A Senseless End for a Pioneering American Naval Hero

Today in History, March 22, 1820:

Stephen Decatur, Naval hero of the first and second Barbary Pirate wars, and of the War of 1812, hero and example to many of the U.S. Navy, is killed in a senseless duel.

In 1807 Commodore James Barron refused to defend his ship, Chesapeake, against British attack and was court-marshaled; Decatur sat on the court-marshal board.

Suspended from the Navy for 5 years, Barron chose to wait until after the War of 1812 to be recommissioned.

His cowardice was called, and he challenged Decatur, a former comrade, to a duel. Decatur, U. S. Navy hero, was mortally wounded. Such a shame. Decatur was a swashbuckler, a fierce fighter for his country.

Defending Her Honor…

Today in History, May 30: 1806:

Andrew Jackson engages in a duel to defend the honor of his wife.

He had married her with the understanding that her divorce was final, which it was not.

Challenged by a reporter, he fought a duel to defend her and killed Charles Dickinson to defend her.

Oddly enough, on May 29th, 1780, only a day before this event in history, Jackson had been one of the few to evade “Tarleton’s Quarter” as British Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton had butchered those that surrendered at Waxhaws during the Revolutionary War.

The experience added to the brutality in which future General and President Jackson acted during the War of 1812 and during his Presidency in regards to the British, which he despised. During the Revolutionary War he lost his parents and his brother, which led him to despise the British.

Six Frigates…The US Navy Makes a Name for Itself

Today in History, March 27: 1794:

President Washington signs the Naval Act of 1794, ordering the construction of 6 Frigates capable of high speed and of holding their own against “ships of the line.”

After the Revolutionary War, America didn’t feel it needed a navy; after having several ships seized by Barbary pirates, and after abuses by the Royal Navy, the administration and Congress came to the realization that America needed a navy to protect it’s shipping.

Thus the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides, oldest commissioned US Navy vessel), USS Constellation, USS President, USS Congress, USS United States and the USS Chesapeake began their illustrious Naval careers.

Madison Declares War

Today in History, June 18: 1812 – President James Madison signs the Declaration of War against Britain that would lead to The War of 1812. The Brits, accepting the sovereignty of the U.S. in name only after losing the American war for Independence, had been raiding American shipping on the high seas and forcing American sailors into service in the Royal Navy. They had also been supporting Native American tribes for the sole purpose of inhibiting American western expansion. Finally Congress had enough and sent a bill to the President declaring war on the British Empire, which President Madison signed.