Establishment of the Department of the Navy, 30 April 1798

This act established the Department of the Navy as a separate cabinet department. Previously, naval matters were under the cognizance of the War Department.


AN ACT (Chapter 35, Vol. I, page 553) to establish an executive department to be denominated the department of the navy.

SEC. 1. Be it enacted, &c., That there shall be an Executive Department under the denomination of the Department of the Navy, the chief officer of which shall he called the Secretary of the Navy, whose duty it shall be to execute such orders as he shall receive from the President of the United States, relative to the procurement of naval stores and materials, and the construction, armament, equipment, and employment of vessels of war, as well as all other matters connected with the naval establishment of the United States.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That a principal clerk, and such other clerks as he shall think necessary, shall be appointed by the Secretary of the Navy, who shall be employed in such manner as he shall deem most expedient. In case of vacancy in the office of the Secretary, by removal or otherwise, it shall be the duty of the principal clerk to take the charge and custody of all the books, records, and documents of the said office.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of the Navy be, and he is hereby, authorized and empowered, immediately after he shall be appointed, and shall enter upon the duties of his office, to take possession of all the records, books, and documents, and all other matters and things appertaining to this department, which are now deposited in the office of the Secretary of War.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That there shall be allowed to the Secretary of the Navy an annual salary of three thousand dollars, payable quarter yearly at the Treasury of the United States; and the respective clerks in the office of the said department shall receive the same compensation, and be subject to the same regulations, as are provided by an act, supplemental to the act establishing the Treasury Department, and for a further compensation to certain officers in the offices of the other executive departments.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That so much of an act, Entitled "An act to establish an executive department, to be denominated the department of war,'' as vests any of the powers contemplated by the provisions of this act in the Secretary for the Department of War, shall be repealed, from and after the period when the Secretary of the Navy shall enter on the duties of his office.

Approved, April 30, 1798.