Isaac Chauncey was born in Black Rock, Connecticut, on 20 February 1772. He entered the merchant marine as a young man and received his first command while only nineteen years of age. In 1799, Chauncey was appointed a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and served at sea during the Quasi-War with France. In 1802, he went to the Mediterranean for operations against the Barbary powers, serving with distinction over the next two years. During some of this time, he commanded the frigate John Adams. Promoted to the rank of Captain in 1806, he was furloughed to take command of the merchant ship Beaver on a voyage to China, and there again demonstrated his bravery in the face of a British warship's efforts to examine his crew for possible impressment.
In 1807, after returning to the United States and resuming his Naval service, Captain Chauncey took command of the Navy Yard at Brooklyn, New York. When war began with Great Britain in mid-1812, he was sent to the Great Lakes to expand and command U.S. Naval forces there. Chauncey personally superintended the construction of a fleet on Lake Ontario and led it in action against the British on several occasions, among them an amphibious operation that captured York (later Toronto), Ontario, in April 1813. He subseqently engaged in an extensive shipbuilding program in order to maintain the American position on the Lake.
After the war ended early in 1815, Chauncey was placed in charge of the Portsmouth Navy Yard, at Kittery, Maine. In 1816-1818 he commanded the Mediterranean Squadron. Service in the Nation's Capital on the Board of Navy Commissioners during 1821-1824 was followed by another tour as Commandant of the New York Navy Yard. He returned to the Board of Navy Commissioners in 1833 and became its President in 1837. Commodore Isaac Chauncey died at Washington, D.C., on 27 January 1840.
Three U.S. Navy ships have been named in honor of Commodore Chauncey, including: USS Chauncey (Destroyer # 3), 1902-1917; USS Chauncey (Destroyer # 296), 1920-1923; and USS Chauncey (DD-667), 1943-1974.
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