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Monday, October 24, 2016

Fort Schuyler Alumni Preserve Maritime Education

January 2, 2014

In 1912, following several financially difficult years for the New York Nautical School, America’s first Maritime Academy, founded 1874, the New York City Board of Education, the school's steward since its inception, had had enough and decided to throw in the towel. The Board of Education moved to petition the New York State Government for permission to abandon its unusual school and return the training ship, the auxiliary sailing gunboat, USS Newport, to the Navy.

Consequently, at the beginning of 1913, the school’s Alumni Association, which had been in existence for ten years, stepped in. A coalition of interests supporting the school was assembled by the Alumni Association. The Governor of New York State at the time, William Sulzer, was a former Congressman who had supported the Maritime industry while in Congress.

Realizing that the State of New York had a much larger population from which to draw recruits and far greater financial resources than the City of New York, the Alumni Association went about orchestrating a state takeover of the school. The Governor lent his support to this effort.

Meeting with, and gaining the support of the then Mayor of New York, the Alumni Association's Board of Directors was able to have action stopped on the Board of Education-sponsored state bill, and have a new version issued.

The Alumni Association's Board of Directors drafted what became Chapter 322 of the Laws of 1913, establishing the New York State Nautical School. This bill was introduced into the legislature in the Spring of 1913 and was enacted on April 17, 1913.

Subsequently, between May and July of 1913, agreement was reached between the Board of Education, the Governor's Office, and the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, regarding details of the transfer of the operation of the school and USS Newport from New York City to New York State.

And on November 1, 1913, in an elaborate shipboard ceremony celebrated at a Manhattan pier, which was reported in the popular press throughout New York City and New York State, as well as the national maritime trade press of the day, the New York Nautical School became the New York State Nautical School, the direct predecessor of today’s SUNY Maritime College, thus preserving the school as a national asset for future generations.

The Fort Schuyler Maritime Alumni Association, Inc., is an organization of graduates of SUNY Maritime College.

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