and civilian workers.
The fort’s motto is “Victory Starts Here.”
About this series: The inaugural edition of The State newspaper was published Feb. 18, 1891. In anticipation of the 125th anniversary, the Palmetto section and this section at thestate.com are recounting each day how The State covered newsmakers and events vital to South Carolina’s history.