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Chapter 10 Naval Educational Institutions
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United States Naval Academy -Continued - 12966_207
5   May   1861   Naval   Academy   transfers   to Newport,  Rhode  Island;  returns to  Annapolis,  Maryland,  on  9 August  1865. 11 Sep. 1872   James Henry Conyers, first black midshipman, enters   Naval Academy. 26 Jun. 1884  Congress authorizes commission- ing of Naval Academy graduates as ensigns. 29  Nov.  1890    Navy  beats  Army  24-0  in  first Army-Navy   football   game. 2  Apr.  1898    Naval  Academy  adopts  coat  of arms. 3 Jun. 1949     The Naval Academy graduates its first black, John Wesley Brown. 28  May  1980    Naval  Academy  graduates  its first  women  officers. During the first 50 years of the United States Navy’s  existence,  it  had  no  organized,  efficient Navywide   system   for   training   its   prospective officers.   Midshipmen   received   most   of   their training  aboard  ship  under  the  ship’s  chaplain. They received some training, however, from time to  time  at  various  schools  ashore. Despite  growing  evidence  of  the  need  for  a naval   academy,   efforts   to   establish   it   were rebuffed until 1845. At that time the Honorable George   Bancroft,   distinguished   historian   and educator,   became   Secretary   of   the   Navy   in President Polk’s cabinet. With the establishment of a naval academy in mind, Secretary Bancroft made  several  adroit  moves,  including  obtaining Fort   Severn   from   the   War   Department.   Fort Severn occupied 10 acres on a neck of land called Windmill Point at Annapolis. There, in late 1845, he  set  up  a  naval  school  for  midshipmen.  The school  was  officially  designated  as  the  United States  Naval  Academy  some  5  years  later. Under  Commander  Franklin  Buchanan,  its first superintendent, the new school got under way on 10 October 1845. The original seven-member faculty   consisted   of   four   officers   and   three civilians. The  school  opened  with  a  student  body  of 60,  whose  members  were  divided  into  a  junior and  senior  class.  They  were  housed  in  several small  buildings,  popularly  named  Apollo  Row, Rowdy   Row, the  Gas  House,  Brandywine Cottage,   and   the   Abbey.   The   names   of   the buildings reflected the principal characteristics of their  residents  or,  in  the  case  of  Brandywine Cottage, the ship from which the residents came. The  subjects  studied  included  gunnery,  naval tactics,  engineering,  chemistry,  mathematics, astronomy,  French,  and  English. Some  of  the  students  had  come  to  the  new school  without  any  previous  sea  duty  and  were designated “acting midshipmen.” Most students, however,  had  appointments  as  midshipmen  and had   several   years   of   sea   duty.   (The   acting midshipmen  were  more  comparable  to  today’s midshipmen  than  the  latter.) During  the  first  few  years,  many  of  the midshipmen had difficulty taking their studies or the   school   discipline   seriously.   This   difficulty probably  resulted  because  of  their  previous  sea duty  experience,  their  ages  (ranging  up  to  27 years),  and  their  being  used  to  unrestricted  liberty when  ashore.  This  is  reflected  by  the  following reportedly  true  stories. One  incident  concerned  the  midshipmen  living at  the  Abbey,  who  supposedly  led  exemplary  lives. One night, however, the officer of the day found the  Abbey  deserted.  Upon  investigation  the officer  discovered  a  tunnel  that  went  under  the yard  wall  immediately  adjacent  to  and  toward Annapolis. The next day the school ended the use of  the  Abbey  as  a  midshipmen’s  residence. On  another  occasion,  the  midshipmen  were reported   to   have   hung   Professor   Henry   H. Lockwood  in  effigy  from  the  Academy  flagstaff one  St.  Patrick’s  Day.  For  this,  the  ringleaders were  ordered  to  appear  before  a  court-martial board   for   insulting   a   superior   officer.   They claimed   in   defense   the   professor   was   not superior to students since he was not an officer. (Congress eventually remedied this situation by raising  instructors  to  the  equivalent  ranks  of officers.) Another  story  about  this  period  deals  with  the linguistic  prowess  shown  by  one  Midshipman Nelson  during  the  annual  examinations.  Professor Arsene Girault, instructor in French, had patiently tried  to  teach  Nelson  to  speak  something resembling  that  language.  When  time  for  the exam arrived, however, Nelson knew he could do nothing  of  the  kind.  Therefore,  he  memorized  a series  of  phrases  out  of  the  French  textbook. During  the  examination,  with  half  a  dozen commodores  present,  the  Professor,  speaking  in French, asked, “Mr. Nelson, what is your native state?” 10-2

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