The physicist and astronomer Dominique Francois Jean Arago, was born on 26 February 1786 in Estagel, France. He first proposed the wave theory of light and measured air's index of refraction of light. He discovered the polarization of light by quartz crystals. He also made contributions to man's understanding of electricity and of the planets and stars before dying in Paris on 2 October 1853.
Early in the Civil War, the Coast Survey schooner Arago was ordered to report to Flag Officer Samuel F. Du Pont to assist him by conducting surveys and providing him with oceanographic data of the Southern coast for guidance in blockade duty and amphibious operations. She departed Eastport, Maine, on 15 October 1861 and proceeded to the New York Navy Yard where she received weapons of unrecorded size and number to enable her to defend herself during her perilous work.
The schooner then joined the expedition destined to capture Port Royal, S.C. The information that she and Vixen obtained was invaluable to Du Pont during that successful operation which provided the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron with its most important base for the remaining years of the conflict.
However, few records containing details of the schooner's operations have survived. We do know that she continued to serve the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron into February 1863. Presumably, shortly thereafter, she resumed operations under the orders of the Coast Survey.