The Institute, said to have been conceived by Civil War veteran and future Naval Academy Superintendent Commodore Foxhall Parker, convened its first meeting on Thursday, 9 October 1873, more than 11 years after novel steam-powered ironclads rendered wooden sailing ships obsolete. A group of 15 naval officers assembled by Lieutenant Charles Belknap met that evening in the Academy’s Department of Physics and Chemistry building, literally on the banks of the Severn River on the outskirts of Annapolis, within sight of Maryland’s wooden Capitol dome.
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