The United States Naval Academy is the second oldest of the five service academies. It was established under Secretary of the Navy, George Bancroft and opened October 10th 1845. The Academy was located on 10 acres of the former grounds of the United State Army’s Fort Severn, where the Severn River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, about 33 miles east of Washington, DC. On the opening day it had 50 Midshipman students and 7 professors. Commodore Matthew Perry assisted with the curriculum and reinforced the apprentice system to train seamen.
Students originally studied for five years, with the first and last years spent at the school and the middle three years spent at sea. This was changed to a four year school in 1851. The first class to graduate from the Academy was on June 10th 1854. The Tripoli Monument was moved to the Academy ground in 1860, also the year that the USS Constitution was refurbished for use as a school ship for fourth year Midshipmen. When the Civil war started the United States government moved the school to Fort Adams, Newport, Rhode Island where it set up temporary facilities. All the upper class Midshipmen where ordered to sea. The Academy was moved back to Annapolis in summer of 1865.