Maury Hall, named for a pioneering oceanographer and Confederate lobbyist. Photo: USNA

3 Naval Academy Name Changes Recommended Due to Confederate Ties

A federal report just released reveals recommendations to rename two buildings and one street at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis that are named for individuals with Confederate ties.

An eight-person committee that includes retired high-ranking military leaders, lawmakers, and civilians began considering in March 2021 whether the Naval Academy and its fellow military academy, West Point, had any “Confederacy-affiliated assets” that required renaming.

After more than a year of consideration, which included meeting with senior USNA leaders, midshipmen and newly commissioned officers and touring the campus, the federal task force found only three places that warranted renaming.

The first two are Buchanan House, the USNA Superintendent’s quarters, and the 510-foot road adjacent to it, both of which are named for Adm. Franklin Buchanan. Buchanan was a longtime sailor whose career spanned 45 years before the Civil War, serving as an officer in the Mexican-American War, a steamboat commander in Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition to open Japan’s ports to American ships, and the first USNA Superintendent.

Shortly after the start of the Civil War, Buchanan joined the Confederacy where he rose to the rank of admiral and commanded the CSS Virginia, according to the federal task force report. “Under his command in several naval battles, his efforts killed hundreds of U.S. Navy sailors,” the report notes.

The third asset targeted is Maury Hall, USNA’s Engineering Building, named for Cmdr. Matthew F. Maury. Maury was known as one of the nation’s first and most prominent oceanographers and climatologists, serving in the U.S. Navy for more than 30 years before the Civil War began.

Despite these contributions, the federal committee finds that Maury, “envisioned a series
of vast American territories in Central and South America, where enslaved humans would produce commodity crops like cotton, rubber and sugar.”

Maury fought for those goals during the Civil War, serving as a political lobbyist in Europe, buying ships for the Confederate Navy and lobbying foreign nations to recognize the Confederacy.

The task force notes that the cost of renaming Buchanan House, Buchanan Road and Maury Hall is estimated at $27,000.

The task force recommended a total of 12 assets be renamed at the United States Military Academy at West Point, five of which were named for Gen. Robert E. Lee. Total cost for the recommended renaming there is nearly $425,000.

What’s next for the renaming process in Annapolis? The commission says it “believes USNA is well-postured to start the naming, modification, relocation or removal of” the assets under the Naval Academy’s long-standing memorialization process and recommends the Secretary of Defense authorize the naming process to begin.

To read the full report on both service academies, click here.

-Meg Walburn Viviano