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John A. Dahlgren. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1862).

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Dahlgren, John Adolphus Bernard (13 November 1809–12 July 1870), naval officer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Bernard Ulric Dahlgren, a merchant and diplomat, and Martha Rowan. Dahlgren received his early education at a Quaker school in Philadelphia. Because of his father’s position as Swedish consul, the Dahlgrens were a well recognized and respected family. When the elder Dahlgren died suddenly in 1824, the family was left in financial difficulty. Though initially denied entrance, thanks to family connections in February 1826 Dahlgren was granted an appointment as a midshipman in the U.S. Navy. His first assignment was to the frigate ...

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Davison, Gregory Caldwell (12 August 1871–07 May 1935), naval officer and inventor, was born in Jefferson City, Missouri, the son of Alexander Caldwell Davison, a physician, and Sarah Pelot Eppes. In 1888 he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and graduated with the class of 1892....

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Fiske, John (11 April 1744–28 September 1797), naval officer and merchant seaman, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of the Reverend Samuel Fiske, a Christian minister, and Anna Gerrish. Besides the educational instruction he received from his father, Fiske attended local schools. At an early age, he determined to make his living as a sailor, and by the time he was twenty-one he commanded a brigantine in trade with Spanish ports. In 1766 he married Lydia Phippen, with whom he had a large family. An outgoing, garrulous man, he was appreciated by those who were employed by him because of his handsome largesse and his congenial spirit as a master....

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Fox, Gustavus Vasa (13 June 1821–29 October 1883), naval officer, assistant secretary of the navy, and business executive, was born in Saugus, Massachusetts, the son of Jesse Fox, a physician, inventor, and manufacturer, and Olivia Flint. Growing up in Lowell, Fox developed an “unconquerable desire” (Jesse Fox to ...

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Tracy, Nathaniel (11 August 1751–20 September 1796), merchant and revolutionary privateer, was born in Newbury (later Newburyport), Massachusetts, the son of Captain Patrick Tracy, who emigrated from County Wexford, Ireland, and Hannah Gookin. The elder Tracy became a wealthy merchant and sea captain. After attending the Boston Latin School and receiving his B.A. in 1769 and M.A. in 1772 from Harvard College, Nathaniel followed in his father’s footsteps. In 1774 he went into business with his brother John and Harvard classmate John Jackson of Boston, who had married his sister Hannah. In 1775 Tracy married Mary Lee, the daughter of Colonel Jeremiah Lee of Marblehead, thus uniting the leading families of two maritime communities. They had eleven children....