Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, Jr., born on 24 January 1842 in New York to Alexander Slidell and Catherine Alexander [Robinson] Mackenzie, was appointed midshipman on 29 September 1855. He received advancement to lieutenant on 31 August 1861 and lieutenant commander on 29 July 1865. Serving in Hartford on the China station at the outbreak of the Civil War, he returned to the United States and joined the gunboat Kineo, in which he served during Rear-Adm. David G. Farragut's daring dash past Forts Jackson and St. Philip on the lower Mississippi to capture New Orleans in 1862. During 1863 and 1864 he participated in the blockade of Charleston and the attacks on Fort Sumter and Morris Island. After the end of the war, Lt. Cmdr. Mackenzie returned to the Far East in Hartford, in which he served until 13 June 1867, when he was killed on Formosa while leading a reprisal attack against those responsible for the deaths of the entire crew of the American bark Rover. "The Navy could boast no braver spirit," Rear-Adm. Henry H. Bell eulogized him, "no man of higher promise."
(Torpedo Boat No. 17: displacement 65; length 101'6"; beam 12'9"; draft 4'3" (mean); speed 20.1 knots; complement 14; armament 1 1‑pounder, 2 18-inch torpedo tubes; class Mackenzie)
The first Mackenzie, Torpedo Boat No. 17, was laid down on 15 April 1897 at Philadelphia, Pa., by Charles Hillman Ship & Engine Building Co.; launched on 19 February 1898; sponsored by Master Charles Hillman, the grandson of the president of the ship building ciompany; and commissioned on 1 May 1899, Lt. Lloyd H. Chandler in command.
Departing League Island on 28 May 1899, Mackenzie sailed north to Newport, Rhode Island. Arriving on the 31st, she was decommissioned and joined other torpedo boats, such as DuPont (Torpedo Boat No. 7) and Winslow (Torpedo Boat No. 5) in occasional employment in experimental and training duties.
Recommissioned on 7 November 1902, she steamed to Norfolk, Virginia, where she joined the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla on the 14th. Serving with that flotilla for the greater part of the next ten years, she was occasionally used as a training ship at the U.S. Naval Academy, and in 1908 operated off the southeastern seaboard.
She was decommissioned at Charleston, S.C., on 15 April 1912, and departed the next day for Florida. She arrived at Key West on 19 April and on 7 May was turned over to the Florida Naval Militia, in which she served until returned to the Navy in November 1914. She cruised off southern Florida for the next year, cruising to Havana in October 1915. In 1916, the torpedo boat was designated as a target ship and 11 March 1916 her name was stricken from the Navy Register.