Benjamin Stoddert (1751-1813)
1st Secretary of the Navy, 1 May 1798 - 31 March 1801
Benjamin Stoddert was born in Charles County, Maryland, in 1751. He served in the Pennsylvania cavalry and on the Board of War during the American War of Independence. After the war, he became a merchant at Georgetown, Maryland, a town that later became part of the District of Columbia, and during the 1790s was active in obtaining land for the use of the new Federal Government.
In May 1798, Benjamin Stoddert was nominated by President John Adams to become the Nation's first Secretary of the Navy. In that post, he guided the Navy through the undeclared war with France and achieved a significant expansion in the United States' naval strength. He left office in March 1801 to return to commercial life. Benjamin Stoddert died on 13 December 1813.
Two Navy ships have been named in honor of Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert: USS Stoddert (DD-302), 1920-1935, and USS Benjamin Stoddert (DDG-22), 1964-1991.
This page features our only image of Benjamin Stoddert.
Click the photograph for a larger image.
The following image shows the official portrait of Secretary Stoddert in use as a decoration in the office of the Secretary of the Navy:
Photo #: 80-G-K-13938 (Color)
Secretary of the Navy's Office, Pentagon Building, Arlington, Virginia
View of the office's left wall, 6 January 1953, while Dan A. Kimball was Secretary of the Navy.
Hanging on the wall are the official Secretary of the Navy portraits of James Forrestal (left) and Benjamin Stoddert (right) and a painting of the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection.
Online Image: 86KB; 740 x 610
Reproductions may be available through the National Archives
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