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Sea Change at Annapolis

Sea Change at Annapolis: The United States Naval Academy, 1949-2000

Foreword by Senator John McCain
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  • Book Info
    Sea Change at Annapolis
    Book Description:

    Since 1845, the United States Naval Academy has prepared professional military leaders at its Annapolis, Maryland, campus. Although it remains steeped in a culture of tradition and discipline, the Academy is not impervious to change. Dispelling the myth that the Academy is a bastion of tradition unmarked by progress, H. Michael Gelfand examines challenges to the Naval Academy's culture from both inside and outside the Academy's walls between 1949 and 2000, an era of dramatic social change in American history.Drawing on more than two hundred oral histories, extensive archival research, and his own participatory observation at the Academy, Gelfand demonstrates that events at Annapolis reflect the transformation of American culture and society at large in the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. In eight chapters, he discusses recruiting and minority midshipmen, the end of mandatory attendance at religious services, women's experiences as they sought and achieved admission and later served as midshipmen, and the responses of multiple generations of midshipmen to societal changes, particularly during the Vietnam War era. This cultural history not only sheds light on events at the Naval Academy but also offers a novel perspective on democratic ideals in the United States.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0544-9
    Subjects: History, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Senator John McCain

    In 1845, Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft set out to create an academy that would provide the United States with a naval officer corps unmatched by any seafaring nation. Bancroft envisioned these officers as men whose sense of duty, honor, loyalty, and character would be unparalleled.

    This guiding spirit of the Naval Academy remains unchanged to this day; the Academy serves as both the repository of the Navy’s core values and the benchmark of its unflagging moral and military leadership to this great nation. It stands as the very soul of the United States Navy.

    In this history of...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xxiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxv-xxix)
  6. 1 An Introduction to the United States Naval Academy
    (pp. 1-36)

    Formal military education in the United States originated in the creation of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1802.¹ President George Washington advocated the establishment of a formal military school in 1790, the same year that Miami tribal leaders led the defeat of the U.S. Army. After the Miami overpowered the Army a second time the next year, the government enlisted Anthony Wayne, who trained the men serving under him and delivered the United States its longawaited victory over the Miami in 1795. Washington understood that many national leaders feared a standing army, yet he...

  7. 2 The Higher Ideals of Democracy: Race and Recruiting through 1964
    (pp. 37-56)

    As the dawn broke on the morning of 1 January 1955, the rain that had drenched New Orleans for several days finally ended. The Gulf sun dried the city that Saturday, and football fans from across the nation tuned their television sets to ABC affiliates for the 12:45 kickoff of the 1955 Sugar Bowl. Although the University of Mississippi Rebels entered the game as the favorite, Navy scored a touchdown on the opening kick, a feat it repeated when the second half of the game began. The midshipmen, whom coach Eddie Erdelatz called his “Team of Desire,” later scored a...

  8. 3 The Right Thing to Do: Race and Recruiting since 1964
    (pp. 57-78)

    In his first speech as United States attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy indicated in 1961 his intention to enforce federal court and Supreme Court rulings on school desegregation.¹ Later that year, when his brother, John F. Kennedy, spoke at the Naval Academy’s graduation ceremony, the president “noted that there were practically no black faces in the graduating class.” Robert Kennedy shared the same observation in 1964 with Charles Minter, who served as the Naval Academy’s commandant and superintendent that year, arguing that the number of African American midshipmen should reflect the number of blacks in American society as a whole....

  9. 4 The Spiritual Ball Game: Anderson v. Laird and the End of Mandatory Chapel Attendance
    (pp. 79-108)

    Underneath the vast dome of the United States Naval Academy Chapel, with its carvings of the unified races of humankind, Senior Chaplain John J. O’Connor delivered his usual Catholic mass to the assembled midshipmen, officers, and guests on the morning of Sunday, 7 January 1973.¹ However, as O’Connor and his Protestant counterparts looked up from their prayer books and into the long nave of the chapel, with winter sunlight shining through the small stained-glass and monumental clear-glass windows, they for the first time did not see hordes of midshipmen before them.² Instead, they noted many open, unoccupied seats among the...

  10. 5 The Seeds of Revolution: Women at the Naval Academy through 1976
    (pp. 109-134)

    On Wednesday, 28 May 1980, underneath a clear, warm sky, members of the class of 1980 walked across a stage in the Navy–Marine Corps stadium and, one by one, received their Naval Academy diplomas.¹ Among the 947 graduates that day were 55 women, the first female graduates of the Academy. As West Point’s deputy commandant Alexander Haig had insinuated when he argued that “you challenge mandatory chapel, and they find it unconstitutional and end it, and the next thing, there will be women in here, and then we won’t have West Point any more—all we’ll have is a...

  11. 6 Revolutionary Change at Evolutionary Speed: Women in the Class of 1980
    (pp. 135-162)

    When three women, Janice Buxbaum, Amber Hernandez, and Lynn Vostbury, arrived at the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) in Newport, Rhode Island, in January 1976, they became the first female Napsters in the school’s history.¹ Women’s experiences at NAPS served as a forecast for what would later take place at Annapolis. The women attempted to integrate with the men, for example by shoveling snow along with their male colleagues, but this goal was thwarted by a regimental commander who ordered the men to treat the women “as if they were his daughters.” As a result, men at the school began...

  12. 7 A New Mystique: Women at the Naval Academy since 1980
    (pp. 163-190)

    About six months after the first graduation ceremonies to include females, Superintendent William Lawrence told Kathy Slevin that “you and your fellow women in the Class of 1980 can be immensely proud of your achievements at the Academy. I know there were many frustrations and occasional unpleasantness, but you fully proved the soundness of admitting women to the Academy. Further, you made it easier for the women who followed in succeeding classes.”¹ Lawrence, like other USNA officials, believed that “once the pioneer group of women graduates, the progress of integration will accelerate to an even higher level of success and...

  13. 8 That Inescapable Trait of Midshipmen: The Creation of the Honor Concept, Protests, Pranks, and Other Remarkable Activities
    (pp. 191-212)

    After contemplating a topic for his senior paper for the English/History/Government Department in January 1953, midshipman H. Ross Perot decided to examine the manner in which previous generations of midshipmen had treated the notion of honor. Perot wrote to the secretaries of surviving graduate classes and asked for their recollections of honor offenses. He discovered from the men’s responses that, beyond cases in which the midshipmen treated an offending classmate in a particular manner or officials administered punishments, there was no uniform policy for dealing with midshipmen who had violated their class’s conceptions of honor.¹ Midshipmen responded to honor violations...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 213-220)

    When plebes stand in the corridors of Bancroft Hall and in the course of daily announcements recite, “Time, tide, and formation wait for no one,” they are not just politely telling the upperclassmen to hurry up. They are inadvertently proclaiming a fundamental truth: change is inevitable and forthcoming. This book has outlined changes that the Naval Academy underwent between 1949 and 2000. The Academy embraced some of the changes, such as the use of television for recruitment, and has struggled with other changes, such as the full and complete integration of women within the Brigade of Midshipmen. Some members of...

  15. Note on the Sources
    (pp. 221-230)
  16. Statistical Appendix
    (pp. 231-238)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 239-348)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 349-364)
  19. Index
    (pp. 365-382)