Maritime College is the oldest institution of its kind in the United States. Due in part to the Civil War, there was a decline in the American maritime industry and a growing concern about the professionalism of its officers. As a result, the New York Chamber of Commerce and maritime interests of the port of New York lobbied the state legislature to create a professional nautical school for the city. This was done in 1873, but the school lacked a ship. The chamber then teamed up with the noted naval education reformer and modernizer, Stephen B. Luce. Luce led the effort, and through his efforts an act was passed by Congress in 1874 that enabled individual states to request from the Navy retired or obsolete vessels to train seamen. The state of New York then appealed to the Navy for a training vessel. On December 14, 1874, the USS St. Mary's arrived in New York harbor and became the home of the longest running nautical school in the United States.