James Kirke Paulding, son of a Revolutionary War patriot, was born 27 August 1718 in Nine Partners, Dutchess County, N.Y. As a young man he became widely known as a man of letters and as in intimate friend of Washington Irving. He served as Secretary of the first Board of Navy Commissioners consisting of Commodores Hull, Porter, and Rodgers. After filling the office of Navy Agent at the port of New York for 12 years, Paulding entered President Martin Van Buren's cabinet as Secretary of the Navy 1 July 1838. While in office he opposed the introduction of steam propelled warships declaring that he would "never consent to let our old ships perish, and transform our Navy into a fleet of (steam) sea monsters." Upon his retirement from office he purchased an estate at Hyde Park, where he remained until his death 5 April 1860.
(DD-238: dp. 1,190; l. 314'5"; b. 31'8"; dr. 9'3"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 101; a. 4 4", 1 3", 2.30 cal., 12 21" tt.; cl. Clemson)
James K. Paulding (Destroyer No. 238) was laid down 31 July 1918 by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; launched 20 April 1920; sponsored by Miss Mary Hubbard Paulding, great granddaughter of James K. Paulding; and commissioned 29 November 1920, Lt. H. W. Jackson in command.
After shakedown James K. Paulding was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, and commenced tactical exercises with destroyer squadrons along the coast. She arrived Newport, R.I., 31 May 1921 for summer maneuvers and reserve training. Later that year she cruised to Charleston, S.C., for squadron exercises, and continued operations there until late winter 1922.
James K. Paulding joined the scouting fleet January 1923 and throughout the year engaged in tactical war problems designed to maintain the fleet in superior fighting condition. She continued these operations in addition to reserve training until she sailed in February 1925 to San Diego for war problems in the Pacific. Upon her return to Newport 31 August, she resumed her duties with the scouting fleet. While engaging in gunnery exercises in Caribbean waters November 1926, James K. Paulding sailed to Nicaragua to protect American interests in the wake of political turmoil in that country. During March and April 1927 she remained off Nicaragua to prevent any smuggling of arms to rebel forces.
For the remainder of her career James K. Paulding continued reserve training and tactical exercises in the Atlantic and Caribbean. Her service with the Navy was distinguished and her versatility in peacekeeping, reserve training, and fleet problems all helped to maintain the position of the United States as a great seapower. Even more important, however, the service of James K. Paulding and her sister ships was a base upon which an even more powerful naval force was built. The destroyer arrived Philadelphia Navy Yard 31 October 1930, and decommissioned there 10 February 1931. She was reduced to a hulk 28 December 1936 in accordance with the provisions of the London treaty for the limitation and reduction of naval armament, scrapped, and struck from the Navy List 25 January 1937.