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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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Davis, Charles Henry (16 January 1807–18 February 1877), naval officer and hydrographer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Daniel Davis, solicitor general of Massachusetts, and Lois Freeman, the sister of James Freeman, the first Unitarian minister in New England. Davis entered Harvard College in 1821 but left two years later to become a midshipman and did not complete his degree until 1841. From 1824 to 1840 Davis served in the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the West Indies, the South Atlantic, and the Pacific; made warm friends, including ...

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Du Pont, Samuel Francis (27 September 1803–23 June 1865), naval officer, was born at “Goodstay,” Bergen Point (now Bayonne), New Jersey, the son of Victor Marie du Pont, an importer who had been consul of France in Charleston, and Gabrielle Joséphine de La Fite de Pelleport. He was the only grandson of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours to spell his name with a capital ...

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Elliott, Jesse Duncan (14 July 1782–10 December 1845), naval officer, was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, the son of Robert Elliott, a soldier, and Ann (maiden name unknown). When his father was killed during General Anthony Wayne’s Indian campaign of 1794, Elliott was subsequently raised and educated in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He had contemplated a legal career, but on 2 April 1804 he joined the navy with a midshipman’s warrant. His first assignment was aboard the frigate ...

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Farragut, David Glasgow (05 July 1801–14 August 1870), first admiral of the United States, was born James Glasgow Farragut at Campbell’s Station, a few miles southwest of Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of George Farragut, a ferryboat operator, and Elizabeth Shine. Appointed a sailing master in the U.S. Navy in 1807, the father moved his family to New Orleans where George became close friends with David Porter, Sr. When Porter became fatally ill, Elizabeth Farragut nursed him until she died of yellow fever on 22 June 1808. After helping George Farragut retire to a plantation on the Pascagoula River near Mississippi Sound, ...

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Page, Thomas Jefferson (04 January 1808–26 October 1899), naval officer and explorer, was born in Shelly, Gloucester County, Virginia, the son of Mann Page, a plantation owner, and Elizabeth Nelson. Page’s varied and interesting career began in 1827 when he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy (aboard a ship in New York) by President ...

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Perry, Matthew Calbraith (10 April 1794–04 March 1858), naval officer, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of Christopher Raymond Perry and Sarah Wallace Alexander. His father sailed on naval vessels and privateers during the Revolutionary War and later became a successful captain of merchant ships. Calbraith, as he was known to family and friends, entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in 1809, before his fifteenth birthday. His first ship was the USS ...

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Perry, Oliver Hazard (23 August 1785–23 August 1819), naval officer, was born near South Kingston, Rhode Island, the son of Christopher Raymond Perry, a and Sarah Wallace Alexander. Of prominent Rhode Island lineage, he and his younger brother, Matthew C. Perry, were both significant to American naval history. Oliver Hazard Perry received an educational foundation from his mother and learned maritime sciences from schoolmasters in Newport. The Navy Department appointed Perry a midshipman on 7 April 1799 and assigned him to his father’s frigate, ...

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Shubrick, William Branford (31 October 1790–27 May 1874), naval officer, was born at Belvedere Plantation, Bull Island, South Carolina, the son of Thomas Shubrick and Mary Branford, planters. His father had been a colonel in the Continental army during the American Revolution, serving with Generals ...

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Wilkes, Charles (03 April 1798–08 February 1877), naval officer and explorer, was born in New York City, the son of John de Ponthieu Wilkes, a banker, and Mary Seton. He was educated in private schools and with tutors, concentrating on mathematics, scientific subjects, surveying, and navigation, though he studied languages and drawing as well. Determined to go to sea but at first denied a naval commission, Wilkes made three voyages as a merchant seaman between 1815 and 1818. He received his appointment as a midshipman in the U.S. Navy on 1 January 1818. Promotion to lieutenant came two days after his marriage to Jane Jeffrey Renwick on 26 April 1826. The couple had four children. On 12 March 1833 he reported for duty as head of the navy’s Depot of Charts and Instruments. In August 1836 Wilkes traveled to England and France to obtain equipment, books, and maps for the recently authorized exploring expedition to the Pacific Ocean. He hoped to play a significant role in the expedition as he had “studied with this view ever since the first Expedition was talked of” ( ...