1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/United States Naval Academy

UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY, an institution for the education of officers of the United States Navy, at Annapolis, Maryland, occupying about zoo acres on the banks of the Severn. Its principal buildings are the marine engineering building, the academic building (containing the library), the chapel, the gymnasium, the physics and chemistry building, the auditorium, the armoury, the power-house, the administration building, Bancroft Hall (the midshipmen's quarters), officers mess and club, and Sampson Row, Upshur Row and Rodgers Row, the officers' quarters.[1] By an Act of Congress passed in 1903 two midshipmen (as the students have been called since 1902; “ naval cadets ” was the term formerly used) were allowed for each senator, representative, and delegate in Congress, two for the District of Columbia, and five each-year at large; but after 1913 only one midshipman is to be appointed for each senator, representative and delegate in Congress. Candidates are nominated by their senator, representative, or delegate in Congress, and those from the District of Columbia and those appointed at large are chosen by the President; but to be admitted they must be between sixteen and twenty years of age and must pass an entrance examination. Each midshipman is paid $600 a year, beginning with the date of his admission; and he must bind himself to serve in the United States Navy for eight years (including the years spent in the academy) unless he is discharged sooner. The course of instruction is for four years—“ final graduation ” comes only after six years, the additional years being spent at sea—and is in eleven departments: discipline, seamanship, ordnance and gunnery, navigation, marine engineering and naval construction, mathematics and mechanics, physics and chemistry, electrical engineering, English, modern languages, naval hygiene and physiology. Vessels for practice work of midshipmen in the first, second, and third year classes are attached to the academy during the academic year, and from early in une to September of each year the midshipmen are engaged in practice cruises. The academy is governed by the Bureau of Navigation of the United States Navy Department, and is under the immediate supervision of a superintendent appointed by the secretary of the navy, with whom are associated the Commandant of Midshipmen, a disciplinary officer, and the Academic Board, which is composed of the superintendent and the head of each of the eleven departments. The institution was founded as the Naval School in 1845 by the secretary of the navy, George Bancroft, and was opened in October of that year. Originally a course of study for five years was prescribed, but only the first and last were spent at the school, the other three being passed at sea. The present name was adopted when the school was reorganized in 1850, being placed under the supervision of the chief of the Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography, and under the immediate charge of the superintendent, and the course of study was extended to seven years; the first two and the last two to be spent at the school, the intervening three years to be passed at sea. The four years of study were made consecutive in 1851, and the practice cruises were substituted for the three consecutive years at sea. At the outbreak of the Civil War the three upper classes were detached and were ordered to sea, and the academy was removed to Fort Adams, Newport, Rhode Island (May 1861), but it was brought back to Annapolis in the summer of 1865. The supervision of the academy was transferred from the Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography to the Bureau of Navigation when that bureau was established in 1862; and, although it was placed under the direct care of the Navy Department in 1867, it has been (except in 1869—1889) under the Bureau of Navigation for administrative routine and financial management. The Spanish-American War greatly emphasized its importance, and the academy was almost wholly rebuilt and much enlarged in 1899-1906.

See J. R. Soley, Historical Sketch of the United States Naval Academy (Washington, 1876); Park Benjamin, The United States Naval Academy (New York, 1900); Randall Blackshaw, “ The New Naval Academy, " in the Century Magazine for October 1905.

  1. The old quarters of the superintendent, a colonial house, once the official residence of the governors of Maryland, was destroyed in 1900. In 1909 old Fort Severn, a small circular structure with thick walls, built in 1809, was torn down.