"After American independence, patriots believed that standing armies and professional navies were instruments of royal tyranny and had no place in the new republic. George Washington, "Cincinnatus of the West," set the model, taking up arms to defend his country and then returning to the plow when the threat was past. Militias were to suffice for the new republic's defense.
Barbary pirates, conflict with France and the War of 1812 brought the realization that, indeed, an army and navy were needed, but Thomas Jefferson did not trust their officer corps because they were largely in sympathy with his political enemy Alexander Hamilton. This fear helped motivate Jefferson to establish the military academy at West Point in 1802 to inculcate republican values. Naval officers, while equally pro-federalist, did not present as great a threat as their Army counterparts for they were usually away at sea. Thus, he saw much less need for a naval academy.
So for the first half-century of the Navy's existence, its officers studied their profession in "the school of the ship." Captains took responsibility for the professional and moral training of young midshipmen, requiring them to take classroom instruction at sea from chaplains or civilian schoolmasters, who assigned extensive reading in the classics, science, philosophy and history...
If one were starting from scratch without historical anxieties and political pressures, it is unlikely that the current Naval Academy would be the outcome. There is an inherent conflict between a liberal education based on skeptical inquiry and military indoctrination requiring unquestioning obedience. Combining the two educational cultures tends to create a pressure chamber with too much to do and no time to think and absorb."
I know this is not a typical post but the last part about the "inherent conflict between a liberal education based on skeptical inquiry and military indoctrination requiring unquestioning obedience" really peaked my interest. Does it bother anyone else that at least some people are starting to doubt the merits of a liberal education because it undermines a culture of unquestioning obedience? This sounds like Sparta not Athens and expresses an attitude that would have been anathema at our founding.