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This organization is now primarily service-oriented, but it has a rich historical past. It was started in 1807 as a volunteer group because of friction between the U.S. and Britain. The British frigate Leopard fired upon the United States Ship Chesapeake and sank her. "Remember the Leopard" has continued to be an honored cry of the WLI.
On June 16, 1822, WLI helped to suppress a slave insurrection led by Denmark Vesey. It then served as the guard of the Old Citadel which was a magazine and an armory. To protect this building, soldiers were hired at the expense of the state. Later it was felt that the cost of guarding the armory would be reduced if cadets guarded it instead of soldiers. In 1843, this building was turned over to the South Carolina Military Academy which later became known as The Citadel. The WLI was instrumental in its establishment from the beginning.
The college was founded in 1842, on Washington's birthday, at Marion Square, downtown Charleston. Every year The Citadel participates in the Washington Light Infantry parade. (Sources: Washington Light Infantry. UA448 .W26 1987; Oliver J. Bond, The Story of The Citadel (see page references in index). U430 .C5 B57 1989; Richard L. Schreadley, Valor and Virtue: The Washington Light Infantry in Peace and War. UA443 .S3 1997)