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Samuel L. Southard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Samuel Southard
Samuel L. Southard SecNavy.jpg
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
March 11, 1841 – May 31, 1842
Preceded byWilliam R. King
Succeeded byWillie Person Mangum
United States Senator
from New Jersey
In office
March 4, 1833 – June 26, 1842
Preceded byMahlon Dickerson
Succeeded byWilliam L. Dayton
In office
January 26, 1821 – March 3, 1823
Preceded byJames J. Wilson
Succeeded byJoseph McIlvaine
10th Governor of New Jersey
In office
October 26, 1832 – February 27, 1833
Preceded byPeter Dumont Vroom
Succeeded byElias P. Seeley
7th United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
September 16, 1823 – March 4, 1829
PresidentJames Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Preceded bySmith Thompson
Succeeded byJohn Branch
Personal details
Samuel Lewis Southard

(1787-06-09)June 9, 1787
Basking Ridge, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedJune 26, 1842(1842-06-26) (aged 55)
Fredericksburg, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican (Before 1825)
National Republican (1825–1834)
Whig (1834–1842)
Spouse(s)Rebecca Harrow
EducationPrinceton University (BA)

Samuel Lewis Southard (June 9, 1787 – June 26, 1842) was a prominent U.S. statesman of the early 19th century, serving as a U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Navy, and the tenth governor of New Jersey. He also served as President pro tempore of the Senate, and was briefly first in the presidential line of succession.


The son of Henry Southard and brother of Isaac Southard, he was born in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, attended the Brick Academy classical school and graduated from Princeton University in 1804. He is descended from one of the earliest settlers of New Amsterdam, Anthony Janszoon van Salee.

Early career

After teaching school in New Jersey, he worked for several years as a tutor in the Virginia home of John Taliaferro, his father's Congressional colleague. While living in Virginia, Southard studied law with Francis T. Brooke and Judge Williams, both of Fredericksburg. Upon being admitted to the bar, he returned to New Jersey, where he was appointed law reporter by the New Jersey Legislature in 1814. Elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in 1815, Southard was appointed to the New Jersey Supreme Court to succeed Mahlon Dickerson shortly thereafter, and in 1820 served as a presidential elector. He was elected to a seat in the United States Senate over James J. Wilson, and was appointed to the remainder of Wilson's term After Wilson resigned.[1] Southard served in office from January 26, 1821 to March 3, 1823 when he resigned. During this time, he was a member of the committee that produced the Missouri Compromise.

Navy career

President James Monroe selected Senator Southard to be Secretary of the Navy in September 1823, and he remained in office under President John Quincy Adams. During these years, he also served briefly as ad interim Secretary of the Treasury (1825) and Secretary of War (1828). Southard proved to be one of the most effective of the Navy's early Secretaries. He endeavored to enlarge the Navy and improve its administration, purchased land for the first Naval Hospitals, began construction of the first Navy dry docks, undertook surveys of U.S. coastal waters and promoted exploration in the Pacific Ocean. Responding to actions by influential officers, including David Porter, he reinforced the American tradition of civilian control over the military establishment. Also on Southard's watch, the Navy grew by some 50% in personnel and expenditures and expanded its reach into waters that had not previously seen an American man-of-war.

Political life

In 1829, after leaving his Navy post, Samuel Southard became New Jersey Attorney General, following Theodore Frelinghuysen in that post. Elected Governor over Peter D. Vroom by a vote of 40 to 24 by the joint session of the Legislature in 1832, he re-entered the U.S. Senate in the following year. During the next decade, he was a leader of the Whig Party and a figure of national political importance. As President pro tempore of the Senate, he was first in the presidential line of succession from April 4, 1841 to May 31, 1842 after the death of William Henry Harrison and the accession of Vice President John Tyler to the presidency. Failing health forced his resignation from the Senate in 1842. Samuel Southard died in Fredericksburg, Virginia on June 26 of that year. He was interred in the Congressional Cemetery.


During the 1820s, Southard was a member of the prestigious society, Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, who counted among their members former presidents Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams and many prominent men of the day, including well-known representatives of the military, government service, medical and other professions.[2]


The destroyer USS Southard (DD-207), (later DMS-10), 1919–1946, was named in his honor. There is also a public park in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, named after him.

See also


  1. ^ Birkner, Michael J. (1984). Samuel L. Southard: Jeffersonian Whig. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses. p. 47-48. ISBN 978-0-8386-3160-7.
  2. ^ Rathbun, Richard (1904). The Columbian institute for the promotion of arts and sciences: A Washington Society of 1816-1838. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, October 18, 1917. Retrieved 2010-06-20.


External links

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
James J. Wilson
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New Jersey
Served alongside: Mahlon Dickerson
Succeeded by
Joseph McIlvaine
Preceded by
Mahlon Dickerson
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New Jersey
Served alongside: Theodore Frelinghuysen, Garret D. Wall, Jacob W. Miller
Succeeded by
William L. Dayton
Preceded by
George M. Dallas
Chair of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
William Cabell Rives
Political offices
Preceded by
Smith Thompson
United States Secretary of the Navy
Succeeded by
John Branch
Preceded by
Peter Dumont Vroom
Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
Elias P. Seeley
Preceded by
William R. King
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
Succeeded by
Willie Person Mangum
Legal offices
Preceded by
Theodore Frelinghuysen
Attorney General of New Jersey
Succeeded by
John Moore White
This page was last edited on 11 January 2021, at 20:03
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