Lt. Comdr. Alexander Slidell MacKenzie, born 24 January 1842 in New York, was appointed midshipman 29 September 1855. Serving in Hartford on the China station at the outbreak of the Civil War, he returned to the United States and joined Kineo, in which he served during Farragut’s daring dash past Forts Jackson and St. Philip on the lower Mississippi to capture New Orleans in 1862. During 1863 and 1864 he participated in the blockade of Charleston and the attacks on Fort Sumter and Morris Island. After the end of the war, he returned to the Far East in Hartford, in which he served until 13 June 1867, when he was killed on Formosa while leading a reprisal attack against those responsible for the deaths of the entire crew of the American bark Rover.
(Torpedo Boat #17: dp. 65; l. 101'6"; b. 12'9"; dr. 4'3" (mean); s. 20.1 k.; cpl. 14; a. 1 1‑pdr., 2 18" tt.; cl., MacKenzie)
The first MacKenzie, Torpedo Boat No. 17, was laid down by Charles Hillman Ship & Engine Building Co., Philadelphia, Pa., 15 April 1897; launched 19 February 1898; sponsored by Master Charles Hillman; and commissioned 1 May 1899, Lt. L. H. Chandler in command.
Departing League Island 28 May 1899, MacKenzie sailed north to Newport. Arriving on the 31st, she decommissioned and joined other torpedo boats, such as DuPont and Winslow, in occasional employment in experimental and training duties. Recommissioned 7 November 1902, she steamed to Norfolk where she joined the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla on the 14th. Serving with that flotilla for the greater part of the next 10 years, she was occasionally used as a training ship at the Naval Academy, and in 1908 operated off the southeastern seaboard.
She decommissioned at Charleston, 15 April 1912, and departed the next day for Florida. She arrived at Key West 19 April and on 7 May was turned over to the Florida Naval Militia, in which she served until returned to the Navy in November 1914. She cruised off southern Florida for the next year, cruising to Havana in October 1915. In 1916, the torpedo boat was designated as a target ship and 10 March 1916 her name was struck from the Navy list.