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Alden, James (31 March 1810–06 February 1877), naval officer, was born in Portland, Maine (then part of Massachusetts), the son of James Alden, a ship owner, and Elizabeth Tate. Nothing is known of his early life or education, and no information is available about his marriage or children, if any....

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Allen, William Henry (21 October 1784–18 August 1813), U.S. naval officer and hero of the War of 1812, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of militia general William Allen, a veteran of the Revolution, and Sarah Jones, sister of William Jones, future governor of Rhode Island. William Henry’s parents were prosperous members of Providence society and intended for him to follow a civilian career. His early education provided him with a good grounding in penmanship and mathematics (the latter proved useful in his naval career) and also with considerable skill as an artist. He made very competent sketches in his letters and the blank pages of his journals and did pen and ink portraits of his family. His only surviving likeness, a profile portrait, is probably based on a sketch done by Allen himself....

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Bainbridge, William (07 May 1774–27 June 1833), naval officer, was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the son of Absalom Bainbridge, a physician, and Mary Taylor. His parents and grandparents sided with the king’s forces in the revolutionary war, and Dr. Bainbridge served as surgeon to a Loyalist regiment. This resulted in the confiscation of the family property and probably affected William Bainbridge’s view of himself: he was both conservative in politics and touchy—suspicious that, in the eyes of others, his family background cast a shadow on his own loyalty....

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Barron, James (1769–21 April 1851), naval officer, was born in Virginia, the younger of two naval sons of James Barron, a merchant captain and officer of the Virginia navy in the Revolution, and Jane Cowper. The older son, Samuel Barron, also commanded in the U.S. Navy and was senior to James. James Barron began his sea service before the age of twelve on board his father’s ship in the Virginia service. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in 1798, presumably having sailed in merchant vessels in the intervening years, since he would be known throughout the service for his masterful seamanship. In 1790 he married Elisabeth Mosely Armistead, another Virginian; the Barrons’ first child, Jane, was born in 1791....

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Biddle, James (18 February 1783–01 October 1848), naval officer, was born north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Biddle, an affluent mercantile entrepreneur and politician, and Hannah Shepard. Biddle attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he developed a lifelong love of literature. He and his younger brother, Edward, received their midshipmen’s warrants on 14 February 1800 and joined the frigate ...

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Blakeley, Johnston ( October 1781– October 1814), naval officer, was born near the village of Seaford, County Down, Ireland, the son of John Blakeley, a merchant. (His mother’s name is unknown.) In 1783 the Blakeley family emigrated to the United States, settling in Wilmington, North Carolina. Johnston’s mother and his only sibling, a brother, died after their arrival in Wilmington. In 1797 he enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study law. The death of his father in October 1797 and the destruction by fire in 1798 of the properties his father had bequeathed him prompted Blakeley to leave school and seek a career in the U.S. Navy....

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Bridge, Horatio (08 April 1806–20 March 1893), naval officer and author, was born in Augusta, Maine, the son of James Bridge, a judge and financier, and Hannah North. He attended local schools in Augusta before entering Hallowell Academy and then Bowdoin College, from which he graduated in 1825. At Bowdoin, Bridge was a classmate of ...

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Buchanan, Franklin (13 September 1800–11 May 1874), U.S. and Confederate naval officer, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of George Buchanan, a prominent doctor and abolitionist, and Laetitia McKean. He entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in 1815, a few months after the end of the War of 1812, and was ordered to the new frigate ...

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Franklin Buchanan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1428).

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Burrows, William W. (06 October 1785–05 September 1813), naval officer, was born in Kensington, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, the son of W. W. Burrows, a former commandant of the marine corps. William received an early education based on the classics and modern languages, especially German. He displayed a talent for art, frequently drawing naval vessels. His father, upon seeing this interest in the sea, arranged for his son to be instructed in various aspects of the navy. After William made satisfactory progress in this field, his father procured an appointment for him as a midshipman in the U.S. Navy. On 10 November 1799 William joined the crew of the 24-gun ...