Adapted from "Samuel Lewis Southard" [biography, date 4 September 1918] Rare Book Room, ZB files; Navy Department Library
The Navy Department Library
Samuel Lewis Southard
9 June 1787 - 26 June 1842
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Samuel Lewis Southard
4 September 1918.
Senator, born in [Basking Ridge] , N.J. 9 June 1787; died in Fredericksburg, Va., 26 June 1842, was graduated at Princeton in 1804, taught in his native state, and then went to Virginia as tutor in the family of John Taliaferro. After studying law and being admitted to the bar in that state, he returned to New Jersey and settled at Flemington. He was appointed law-reporter by the legislature in 1814, became associate justice of the state supreme court in 1815 was a presidential elector in 1820, and was chosen to the U.S. Senate as a Whig in place of James J. Wilson, who had resigned, serving from February 16, 1821, till March 3, 1823. In 1821 he met his father on a joint committee, and they voted together on the Missouri Compromise. In September, 1823, he became Secretary of the Navy, and he served till March 3, 1829, acting also as Secretary of the Treasury from March 7 till July 1, 1825, and taking charge of the portfolio of war for a time. When he was dining with Chief-Justice Kirkpatrick, of New Jersey, soon after his appointment to the Navy, the Judge, aware of his ignorance of nautical affairs, said: “Now, Mr. Southard, can you honestly assert that you know the bow from the stern of a frigate?”
On his retirement from the secretaryship of the navy in 1829, he became attorney-general of New Jersey, and in 1832 he was elected governor of the state. He was chosen U.S. senator again in 1833, and served till his resignation on May 3, 1842. In 1841, on the death of President Harrison and the consequent accession of Jon Tyler, he became president of the Senate. He was made a trustee of Princeton in 1822, and in 1833 the University of Pennsylvania gave him the degree of LL.D. Mr. Southard published “Reports of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, 1816-20” (2 vols. Trenton, 1819-20) and numerous addresses, including a “Centennial Address,” (1832) and “Discourse on Wiliam Wirt,” (Washington, 1834).
One ship has been named for Samuel Lewis Southard
Southard (Destroyer No. 207.)