The Navy Department Library was established by President Adams on 31 March 1800. On that date he wrote to the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddart, requesting the gathering MCMLXXXII
"? of all the best writing in Dutch, Spanish, French, and especially in English upon the theory and practice of naval architecture, navigation, gunnery, hydraulics, hydrostatics, and all branches of mathematics subservient to the profession of the sea. The lives of all the admirals: English, French, Dutch, or any other nation, who have distinguished themselves by the boldness and success of their navigation, or their gallantry and skill in naval combats."
In accordance with the President's request, some 200 volumes were assembled in the next few years. From this modest beginning, through the vision of a long succession of dedicated librarians and generous benefactors, the library has developed one of the world's richest and most comprehensive collections of naval and maritime literature.