The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Annapolis (Maryland)

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The American Cyclopædia
Annapolis (Maryland)
Edition of 1879. See also Annapolis, Maryland and United States Naval Academy on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

ANNAPOLIS, a city of Anne Arundel county, Md., capital of the county and of the state, 28 m. S. by E. of Baltimore, and 40 m. E. by N. of Washington; lat. of the state house, 38° 58' N., lon. 76° 29' W.; pop. in 1860, 3,228 whites and 1,301 colored; in 1870, 5,744, of whom 1,682 were colored. It is beautifully situated on the Severn river, about 2 m. from its junction with the waters of Chesapeake bay. For a long period before Baltimore was at all noted, Annapolis was the seat of wealth, refinement, and extensive trade. It was formerly a port of entry, but has lost its commercial importance, and is now chiefly distinguished as the seat of the state government and of the United States naval academy. The city is connected with Baltimore and Washington by railroad, and with the former also by regular lines of steamers. The plan of the city bears some resemblance to that of the national capital, all the streets radiating from two points, the state house and the Episcopal church. Its appearance is interesting from its air of quiet seclusion; and the antique look of many of the houses, with their peculiar style of architecture, gives the stranger an impression of some old European town, rather than that of an American city. The state house, standing on an eminence, is a noble and massive structure of brick, with a lofty dome and cupola. It contains the halls of the legislative assembly, as well as the state library and records. St. John's college, founded in 1784, is a state institution. In 1868 there were 10 instructors, 433 graduates, and about 3,500 volumes in the library. St. Mary's seminary, a Roman Catholic institution, is also situated here. Three weekly papers are published in the city.

AmCyc Annapolis - United States Naval Academy.jpg

United States Naval Academy, Annapolis.

The naval academy was established in 1845 by the Hon. George Bancroft, then secretary of the navy. Candidates (who must be over 15 and under 18 years of age) are admitted to the institution after passing a thorough physical examination, as well as an examination in the elements of an English education. They remain in the institution four years, under strict discipline and instruction in all the branches of the naval profession, before they are examined for admission into the navy as midshipmen. The academic board is composed of the superintendent of the institution, who must be an officer of the navy, not below the rank of commander; the executive officer, or commandant of midshipmen, with four assistants, who must be either commanders or lieutenants in the navy, and who discharge the duties of instructors in seamanship, naval tactics, and practical gunnery; and the professors of mathematics, of steam engineering, of astronomy, navigation, and surveying, of natural and experimental philosophy, of field artillery and infantry tactics of ethics and English studies, including international law, of the French and Spanish languages, and of drawing and draughting. The academic staff consists of the members of the academic board as heads of the different departments, assisted by 64 professors and instructors. The grounds connected with the establishment are extensive, having recently been considerably enlarged. Across College creek 114 acres were added in 1869, and in 1870-'71 a large naval hospital was built upon this ground at a cost of over $150,000. The grounds immediately surrounding the academy contain buildings for recitation and lecture rooms, mess rooms, dormitories, officers' quarters, a philosophical hall and laboratory, and an astronomical observatory. The observatory has an equatorial telescope constructed by Clark of Boston, with a fine achromatic lens of 7¾ inches clear aperture, and 9½ feet focal length; an excellent meridian circle by Repsold of Hamburg; and a very complete collection of the minor instruments used by the travelling astronomer, the surveyor, and the navigator. The academy has a carefully selected library of ihout 15,000 volumes, to which additions are made annually. Fort Severn, to which the grounds formerly pertained, is now enclosed and covered with a roof, and used as a gymnasium and ball room. Two sloops of war are attached to the institution, used during the summer months as practice ships, and for sailing upon an ocean voyage. At the beginning of the academic year 1870 the whole number of midshipmen in the several classes was 253; 68 graduated at the end of the year, and 100 were admitted. During the civil war, the academy was removed to Newport, R. I., but soon after its close was brought back here. — Annapolis was settled in 1649 by puritan refugees from Virginia, under a ruling elder named Durand, and was at first called Providence. The next year Brooke, under a commission from Lord Baltimore, organized the county under its present appellation, and called the settlement Anne Arundel Town in honor of Lady Baltimore. A few years later it was again known as Providence, and was the seat of a Protestant council, disputing the legislative authority with the Catholic council at St. Mary's. The latter was finally abandoned in 1694, and the government was established at the settlement on the Severn, where a town had been regularly laid out and called Annapolis after Queen Anne, who gave it some valuable presents. A city charter was granted in 1708. At the close of the revolution Maryland offered to cede Annapolis to the general government as the federal capital. During the negotiations for a permanent site, it was resolved in 1783 that congress should meet alternately at Annapolis and Trenton, the first session to be held at Annapolis. It was at this session that Washington surrendered his commission as commander-in-chief, Dec. 23, 1783.