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The original wooden image was sent to the Naval Academy in 1866 after being salvaged from the wreck of the old ship of the line "Delaware," which had been sunk at Norfolk during the Civil War to prevent her from falling into Confederate hands. The builders of the "Delaware" intended the figurehead to portray Tamanend, the great chief of the Delawares, a lover of peace and friend of William Penn. But to the midshipmen of the period, there was nothing in the name of Tamanend to strike the imagination.
The effigy was also known by various other names -- Powhatan, King Phillip, and finally Tecumseh -- a great warrior and thus heroic and appropriate to the midshipmen.
For 40 years, the wooden figurehead kept its stern vigil in the Yard at Annapolis until the winds, sun and rain began to take their toll. In 1906 a face-lift with the aid of cement, putty and paint temporarily removed the signs of age. When the ravages of the weather again threatened, the Class of 1891 raised a fund to immortalize the old fellow in bronze. The delicate task was accomplished at the U.S. Naval Gun Factory.
To ensure that the bronze figure would lose none of the potent power with which the midshipmen had endowed the old figurehead, the wooden "brains" and "heart" of the ancient Indian were transferred to the bronze statue.
In the spring of 1930, the statue, mounted on a pedestal of Vermont marble adorned with the Naval Academy seal, was erected on its present site from which the grim old warrior gazes eternally toward the main entrance of Bancroft Hall, the midshipman dormitory.
Tecumseh has become not only the "God of 2.0" -- the passing grade point average at the academy -- but also the idol to whom loyal midshipmen give prayers and sacrificial offerings of pennies. Midshipmen offer a left-handed salute in tribute to Tecumseh, and they toss pennies his way for good luck in exams and athletic contests.
Each year, Tecumseh is decked out in a coat of "war paint" for Parents' Weekend in August, Homecoming in the fall, before Army-Navy contests and for Commissioning Week.