My students touring the United States Naval Academy this past May were fascinated by this!
The Legend of Tecumseh
The photo in the original Wordless Wednesday posting is of the bust of Tecumseh painted to look like Waldo of the Where's Waldo? books. This bust is on a high pedestal at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. I have added photos of the unpainted Tecumseh as well as the latest one (taken by me - click it to see more detail) during Commissioning Week which depicts Tecumseh as a commissioned officer.
Here's the Scuttlebutt:
Midshipmen will make offerings of pennies to Tecumseh, the large bronze reproduction of the figurehead of the USS Delaware that sits in front of Bancroft Hall, to bring them luck on their final examinations. Chinese majors were known to have burned incense in front of Tecumseh. (The figurehead was actually supposed to portray Tamanend, a village sachem of the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) people who signed a famous treaty with William Penn, but Midshipmen remaned him for the better-known Tecumseh. There actually was a USS Tecumseh but it had no figurehead as it was a single-turret monitor; it's now at the bottom of Mobile Bay, just off Fort Morgan.
Tecumseh is revered as the god of 2.0, which is the passing grade for the Academy. He has become an idol which receives 'prayers' and offerings of pennies thrown by loyal midshipmen who also render a left-handed salute for good luck in exams and athletic events. He is in 'warpaint' for Parents' Weekend in August, Homecoming, before Army/Navy contests, and for Commissioning Week (see above for 2007).
More Trivia and Connections to other Tour Sites:
Tamanend is the same as Tammany, of New York's Tammany Hall fame. A statue of him stands on Gettysburg Battlefield honoring New York's 42nd. The Delaware were the native Americans who entered into the longest unbroken treaty with William Penn in 1682; Tamenend was of that early period.
Touring the Academy
The United States Naval Academy offers curriculum-based tours for school groups and there are facilities for meals which would include picnic sandwiches and a cafeteria. On a recent visit with a Lutheran school, we opted to tour the inside of the Jewish Chapel of the new Commodore Uriah Levy Center rather than the swimming pool.The architecture is stunning and gave the students the opportunity to learn more about Commodore Levy, the contributions of Jews in the Navy, Judaism. Bancroft Hall (the largest dormitory is where one can see an actual room. Additionally the chapel and crypt of John Paul Jones are not to be missed. In season one of the most impressive sights is the noonday formation when all line up before going to lunch.
There are also private tour companies that add the Naval Academy to the curriculum-based historic tours of Annapolis which would include the only Statehouse to serve as an US Capitol.
Naval Academy Tours – 410-293-8687 (Website is currently under construction 6/13/07)
Capital City Colonials – Costumed Guides/Historic Interpreters Certified by the USNA
Three Centuries/Watermark – Costumed Guides/Historic Interpreters Certified by the USNA
To learn more about the Naval Academy's traditions and urban legends, please click here.