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Soley, James R.

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(1850-1911). Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1890-1893

James R. Soley (1850-1911) --

Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 18 July 1890 - 19 March 1893


James Russell Soley was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 1 October 1850. He received his higher education at Harvard College, graduating in 1870, and later studied Law at Columbian University in the District of Columbia. In 1870, Soley was appointed an Assistant Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy, ultimately attaining a full professorship with the relative rank of Commander. He was head of the Academy's Department of History and International Law during much of his time at that institution.


In 1882, Professor Soley became Superintendent of the Navy Department's Office of Naval War Records, where he was responsible for work that led to the publication of the multi-volume "Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion". He also authored many other books and articles and lectured extensively on history and international law.


Resigning his commission in July 1890, Soley became Assistant Secretary of the Navy. During his tenure, he championed battleship construction, the Naval Militia and a variety of other new methods and reforms. Assistant Secretary Soley returned to private life in March 1893 and thereafter resided in New York City, where he practiced law. In 1899, Soley was counsel for Venezuela during the arbitration of a boundary dispute between that nation and Great Britain. James R. Soley died in New York on 11 September 1911.


USS Soley (DD-707), 1944-1970, was named in honor of James R. Soley.