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Bill Thayer

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Annapolis: Its Colonial and Naval Story
Walter B. Norris

The Author and the Work

I've been quite unable to discover the least information about Walter Norris; if you have some to share, I'd like to hear from you, of course.

The work, on the other hand, we have before us, and I have to agree, in its broad lines, with the assessment found in American Historical Review, XXXI.596‑597: it's not the greatest book in the world, but as its author himself says in his Foreword, there was, at the time he wrote, no convenient general history of the city, and it fills a useful niche. More than that, the first two-thirds of the book give us a very good, sometimes detailed glimpse of colonial and early‑19c life on America's eastern seaboard, offer some insight into the personality of George Washington, and for various other reasons which the reader will likely discover on your own, held my interest more than it did the AHR reviewer's; with whom I disagree on the other hand about the illustrations.

The book's tail section on the Naval Academy, however, is indeed a sort of weak appendage or afterthought; I hope to repair that soon by putting onsite a history of that institution, or something at least where the Academy takes center stage.


A City of Historic Charm


A Puritan Settlement in a Catholic Colony


The Revolution of 1688 Makes Annapolis the Provincial Capital


A City of Wealth and Fashion


Clubs, Theaters and Literature


Some Tory Families and Their Homes


The Three Signers of the Declaration of Independence and Their Annapolis Homes


A Glance at Annapolis Before the Revolution


Stamp Act Riots and the "Peggy Stewart" Tea Party


Opening the Revolution — a Contest in Courtesy


Lafayette and Rochambeau in Annapolis, 1781


Washington Visits Annapolis


In Genteel Eclipse


Fort Severn Becomes the Naval Academy


The Civil War and "Ben" Butler Reach Annapolis


Since the Civil War


Technical Details

Edition Used

I followed what may well be the only edition, bearing at any rate a 1925 copyright, which was not renewed, however, in the appropriate years (1952 or 1953) as required by the law of the time. The work is thus in the public domain: details here on the copyright law involved.


In the printed book, the illustrations are scattered evenly and thus sometimes without regard to the text. I've moved several of them to places where they actually do illustrate the text. Several loose sketches of boats and wharves are unrelated to anything in the book: you'll find them on the Illustrations page.

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The printed book was indifferently proofread. I've marked the typographical errors, when important (or unavoidable because inside a link), with a bullet like this;º and when trivial, with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read the variant. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

[image ALT: A drawing of a stylized thistle and a stylized rose blossom growing from a common stem: above this hybrid plant, a closed royal crown, and below it a banner reading 'VIXI LIBER ET MORIAR'. It is the flag of the city of Annapolis, and serves as the icon used on this site for my transcription of the book 'Annapolis: Its Colonial and Naval Story'.]

In the absence of an image from the book that would both work graphically and represent the work as a whole, the icon I use to indicate this subsite is the flag of the city of Annapolis.

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Site updated: 14 Jun 13