Virginia Military Institute is a public, 4-year school located in Lexington, VA in the Shenandoah Valley about 45 miles northwest of Lynchburg. The school was founded in 1839 and is the oldest state supported college in the country. VMI differs from the federal service academies in that graduates may accept a commission in the armed forces or pursue civilian careers. VMI cadets distinguished themselves on both sides of the Civil War, with 15 graduates made the rank of General in the Confederate Army; one made General in the Union. After a legal battle, VMI admitted female cadets in 1997. The 130 acre campus, referred to as the “Post” features the VMI Historic District which is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Notable alumni include General George Marshall, Nobel Peace Prize winner and author of the Marshall Plan; and Jonathan Daniels, an American civil rights activist who died protecting a protester in 1965, and whose name is inscribed on Caterbury Cathedral as a Anglican martyr.