Return to Naval Historical Center home page. Return to Online Library listing

WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Online Library of Selected Images:

Captain Robert F. Stockton, USN (1795-1866)

Robert Field Stockton was born in Princeton, New Jersey, on 20 August 1795. He was appointed a Midshipman in the U.S. Navy at the age of sixteen, serving at sea and ashore during the War of 1812. After that conflict, Lieutenant Stockton was assigned to ships operating in the Mediterranean, in the Caribbean and off the coast of West Africa. While on the latter station, he helped negotiate a treaty that led to the founding of the state of Liberia. During the later 1820s and into the 1830s, he primarily devoted his attention to business affairs in New Jersey.

In 1838, Stockton resumed active Naval service as a Captain. He served in the European area, but took leave in 1840 to undertake political work. Offered the post of Secretary of the Navy by President John Tyler in 1841, he declined the offer, but worked successfully to gain support for the construction of an advanced steam warship with a battery of very heavy guns. This ship became USS Princeton (1843-1849), the Navy's first screw-propelled steamer, whose construction he oversaw and which he commanded when she was completed in 1843. Captain Stockton was absolved of responsibility for the February 1844 explosion of a gun on board the ship that killed two cabinet officers and several others. With the temporary title of Commodore, Stockton commanded Naval forces in the Eastern Pacific, and was instrumental in taking California from Mexico in 1846-47.

Captain Stockton resigned from the Navy in May 1850 and returned to business and political pursuits. He served as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey in 1851-53, during which time he sponsored a bill to abolish flogging as a Navy punishment. After leaving the Senate, Stockton remained active in business and politics. In 1861 he was a delegate to the unsuccessful conference that attempted to settle the secession crisis. In 1863, he was appointed to command the New Jersey militia when the Confederate Army invaded Pennsylvania. Captain Robert F. Stockton died at Princeton on 7 October 1866.

Four U.S. Navy ships have been named in honor of Robert F. Stockton: USS Stockton (Torpedo Boat # 32), 1901-1916; USS Stockton (Destroyer # 73), 1917-1940; USS Stockton (DD-504), cancelled in 1941 before construction began; and USS Stockton (DD-646), 1943-1973.

This page features all our views of Captain Robert F. Stockton.

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the "Online Library's" digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Photo #: NH 63721

Captain Robert Field Stockton, USN

Engraved portrait by H.B. Hall, from a painting on ivory by Newton, London, 1840. Published by Derby & Jackson, 119 Nassau Street, New York.
It features a facsimile of Stockton's signature below the image.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 69KB; 490 x 765 pixels

Photo #: NH 44394

Commodore Robert F. Stockton, USN

Halftone reproduction of a 19th Century engraving, printed by Carruth & Carruth, Oakland, California, for the Sloat Memorial Association of Oakland. The original engraving was based on a painting on ivory owned by Commodore Stockton's son, the Hon. John P. Stockton.
Stockton relieved Commodore John D. Sloat as commander of the Pacific Squadron in July 1847.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 177KB; 525 x 765 pixels

Photo #: NH 58906-KN (Color)

"Awful Explosion of the 'Peace-Maker' on board the U.S. Steam Frigate Princeton, on Wednesday, 28th Feby. 1844"

Colored lithograph, published by N. Currier, New York, 1844.
It depicts the explosion of a heavy gun on board USS Princeton, in the Potomac River, which killed or mortally wounded seven and injured about twenty people. Some of those present are identified below the image, including (from left): Mr. Wilkins; Mr. Perrine; Lieutenant Hunt; Representative Virgil Maxcy, of Maryland; Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur; Captain Beverly Kennon, Chief of the Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repair; Thomas Gilmer, Secretary of the Navy; Captain Robert F. Stockton; Sailors; Senator Phelps and Senator Thomas Hart Benton. Maxcy, Upshur, Kennon and Gilmer were among those killed. Stockton and Benton were among the injured.

Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 122KB; 740 x 545 pixels


If you want higher resolution reproductions than the "Online Library's" digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Return to Naval Historical Center home page.

Page made 29 May 2000
Links added 7 October 2004