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Thompson, Smith

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(1768-1843). Secretary of the Navy, 1819-1823)

Smith Thompson (1768-1843) --

6th Secretary of the Navy, 1 January 1819 - 31 August 1823


Smith Thompson was born in Dutchess County, New York, on 17 January 1768. He undertook a legal apprenticeship that ended in 1793, when he became partner to Gilbert Livingston, whose daughter, Sarah, he married in 1794. He served a term in the New York State Assembly in 1800-01 and became a Justice of the State Supreme Court in 1802. He was the New York Supreme Court's Chief Justice from 1814 to 1818.


President James Monroe nominated Smith Thompson to be Secretary of the Navy in November 1818, and he took office at the beginning of the new year. While he was Secretary, construction continued on new ships of the line, frigates and smaller warships. Measures were undertaken to supress piracy in the West Indies, and the Navy's regular cruising areas were extended to include the coasts of Africa and South America, with occasional commerce protection missions to the East Indies.


Smith Thompson became an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1823 and remained on the Court for the rest of his life. He died at Poughkeepsie, New York, on 18 December 1843.


USS Smith Thompson (DD-212), 1919-1936, was named in honor of Secretary of the Navy Smith Thompson.


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