Arundel History

October 16, 2005

1845: Academy founded

It was 160 years ago this week that the U.S. Naval Academy was founded on - of all things - an Army post named Fort Severn in Annapolis. A class of 50 midshipmen and seven professors covered a curriculum that included mathematics and navigation, gunnery and steam, chemistry, English, natural philosophy and French. Five years later, in 1850, the simply named "Naval School" became the United States Naval Academy.

Bancroft Hall and other imposing buildings in the Yard, as the campus is known, followed about 60 years later, as the nation expanded its force on the oceans. The entire brigade of midshipmen- all four classes of naval officers in training- now numbers about 4,000.

The academy excels at observing its traditions. On Oct. 10, 1945, during the centennial celebration, speeches and a parade were held, but that wasn't all. All the ships in the harbor broke out all their flags. One group of midshipmen dressed in replicas of the original uniforms: white trousers, pressed on the sides, blue Eton jackets with gold buttons and straw sailor hats with flowing bands of blue.

[Sources: The Sun (Oct. 11, 1945), Naval Academy Web site and Sun library reseacher Jean Packard.]

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