About Charles Stewart
See his son-in-law Charles Stewart Parnell's profile for documentation.
--Terry Teford Cooper
Charles Stewart (28 July 1778 - 6 November 1869) was an officer in the United States Navy who commanded a number of US Navy ships, including the USS Constitution. He saw service during the Quasi War two Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. He later commanded the navy yard in Philadelphia and soon became a rear admiral several years before retiring.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Stewart attended Dr. Abercrombie's Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia where he met Stephen Decatur and Richard Somers. He went to sea at the age of thirteen as a cabin boy and rose through the grades to become master of a merchantman. At age 19 he joined the U.S. navy.
During the Quasi-War with France, Stewart was commissioned a 4th lieutenant in the United States Navy on 9 March 1798 and joined the frigate United States under the command of Stephen Decatur for a cruise in the West Indies. Stewart was in charge of the ship's outfitting and recruiting of crew.
On 16 July 1800 during the Quasi War he assumed command of the schooner Experiment capturing two armed French vessels and recapturing several American ships.
After brief command of Chesapeake in 1801 and service in Constellation in 1802, Stewart sailed to the Mediterranean in command of the brig Syren. There, he participated in the destruction of Philadelphia after her capture by Tripoli, helped to maintain the blockade of Tripoli, and distinguished himself in assaults on the enemy in August and September 1804. After the First Barbary War, he participated in a show of force at Tunis and returned home as captain in 1806.
During the War of 1812, Stewart commanded, successively, Argus, Hornet, and Constellation. Since Constellation was closely blockaded in Norfolk by the British, he took command of Constitution at Boston in 1813. He made two brilliant cruises in her between 1813 and 1815. The frigate captured HMS Cyane and HMS Levant on 20 February 1815.
Stewart's later service included command of the American Mediterranean squadron from 1816 to 1820 and of one in the Pacific from 1820 to 1824. He served as a Naval Commissioner from 1830 to 1832.
In 1836 Stewart saw service in the West Indies and commanded a vessel that captured a Portuguese slaver ship as it came into Havana. Before Stewart's boarding crew took control of the ship the commander of the vessel jumped overboard, swam ashore and escaped. On board the captured ship were 250 surviving negro children, many others having died from lack of water during the voyage. Outraged at the conditions and health of the children Stewart informed English commissioner Kennedy in Havana of the dire situation.
Stewart commanded the Philadelphia Navy Yard from 1838 to 1841, in 1846, and again from 1853 to 1861. By a bill passed on 2 March 1859, Congress made Stewart “senior flag officer,” an office created for him in recognition of his distinguished and meritorious service. He became rear admiral on the retired list on 16 July 1862, and he died at Bordentown, New Jersey, on 6 November 1869. In the late 19th century, his estate became the site of the Bordentown School, a residential high school academic and vocational training program.
He is buried at Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia, PA.
Several of Stewart's nephews served in the Navy, including Commodore Charles Stewart McCauley.
His grandson, Charles Stewart Parnell, was a prominent Irish political leader who fought for Irish home rule until his death in 1891.