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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces an article in
Naval Institute Proceedings
Vol. 61 No. 10 (Oct. 1935), pp1568‑1572

The text is in the public domain,
the 1935 copyright not having been renewed in 1962 or 1963.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p1569  Secretary's Notes

The Cradle of the Navy   "Our trust," Pericles said, "is not in the services of material equipment, but in our good spirit for battle."​a In these days of attempts to limit navies by agreement and all the attendant discussions around this point one is very apt to lose sight of that most important fact that after all "men fight — not ships" and that given anywhere near equal forces the nation with the best leaders will win.

So far no attempt has been made to reach an agreement regarding this phase of naval preparedness for the simple reason that no means, short of actual war, have been found for measuring capabilities of leaders.

The Navy has always been "going to the dogs." It was going to the dogs when Bancroft founded the Naval Academy, it was going to the dogs after the Civil War when the largest fleet in the world was allowed to rot at its wharves, it was going to the dogs after the Washington conference when the greatest fleet in the making that the world has ever seen was scrapped, it is going to the dogs today according to so wise men and some not so wise.

The dogs have waited long and they are condemned to wait as long as the Naval Academy, the cradle of the Navy, continues to keep abreast of the times in its curriculum and ideas, continues to instill in its young students a love for its high traditions and a respect for the homely virtues, continues to pledge them to this solemn oath:

"I, . . . , having been appointed a midshipman in the United States Navy, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

Nearly all officers return to the Naval Academy at some time during their career, some as instructors of midshipmen, others on short visits. These officers are always gratified to see that there has been no slacking off in the training and discipline of their future shipmates, that the time honored customs are revered, that the academic side of the midshipmen's training is not stagnant but alive and up to date, that respect for their seniors and elders is now, as it always has been, characteristic of midshipmen, that the Academy stamps these midshipmen early in their careers with such a sense of loyalty, patriotism, and honor that peace-at‑any‑price pacifists, impractical internationalists, and soap‑box orators can never have converts among them.

The Nation can rest assured that these young gentlemen, who graduate and join the Fleet year after year, will, as good citizens, shoulder their responsibilities and do their part toward carrying on the glorious traditions of the United States Navy.

 p1570  The Midshipman   The United States Naval Academy exists for the purpose of training officers to fight the United States Fleet. It draws its material from all parts of the nation. There are very stringent moral, physical, and mental requirements but no questions regarding wealth, social position, or ancestry are asked. Once in the Academy, every man stands on his own feet.

The oath that each midshipman takes is very important. It means literally that the midshipman will devote his life to the service of his country. He knows that he can never amass any degree of wealth and that no matter how high he rises in this service, it will be the Service and not he as an individual that is of first concern.

As all midshipmen are being educated for the same purpose, they take the same course. This course is designed to fit the midshipman for his life work. He is given practical rather than theoretical instruction. No attempt is made to have him an expert in the many technical branches with which he must be familiar. When he graduates he has a ground work in all the technical subjects necessary to enable him to carry out his life's mission, "to fight the Fleet."

A naval officer is primarily a leader of men. He is ordered to many kinds of duty. These duties all involve leader­ship and the ability to get the best out of every man under his command. By example, by precept, and by actual practice during his years at the Academy, a midshipman learns as much as can be taught of the fundamentals of leader­ship. A knowledge, or a foundation upon which to build the necessary technical knowledge, is also necessary to properly handle the material under his care. The Naval Academy attempts to supply the foundations for leader­ship and technical knowledge, thus carrying out its purpose.

There are three elements that make this possible in the short space of four years. All midshipmen know what their life work is to be, the course is designed to accomplish a single purpose, and every midshipman has agreed to subordinate self to service.

To Our Contributors   This special edition of the Proceedings did not just happen. It is the result of work and cordial,whole-hearted co‑operation by a large number of individuals, nearly all of whom are members of the Naval Institute. In considering plans for the celebration of the Ninetieth Anniversary of the United States Naval Academy, the Superintendent and the committee he appointed to make plans for the celebration felt that it would be very desirable to have ready to sell at a nominal price to the expected visitors, a book or pamphlet that would give a complete and authentic history of the Naval Academy from the time of its founding to the present day; that should impart to the visitor that indefinable spirit and feeling that makes the Naval Academy what it is; and would also show just how the Naval Academy functions.

The Board of Control, feeling that all members would desire to own a publication of this kind, volunteered to devote the October issue to this purpose and to put on sale additional copies at the regular price of the Proceedings. The staff of the Proceedings then began the task of assembling the articles and pictures. The standard procedure regarding all articles was followed and in this issue our readers have the results.

The Board of Control desires to express to the following its appreciation for their whole-hearted co‑operation in the work of carrying out this mission: the authors of articles; the officers, too numerous to mention by name, of all departments and branches who have prepared historical sketches and have given invaluable aid to the authors and editorial staff; the Naval Academy Museum for information and for permission to  p1571 reproduce valuable and rare pictures; Assistant Professor R. J. Duval, Librarian, Mr. Louis H. Bolander, Assistant Librarian, and Mr. Oscar E. Cherry, senior file clerk in the Superintendent's Office, for their cheerful assistance in digging out data from archives and files; Mr. Peter H. Magruder, former Secretary of the Naval Academy, for his authoritative information regarding past days of the Naval Academy and for his permission to reproduce many pictures from his rare collection of old Annapolis and old Naval Academy prints and paintings; Chief Photographer J. H. Mihalovic, of the Department of Buildings and Grounds, who has made excellent reproductions of paintings and photographs for this issue; Warner Bros. Inc., Hayman Studio,White Studio, Lucky Bags of 1926, 1928, and 1935, and others for permission to reproduce one or more of their pictures pertaining to the Naval Academy; Midshipman J. E. Madison for the handsome design that appears on the front cover of the Naval Academy edition; Midshipman T. D. Davies for the crayon sketch of the "Ideal Midshipman" on page 1532; Trident Society of the Naval Academy for its permission to reproduce music from The Book of Navy Songs; Messrs. Peerenboom, Wiese, and Wensink, of our printers, the George Banta Publishing Company, for their constant interest and their success in making this October issue one of merit and excellence.

To Members and Prospective Members   The Naval Institute desires to build up the circulation of the Proceedings so that it will be entirely self-sustaining. As most members know, the Proceedings is usually in the red or on the border line, as shown by the Secretary's annual report. In 1932 it took a loss of $5,000; in 1933, one of $1,800; last year there was a small profit of $181. This year the Proceedings will just about break even despite this expensive October number. If we can double our member­ship, the sailing will be clear and a bigger and better Proceedings can be looked forward to each month. Many of our members have friends who would desire to become members and receive the Proceedings each month. Please nominate those that you feel would enjoy a member­ship in our organization. In case you desire to give a year's subscription to any of your friends, you can take advantage of our gift subscription rate of $3.50 per year.

To readers of this number who are not members but desire to receive the Proceedings each month, we invite you to member­ship and ask you to fill in the application on page VIII. The Naval Institute will then enter you on its mailing list and you can be assured of obtaining the Proceedings about the first of each month.

We hope that you have enjoyed this Naval Academy Number. Needless to say, it is more elaborate than our regular issues.

To Advertisers   This Naval Academy Number is made possible to a great extent by the fine support given us by our advertisers. To our regular advertisers, some of whom have been with us since continue early days of the Proceedings, and to others who have joined from time to time, we assure you that we are glad to have you in this number. To those advertisers who are appearing for the first time in this issue, we welcome you and hope, now that you have broken bread with us, you will continue to advertise regularly in the Proceedings. To all our advertisers, both "old‑timers" and "first-timers," we desire to tell you that in this October number we have given you something of a present. Your advertisement will be found both in the regular edition of 7,600 copies and also in the "special" Naval Academy edition of 5,000 copies. The rate that you paid is that for a single regular edition of 7,600 copies.

 p1572  Naval Academy Edition   In addition to the regular edition of 7,600 copies that go to our members and subscribers, the Naval Institute is printing 5,000 copies with a "special" Naval Academy cover, for sale at the Naval Academy before, on, and after the celebration of the Ninetieth Anniversary of the founding of the Academy. Possibly, many of our readers will desire copies of this Naval Academy edition for themselves or for their friends. For your convenience, there is an order blank on page XII which we ask you to fill in when ordering. The Naval Institute will mail the copies the same day the order is received.

Ninetieth Anniversary of Naval Academy   On October 10, 1935, the Naval Academy will celebrate the Ninetieth Anniversary of its founding. This date will be a holiday at the Naval Academy and a tentative program has been scheduled as follows:

10:00 A.M. to noon — Opening address by Superintendent and presentation of distinguished visitors, including descendants of those whose ancestors were identified with the founding of the Naval Academy and its early history.

Sham battle and infantry drill on Worden Field, followed by exercises in all forms of floating and flying craft at the Naval Academy.

Noon — Alumni luncheon at Officers' Club.

2:00 P.M. — Football game with University of Virginia. Between halves there will be an exhibition of football, old style.

Evening — Alumni dinner in the Mess Hall, Naval Academy, followed by the Anniversary Ball.

Two interesting and informative articles in this issue will be "Fifteen Years of Naval Development," by Captain Jonas H. Ingram, U. S. Navy, and "A Forecast of World Navies," by Dr. Oscar Parkes, for sixteen years editor of the world-famed publication Jane's Fighting Ships. There will be other articles on aviation and radio in the U. S. Navy, and as usual the issue will contain a generous amount of other scientific material.

Another important feature will be a dramatized map of the United States showing the contribution which each of the 48 states makes toward the construction of a typical naval vessel. This map, with its appended notes, will show that practically every state supplies thousands of dollars' worth of material or equipment for ships that are built, thus aiding state industries.

Thayer's Note:

a If the tag appeals to you and you are thinking of using it in further writing or a presentation, beware. It does not sound like Pericles to me, and neither the quote in any form, nor even the sentiment of it, is found in Plutarch's Life of Pericles, nor in Diodorus Siculus, the principal sources for the Athenian's life. The tag seems to come from a naval writer a few years before these notes were written: Command and Discipline, an anthology of quotations compiled by Vice-Admiral Sir Herbert W. Richmond (London, 1927), where it is found on p33. Where Adm. Richmond got it from, I don't know.

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