WILLIAM JONES AND THE ROLE OF THE
OF THE NAVY IN THE WAR OF 1812
EDWARD KYLE ECKERT
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
U OF F LIBRARIES
Edward Kyle Eckert
I wish to express my appreciation to Dr. John K. Mahon
under whose supervision this dissertation was conducted.
Dr. Mahon gave generously of his time, advice, and personal
research. He has been an inspiration as a teacher and a
I am indebted to Messrs. Jesse R. Jones and Sherman
Butler of the University of Florida Libraries who vastly
facilitated my research through their interest in seeing
that my materials arrived via inter-library loan. I also
wish to thank Dr. Paul H. Smith and Mr. W. Wilson Corroum
for reading my draft and suggesting many valuable corrections.
My fondest acknowledgment is reserved for my wife,
Linda Corroum Eckert, who not only read and corrected the
first draft of this work, but who has also constantly pro-
vided me with understanding and encouragement throughout
the years of my graduate study.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . .
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS . .
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS . .
INTRODUCTION . . . .
I. THE GROWTH OF A NAVY
II. WILLIAM JONES . .
III. THE NAVY DEPARTMENT .
IV. NAVAL COOPERATION
V. STRATEGY . . .
VI. PERSONNEL . . .
VII. SHIPS . . . .
CONCLUSION . . . . .
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . .
. . . . . iv
. . . . vi
. . . . .. vii
. . . . . 6
. . . . 37
. . . . 64
. . . . 97
. . . 114
. . . . 152
. . . . 178
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
WILLIAM JONES . . . . . . . .. 38
"THE SWITCH: A VERY SHORT POEM OF ONE CANTO,
OCCASIONED BY A LATE RUPTURE BETWEEN TWO
SUBALTERN AGENTS IN THE NAVY DEPARTMENT" 70
JONES' DESIGN OF A LUG SAIL FOR THE BRIG,
RATTLESNAKE . . . . . . .. 183
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
In citing manuscript materials the following abbrevia-
tions have been employed for the collections:
A/C . Annals of the Congress of the United States
ASP . American State Papers
JMP . James Madison Papers
lrc . Letters Received by the Secretary of the
Navy from Captains
Ircm . Letters Received by the Secretary of the
Navy from Commanders
irm . Miscellaneous Letters Received by the
Secretary of the Navy
iro . Letters Received by the Secretary of the Navy
from Officers below the Rank of Commander
Isc . Letters Sent by the Secretary of the Navy to
Commandants and Navy Agents
ism . Miscellaneous Letters Sent by the Secretary of
Iso . Letters Sent by the Secretary of the Navy to
UCSC . Uselma Clark Smith Collection of the Papers
of William Jones
By 1812 the European world had been at war for almost
two decades. England and France and their allies battled
with a desperation unknown since the bloody religious wars
of the seventeenth century. Each side regarded as enemies
all who were not actively engaged on their side. It almost
has become trite to refer to this as a struggle between a
mammoth and a whale or the tiger and the shark. Yet this
was the manner in which the world was divided. France
seemed supreme on land while England appeared invincible
on the seas.
The very existence of the United States insured its
involvement in this war. To be sure, non-intercourse acts,
an embargo, and the naive Macon bills were attempts to steer
the United States away from the precipice. Neither France
nor England seemed anxious to concede to the young nation
the rights of a neutral. Both insisted that any partici-
pation in the commerce of the world would have to be on
their own terms, not those insisted upon by the United States.
America replied that, as a neutral, she had the right to carry
her non-contraband trade wherever the market was good.
Tensions grew, the national honor was threatened, old
grievances were remembered, and America fell into the
rushing eddies which would draw it over the falls.
The United States was an agricultural country of
7,700,000 people in 1812. It chose to challenge a highly
industrialized, commercial nation with a population of
more than 18,367,000* people. To say the least, the
United States was not prepared to fight. A dissident
population in many of the states challenged the country's
right to go to war. The total number of men in the army
was less than 10,000. Its navy was rotting because a
pacific President and a frugal Secretary of the Navy had
refused to spend money on maintaining or improving it.
1. The Anglo-American diplomacy of this period has
been well studied by Bradford Perkins in Prologue to War;
England and the United States, 1805-1812 (Berkeley, Calif.,
1961). One also cannot afford to overlook A. L. Burt,
The United States, Great Britain, and British North America
from the Revolution to the Establishment of Peace after the
War of 1812 (New Haven, Conn., 1940). Unfortunately, no
equally competent handling of Franco-American relations
during this period exists.
2. United States Bureau of the Census, Historical
Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1957
(Washington, 1960), p. 7.
3. B. R. Mitchell and Phyllis Deane, Abstract of
British Historical Statistics (Cambridge, 1962), p.8.
*Includes England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
When war did come, the United States' greatest advan-
tage was its natural defensive position. Because the nation
was still primarily agricultural, it could support its popu-
lation without external commerce and without expensive
luxuries. Furthermore, the distance separating it from
Great Britain made it difficult for the English to keep
armies in America. The most important advantage America
had was its very primitiveness. British armies could seize
the national capital, capture forts on the Great Lakes
frontier, and blockade its ports without seriously hamper-
ing America's ability to fight. There were no vital
arteries in the United States, and even the more important
veins could be severed without seriously affecting the
nation's ability to wage the war. Another important
advantage was England's lack of a bellicose spirit toward
the United States. Almost twenty years of warfare had
inured the people of Great Britain to sacrifices as long
as the scourge of the western world, Napoleon, still ruled
in France. The Emperor's collapse in 1814 made the English
anxious to regain the elusive peacetime prosperity.
Furthermore, His Majesty's government was having a difficult
time trying to parcel out the Continent from Vienna. An
American war failed to interest British statesmen. These
advantages developed during the struggle so that,after two
and a half years, the supreme power of Europe was willing
to sign a treaty of peace with her former colonies who had
dared to challenge her for the second time.
When all things are considered, the United States did
not perform badly in the war. Most of the military glory
was won by the navy. Unlike its land partner, the United
States Navy was never disgraced by any humiliating fiascos.
To be sure, vessels were lost, but they went down with all
their guns blazing, and the navy was so proud of the spirit
of one of her defeated commanders that it turned his dying
words into its motto. Single frigates defeated English
vessels in detail on the ocean, while on the northern fron-
tier, it was the navy which saved the nation from the British
army in Canada. Naval officers and men seemed to be every-
where and when their ships were locked in port by the block-
ade, they served as soldiers, artillerists, and artificers
on land. Through such actions, the nation's small navy
provided most of the martial glory and none of the shame.
Historians of this period have almost entirely ignored
the organization and the administration of the navy. And
no serious studies have been published on the Secretary of
the Navy, a Cabinet-level officer, and his influence over
the department in a time of national emergency. Therefore,
the present study examines the navy from an administrative
viewpoint in order to shed light on how the naval successes
of the United States were coordinated and organized at the
Cabinet level. Special emphasis is placed on the man who
headed the department, William Jones. The study essentially
deals with how he affected the nation's naval policies
through his handling of the men, ships, and strategy from
his Washington office. It will be possible to determine
if the bureaucratic organization on the national level was
important in assuring the navy's continuing victories
throughout the war.
THE GROWTH OF A NAVY
The department which William Jones received in 1813
as the fourth Secretary of the Navy was the result of no
organized planning, research, or design. In the decade
and a half since the young nation had established the bureau,
the navy had been ignored except during acute maritime
crises, and then easily forgotten when these moments had
passed. A cabinet officer commanded the department, but
the extent of his control had not yet been determined.
He was to be the administration's spokesman on naval
affairs, but, at the same time, the chief advocate for
the naval officers. Although the navy of this era was
small, the Secretary's work was enormous since he was the
only direct link between the officers and any other official--
executive or legislative. He was responsible for main-
taining an efficient organization, but was not given
either the professional or secretarial help needed to
do a good job.
In 1789 the United States had no more than the poten-
tial for a navy. Forced to create everything anew, the
Federalist administrations would establish traditions and
precedents that would bear upon all future decisions.
This had to be done in the case of the navy. Those vessels
employed by the nation during the war for Independence had
either succumbed to age or had been returned to the states
which had owned them. The infant country had more pressing
problems than the establishment of a navy. Congress delayed
consideration of the naval force until an economic base had
been established to support it, and an army had been
created to suppress the more immediate Indian threat on
the frontiers. Only after these problems had been met
would the nation be able to carry the additional financial
burden of a navy.
The initial cause for serious consideration of a navy
was renewed excursions by the Algerine pirates in the Medi-
terranean. The depredations upon the United States began
when word reached the pirate nation that the United States
was no longer an English colony. This was followed by a
peace treaty between Portugal and Algiers, and the latter
was free to send its corsairs into the Atlantic. Although
support for the naval bill was strong in 1791, Congress was
not able to pass the measure for three years. Anti-
Federalist Republicans in Congress opposed the creation
of a navy as dangerous to the liberties of the people.
In 1791, Senator William Maclay of Pennsylvania resisted
the measure because he felt that ransoming the captive
American sailors would be cheaper than a fleet and the
cost of the latter would be an obnoxious burden upon the
citizens of the United States. For similar reasons,
William B. Giles of Virginia called the founding of a navy
"a dangerous matter." Representative Giles saw the im-
personal power of taxation as capable of producing a
The Third Congress, anxious to protect American
rights in the Mediterranean, was so concerned with America's
defense that it produced a plethora of military measures,
passed it is true by narrow margins. The debate over the
naval bill of 1794, which would create the United States'
first navy, centered on five areas: economy, politics,
1. William Maclay, The Journal of William Maclay
(New York, 1927), pp. 371-372.
2. Quoted in Marshall Smelser, "Passage of the
Naval Act of 1794," Military Affairs, XXII (Spring, 1958),
strategy, diplomacy, and humanitarianism. An act passed
only when a rider clause was attached stating that naval
construction would be halted if peace were concluded be-
tween Algiers and the United States. Sectional alignments
were important, and the bill was only approved because of
the near unanimity of New England for the measure.
Fortunately, the United States had decided that the
six ships which would comprise its small navy would be the
most powerful frigates of their class. Joshua Humphreys,
a Philadelphia shipwright, is credited with designing them.
On December 29, 1794, Henry Knox, who as Secretary of War
was also in charge of naval matters, communicated to the
House of Representatives the administration's requirements
for the new vessels. He said,
That the passing of the said act created
an anxious solicitude that this second commencement
of a navy for the United States should be worthy of
their national character. That the vessels should
combine such qualities of strength, durability,
swiftness of sailing, and force, as to render them
equal, if not superior, to any frigates belonging
to any of the European Powers. Researches, there-
fore, have been made for the best principles of
construction, and such proportions adopted have
appeared best, upon the most mature advice and
3. See Smelser, "Passage," pp. 1-12, and Smelser,
The Congress Founds the Navy, 1787-1798 (Notre Dame,
Ind., 1959), pp. 48-63.
The largest ships of forty-four guns,
will be constructed upon a scale to contain
thirty cannons of the caliber of four pounds
upon the gun deck. The others, of thirty-six,
twenty-eight cannons, of the same caliber, upon
the gun deck. The remaining force will be made
up of twelve pounders and brass howitzers.
The frigates will be built of live oak
and red cedar, in all parts where they can be
used to the best advantage. These valuable woods
afford the United States the highest advantages in
building ships, the durability being estimated at
five times that of common white oak. Besides
these woods, the best white oak, pitch pine, and
locust, are directed to be used in the construc-
Under the 1794 statute, the six frigates included the
three forty-four gun vessels: the United States to be
built by Joshua Humphreys at Philadelphia, the Constitu-
tion by George Claghorn at Boston, and the President by
Forman Cheesman in New York. The thirty-six gun frigates
were the Constellation to be constructed at Baltimore by
David Stodert, the Chesapeake by John Morgan at Norfolk,
and the Congress by James Hackett at Portsmouth, New
Hampshire. The ships were built at several places,pri-
marily to spread naval enthusiasm among as large a segment
of the population as possible. In 1794, as in the twentieth
century, defense contracts were let out primarily for
4. United States Congress, American State Papers,
Class VI, Naval Affairs (Washington, 1834), I, 6. Here-
after abbreviated as ASP.
Unfortunately, for the naval enthusiasts of the period,
within two years of the passage of the naval act the Dey
of Algiers and the United States agreed upon peace terms.
By law all construction on the vessels was to cease.
Washington opposed complete cessation and convinced the
Congress that the President, the Constitution, and the
Constellation should be completed. In his last annual
message to Congress on December 7, 1796, Washington told
the assembly that the United States ought to agree to "the
gradual creation of a Navy." The President continued,
To an active external commerce, the pro-
tection of a naval force is indispensable. This is
manifest with regard to wars in which a State is
itself a party. But besides this, it is in our own
experience that the most sincere neutrality is not
a sufficient guard against the depredations of na-
tions at war. To secure respect for a neutral flag
requires a naval force organized and ready to vin-
dicate it from insult or aggression.
John Adams, the second President of the United States,
had been a naval enthusiast since the Revolutionary War.
5. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 37-38.
6. James D. Richardson (ed.), A Compilation of the
Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1905 (Wash-
ington, 1903-1907), I, 201.
His greatest contribution to the establishment of a navy
was his insistence that the country had to have a navy
for "the protection of the commerce of the nation, the
disruption of enemy commerce in the time of war, and the
defense of the coast against seaborne attack." He had
always advocated American neutrality, but he clearly saw
that the United States would, by necessity, be involved
in any major European confrontation. The young nation's
only hope in such an instance would be to command a force
large enough to tip the balance of power. A United States
Navy capable of controlling both the North Atlantic and the
West Indies, Adams felt, would insure respectful recogni-
tion of this country by all the European powers. No nation
at war with another would dare to challenge the United
States' neutrality so long as her naval force could upset
the balance against her.8
Adams' first chance to build a navy did not come until
the United States had been attacked by France on the high
7. Frederick H. Hayes, "John Adams and American Sea
Power," American Neptune, XXV (January, 1965), 38.
8. Hayes, "John Adams," p. 38.
seas. In a rapid series of laws enacted in the summer of
1798, the Congress authorized the Executive to finish the
outfitting of the six vessels begun by Washington's admin-
istration (March 17), to build, purchase or hire twelve
additional twenty-two gun ships (April 27), to purchase
or build ten galleys (May 4), to accept as gifts or loans
twelve vessels from American communities (June 20), to
build at least three more thirty-two gun frigates (July 16).
Finally, on February 25, 1799, six seventy-four gun ships-
of-the-line, six sloops-of-war, two drydocks, and $200,000
for timber were allotted to the administration. This mass
of legislation was the result of the war fever and panic
which seized an unprepared nation. Once again, the war
was to end before a navy began to be built, and most of
the proposed ships remained on the drawing board.
As early as May 16, 1797, President Adams had said
that "A naval power, next to the militia, is the natural
defense of the United States . Our seacoasts, from
their great extent, are more easily annoyed and more
easily defended by a naval force than any other. With
9. K. Jack Bauer, "Naval Shipbuilding Programs,
1794-1860," Military Affairs, XXIX (Spring, 1965), 29-30.
all the materials our Country abounds; in skill our naval
architects and navigators are equal to any, and commanders
and seamen will not be wanting," 0 One of the most impor-
tant measures encouraged by the President was a bill to
establish a navy department. By the slim majority of
47 to 41, the Senate passed "An Act to establish an Execu-
tive Department, to be denominated the Department of the
Navy." This act was signed into law on April 20, 1798.
The statute had five sections; it "(1) Established the
Department with the Secretary at its head, and stated the
naval duties. (2) Provided for the principal Clerk and
other clerks. (3) Authorized the removal of the naval
records from the Department of War. (4) Fixed the salary
of the Secretary at three thousand dollars a year, and the
salaries of the clerks at the same rate as those paid in
the Treasury Department. (5) Divested the War Department
of its hitherto existing naval powers."11
Adams' choice for Secretary of the new department was
a fortunate one. Rather than choosing a professional naval
10. Richardson, Compilation, I, 237.
11. Smelser, Congress, p. 156.
officer or a shipbuilder, the President picked a wealthy
merchant from Maryland, Benjamin Stoddert. Through his
private business, the Secretary had experience in person-
nel management, ship design, naval ordnance, supplying
vessels, and the many other duties connected with running
a fleet. Stoddert worked hard in his government position.
One author credits him as being the man who was able to
carry the department through the "Jefferson recession"
and "on to greater days ahead." By the end of his years
with the Navy Department, Stoddert had established the
precedent that the Secretary of the Navy was to be "in
firm possession of a recognized authority over the whole
naval establishment. . Power rested entirely with the
Secretary, not only in the technical field of naval con-
struction and equipment but also in the strategic and tac-
tical control of naval operations."13 Stoddert was a credit
to the new nation, an administrator whose integrity and
12. Robert G. Albion, "First Days of the Navy
Department," Military Affairs, XII (Spring, 1948), 11.
13. Howard I. Chapelle, The History of the American
Sailing Navy, the Ships and their Development (New York,
judgment were never questioned by his contemporaries.
The naval war with France, usually called the "Quasi-
war," was the first European challenge faced by the United
States after independence. It was more due to a compli-
cated series of misunderstandings than to any single, overt
action. The United States, as one of the largest neutrals
of the western world, predictably came into conflict with
the two giants, England and France. Conceivably, the United
States could have fought either nation, but the treaty with
England in 1794 and the rupture of our diplomatic relations
with France made the latter the administration's designated
The 45-ship American Navy captured the extraordinary
number of 87 French merchantment and 21 naval vessels
during the war. Captain Thomas Truxtun's account of the
battle between the United States frigate Constellation and
the French ship, L'Insurgence, is an example of the uncom-
mon valor which the United States naval officers displayed
during the war.15 An early authority on the Quasi-war
14. Robert W. Neeser (ed.), Statistical and Chronologi-
cal History of the United States Navy: 1775-1907 (New York,
1909), II, 32-35, & 290-293.
15. See ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 72-73.
judged that "six millions[ of dollars] may be taken as a
fair estimate of the actual expense of protecting American
commerce against French depredation." This can be compared
to the "more than twenty-two million dollars" of revenue
received from imposts during the period. "Unquestionably
a very large portion of this profitable trade would have
been discouraged through fear or lost by spoliation, had
it not been for naval protection."16
The privateer fleet with 365 vessels was much larger
than the navy. Since most of these vessels were merchant-
men armed for defense, their captures were few. Typical
of the private aid which the nation received was that which
came from Salem, Massachusetts. Salem had found both the
English and French commerce so profitable that it was
willing to take any risks to deal with these nations.
Even after active hostilities had begun, it continued its
overseas trade, but convoyed its small fleets with armed
privateers. Salem's merchants subscribed over $50,000 to
build a thirty-two gun frigate (the Essex) which was given
16. Gardner W. Allen, Our Naval War with France
(Boston, 1909), pp. 222-223.
to the United States. The French restrictions on American
trade to the West Indies seemed to be the principal factor
which convinced Salem that a war would be necessary to
reopen this profitable commerce.
President Adams sent William Vans Murray to France in
the spring of 1799, and the two nations were able to agree
to end the hostilities. The end of the French war caused
a cutback in naval expenditures. On November 27, 1800,
President Adams reminded the House of Representatives that,
"a navy, well organized, must constitute the natural and
efficient defense of this country against all foreign
hostility."18 Adams' naval program, which he hoped to
will to the nation, included programs along three lines:
"ships, personnel, and a supporting organization of yards
and docks." On January 12, 1801, Secretary of the Navy
Benjamin Stoddert suggested that Congress appropriate enough
17. See James D. Phillips, "Salem's Part in the Naval
War with France," New England Quarterly, XVI (December, 1943),
18. Richardson, Compilation, I, 312.
19. Harold and Margaret Sprout, The Rise of American
Naval Power, 1776-1918 (Princeton, N. J., 1939), p. 50.
money to keep thirteen United States frigates in a state of
action or, at least, in ready reserve. The Secretary said,
Thus then it appears that, for the small
sum of six hundred and fifty-one thousand nine hundred
and eighty-seven dollars thirty-four cents, the United
States may keep in constant service six frigates;
seven others in port, but always ready for service;
the corps of marines, consisting of more than eleven
hundred officers and men, and may remunerate the past,
and secure the future, services of a meritorious class
of men, who, in general, either sacrificed more
profitable and less hazardous private employment,
to donate themselves to their country, in a season
of peril; or who, being qualified by education for
any pursuits, have entered the navy, as a profession,
at that time of life when professions are usually
The Secretary said that six seventy-four gun ships-of-the-
line should be built, with more added annually. Further-
more, the nation ought to buy timber stands and drydocks
or shipyards to store naval supplies and to repair vessels.
In conclusion, Stoddert provided a succinct summary of
Adams' naval policy.
In a pecuniary point of view, there can be
no comparison between the expense of creating a suffi-
cient navy and the loss of commerce, so great as ours,
will too certainly sustain for the want of such
protection. But the loss of property is but a
paltry consideration, compared with all the
20. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 75.
humiliating and destructive consequences which must
flow from that debasement of mind which a system of
eternal submission to injury and injustice cannot
fail to produce.21
Thomas Jefferson's election to the Presidency was seen
as a blow to the American naval establishment. The new
President's republican sympathies were well known and few
believed that he would undertake a war with England or
France. Jefferson, however, was not anti-navy by principle
for, as early as 1781 in his Notes on Virginia, he had
To aim at such a navy as the greater nations of
Europe possess, would be a foolish and wicked waste
of the energies of our countrymen. ... They can attack
us by detachment only; and it will suffice to make
ourselves equal to what they may detach. Even a
smaller force than they may detach will be rendered
equal or superior by the quickness with which any
check may be repaired with us, while losses with them
will be irreparable till too late. A small naval
force then is sufficient for us, and a small one
President Jefferson appointed Robert Smith, a Maryland
commercial fleet owner, as his Secretary of the Navy.
Smith, a member of the pro-navy branch of the Republican
Party, was a fortunate choice. He "rendered himself justly
21. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 75.
22. Quoted in Sprout, Rise of American Naval Power,
popular with the service," and "continued for the long
space of nine years to serve its interests with zeal and
intelligence, and who has left behind him, in the hearts
of all who then composed the navy, a feeling that while
their interests were in his care, they were intrusted to
one well disposed to serve the country and themselves.'"23
Smith's administration, however, was tarnished by scandal.
The Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, revealed
that "Robert Smith had allowed his brother's firm to use
government money in amounts up to $200,000, reimbursement
to be made at the pleasure of the firm." Although the
money was quickly repaid, Gallatin had made himself two
inveterate enemies--the influential Smith brothers of
Unfortunately for Jefferson, the United States was
confronted with a determined force of pirates from the
North African maritime nations of Algiers, Tripoli, and
Morocco. Ever since the United States had negotiated a
23. James Fenimore Cooper, The History of the Navy
of the United States of America (Philadelphia, 1839), I,
24. Peter R. Nielson, "Financial History of the
United States, 1811-1816," Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation
(Catholic University of America, 1926), p. 25.
treaty with Algiers in 1795, the Barbary states had been
very unhappy. The pirate princes realized that their main
source of income came from capturing ships. The tribute
monies from the large European powers had to be accepted
since these nations had such powerful navies. The United
States, however, had no blue water navy of consequence,
and its commerce was large. The treaty with Algiers in-
cluded two sloops which became the envy of Morocco and
Tripoli. While Algiers remained at peace, the other two
powers chopped down the flagpoles in front of the American
consulates as the traditional Berber declaration of war.
The United States quickly subdued Morocco, but the war
with Tripoli was to be a long, costly affair.
President Jefferson was never a man to truck with
pirates. As early as 1786, while he was United States
minister to France, the future President wrote, "If it be
admitted, however, that war, on the fairest prospects, is
still exposed to uncertainties, I weigh against this, the
greater uncertainty of the duration of a peace bought with
money, from such a people ... and by a nation, who, on the
hypothesis of buying peace, is to have no power on the sea,
to enforce an observance of it." Jefferson had not
changed his mind by 1801 and decided to end the payment of
American tribute to the pirate powers. On February 6,
1802, the Congress gave Jefferson power to use the navy
"as he saw fit to protect American commerce and seamen and
to commission privateers." 26 By this virtual declaration
of war, the United States became involved in an embroglio
that did not end until 1815 when a peace without price was
forced upon Tripoli and Algiers. Even Jefferson had not
been successful in enforcing a favorable peace on the
Barbary states, and,in 1805, was willing to pay a small
amount of tribute to Tripoli for peace with that nation.
The Barbary War was not without its glory. Few American
wars have seen a greater military march than the one led
by William Eaton and eleven marines across the North African
desert from Alexandria to Derna. Few American sailors
showed more bravery than those who sailed two small (50-
75 feet) gunboats across the Atlantic. Few men have taken
the risks which Stephen Decatur, Jr., assumed in blowing up
the Philadelphia, under the enemy's guns. And few had
25. Quoted in Glenn Tucker, Dawn Like Thunder: the
Barbary Wars and the Birth of the United States Navy (New
York, 1963), p. 58.
26. Tucker, Dawn Like Thunder, p. 146.
sacrificed themselves in the way Daniel Fraser had by
placing his head between a scimiter and Captain Decatur.
Typical of this uncommon valor was the action of August 3,
1804, which was communicated to Secretary Smith by Commodore
Edward Preble. During the heavy action of this afternoon,
Lieutenant Trippe of the Vixen, in[gunboat] no. 6,
ran along side of one of the enemy's large boats,
which he boarded with only Midshipman John Henley
and nine men, his boat falling off before any more
could get on board; thus was he left, compelled to
conquer or perish, with the odds of thirty-six to
eleven. The Turks [ i.e. the Tripolitans] could not
withstand the ardor of this brave officer and his
assistants; in a few minutes the decks were cleared,
and her colors hauled down. On board of this boat
fourteen of the enemy were killed, and twenty-two
made prisoners, seven of which were badly wounded.
The rest of their boats retreated within the rocks.
Lieutenant Trippe received eleven sabre wounds,
some of which are very severe: he speaks in the
highest terms of Mr. Henley, and those who followed
One of the most fascinating aspects of United States
naval history is Jefferson's gunboat navy. The idea of a
completely defensive navy was not new with Jefferson. Gun-
boats were common among European nations for harbor defense.
Jefferson, however, hoped to be able to get along with a
large number of gunboats (eventually 177 of these craft
27. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 134.
were built) in place of a blue water navy which was to be
kept in storage until it had rotted. Although none of the
American gunboats had arrived in the Mediterranean in time
for active service, the American naval force had used
European gunboats in the shallow coastal waters off
North Africa. With the temporary cessation of the Barbary
conflict, Jefferson was able to bring home the frigates
and prepare for a peacetime naval establishment. In his
message to Congress on February 10, 1807, the President
presented his four-part naval program. It was to include:
1. Land batteries, furnished with heavy cannon
and mortars, and established on all points around
the place favorable from preventing vessels from
lying before it. 2. Moveable Artillery which may
be carried, as occasion may require, to points un-
provided with fixed batteries. 3. Floating batter-
ies; and, 4. gunboats, which may oppose an enemy
at his entrance, and co-operate with the batteries
for his expulsion.28
The President felt he should present corroborating evidence
on the feasibility and effectiveness of the gunboats, and,
therefore, communicated the favorable opinions of General
James Wilkinson, Captain Samuel Barron, and Captain Thomas
Tingey, the Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard.
28. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 163.
Captain Tingey best summarized the dubious advantages.
The efficiency of gunboats in the defense
of coasts, ports, and harbors, must be obvious to
every person capable of reflection, when it is con-
sidered with what celerity they can generally change
their position and mode of attack, extending it
widely to as many different directions as their
number consists of, or concentrating nearly to one
line of direction. It hardly need be observed that
the very small object which a gunboat presents to
the attacking enemy, causes it always [to be]
problematical whether it may be hit by the most expert
and experienced marksmen, while, on the other hand,
the enemy attacking is generally with large ships,
mostly of the line of battle, and which, from their
magnitude, may be struck by almost every shot. The
advantages of gunboats, for the defence contemplated,
are numerous. They cannot easily be surrounded, be
the force of the enemy what it may; consequently,
very few, if any, are likely to fall into the enemy's
hands. Their capability of retiring into shoal waters,
thereby keeping the adversary at long gun-shot
distance, where naught but a charge of single round
shot will. reach, in which they will almost always
have the advantage, or taking their station behind
shoals, where they cannot be pursued by the smallest
class of frigates, or even of sloops of war; and in
many cases they have the opportunity of annoying an
enemy when sheltered themselves by low points of land,
where nothing but their masts can be seen, of course
in a situation comparatively safe when that of the
enemy is considered.29
Virtually every inlet and harbor was to have one of the
gunboats for defense, as were many of the river and lake-
side cities. Eventually 177 of these defensive vessels
29. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 163.
were built. Because they were constructed in many ports
by different contractors, they varied greatly in size.
They were between 50 and 70 feet long and carried a single
carronade in the bow. Sails or oars were used for pro-
pulsion, and,although in rough weather, the gun had to
be stored below deck, they were good, sea-worthy vessels.30
Jefferson's naval policy was nowhere as disastrous
as many authors have claimed. The President was, at least,
willing to fight for principles which he considered necessary
to the nation's integrity. Furthermore, Jefferson pushed
an active naval policy even though it depended primarily
upon the undersized gunboat fleet. As Jefferson himself
observed, the naval measures proposed by his administration
could hardly ever "become an excitement [ sic] to engage in
offensive maritime war, towards which it would furnish no
means." Even with all his efforts to maintain only a
defensive force, the United States on November 30, 1807,
could count four frigates in service or ready to serve,
and seven more needing repairs; to this could be added ten
sloops in service and 68 gunboats.
30. Chapelle, American Sailing Navy, pp. 189-241.
31. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 163.
James Madison was elected the fourth President in
1808. He sought a man for his Secretary of the Navy who
would be equally as capable as Robert Smith had been.
The position went to Paul Hamilton, a South Carolina
planter and politician who had been comptroller (1800-1804)
and governor (1804-1806) of his state. He had no back-
ground for his new appointment, and it is a mystery why he
was ever chosen. Hamilton's first three years were notice-
ably uneventful. The new Secretary "insisted upon economy
in naval expenditures, a scrupulous regard for the letter
of the law, a conscientious attention to duty on the part
of the higher naval officers, and correct habits for the
As America's relations deteriorated with the British,
it became obvious that a man more knowledgeable in naval
affairs would be necessary for the post. With the declara-
tion of war on June 18, 1812, "there was demanded of the
32. John G. VanDeusen, "Paul Hamilton," Dictionary
of American Biography (New York, 1928), VIII, 189-190.
33. Charles 0. Paullin, "Naval Administration Under
Secretaries of the Navy Smith, Hamilton and Jones, 1801-
1814," United States Naval Institute Proceedings, XXXII
(December, 1906), 1306.
naval secretary decision, initiative, activity, expert
knowledge, and skill in the handling of details, [and]
Hamilton fell short of the requirements of his position."34
Hamilton was aware of his shortcomings and wrote to the
naval captains in the spring of 1812 to gather their opin-
ions on what strategy the United States should follow in
the event of war with England. Almost with unanimity, the
captains replied that single ship cruises would be the best
way to harass the enemy's commerce, attack his naval vessels,
and protect the United States.
The United States Navy had deteriorated since the
Barbary War. In addition to the 177 gunboats built by
Jefferson and Madison (102 of these were being repaired in
1812), the nation had but eighteen vessels. Three of these
had been built before 1801 and were in need of repair. Of
the remaining fifteen, seven were frigates with a total of
254 guns, originally built under the Washington or Adams
34. Paullin, "Naval," pp. 1307-1308. The histori-
ography on the cause of the war is a long one. See Reginald
Horsman, The Causes of the War of 1812 (Philadelphia, 1962);
Bradford Perkins (ed.), The Causes of the War of 1812:
National Honor or National Interest?, American Problem
Studies series (New York, 1962); and George R. Taylor (ed.),
The War of 1812: Past Justifications and Present Inter-
pretations, Problems in American Civilization series
(Englewood, N.J., 1963).
administration. There were also eight brigs carrying 122
guns which had been built or purchased by Jefferson or
Madison. Compared to this small force, the English
Navy on December 7, 1812, had 97 vessels on the American
station of which six were line ships and 33 were frigates.36
In all, England had over one thousand vessels of war which
amounted to "three fighting ships for every American qgun."37
The United States had commenced a war with the major
sea power in the world. Secretary Hamilton agreed with the
chief clerk of the department, Charles W. Goldsborough,
that the navy should be laid up during the war rather than
be permitted to fight. The naval captains, however, argued
for permission to wage open sea warfare, and it was only
when the President agreed with the officers that the possi-
bility of a non-naval war was abandoned.38
35. Paullin, "Naval," p. 1318.
36. Theodore Roosevelt, "The War with the United States,"
Chapter XLI of William Clowes, et al., The Royal Navy: A
History from Earliest Times to the Present (London, 1901),
37. Irving Brant, James Madison: Commander in Chief,
1812-1836 (Indianapolis, 1961), p. 39. Vol. VI of James Madison.
38. Brant, James Madison: Commander in Chief, p. 39.
War came and the American navy went to sea. Most
captains chose to sail on single-ship cruises looking for
enemy warships to fight or merchantmen to plunder.
Commodore John Rodgers commanded a five-vessel squadron
which made a seventy-day cruise on which not a single
English warship was sighted. He took only seven merchantmen
as prizes and his lack of success seemed to confirm the
opinion of the other captains that single-ship cruises
were more effective than squadron sailings. Rodgers'
actions, however, brought large benefits to the nation.
The British had learned of the squadron and combined their
Atlantic vessels to search for him. This permitted many
American merchantmen to slip into their home ports. Other
officers were luckier than Rodgers during the first six
months of the war. During the same time they won a number
of important single-ship actions. Among these were the
Constitution's capture of the Guerriere (August 19), the
capture of the Macedonian by the United States (October 25),
the loss of the Java to the Constitution (December 29), the
Essex's victory over the Alert (August 3), and the capture
of the Frolic by the Wasp (October 18). In all, nine
engagements were fought in 1812, five of them American
Even though the navy was doing exceptionally well,
the cares of office weighed heavily upon the Secretary.
So long as there was peace, Hamilton's ineptness went
unnoticed. War, however, made his shortcomings public
knowledge, and as the press began to criticize naval policies
in 1812, Hamilton sought comfort in the bottle. While there
were indications that he drank heavily before the war, the
added burdens of the conflict made the Secretary an
alcoholic. "He was publically intoxicated at the naval
ball on the Constellation and again at the 'Macedonian
celebration.' ... For two years Hamilton had been incapable
of working in the second half of the day." 40
On December 29, 1812, the third Secretary of the Navy
presented his letter of resignation. It was immediately
accepted. War was more than the man was able to bear and
39. The naval history of the War of 1812 has been
told many times. The best scholarly account is still
Theodore Roosevelt, The Naval War of 1812, 2 volumes (New
York, 1906). The implications of the war on naval strategy
are in Alfred T. Mahan, Sea Power in its Relation to the
War of 1812, 2 volumes (London, 1905). A most exciting,
well-written account, based on good historical sources, is
Cecil S. Forester, The Age of Fighting Sail: The Story of
the Naval War of 1812 (Garden City, N.Y., 1956).
40. Brant, James Madison: Commander in Chief, pp.
his record leaves much to be desired. As the man chiefly
responsible for naval organization, he did nothing to pre-
pare the nation for war. True, his resources were small,
but he made no attempt to increase them, and what little
was done was mainly due to Congressional impetus. Upon
leaving office, he asked Madison for a letter stating the
President's opinion of him, and the generous chief execu-
tive replied, "I cannot satisfy my own feelings, or the
tribute due to your patriotic merits and private virtues,
without bearing testimony to the fervent zeal, the uniform
exertions, and the unimpeachable integrity with which you
have discharged that important trust, and without express-
ing the value I have always placed on that personal inter-
course, the pleasure of which I am now to lose."41
President Madison had also received the resignation of
the Secretary of War, William Eustis, at this time. Thus
he now had to seek two military secretaries in the midst
of a war. As Madison looked around for an experienced man--
for he had learned a lesson from Paul Hamilton--he settled
upon William Jones, a Philadelphia merchant, Congressman,
41. (Philadelphia) General Aurora Advertiser, February
sea captain, and loyal Republican. Jones had been offered
the Navy Department by Jefferson in 1801 and had refused;
now it was up to Madison to persuade him to accept the post.
Jones himself had received word from Pennsylvania Congress-
man Jonathon Roberts that he would be offered the position
as early as December 28, 1812. "The Nation and the Navy,"
Roberts said, "point to you as the fittest man we have and
what is to become of us if the fittest man will not come
forward in a moment of public danger." Jones gave Madison's
official offer, made on January 3, 1813, several days'
thought before he accepted the department "with humility."
His acceptance was conditioned by his request to be allowed
a few days to settle private affairs before setting out for
the seat of government.
Those who knew Jones looked upon his appointment with
approbation. Jacob J. Otto, a Philadelphia friend, wrote
that, "I have long since thought that you ought to direct
the Department, you would occupy, and your country should
42. J. Roberts to W. Jones, December 28, 1812. Uselma
Clark Smith Collection of the Papers of William Jones,
Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia. Hereafter
abbreviated as UCSC.
43. W. Jones to J. Madison, January 14, 1813, UCSC.
rejoice that you have accepted the appointment." Navy
personnel also applauded. Here at last was a man who
understood ships and the men who sailed them. Lieutenant
George C. Reed, on board the frigate United States, ex-
claimed, "I see by the papers you are to be our secretary
& permit me to say it is the best news not only to me but
to all my profession, we have heard for some time."
The most impressive congratulations came from Jones' old
friend, Captain William Bainbridge, who forwarded not only
his compliments, but a warning as well.
I could scarcely believe you would have been drawn
into Public life knowing how little ambitious you
are in that pursuit. Yet it was what I most wished
believing that if you got at the high responsible
station of head of the Navy Department it would be
of infinite advantage to the naval establishment of
our Country the increase of which in my opinion is
essential to the welfare of our country. You mention
the unorganized state of your department--we all
know it--and without reflecting on the former head
of it--(the last individual sincerely esteemed in
the goodness of his heart) I can say there never was
any system in it and for the want of which great abuses
have crept in. And you will find my dear Sir that
even with your capability and exertions, it will take
some time before you can fully correct them.46
44. J. Otto to W. Jones, January 28, 1813, UCSC.
45. G. Reed to W. Jones, January 10, 1813, UCSC.
46. W. Bainbridge to W. Jones, March 1, 1813, UCSC.
Because William Jones received the Navy Department in
the midst of a war, he would be forced to keep the haphazard
organization which had grown since the bureau's establishment.
It was President Madison's hope, however, that a man as
knowledgeable as Jones would be able to bring efficient
administration to the unwieldy bureau. This confidence
did not go unrewarded.
Little is known of the very early life of William
Jones. He was born in Philadelphia either in 1760 or 1761.
As a youth he was an apprentice at a boat building yard
on the Lehigh River in the Moravian community of Bethlehem,
about 60 miles north of Philadelphia. During the American
Revolution the lad served in a company of volunteers and
fought in the battles of Trenton (December 26, 1776) and
Princeton (January 3, 1777). Tiring of the land war, he
went to sea on the private Pennsylvania vessel, St. James,
captained by Thomas Truxtun. He was wounded and taken
prisoner while serving in the Continental Navy, and, in
1781, was promoted to first lieutenant for gallantry.
From 1790 to 1793 Jones resided in the southern port
of Charleston where he was a merchant and active in the
city's militia artillery battery. He was elected captain
1. Joseph M. Levering, A History of Bethlehem, Penn-
sylvania, 1741-1892 (Bethlehem, 1903), p. 653.
2. John H. Frederick, "William Jones," Dictionary of
American Biography (New York, 1928), X, 205.
.. -. "5 ,
':"" ",. ; ,. 4,,,'
* '-q ,' '.- '' -
: 'A *
..' . .- i,'. ,. -7
j "- < : '~ I. ** *- .
: ,W'TLLIAM' JONES :., 4
Source: Charles 0. .Pau-llin, "Naval Adrhinistration Under
Secretaries of. the Navy'Smith, 'Hamilton, and Jones,
1801-1814," United States Naval Institute Proceedings,
XXXII (December, 1906).
and wrote a manual for artillery drill. Returning to
Philadelphia in 1793, he became active in the Republican
Party while prospering as a merchant in that city. He
was elected to the Seventh Congress (March 4, 1801 March
3, 1803). Shortly after leaving office, Jones wrote to
his colleague, John Randolph, of his affection for the nation.
"I am sick," he said, "of city (and I may say Lancaster)
Republicanism but I do not despair of the Republic. There
is solidarity in it, and the good sense of the real repub-
licans will ultimately prevail." On January 18, 1805, he
was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society
and later read many papers before that body, including one
on a lead casing for cannon shells. From 1805 to 1807
Jones sailed around the world on his ship, the Ploughboy.
For a short time he was involved in the Chinese opium trade.
After returning home, he was chosen by a Philadelphia town
meeting in 1809 to present a letter of support to President
Jefferson, assuring the chief executive of backing for the
embargo and other restrictive laws.
3. Copy of this manual is located with his papers.
November 1, 1794, UCSC.
4. W. Jones to J. Randolph, March 19, 1803; W. Jones to
President, American Philosophical Society, March 22, 1811; W.
Jones to J. Nicholson, September 3, 1805; W. Jones to T.
Jefferson, February 3, 1809; UCSC.
In 1810 Jones was asked by the Secretary of State,
Robert Smith, if he would assume the services of a charge
d'affaires to Denmark. He replied that he did not have
time to serve because of the press of his own private
business. After consulting with President Madison, the
Secretary of State told Jones that the position "at the
Danish Court, does not require you to relinquish your
present commercial establishment. The appointment is in
substance that of a special Agent, and will necessarily be
a temporary one." No letter remains on Jones' final answer,
but all indications seem to be that he never filled the
The Madison administration, however, appeared deter-
mined to get Jones into an office of some type. On March
29, 1812, Richard Rush wrote him "that the President,
anxious to avail the country of your services, has it in
contemplation to nominate you to the senate as commissary
general of purchases ... I am informed also to say, it is
most anxiously hoped that nothing may oblige you to withhold
5. R. Smith to W. Jones, November 2, 1810; W. Jones
to R. Smith, November 9, 1810; R. Smith to W. Jones, November
13, 1810; UCSC.
the benefit of your valuable aid in a line so important."
Jones tentatively accepted the position on April 1, 1812,
but asked to see a copy of the new law which established
this post. Rush sent another letter to Jones on April 4
with the information that the President had made the
nomination and that it had been approved by the Senate.
On April 6 Jones wrote to the Secretary of War, William
Eustis, that he still had not received a copy of the law,
but that he would start out for Washington as soon as
possible. Before beginning his journey, however, the
statute arrived, and Jones did not like what he saw. He
wrote to Eustis on April 20, 1812, informing him that he
would not accept the position and criticizing the law
for creating a figurehead post, loaded with responsibility,
but bereft of power. Jones wrote,
The officer certainly has nothing of the
Commissary Genl. but the name. It is even more sub-
ordinate than the Purveyor, though the duty and labor
is greatly enlarged. It is without rank, respect-
ability or adequate emolument, though certainly very
important and requiring high integrity, useful talent
and extensive knowledge. Indeed there is something
extremely forbidding in the restrictions ... penalties
all which presuppose a degree of moral turpitude and
insensibility to fair fame at which a generous and
honourable mind must revolt.
The administration, however, was not able to locate any
other first-rate man to take the position, and on May 3,
Eustis again asked Jones to accept the post and confessed
that otherwise the department would have to "solicit others
whose standing and characters are of inferior grade."
When Jones again refused, Richard Rush asked him to name
two men who might be interested since, for unnamed political
reasons, the administration wanted the job to go to a
Jones was aware of the international difficulties of
the Madison administration. As a merchant, he had felt the
sting of British impressment. While he was in China in
1805, a British man-of-war had boarded the American mer-
chantman, New Jersey, and removed several sailors. Edward
Carrington, the United States Commercial Agent in China,
asked Captain Jones what should be done. Jones suggested
initial negotiations and consultation, but, recognizing that
these means were foredoomed to failure, he urged that, "In
6. R. Rush to W. Jones, March 29, 1812; April 3,
1812; April 4, 1812; W. Jones to W. Eustis, April 20,
1812; W. Eustis to W. Jones, May 3, 1812; R. Rush to W.
Jones, June 30, 1812; UCSC.
the interim it ought to be the unanimous and absolute
determination of the American Captains first to resist by
firm & cool remonstrance and ultimately to repel by force
of Arms, any attempts of the kind in the future." By
the summer of 1812,Jones believed that the administration
had no choice but to go to war--with England for certain
and, perhaps, with France as well. In a letter to Penn-
sylvania Congressman Jonathon Roberts, Jones told of his
reasons for urging the beginning of hostilities immediately.
I hear every day even in the atmosphere
of the coffee house attended by honest Federalists--
"now or never there is no honourable alternate but
War." As for our political friends they commune
with each other with painful and reluctant doubts,
succeeded by willing confidence and cheering hope.
One common sentiment pervades us all--every hour of
delay is dangerous--the hopes, the activity, confi-
dence and intrigues of the opposition receives new
life and vigor by the prospect of division.
Pronounce the national Fiat and they will be as gentle
as lambs--hesitate and they will combine the ..t with
the exterior of the Lion.
Those who are for war with both powers
instrantos [sic] cannot consistently refuse to go
to war with Britain single, if they cannot carry their
... to both. These powers have no claim upon our
impartiality which in the want of our declaring
against both at once, would I think be displayed
7. Marion V. Brewington (ed.), "The Press Gang in
China," American Neptune, XVII (January, 1957), 72-73.
... Sometimes refers to illegible words in manuscript.
at the expense of wisdom and sound policy. By in-
cluding France we greatly impair our means of annoy-
ing Britain by excluding our flag [and] our freezing
[of] commerce from the continent of Europe from
whence we could more effectively annoy her [England's]
commerce and coasting trade than all the maritime
forces of combined Europe.8
Finally, in January, 1813, President Madison was able
to persuade Captain Jones to accept a position in his
administration. The new Secretary of the Navy quit Phila-
delphia for Washington and left behind his family. He had
no great expectations and was neither impressed by his own
office nor by the people he met in Washington. He knew his
new position would be a difficult one, and had no doubts
as to the demands it would make on him. As can be seen
in the following letter, which alludes to his new position,
Jones' private letters are quite obtuse and full of
intricate similes. Fortunately, his official correspondence
was usually laconic as it was often composed by a department
clerk from his notes. Yet his private correspondence re-
mains as a key to the man's personality and mind, and an
interesting commentary on an earlier age.
8. W. Jones to J. Roberts, June 10, 1812, UCSC.
Most of my friends whom I have casually met greet me
with pleasure and express great confidence, but com-
misserate me on the Herculean task I have to encounter.
Be it so, but I am sure it will give me
pleasure that though the report of its difficulties
increase and I answer my hope and confidence is strenth-
ened and the terrors appear to lessen with the serious
contemplation I have given to the subject. Having
accepted the trust with reluctance, but with the
purest motives and most ardent zeal, I ... cause of
our country why should I despair? My pursuits and
studies has [sic] been intimately connected with the
objects of the department and I have not been an in-
attentive observer of political causes and effects.
The truth is that the differences I have to encounter
are artificial, but they are not the less difficult
on that account. They arise from the corruption of
self-interested men who have taken root in the estab-
lishment and like the voracious poplar nothing can
thrive in their shade. But (as we did in our yard)
we can cut it down replace the fair pavement and let
in the cheering beams of the sun of truth and honesty.
I shall take care however not to cut rashly and in-
discriminately. If I cut off the noxious plants, I
shall cherish the useful trees.
But of what avail you will say is honest
attention and faithful services if assailed by the
breath of calumny and faction. I answer, if I am
incompetent & grossly negligent it will not be calumny--
If I am faithful and reasonably competent the con-
sciousness of virtue and fidelity I hope will sustain
me. To expect to pass without lashing would be idle.
I have only to request you not to mind it when it
Soon after his arrival in Washington, the republican Jones
wrote to his wife, Eleanor, expressing his disapproval of
the society which he had found. He never was at home or
9. W. Jones to E. Jones, January 23, 1813, UCSC.
happy in the capital's social life and, in the following
letter, he reveals his contempt for the masquerade in which
he is forced to participate.
'Ere I go to the drawing room to play the
farce of etiquette, let me snatch a moment to com-
mune with the wife of my bosom whose hourly converse
has so long been the solace of my leisure hours.
This is Wednesday evening and all the world
in Washington assemble weekly to pay their respects
at head quarters and I shall return early and go to
writing again. As yet I have not been able to return
the visits of ceremony to minister ... and I perceive
that my domestic habit, have utterly unfitted me for
a courtier for all this gives me pain instead of
pleasure, I have seen Tingey's wife [Thomas Tingey,
agent of the Navy Department and commandant of the
Washington Navy Yard] and she is really a comely
genteel and youthful woman while he is a withered
tremulous old man.
In my lodgings I am as comfortable as I can
be with a steady attentive good servant, and agreeable
messmates, but none of the affectionate faces which I
have been accustomed to see around me.10
Eleanor Jones eventually moved to the capital to be
with her husband, but she often returned to Philadelphia
for prolonged visits. While she was away in the late summer
of 1813, Jones described his bachelor life to her.
My spirits naturally good and disposition cheerful
(for Heaven and you well know that had they not my
heart must have long since bowed down) has really had
but little to preserve their natural tone. In my
lodgings I am a hermit or slave. In my office like
10. W. Jones to E. Jones, February 10, 1813, UCSC.
a public pump kept constantly wagging by any one
who thirsts after honors or emoluments which they run
off with whilst I am left dry, The little recreation
I get is a ride to the navy yard where I mount my
old hobby horse and feast my eye upon the noble ships
that are building and their little children the beauti-
ful Barges which I have constructed after my own fancy.
Those little excursions have in a great degree sus-i
tained my spirit and my health which is excellent.
To make himself more at home, the Secretary asked his wife
to bring him a few items from Philadelphia. Among these
were "two barrels of Snowden & Fishers pale ale," a "keg
of nice pickled tripe," "a barrel of nice fat mackeral,"
"three or four pots of french mustard," "a box of currants
some soft shelled almonds a jar of olives," plus some table
The summer of 1813 was a particularly busy and trying
time for the Secretary of the Navy. Madison was at his
home, Montpelier, in Virginia where he was so ill that at
times it seemed he would not survive. Secretary of State,
James Monroe, was vacationing in Virginia while the Secretary
of War, John Armstrong, was on the northern frontier ineptly
conducting the land forces, and Albert Gallatin, the Secre-
tary of the Treasury, was in Russia trying to arrange a
11. W. Jones to E. Jones, September 17, 1813, UCSC.
12. W. Jones to E. Jones, August 22, 1813, UCSC.
meeting with the British. Jones was the only person with
cabinet rank in the capital, and was, in effect, the
entire executive arm of the national government.
In Gallatin's absence, Jones had been formally ap-
pointed the acting head of the Treasury Department while
Gallatin was away, a trust he held from May, 1813, to
February, 1814. The President wanted to keep Gallatin
as an adviser and he feared that if .he removed this wily
financier, he would never be able to convince him to return
to the cabinet. There was also the possibility that the
Senate would refuse to confirm the unpopular Gallatin as
a peace commissioner. After Gallatin had actually been
confirmed as a member of the official United States dele-
gation at Ghent, a successor was named for the Treasury
Department and he never returned to the administration.14
When Gallatin left for Europe, he provided Jones with
detailed instructions on what he was to do as Acting Secretary
13. Madison's authorization for this action was a
statute of May 8, 1792, which permitted the President to
appoint any person to a cabinet office when "death, absence
from the seat of government, or sickness" shall prevent the
Secretary from performing his duties "until a successor be
appointed, or until such absence or inability by sickness shall
cease." United States Congress, The Public Statutes at Large
of the United States of America (Washington, 1856), I, 281.
14. See Raymond Walters, Jr., Albert Gallatin: Jeffer-
sonian Financier and Diplomat (New York, 1957), chapter 20.
of the Treasury. This official memorandum restricted him
to procedural matters and severely curtailed any original
actions that he might undertake, especially in the remis-
sions cases wherein ship owners asked that vessels be
returned to them. Typical of these cases was the one
involving the brig Catherine trading between St. Bartholomew
and Halifax under a neutral Swedish flag. When the vessel
was searched on the high seas, an American officer noted
that her real destination was New Haven, Connecticut. The
Catherine was thus plying an illegal trade between the
United States and the British West Indies. The owner, J.
Martin, was an American merchant who claimed that the in-
sertion of New Haven was a mistake by the foreign captain.
The acting Secretary was asked to intercede in this case
and innumerable similar ones.
The most pressing problem which Jones faced as acting
Secretary of the Treasury was to find a means of financing
the war. The projected revenues would not cover the nation's
actual expenditures. In 1813, 1814, and 1815, the adminis-
tration would be forced to seek loans, issue treasury
15. A. Gallatin to W. Jones, April 20, 1813, UCSC.
16. J. Martin to W. Jones, June 22, 1813, UCSC.
certificates, and raise taxes. The Congress always acceded
to these measures just in time to avert a financial dis-
aster. In the summer of 1813 Jones was asked to suggest
the best way of raising money. He sent a well-researched
answer to Congress which advocated loans backed by an
internal tax which would "facilitate the obtaining of the
loan," and help to procure it on "favorable terms." The
Secretary then presented his reasoning.
It is ascertained that the terms of the
loan, for the present year, would have been more
favorable, if the taxes had been previously laid;
and it is obvious enough, that, by affording a
security for the regular payment of the interest,
and the eventual reimbursement of the principal,
more stable, and less liable to be weakened or cut
off by the natural effects of war, upon internal
commerce, capitalists will advance with the greater
readiness, and at a lower rate of interest, the
funds necessary for the prosecution of the war,
public confidence will be ensured, and the means
afforded of preserving the public credit unimpaired--
a measure of the utmost importance in a country like
ours, where, from the lightness of the demands made
upon the People, during the continuance of peace, the
extraordinary expenses of a state of wa can be sup-
plied only by a resort to that credit.
Jones estimated that it would take at least four months of
hard work to enable the Treasury Department to set up the
apparatus for collecting the internal tax that Congress
17. ASP, Class III, Finance, II, 624.
had passed. This measure included a direct tax estimated
at three million dollars upon land, dwelling-houses, and
slaves, plus internal duties on stills, refined sugars,
retailers' licenses, bank notes, auction sales, carriages,
and an additional levy of twenty cents on each bushel of
imported salt. There was, however, more difficulty in-
volved in collecting the unpopular tax than Jones had
envisioned. Indeed, of the 190 electoral districts in the
nation, there were "74 for which no application or recom-
mendation for Collector" had been received by September
20, 1813. The law was to go into effect on January 1,
1814. Yet the law was operative in time to bring in
the needed revenues, and actually raised $3,882,482.18
the first year and, with increased rates, $6,840,732.48
in 1815. By these methods the government managed to keep
a surplus which wavered between two and four million dollars
in the treasury at all times during the war.
Jones rapidly fell behind in his Treasury Department
duties. Clerk Edward Jones reminded Secretary Jones "that
18. W. Jones to J. Eppes, June 21, 1813; Memo of
W. Jones, September 20, 1813; UCSC.
19. See Nielson, "Financial History"; and John W.
Kearny, Sketch of American Finances, 1789-1835 (New York,
there are in this office ready for signature, a number of
Remission Warrants, which, ..., are now become matters of
record and by reason of their date cannot in any event be
executed by any person but yourself. It has always been
an established rule in this Department never to permit the
chain or series of our official transactions to be inter-
rupted, ..., and I have with great deference ventured to
make this statement with a view of drawing your attention
to the subject."20
Jones never really wanted the added burdens of the
Treasury Department and only undertook them with reluctance
to help the President. He complained to Eleanor about the
increased duties, but because Madison expressed "so much
repugnance" at his desire to be relieved of the office,
he decided to continue until Gallatin's return which was
expected at any time. By December it was obvious that
Gallatin would not be returning to the department. Jones
thereupon told the President that he could no longer per-
form the duties of two departments and asked to be relieved
of the treasury post as soon as a successor could be found.
20. E. Jones to W. Jones, February 3, 1814, UCSC.
With the appointment of George W. Campbell in February,
1814, he was relieved of the onerous burden of two jobs.
The President, however, continued to consult with him on
fiscal matters. A normal request made by Madison per-
tained to the financing of the war. Jones replied that the
nation must rely upon "taxes--a national Bank--loans and
Treasury Notes" to continue prosecuting the war. "The
product of the first," he continued, "will be remote--
the aid of the second cannot be commanded in time to meet
the immediate demands on the Treasury which must therefore
be derived from the third and fourth."
As the Secretary of the Navy, William Jones had the
power to control a great deal of patronage and he was not
afraid to use it. He made certain that his own friends and
relatives were given government business or positions.
His brother, Lloyd, was made captain of the cartel, the
Neptune, which took the American peace commissioners to
21. W. Jones to E. Jones, July 14, 1813; W. Jones to
J. Madison,December 21, 1813; UCSC. W. Jones to J. Madison,
October, 1814, James Madison Papers (Microfilm Copy by the
Library of Congress). Hereafter abbreviated as JMP.
Europe in 1814. Jones' wife's sister married William
Strong who died practically impoverished. Jones' sister-
in-law supported her family by operating an apothecary shop
in Philadelphia. The Secretary ordered the navy agent at
Philadelphia, George Harrison, to buy all the medical
supplies for the outfitting of the United States frigate
Guerriere from Mrs. Strong "because the public will at the
same time be as well served, and it will aid the efforts
of a respectable and worthy woman to support and educate a
large young family."22 Perhaps Jones' closest friend was
William Young, a Philadelphia merchant who was also his
financial confidant. Young found himself in tight straits
and in need of a job when the war closed international
commerce. Jones found a position for him and received
Young's thanks, "the place of Naval Store keeper which in
your last letter you said you thought you could get for me
would be very acceptable by that help I should be able to
pay off my Bank debt which is $2100." William Jones was
22. W. Jones to G. Harrison, September 30, 1814,
United States Department of the Navy, "Letters Sent by the
Secretary of the Navy to Commandants and Navy Agents, 1808-
1865" (File microcopy of records in the National Archives:
no. 441). Hereafter abbreviated as lsc.
23. W. Young to W. Jones, December 8, 1813, UCSC.
the legal guardian of his wife's nephew, William Strong,
Jr., and he attempted to secure a sinecure for him. In
a confidential letter to Eleanor, the Secretary wrote about
the position he had in mind.
I am laying a plan for William's future fortune but
until I ascertain whether I can bring it to bear you
will not suggest it to anyone. I think the President
would not refuse any reasonable thing that I should
ask. The consulate at Cadiz is one of the best is
[sic] the gift of the government. It has been hitherto
held by an old Spaniard who has done all the business
by a vice consul, who with the best opportunity has
by imprudent speculation failed and will be removed
and I think there is a disposition to appoint a new
Consul. This is what I mean to ask and I think I
shall succeed. If I do it insures to William a certain
and speedy fortune.24
Of course, there was no civil service at this time, and it
was perfectly right and reasonable for a high administrative
official to see that posts were filled with men he could
Jones himself, however, not only made no fortune from
his position, but he fell into bankruptcy because of it.
His financial problems went back to 1808 when he returned
from India, the owner of a ship with an account of $120,000,
three-quarters of which was in indigo cloth and meant for
European consumption. The embargo kept the material in the
24. W. Jones to E. Jones, August 22, 1813, UCSC.
United States until June, 1811, when he sent it with an
agent to Russia. He was able to sell it for an unprofitable
amount which due to extra charges and storage costs made
the entire deal a severe loss. Meanwhile, he had to sell
his ship to gain funds, and because of the unsure state of
American commerce, could only realize half of its original
cost of $47,000. He tried to continue in his commercial
business while Secretary. What credits he did have were
tied up in Europe and could not come home, while his creditors
at home pressed him for payment. In personal letters to
friends and in business letters, Jones indicated that his
accounts were going down, and he was compelled to ask his
creditors for additional sums. He described his financial
troubles to his friend, William Young.
25. W. Jones to J. Madison, April 25, 1814, JMP.
W. Jones to William & Francis, September 26, 1813, UCSC.
26. W. Young to W. Jones, January 24, 1813; January 28,
1813; March 1, 1813; March 7, 1813; June 29, 1813; July, 1813;
September 19, 1813; December 8, 1813; UCSC. W. Jones to
E. Jones, April 7, 1813; September 30, 1814; UCSC. W. Jones
to W. Young, July 6, 1813; August 17, 1814; UCSC. W. Jones
to J. Savage, September 26, 1813, UCSC. T. Darry & J.
Roberts to W. Jones, July 8, 1813, UCSC.
But after all my toil and trouble
and the immense sacrifice of feeling and
interest I have made I shall not at my ad-
vanced time of life have a shilling left,
for estimating my calculated debt interest
included at $14,000 and you know all that I
own and you will find that my debts will ab-
sorb all that I have land and house included.
My public situation is the only thing that
gives me pain under these circumstances. But
the moment peace return [sic], and I do not
believe it very remote I shall return to
private life and to business, in which with a
reputation free from blemish and some branch
of business in which I see great advantages
with little capital I still hope to spend the
residue of my days in that peaceful retire-
ment which I have ever sought with sincere
In an even more poignant letter near the end of his time
in office, Jones wrote to Eleanor, "After all I shall return
to your arms a beggar with the proceeds of our surplus
furniture carriage and horses and a few dollars scraped
from the late savings in all perhaps sufficient to
support us 12 or 18 months in retired economy. Well
never mind it, I shall return with a pure heart and peace
of mind as cheerful as a lark and with sufficient common
sense to keep out of the snares of public life."28
27. W. Jones to W. Young, April 11, 1813, UCSC.
28. W. Jones to E. Jones, November 6, 1814, UCSC.
By the end of his term Jones' credits amounted to $29,692
and his debts to $47,000 or a net debit of $17,308.29
In a little more than a year after taking office, Jones
was seriously thinking of resigning. On April 25, 1814, he
told Madison that he wanted to leave the Navy Department
for personal reasons, but would remain on until the next
session of Congress so Madison would have time to choose
a successor. By the late spring, his desire to retire had
become public knowledge. As his financial troubles worsened,
he wrote to Eleanor, "My unceasing efforts will be to get
out of office vhich will absolutely take place in all this
year--I think by the 1st of December." On September
11, 1814, he submitted both an official letter of resigna-
tion to the President and a private one which explained why
he had to give up his position. In the private letter,
Secretary Jones declared to Madison that,
It is now obligatory upon me to meet
and make some compromise with those who hold or
are bound for my obligations and by my personal
exertions to make the best disposition of the
property I hold, trusting to better times and
future industry for that relief of which my
labours and principles I trust have merited.
... Mere abstract poverty is nothing but
29. W. Jones to Savage & Dugan, April 13, 1815, UCSC.
sensibly alive to those principles of integrity
and punctuality which have guided my whole life,
the inability to meet my engagements and to
avert the inconvenience and possible loss which may
accrue to those who are immediately liable for
my obligations is painful in the extreme.
Secretary Jones told Madison that "I shall never regret
[my current financial state] if my services shall have been
useful to my country and satisfactory to you--a consumma-
tion which with very moderate talents and a heart ill
at ease, I can scarcely flatter myself." The end had come,
however, and he had no regrets. He had done his duty and
was glad to have been a part of the Madison administration.
Philosophically he commented to his wife upon the public
maliciousness all officials have to face.
Much joy to my successor--whoever he may be.
I hope he may acquire honor for himself and
fame for his country, but instead of a wreath
of laurels he has a much greater chance of
acquiring a crown of thorns. The truth is
that our Government is so constituted and
public sentiments (so called) so capricious
and arbitrary that the high public officers
are liable to be arraigned and tried & con-
demned by a species of revolutionary tribunal
which though it does not strike off the head
stabs the more noble and vital part the
30. W. Jones to J. Madison, April 25, 1814, JMP.
D. Coxe to W. Jones, May 26, 1814; W. Jones to E. Jones,
September 7, 1814; W. Jones to J. Madison, September 11,
1814; UCSC. W. Jones to J. Madison, April 25, 1814, JMP.
W. Jones to E. Jones, September 20, 1814, UCSC.
When Jones made it known to Madison that he wanted to
retire the President responded with regret. "Whatever may
happen," Madison wrote, "I cannot let the present occasion
pass without expressing the gratification I have experienced
in the entire fulfillment of my expectations, large as they
were, from your talents and exertions, and from all those
personal qualities which harmonize official and sweeten
social intercourse."31 After Jones resigned a public dinner
was held in his honor in Washington as a testimony of the
"high esteem" the citizens of that city had for him.32
The Baltimore Patriot bemoaned Jones' retirement saying
that he had "more essentially benefited the department,
than any of his predecessors" and that "he embarked in his
administerial labors with defined principles of duty, to
which he has resolutely adhered, regardless of party clamor
or political discontent." Many years after leaving the
Presidency, Madison was asked by Henry Lee to comment upon
Jones. By this time William Jones would have been
31. J. Madison to W. Jones, April 24, 1814, JMP.
32. C. Carroll, et al., December 10, 1814, UCSC.
33. Clipping from the Baltimore Patriot, no date, in
a letter from R. Spence to W. Jones, November, 1814, UCSC.
involved in a banking scandal which permanently tarnished
his reputation, but the ex-president unstintingly praised
I must be allowed to express my surprise
at the unfavorable view taken of the appointment
of Mr. Jones. I do not hesitate to pronounce him
the fittest Minister who had ever been charged
with the Navy Department. With a strong mind,
well stored with the requisite knowledge, he
possessed great energy of character and unde-
fatigable application to business. I cannot
doubt that the evidence of his real capacity,
his appropriate acquirements, and his effective
exertions in a most arduous service and the most
trying scenes, now to be found on the files of the
Department, as well as my own, would reverse the
opinion which seems to have been formed of him.
Nor in doing him justice ought it to be omitted
that he had on his hands the Treasury as well as the
Navy Department, and at a time when both called
for unusual attention, and that he did not shrink
from the former, for which he proved himself
qualified, till the double burden became
After leaving the Navy Department, Jones returned to
Philadelphia where he was able to recoup the fortune he
had lost while Secretary. Partially due to his friend-
ship with Alexander Dallas who became Secretary of the
Treasury in October, 1814, and due to his capable handling
34. J. Madison to H. Lee, February, 1827, JMP.
of the Treasury Department, Jones was elected the first
president of the second Bank of the United States in
July, 1816. But he was over his head in this capacity.
His knowledge of banking was minimal and the chief reasons
for his appointment political. He soon became involved
in the intra-bank squabble and was implicated in some shady
stock transfers. His degree of involvement was never
ascertained although it appeared to be more a crime of
ignorance than maliciousness. However, he was forced
to resign the presidency of the bank, in disgrace, in
January, 1819. He then joined with Joshua and Samuel
Humphreys in a company to build steamships. This en-
deavor enabled him to enhance his holdings. From 1827
until 1829 he held the sinecure of Collector of Customs
for the port of Philadelphia.36
35. "Memorial of William Jones, late President
of the Bank of the United States to the House of
Representatives," House Executive Document, No. 130,
15th Congress, 2d Session.
36. For the little biographical information which
exists on William Jones, see Frederick, "William Jones,"
Dictionary of American Biography, X, 205; "William Jones,"
The National Cyclopedia of American Biography (New York,
1907), V, 373; and Kenneth Brown, "The William Jones
Papers," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography,
LXVI (October, 1942), 479-482.
In the summer of 1831, Jones left fever-ridden Phila-
delphia for the cool air of the Pocano mountains. On the
way there, he stopped at the pleasant community of Bethle-
hem where he had served his shipbuilding apprenticeship
as a boy. He, however, had carried the fever with him
and died at the Sun Inn in Bethlehem on September 6. In
accordance with his special request, the Moravian Church
permitted the Episcopalian from Philadelphia to be buried
in their church's beautiful cemetery, "God's Acre," where
i. -,* -, 37
he lies today.37
37. Levering, History of Bethlehem, p. 653. Some
controversy exists on his place of burial. Frederick in
the Dictionary of American Biography states that Jones
was buried in St. Peter's churchyard, Philadelphia. I
could find no gravestones indicating his body even though
his wife and family are buried there; see William W.
Bronson, The Inscriptions in St. Peter's Church Yard,
Philadelphia (Camden, N.J., 1879), p. 90. Bethlehem,
on the other hand, does have grave records for William
Jones, 1760-1831. Furthermore, it seems inconceivable
that the corpse of a man who had died from a contagious
fever during an epidemic would be shipped over 60 miles
in the summer for burial.
THE NAVY DEPARTMENT
When William Jones took command of the Navy Depart-
ment, the organization was in chaos. The new Secretary
prepared himself for his responsibilities by asking his
old friend, Alexander Dallas, to compile a brief sketch
of all the laws pertaining to the navy, especially those
relative to the "powers of the department." There were
no naval advisers to the Secretary. It was an entirely
pre-professional operation. He was "the department;
whatever had to be authorized or done, he authorized and
did. To him reported the civilian superintendents or
naval commandants of the six navy yards, as well as a
fluctuating and widely scattered number of navy agents.
Each ship was usually an independent unit, its commander
receiving orders directly from the Secretary. ... The system
was as simple and embryonic as could have well been imagined.
1. A. Dallas to W. Jones, January 24, 1813, UCSC.
When faced with the emergency of war, it proved as ineffi-
cient as would have been expected."2
The enemy's naval administration was theoretically
superior, but, in actual use, often fell short of the
American system. One writer has said, "Venality and
neglect were so extensive ... that an administrative his-
torian, if he did not know in advance that the British
navy was by far the strongest and most consistently
victorious navy of the period, could easily end with a
catalogue of reasons for British naval collapse." At
the top of the administrative hierarchy stood "the
Commissioners constituted to execute the Office of Lord
High Admiral," or, more commonly, the Board of Admiralty.
Of a total of seven members, the First Lord and six sub-
ordinates, only one or two usually knew anything about naval
service although, occasionally, the First Lord himself was
a retired admiral. The Board of Admiralty had the overall
responsibility for the British navy: its personnel, ships,
and services. It was not responsible for naval strategy or
2. Leonard D. White, The Jeffersonians: A Study in
Administrative History, 1801-1829 (New York, 1951), p. 270.
3. Daniel A. Baugh, British Naval Administration in
the Age of Walpole (Princeton, N.J., 1965), p. 2.
tactics--these things were decided by the Cabinet of which
the First Lord was a member, usually not a very important
one. The Board of Admiralty did forward orders to its
commanders on station, and, unlike the United States Navy
Department, it did not maintain communications with sub-
In addition to the Board of Admiralty there were
numerous specialized boards which gave advice to the Cabinet.
Among these were the Sick and Wounded Office, the Victual-
ling Office, and the Navy Office. The first two were sub-
ordinate to the Navy Office and are self-explanatory. The
Navy Office was a very influential board of about twenty
members who had either risen through the civil service or
naval line duty to their position. The Navy Office was
the work horse of the Admiralty. It was responsible for
everything except strategy, tactics, and recruitment of
personnel. It was entrusted with the care of the fleet,
the control of naval finances, and the health and subsis-
tence of the sailors. Each member of the Navy Office was
a specialist with long experience who was in charge of a
particular area. It was such a board which the United
States would try to imitate in the years immediately follow-
ing the War of 1812.
While the Admiralty had a theoretical sovereignty
over the Navy Office, in practice, the permanent Navy Office
had more authority than the Board of Admiralty. The
Cabinet preferred to listen to specialists rather than to
political appointees who may or may not know anything
about the navy. There was often bitter in-fighting between
the two offices which naturally prevented any efficient
service. Yet this chaotic system was to be kept until
1832 when a more professional Board of Admiralty was
The United States Department of the Navy had two
offices, the Secretary and his staff and the accountant's
division; there were nine clerks in the former office and
eleven in the latter.5 The Chief Clerk of the department
when Jones arrived was Charles W. Goldsborough who has
been called the American Pepys. He was a member of a very
wealthy and influential Maryland family, and, except for
the two years of Jones' administration, he held the position
of Chief Clerk from 1807 to 1843. Jones' removal of this
4. See Baugh, British Naval Administration, chapter 2.
5. Paullin, "Naval," p. 1309.
seemingly indispensable man was simply a housecleaning
move. Jones never accused the man of peculation, but he
was convinced that Goldsborough was responsible for most
of the department's confusion. On February 27, 1813, he
fired Goldsborough and the following day made a memo to
himself about the incident. "On my part," the Secretary
wrote, "really wishing to render the manner of his retir-
ing as little irksome to him as possible and my determina-
tion to dispose with his services being founded upon the
excessively disordered and confused state in which I have
found every branch of the Department of which he has been
the principal director for twelve years, and at the same
time witnessing his capacity and facility of business am
compelled to attribute it to some other cause than the want
of the requisite qualifications, I am justified in selecting
another and this he readily admits."6
The firing of Goldsborough, however, was more than a
simple change caused by an administrative turn-over. It
was a sign of the internal squabbling and dissatisfaction
which would be inimical to the proper functioning of the
6. Memo of W. Jones, February 28, 1813, UCSC.
Navy Department. Surprisingly, Goldsborough was apologetic
to Jones and thanked the Secretary for being as considerate
as he had been--Jones even bought Goldsborough's Washington
home as a mutual convenience to both. The Secretary wrote
to his wife that, "I did not wish to afford a triumph I
gave him an opportunity of giving the change the appearance
of choice. ... I continued his service until it had the
public appearance of his own act & convenience this recon-
ciled him and he expressed gratitude for the delicacy with
which I had treated him." Furthermore, Jones knew that the
man had "made himself useful" to many of the naval officers,
and he feared that dissension might result if the break
appeared to be his doing.
By the summer of 1814, however, Goldsborough was tell-
ing Madison that Jones had been duped by Dr. Ewell, an
inventor who had tried unsuccessfully to sell the department
an inferior grade of gunpowder. The Ewell-Goldsborough
feud blossomed into a minor Navy Department scandal which
was put to verse in a poem called "The Switch" (see following
page). By June, 1814, Goldsborough was bold enough to present
7. W. Jones to E. Jones, March 22, 1813, UCSC.
A VERY SIORT POEMdCONSlITING OF O.E rANTO.
firCilIO.NED MY A LATE R'PTURE BETWEEN TWO S'ABJLTEAV AGENTS IN TE.
SIll'n Rogure fall oat. llHuonest Vrn rome &V tAeir r. tA g'
t oritAitTorntis --Printed by Josn PitA&Last, at tie BeIady Muony Press, wlth ic epe. to all
parties. but afraidof uwus--l~th January, Anne J coui Psino quarto.
Two kntes have just quarrled-Good people, dont
Of their strife what has furnish'd the fuel.
farles Dobet ('----- kept all the plunder
F'remon his co partner, little Teom V L
Whirh rogue is ii. greaterr I can't ascertain,
N or which is the Ils of a fighter.
The rogue who from mudimne made* all his gain,
Or the rogue who defrauded In Nitro
Ti, turns accuser. Ckarus boldly impeaches;
The charges are now laid before you-
But. decide as*you will an those two .Vary leerhis,
They are equal a gul"t. I assure you.
Charles says runningg owundre" is nothing but "chaff,"
Such charge he with laughter ran meet, sir;
.ow if scoundrel be chaff, merely raising a laugh,
Pray, what shall we think of the whart. sir '
Of magnanimous Tom, we must ever admire
The pairtilum if not lth piety,
Who to cut (Charles' throat evinced a desire,
For the evident good of society
Yet tome enviou esols deny him the praise
(Oi public spirit, or sven of gumcoan,
And contend t>at a deal i one of his ways
iOf prumotiag has powder-consumption
Be that *s it may. it appears that hit foe
Would n9t be the dpe of h:is cunning.
In short, tht a pltfilieng he would not go,
Though he frequently goes out a gunjint,
('harle sayst, without him that our naval affairs
Wo ld be soon in a dr*eadful condition ,
If te saying be true. then Tom U' L appears
Very proper Ifor nTaval physician
But some people think if our naval sturre"
S would depend on this Charles double 1'.
(Ojr martime vlctoriet henceforth would be less.
A ad our vpltures ofngates more few
Tte war of thoee misrentsio is m party war.
liace 1t known by Ill sties and mademis,
That they beth *el slanech federalist., if you trace them
As the reig f eld fed f l Joan Adoise
Source: Unidentified newsoaner
What they maybe at present, so mortal can toll,
Nor is it fig to the nation.
But that which they res to be. all know right well,
Fritsids of ery adssinistratfion
Charles says they'll be tried by a Jury of --Pasga:"
I-avet. without aim to be witty,
That twlve .s great rogue.. irl hearr not lo (cAtir cars,
Can't be fouJ in iall W ahnigton city
Our city, tis true his its portion of knamves ,
Of my miad to give every itta.
Of pick forkoes. windler. *and sycoplhanUt-
Each bell'igert seuew the other ef crimes,
Of swindlih, ofleial rapacity,
And, touh thgh ey will lie at l1 other times.
You may mow safelytrust their veracity.
But, only admiting that lin t half is trvin
Of what each hais said ul hi br.,tt.lr.
I submit totk*e inudsof th' unprejudi ed few
Whether one shuu!d not march after tolther.
If swindling be cherished, nd knavery t? nrive
bl y, ounnivane of this wealthy nation.
For my part, I tU see no guuood rrelun alive.
Why thes things should ut &; b) rotation
Though "in for a pmnny, and in for a pound,"
Seemi a favorite maum at court ,
Vet, in my apprehension, when four year$ come round.
New hands should partake of the sport
An arrangement. oj)ust. would five general jav,
And, besides. termiate those vtile quarrtns
Wi.ch greatly the peice of I..* uilv sioy.
BIy exposing our Washinaittun oue'rals
Of orffe the undisturbed tenure perplu,, I
by to mean romp....rts with mv wi.hre
A few nmn iawsc.dinK to my civil ri usll
S!Aould'ut catch ea the loavs said tihe "as,
Then. turn out tho*e fellow,. pray, good capt ,Ae,
Lt others retom in lor somea plunder .
The I.t Koaes will be Itlhd to get off with whjl btce,
L%.ea surh vile sccusstreas they're Uder
clinoinc. lare mbTn r. 1R13.
his position to the President. The ex-clerk wrote that
Dr. Ewell had proclaimed,
"that if Goldsborough was out of the
way, he could make his ten thousands out of the
Department--that he would leave no stone un-
turned--no means, fair or foul, unessayed, to
procure his dismissal."
True to his purpose, thus avowed, he set
out by ascribing to me improper connections with
contractors--this calumny refuted, the ground of
attack was shifted. From one charge refuted he
advanced to another, varying his methods and his
means, till at length he touched the chord that
vibrated to his purpose--with hired agents he
industriously circulated a report that I was a
"violent federalist--a loud disclaimer against
the administration--an apologist for British
aggressions &c." Every unprincipled contractor,
every expectant of office, united the hue & cry--
& the charge, tho false, was believed. One of
these Expectants, a man to me a stranger, par-
ticularly distinguished himself for his zeal--
altho but four month's previously he had written
a letter now existing, denouncing your whole ad-
ministration, he was loud against my "bitter
federalism;" & his honorable patriotic views have
been accomplished, for he was appointed my
Goldsborough, however, was not reinstated to his position
until after Jones had left office; Dr. Ewell was never able
to sell his gunpowder to the department; and Benjamin
Holmans, Goldsborough's successor, soon was fighting with
another clerk, E. W. DuVal.
8. C. Goldsborough to J. Madison, June 18, 1814, JMP.
9. E. DuVal to W. Jones, September 27,1813; B. Holmans
to W. Jones, September 30, 1813; UCSC.
When Holmans took over Goldsborough's position as
Chief Clerk, he complained about the cramped space and
bureaucratic jealousies with which he had to contend.
Holmans concluded that, "I cannot and I ought not after
the experience I have had, doubt of my ability to give
satisfaction in the performance of any and all the duties
that may devolve upon me--I want only that confidence that
most men have enough of, and my disposition would lead to
render the duties easy and agreeable to all connected with
me--but as a perfect stranger, laboring under some dis-
advantages, and finding an office in such a state, that
time alone can enable me to become acquainted with the
routine of duties to remedy its defects."10 It would be
difficult to overemphasize the confusion existing in the
department or to exaggerate the enormous burden placed on
the back of the head of that bureau. "In qualitative terms
the navy itself was all that one could reasonably expect,
but the Navy Department was not."11
10. B. Holmans to W. Jones, no date, UCSC.
11. Harry L. Coles, The War of 1812 (Chicago, 1965),
Two of the most amorphous classes of subordinates
with whom Secretary Jones had to deal were the pursers
and the agents. The pursers were minor, but important,
officials whose duties were paying the crew of a vessel
and selling necessaries, or "slops," to the crew while at
sea. All pursers were required to place a ten thousand
dollar bond with the department before assuming office.
Soon after becoming Secretary of the Navy, Jones revoked
a large number of pursers' commissions and replaced them
with men whom he felt were more responsible. The pursers
received a salary of $480 per year, but were allowed to
make a profit of from ten to fifty per cent on the goods
sold to the crew. "Chaplain George Jones wrote that, the
purser's berth was 'the best in the ship' for 'in a short
time, it brings wealth enough to render the man independent.'
He had heard that often a three-year cruise on a frigate in
the Pacific a purser could make $30,000." Among the goods
sold by the pursers to the men for cash or credit, which
was deducted from their pay, were tea, soap, clothing, mus-
tard, sugar, and pepper. The practice of allowing pursers
to accept promissory notes from the sailors "could easily
result in a form of debt peonage where the sailor saw only
a fraction of his wages." The Navy Department tried to
regulate the amount of debt which a man could assume, but
the efforts had little effect on halting the practice.12
A much more important office was that of naval agent.
The men appointed to this office were civilians with some
sort of political connections. Thomas Tingey, the comman-
dant of the Washington Navy Yard, was also the navy agent
at Washington until November, 1813, when Richard Parott
was appointed to his place. Tingey was an exception. No
one else ever held the two jobs of agent and commandant
simultaneously. As of September, 1814, there were fourteen
other agents scattered throughout the country in ports or
inland towns where the Navy Department wished to conduct
business. The other agents were Samuel Storer of Portland,
Maine, Henry S. Langdon of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Amos
Binney of Boston, Massachusetts, Constant Taber of Newport,
Rhode Island, Joseph Hull of Middletown, Connecticut, John
Bullus of New York, New York, George Harrison of Philadelphia,
12. Harold D. Langley, Social Reform in the United
States Navy, 1798-1862 (Urbana, Ill., 1967), p. 82.
Pennsylvania, Jeames Beatty of Baltimore, Maryland, John
H. Fawn of Norfolk, Virginia, Joseph Potts of Wilmington,
North Carolina, John Robertson of Charleston, South
Carolina, A. S. Bullock of Savannah, Georgia, J. K. Sith
of New Orleans, Louisiana, and James Morrison of Lexington,
Kentucky. Some of these men were responsible for rather
large areas. Bullus in New York had to take care of all
the lake service as well as the port of New York.
Simply stated, the navy agents were responsible for
purchasing all the supplies needed by the department. They
were required to give the government a ten thousand dollar
bond before receiving their commission. Jones described
the duties of an agent thus: "all purchases contracts and
engagements for supplies of every description (except such
as this Department may specifically direct) will be made by
him. And all surplus or condemned articles in the Navy
Yard or delivered from Vessels of the United States Navy
at the Yard will be disposed of by him and under the direc-
tion of the Department as you may report from time to time."14
13. Circular, September 15, 1814, lsc.
14. W. Jones to T. Tingey, November 13, 1813, lsc.
A navy agent was expected to seek bids on an item needed
in his area. The agent was not to restrict bidding to
his own locale, but was to seek some items nationwide.
Often it was difficult to ascertain where the agents'
duties ended and those of a purser began. This was es-
pecially important to the men involved as they received a
commission on all goods passing through their hands. Hugh
Campbell, commandant of the Navy Yard at St. Mary's, Georgia,
asked the Secretary to define the respective duties of the
agents and the pursers when the latter were on shore.15
Jones clearly explained the duties of each official to
I wish you to understand that all
supplies for the use of the Navy, are furn-
ished by the Navy Agent upon the requisition
of the commanding naval officer, or of the
Purser approved by the commanding officer.
All purchases and contracts are properly and
lawfully made only by the Agent, and such
requisitions for supplies should be made at
regular stated periods, in order to enable
the Agent to purchase or contract to advantage.
No money can be drawn from the Agent by the
Purser, unless approved by the commanding
15. H. Campbell to W. Jones, January 29, 1814.
United States Department of the Navy, "Letters Received by
the Secretary of the Navy from Captains" (File microcopy
of records in the National Archives: no. 125). Hereafter
abbreviated as lrc.
officer, and the particular object of ex-
penditure stated, so that the Agent may make
his requisitions under proper heads of
appropriation, briefly explaining the objects
to which such expenditure is to be applied.16
Most of the correspondence from Jones to the agents
is about their failure to keep proper accounts. Jones
was a stickler for exact records, and was able to un-
cover some questionable dealings by closely examining
the -agents' books. He felt a great responsibility for
keeping watch over the agents, for, after all, it was
through them that all of the expenses of the navy, except
for the salary of the Secretary and his staff, were paid.
Upon taking office he received a letter sent to his friend,
Chandler Price, by a Mr. Morgan who complained of the
corruption of the Navy Agent at New Orleans. The corres-
pondent noted that "I could tell him [Jones] things about
the navy here that would astonish him, but there is no time
for complaining and explaining. Send a man here who has
a warm heart for his country who will do his duty and not
devote his time to speculating upon the necessities of his
country."17 Jones felt this complaint was justified and
16. W. Jones to H. Campbell, February 11, 1814. United
States Department of the Navy, "Letters Sent by the Secretary
of the Navy to Officers, 1798-1868" (File microcopy of records
in the National Archive: no. 149). Hereafter abbreviated as lso.
17. B. Morgan to C. Price, January 11, 1813, UCSC.
removed not only the agent at New Orleans, but the one at
Charleston as well. Occasionally, he would discipline
an agent for improper practices but not dismiss him. A
case in point was that of the New York agent, John Bullus.
Secretary Jones told Bullus that he had "observed in your
general transactions, that the most prominent articles are
purchased or procured at rates apparently above the market
price and certainly considerably higher than at the other
neighboring agencies; and that your principal transactions
are generally confined to two or three particular firms."
One of these firms, Jones noted, was that of Bullus, Decatur
and Rucker, and the Secretary warned that only if Bullus
could prove that open bidding had taken place, would the
transactions be honored. He told Bullus, "These things
must be explained and corrected." He corresponded with
Bullus again on May 23, 1814, and told him not to contract
for anything without the express permission of the Depart-
ment. When Bullus sent in an order for a small number of
candles, Jones replied that he meant only major contracts.
18. W. Johnson to W. Jones, March 31, 1813, UCSC.
19. W. Jones to J. Bullus, April 25, 1814; May 23,
1814; June 4, 1814; lsc.
Word got back to Jones of another incident involving
a species of fraud by a navy agent,. This time Thomas
Tingey who had an ideal situation for practicing his
deception was the culprit. As commandant of the Washington
Navy Yard, he was able to purchase much equipment for his
own use. Some of the yard's tools or other items he was
loaning out to friends were not for official navy business.
Due to normal wear, the goods soon would no longer have
any value to the department, and, as the navy agent in
the area, Tingey could sell them at auction to the highest
bidder. He thus made a profit on the purchase and sale of
every item plus probably some sort of compensation from the
friends he had helped by lending them navy goods. Jones
told him that "the practice has been entirely irregular"
and ordered him to cease it.20 Shortly thereafter Tingey
was replaced as navy agent, but allowed to remain as the
commandant of the Washington Navy Yard.
There always seemed to be too great a demand for the
money which the department had on hand. The Secretary was
20. W. Jones to T. Tingey, August 5, 1814, lsc.
continually admonishing captains and commandants not to
waste public monies. In a typical letter of this sort,
he cautioned Captain Isaac Hull,
I rely upon your care and frugality so
to arrange every thing in your department as to
produce the greatest possible public benefit at
the least possible expense recollecting that every
cent applied to unnecessary or superfluous pur-
poses, is so much taken from the efficient force
of the Navy, which it is our sacred duty to
cherish and improve that our means are limited and
our expenditures hitherto such as greatly to dis-
courage and injure the establishment, and that by
proper arrangement and system those who have
been adversaries, may be converted into friends.
Jones had to prod the Congress into providing the
department with more funds. By February 7, 1813, the Navy
Department had a deficit of $1,043,501.45 which Congress
had to make up. Although the Secretary was hard-
pressed at other times, never again would the department
be so low in funds as this time when Jones first assumed
the office. The cost of war was far higher than anyone
had expected in the year before. The new head was able to
estimate future expenses more accurately while, at the same
21. W. Jones to I. Hull, April 28, 1813, lsc.
22. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 286.
time, he dispensed them more frugally. So competent had
Jones become in handling the finances of the Navy Depart-
ment that a year after he took office, Congressman Thomas
Gholson of Virginia commented on his economy. "It had
appeared," Mr. Gholson said, "on examination a year ago,
from the estimates of the expenditures of the British navy,
that the expense per man of the British navy was not more
than about one half of that of a man of our Navy. But it
appeared, since that day, much reform had taken place; so
much so that, ... the comparative expense was now greater
in the British service than in ours."23 There were times,
however, even with the most prudent management, when the
naval service ran low on funds. This was especially the
case toward the end of 1814, but Jones was determined to
make it through the year on the money the department had.
He ordered the agents to disperse their monies in the
following order of priority:
1st Recruiting Service and Transportation.
2nd Pay of the Navy, in part, if not the whole.
3d Provisions, in part, If the purchase is
considerable the seller ought not to expect
23. United States Congress, Annals of the Congress
of the United States, 13th Congress, 2nd Session, XXVI,
1011. Hereafter abbreviated as A/C.
4th Other supplies of the most immediate
necessity, which from the nature of the
article and usage of the market, may
require prompt payment, apportioning
the payments as equitably as may be, and
withholding the largest proportion from
the largest claimants.24
Even before Secretary Jones had taken office, he recog-
nized that there were serious deficiencies in the structure
and functioning of his bureau. He was determined to see
that the department would operate efficiently and that the
public would get its money's worth. In an eight-page letter
addressed to Langdon Cheves, Chairman of the House Naval
Enquiry Committee, he made many recommendations for
improvement. In regard to the present system of purchase
through commissioned agents, the Secretary said that these
officials should "received fixed salaries, instead of com-
missions. That in all purchases they should advertise for
sealed proposals, and be bound to accept those most favorable
to the government, and that they shall regularly make oath
at the settlement of their quarterly accounts, that they
have compiled with the above regulations." 25 While he made
24. Circular to Navy Agents from W.Jones, September
13, 1814, lsc.
25. W. Jones to L. Cheves, January 9, 1813, UCSC.
it the rule of the department for agents to accept the
lowest bids on an item and to make a regular settlement of
their accounts, the commissioned agents were kept until
after Jones had left.
The government was losing money, he observed, from
contracts drawn too loosely, which allowed the contractors
to cheat the department. The lack of tables of organization
and equipment enabled captains to arm, arrange, or equip
their vessels as they saw fit. He sought a remedy for this
prodigious liberty by classifying "the different vessels,
to regulate the armament, complete equipment and allowances
of the various stores for each vessel." He said that depots
were also necessary at various places with good ports so
that ships could draw supplies, thus saving time and
expense. He also believed that the government could save
money by contracting jobs out to private firms, which had
previously been saved for artificers on salary at the navy
yards. Additional sources of waste occurred when captains
altered their vessels. Jones proposed, instituted, and
strictly enforced "A regulation forbidding any commander
to alter in any degree the vessels under his command, unless
by particular permission or order from the secretary of the
navy." Further wastage arose due to the lack of drydocks,
to the placing of navy yards in rivers difficult to navigate,
and to the lack of accountability of warrant officers.
Jones finally noted that the "gunboats are a waste of money."
They were, he said, really adjuncts to land batteries, and,
therefore, militia officers rather than naval captains should
command them. Furthermore, since the gunboats were "of
no use in fighting enemy ships and cannot venture into
sea fights," he did not see why the navy should be concerned
with their operation at all. In summation, Jones gave his
opinions on the chief causes of the inefficiency of the
Navy Department, and proposed that a board of naval officers
be established to advise the Secretary on all professional
matters. As he well knew, the British had used such a
board of advisers for years and found that it aided the
civilian administrators who had to make military decisions.
One of the great causes of the present mis-
management is in my opinion owing to the want of an
efficient and uniform system for the government of
all the different branches of the service. A system,
which should fully and clearly establish the duties
of every officer, and the mode in which these duties
should be performed; a system which should control
the expenditures of the public monies in all the
minute details, as well as in the more general
expenditures which should prescribe the armament
and equipment and the proper allowances of every
description for vessels of each class and which
should enable the department at all times to ascer-
tain with precision the actual state and condition
of the whole establishment and provide in season
for its probable wants.
Another and perhaps greater cause of the
present mismanagement is, the want of a board of
professional men, to advise the head of the depart-
ment on questions mainly professional, and to super-
intend the details of service; and particularly to
see that all established regulations shall be carried
into complete and full effect. To this board might
be applied also the duty of making all contracts, of
examining the accounts of all officers charged with
stores (pursers excepted) to examine midshipmen &
certify to their qualifications for promotion.
The proper persons to constitute such a
board at present, are conceived to be three naval
men, having under their direction a surgeon general
and contractor general.26
This document was unique in the history of the Navy
Department. The letter was meant to be one of private sug-
gestions to a concerned Congressman, and not to be an offi-
cial statement of the Secretary of the Navy. Yet this was
the first time in the nation's history that any naval Secre-
tary had tried to plot a rational organization for the
department and to suggest corrections for the deficiencies
which had grown since 1798.
26. W. Jones to L. Cheves, January 9, 1813, UCSC.
When Secretary Jones was pressed for more information
by the official Senate and House committees on the navy,
he refused to be hurried into any quick decisions. At
first he asked Congressman Burwell Bassett of Virginia to
sponsor legislation establishing a purveyor's office, but
later.changed his mind and only requested two additional
clerks. The Senate committee also pressed Jones for a
detailed plan of reorganization; and although he admitted
to the members that "no object can be more sensible" toward
reform "than myself," he asked to be allowed to have time
for reflection. "And, as it is better to labor with known
evils, than to hazard a premature and inadequate system, I
have thought it best to postpone the subject for the present,
respectfully submitting, however, to the wisdom of Congress
to revise the system, if it shall deem it now necessary."28
William Jones would not communicate any additional
ideas on reorganization until near the very end of his term,
but he carried out many of the departmental reforms he had
suggested to Cheves on his own. Agents and pursers were
told that they had to make monthly reports; warrant officers
27. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 285-286.
28. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 307.
were made responsible for articles in their care; many
artificers were fired, and some of the shipbuilding was
contracted out to private firms; full warehouses were set-
up in ports to enable ships to reload quickly and return to
sea; all contracts were to be let out on a competitive
basis; ships were classified, and a primitive table of
organization and equipment was devised to provision them;
and, finally, no naval commander was permitted to alter his
ship without the express permission of the Secretary of the
In November, 1814, Jones submitted a plan to the Senate
for the "Re-organization and Extension of the Navy, the
Establishment of a Board of Inspectors, and a Naval Academy."
This report reflected his views after two years in office
and confirmed his earlier opinions. He first noted in his
report that "the duties enjoined, or which necessarily
devolve upon the Secretary of the Navy, particularly during
a period of active and diversified hostility, are beyond the
powers of any individual to discharge to the best advantage,
cannot be doubted; though, by great labor and assiduity,
with adequate professional qualifications, he may possibly
execute the general and most essential branches of duty with
tolerable success." While Jones recommended reform, he did
not advocate a wholesale change in the department. It,
Jones said, must save those features to which "the exalted
reputation of our infant navy must be attributed." While
the navy itself was excellent, some components, Jones felt,
should have been dropped, especially the "local service" or
gunboat fleets which were "more expensive and wasteful than
that of the regular navy."29
He cautioned the Senate not to waste excessive amounts
of time in investigating the Department, since such pro-
cedures would only encourage petty bickering and would
hinder reform. He reminded the committee that the growth
of the economy of the United States would insure an increase
in the navy and naval expenses. More ships would require
more timber. The nation's reserve of trees, therefore,
must be carefully guarded to prevent wastage. Furthermore,
as the service grew, the more men it would require to man
the ships. Voluntary enlistments, he said, would not fill
the ranks and he suggested a "draught" to supply the necessary
29. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 320-321.
Secretary Jones went so far as to draw up a model
act for his Department. Herein he proposed that in order
to insure better officers for the navy, a naval academy
should be established. This school would have "suitable
professors, for the instruction of the officers of the navy
in those branches of the mathematics and experimental
philosophy, and in the science and practice of gunnery,
theory of naval architecture, and art of mechanical draw-
ing, which are necessary to the accomplishments of the
naval officer." In addition to the new school, Jones
proposed that two additional officials be created for the
department. The first of these would be that of Naval
Constructor who would supervise the construction of all
future naval vessels. He felt that a Paymaster of the Navy
was also needed to account, at a high level, for the large
amount of money paid by the navy to its personnel. The
most important proposal, in terms of immediate usefulness,
was the establishment of a board of five naval inspectors,
30. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 321-322.
31. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 323.
each a captain assigned specific duties, plus the obliga-
tion of advising the civilian Secretary on professional
matters. One member of the board would handle the general
correspondence of the board and be in charge of the flotilla
service on the New Orleans station. A second officer would
conduct the general military correspondence of the depart-
ment with all the officers of the navy; he would also direct
the flotilla on the southern station. The third member of
the board would supervise the ordnance of the department
and would be in charge of all logistical transportation
and assume care of the flotilla service in the Patapsco
and Delaware rivers and at New York. The fourth officer
would superintend the victualling of the service and
supplying the medical stores while, at the same time,
directing the flotilla service on all the naval stations
from New York eastward and on Lake Champlain. The fifth
captain would keep account of all the equipment needed for
the service, not precluded in the above, and would also be
in charge of the navy operating on the Great Lakes.
32. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 323.
The Secretary of the Navy also had in mind additional
duties for this board. Since one man could not do every-
thing, he desired to have a number of competent officers
advise future secretaries of the professional way in which
the Department's problems could be solved. Specifically,
he wanted to see the book of naval regulations upgraded.
He had the following ten points in mind for the new board
1st. Uniform regulations, establishing the
several classes of ships and vessels in the navy of
the United States; with tables of the dimensions,
proportions, number, quantity, quality, nature, and
description, of masts, spars, rigging, anchors,
cables, armament, and equipment, of all kinds;
and of the quantity, quality, and description,
of provisions and stores, of every species, for
a given period for each class.
2d. Regulations for receiving, preserving,
issuing, and strictly accounting for the expendi-
ture of, materials and stores, of all kinds, and
of every department of the service, within the
3d. Regulations for surveying and authenti-
cating the actual state and condition of all the
ships and vessels of the navy, and of all materials
and stores, of every species, reported to be decayed,
damaged, or defective; and for directing the repair,
conversion, sale or other disposition of the same,
as the nature of the case may require.
4th. A more perfect system of general regula-
tions, for the naval service, at sea, and on the
5th. General regulations for the flotilla, or
force employed in harbor defence, adapted to the
peculiar nature of that service.
6th. Uniform regulations for the navy yards,
arsenals, and depots of stores and materials.
7th. Regulations for the cruising ships and
vessels of the navy, while in port; for the recruit-
ing service; and for the officers of the navy, while
on shore, on duty, or on furlough; in order to as-
certain the actual state and local situation of all
8th. A system of detailed regulations for the
naval hospitals, and medical department of the navy,
within the United States.
9th. An entire and new system of regulations
for the conduct of pursers in the navy, accurately
defining their duties, securing a more strict account-
ability, limiting their amoluments by a fixed and
reasonable standard, and protecting the seamen of the
navy from the undue advantages which may be practised,
with impunity, under the present system.
10th. Regulations for ascertaining, by exam-
ination, the moral character and professional qualifi-
cations of all the officers of the navy, below the
grade of master commandant, classing them in the
scale of their several merits; and of the pretensions
of those who may be selected for promotion, as well
as of the candidates for warrant appointments in the
This paper was a major landmark. No man had ever before
drawn up such a statement on the Navy Department. William
33. ASP, Naval Affairs, I, 323.
Jones had used his years of experience in shipping, sail-
ing, and management to prepare a clear, detailed, and
specific set of recommendations for improving his department.
Nothing else in the first two decades of the Navy Department
approached the systematic organization which he hoped to
inculcate in the bureau. Shortly after he left office,
Congress would establish a Board of Naval Commissioners
based on Jones' recommendations. The leading authority on
administrative history during this period, Leonard D.
White, has said, "From the professional point of view this
report was an extraordinary document, certainly the most
significant that had come from the department since its
foundation." Because of this paper, Jones' influence
would be felt by the Navy Department for a long time for
the betterment of the service.
The book of regulations which the navy was still using
in 1815 was over fifteen years old and constituted little
more than thirty-six pages of admonitions. Stemming from
Jones' suggestions, a new 147-page manual was compiled by
34. White, The Jeffersonians, p. 273.