Historic Annapolis

Melvyn Brown
Sat 30 Oct 2010 12:06

38: 57.7N 76: 28.93W


Melv went back to the boatyard – he and the Shuttle Bus driver are the best of mates now – to check on whether the replacement nut had arrived and whether it was going to fit.  Only the boss was going to be in and in the event he couldn’t track him down.  We met up at lunchtime and took a 2hr walking tour of Historic Annapolis with a retired professor dressed as a Colonial settler(!).  The town was awash with navy cadets – all in their best bib and tucker – because the Navy football team were playing The Dukes (whoever they are!) at the Navy’s own stadium, which seats 34,000.  Sport is very much in the curriculum at the Academy and definitely not optional.  They play all sports but in times past were caught out when they bragged to St John’s College (see below) that they could beat them at any sport and the College opted for croquet.  They play every year, and occasionally they have actually won.


The public are permitted to enter the Academy (subject to a bag check and photo ID) and it really is an impressive collection of buildings, and they didn’t skim on materials – lots of marble and huge chandeliers.  Although the Academy was established in 1845 there is little in the way of original architecture, bar a couple of lodges at the entrance of one of the gates. 



There are over 4,000 cadets and in exchange for a five year commitment following graduation they get a highly respected degree in any number of subjects and a monthly allowance of $900, although they have to pay for their uniform and provide their own computer.  The entire Academy sit down to their main meal of the day at noon and live in one of eight of the largest dormitory blocks in the world.  When we came out of the main block (above) the cadets were congregating on the parade ground ready to march the 2 miles or so out of town to the stadium.  (They lost by 3pts by the way.)



The town is also home to St John’s College:


There is no other college quite like St. John’s. Through sustained engagement with the works of great thinkers and through genuine discussion with peers, students at St. John’s College cultivate habits of mind that will last a lifetime.


The Guide told us that a few years ago the tuition fees (alone) were $40,000 per year, but there are only a few hundred (highly intelligent!) students.  The college has taken the provision of a ‘classical education’ quite literally.  No Wikipedia used here!  They use the original texts of the classical scholars, which necessitate the students having to learn Latin and Greek, and the Guide knew of someone who was commissioned to create replicas of the original scientific instruments for use in class.   You may be interested to see this term’s reading list – which includes Homer, Plato, Marx, Engel and the Bible:




Annapolis is Maryland’s state capital and was the first capital of the united states following the revolution.  We looked around the State House and saw the partially renovated room where Washington resigned his commission at the successful (for them!) conclusion of the War of Independence.  They have the original notes – complete with crossing out’s and revisions.  Four of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence were from Annapolis, including the only Catholic, Charles Carroll, who was the wealthiest of them with a 10,000 acre plantation.