Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Isaac Chauncey to Benjamin W. Crowninshield, 20 July 1818, enclosure no. 2 in James Leander Cathcart to Thomas Jefferson, 27 August 1821



Isaac Chauncey to Benjamin W. Crowninshield

US Ship Washington New York 20th July 1818—


Understanding that James Leander Cathcart Esqr late Consul at Cadiz &a is an applicant for the appointment of Navy Store keeper or Purser of the contemplated Navy depot, I have great pleasure in recommending this gentleman to your notice—Mr Cathcart has been personally known to me about fifteen years, during that period he has filled several important public situations, and I believe always discharged his duty to the satisfaction of the government.1 I know him to be a most zealous public officer, and I have no doubt of his fitness for the situation he asks for, which I sincerely hope he may obtain—

I have the honor to be very respectfully Sir Your most Obedt Hble Servt

(Signd) I. Chauncey—

Tr (DLC: TJ Papers, 213:38040); entirely in Cathcart’s hand; subjoined to covering letter and preceding enclosure, with subsequent enclosures conjoined; at foot of text: “To The Honble B W Crowninshield Secretary of the Navy Washington.” Tr (DLC: Madison Papers); in an unidentified hand. Tr (MHi: Adams Papers); in an unidentified hand. Tr (MiEM: Charles William Cathcart Papers); in an unidentified hand.

Isaac Chauncey (1772–1840), naval officer, was a native of Black Rock, Connecticut, who began in the merchant marine before joining the United States Navy, where he was a lieutenant by 1800. He served in the West Indies during the Quasi-War with France and in the Mediterranean during conflict between the United States and the Barbary pirates, winning promotion to master commandant in 1804. Chauncey was appointed a captain in 1807 and oversaw the New York navy yard from that year until he was given command of the United States naval forces on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario at the start of the War of 1812. His successful building campaign increased the American fleet on the Great Lakes and won him the honorary title of commodore. Following the war Chauncey served as commander of the navy yard at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, before taking charge of the United States squadron in the Mediterranean in 1816. After two years in this role, during which he assisted in the conclusion of a peace treaty with Algiers, he sat on the Board of Navy Commissioners, 1821–24 and 1833–40, serving as its president from 1837 until his death. In between these assignments, Chauncey again led the New York navy yard for seven years beginning in 1825. He died in Washington, D.C. (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, repr. 1968, 20 vols. in 10 description ends ; Callahan, U.S. Navy description begins Edward W. Callahan, List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900, 1901, repr. 1969 description ends , 2, 108; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:334, 336, 472, 474, 2:47, 3:218, 220, 400, 4:335, 339 [8, 15 Jan. 1800, 12, 20 Nov. 1804, 7 Jan. 1807, 27, 30 Nov. 1820, 28 Dec. 1824, 11, 31 Dec. 1833]; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.Y., Brooklyn, United States Navy Yard, 1830; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 28 Jan. 1840; New-York Spectator, 30 Jan. 1840; gravestone inscription in Congressional Cemetery, Washington).

1Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • Cathcart, James Leander; recommendations of search
  • Chauncey, Isaac; identified search
  • Chauncey, Isaac; letter from, to B. W. Crowninshield search
  • Chauncey, Isaac; recommends J. L. Cathcart search
  • Crowninshield, Benjamin Williams; and appointments search
  • Crowninshield, Benjamin Williams; letter to, from I. Chauncey search
  • Navy Department, U.S.; applications to search