Wednesday, October 10, 2012


October 10, 1845


Annapolis, Maryland (JFK+50) Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft* opened today a Naval School on the grounds of Fort Severn, formerly an Army post, here in Annapolis.

Assisting in both the founding of the institution & its curriculum is Commodore Matthew C. Perry who strongly favored an apprentice system to train new seamen.

The Naval School has enrolled 50 students who will be taught by a compliment of 7 professors.

The curriculum for the midshipmen will include math & navigation, gunnery & steam, chemistry, English, natural philosophy & French.

The course of study will last 5 years with the 1st & last years being at school & the other 3 service at sea.

The 1st graduating class will graduate in June 1854.**

*George Bancroft (1800-1891) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts & graduated from Harvard in 1817.  He earned his PhD from the University of Gottingen in Germany. 

Professor Bancroft published a multi-volume History of the United States (1834-1874).

He served in President James K. Polk's cabinet as Secretary of the Navy (1845-46) & one month as Secretary of War.

                        George Bancroft
       Photo by Matthew Brady (1860)
             Library of Congress Image

**In 1850, the Naval School became the UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY.  The following year the curriculum was altered to 4 years with training on ships in the summers.

AUGUST 1, 1963


Annapolis, Maryland (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy spoke today at a ceremony held at Bancroft Hall honoring the new class of midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy.

The President, who is a Navy veteran, said:

"I want to express our strong hope that all of you who have come to the Academy as plebes will stay with the Navy.

I can imagine a no more rewarding career .

Any man who may be asked...what he did to make his life worthwhile...can respond with a good deal of pride & satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy.'"

                  Graduating Class of 1894
            United States Naval Academy
                      Annapolis, Maryland***

***The USNA accepted women as midshipmen beginning in 1976.  Today women make up 14% of the plebe or 1st year class.  The young lady in the photo above is identified simply as "Mascot".