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.