Friday, October 10, 2014



Annapolis, Maryland (JFK+50) Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft* opened a naval school on the grounds of Fort Severn**, a former an Army post, here in Annapolis on October 10, 1845.

Assisting in both the founding of the institution and its' curriculum was Commodore Matthew C. Perry, a strong proponent of an apprentice system to train new seamen.

 The Naval School enrolled 50 students and employed 7 professors.

   US Naval Academy (1853)

The curriculum for the midshipmen included math and navigation, gunnery and steam, chemistry, English, natural philosophy and French.

The course of study was to be completed in five years with the first and last years being at school while the others would require service at sea.

The first class graduated 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) and one month as Secretary of War.

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

**Fort Severn was built on the site of a Revolutionary War bastion in 1808 to guard the city of Annapolis against British attack.

The USNA used the fort for classrooms until it was demolished in 1909 and replaced with modern buildings.  In 1977, the DAR placed a marker at the site in honor of the original fort.

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.


Annapolis, Maryland (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy spoke at a ceremony held at Bancroft Hall honoring the new class of midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy on August 1, 1963.

The President, who was 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 and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy.'"

Graduating Class of 1894
 United States Naval Academy
 Annapolis, Maryland

JFK+50 Note:

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".