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Hanging on the High Seas: The Somers Affair, the Naval Academy, and Naval Reforms of the Mid-Nineteenth Century
On December 1, 1842, three men, including the son of the secretary of war, were hung for mutiny on the brig USS Somers. Three years later, the Naval School, which later became the Naval Academy, was founded. This paper explores the nature of the connection between the Somers affair, the professionalization of the Navy, and the naval reforms of the mid-nineteenth century, including the founding of the Naval Academy and the abolition of flogging in the Navy. Using a framework from William Leeman's The Long Road to Annapolis, it examines the history and historiography of the Naval Academy, the naval reforms affecting discipline and officer professional conduct, and the writings of prominent authors and thinkers of the time.
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