Commodore Edward Preble

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Edward Preble

Birthdate: (46)
Birthplace: Falmouth, Eastern Massachusetts, Portland, ME, USA
Death: August 25, 1807 (46)
Portland, ME, USA (gastrointestinal illness)
Place of Burial: Lot A Tomb 65, Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Brigadier General Jedidiah Preble, Sr. and Mehitable Preble
Husband of Mary Preble
Father of Edward Deering Preble
Brother of Martha Preble; Ebenezer Preble; Joshua Preble; Enoch Preble; Statira Codman and 1 other
Half brother of John Preble; Lucy Webb; Samuel Preble; Jedediah Preble, Jr.; William Preble and 1 other

Occupation: Commodore, USS Constitution
Managed by: Linda Eleanor Preble
Last Updated:

About Commodore Edward Preble

Find A Grave Memorial
Edward Preble was the fourth child of the second marriage of Brigader General Jedediah Preble; Commodore Edward Preble served as commodore of the USS Constitution during the Barbary Wars.

Edward Preble (15 August 1761 – 25 August 1807) was a United States naval officer.

Early life and Revolutionary War

Preble was born at Falmouth, Eastern Massachusetts, now Portland, Maine, 15 August 1761, the son of Gen. Jedidiah Preble. As a boy, his home was destroyed in the burning of Falmouth by British Naval Commander Henry Mowatt. It is said that this action compelled Preble to join the Navy. It also contributed to his terrible temper later in life. In 1779 he was appointed to the Massachusetts State Navy, becoming an officer in the 26 gun ship Protector. Becoming a British prisoner when that ship was captured in 1781, he was held for a time in the prison ship New Jersey. On his release, he served in Winthrop and led a boarding party to capture a British brig at Castine, Maine and worked it out to sea despite heavy shore fire (directed by Henry Mowatt).

United States Navy service

Fifteen years of merchant service followed his Revolutionary War service and, in April 1798, he was appointed First Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. In January 1799, he assumed command of the 14 gun brig Pickering and took her to the West Indies to protect American commerce during the Quasi-War with France. Commissioned Captain 7 June 1799, he took command of Essex in December and sailed in January 1800 for the Pacific to provide similar protective services for Americans engaged in the East Indies trade.

Given command of the 3rd Squadron, with Constitution as his flagship, in 1803, he sailed for the Barbary coast and by October had promoted a treaty with Morocco and established a blockade off Tripoli in the First Barbary War. Stephen Decatur, William Bainbridge, Charles Stewart, Isaac Hull, Thomas MacDonough, James Lawrence, and David Porter served under his command at Tripoli.

While commanding in Tripoli, Preble masterminded the burning of the USS Philadelphia on February 16, 1804, preventing the impressive warship from falling into enemy hands. Had Tripoli gained the use of the Philadelphia, the entire blockade would have been wasted. Stephen Decatur and his younger brother, James Decatur, were involved in the actual operation.

James Decatur was killed in the fighting later that year aboard one of the squadron's attack craft, described in Preble's September 18, 1804 letter to the Secretary of the Navy detailing battles from July until he handed over command to Commodore James Barron.

Preble's Mediterranean cruise led directly to the US government's firm anti-negotiation stance. Many Mediterranean states, including Tripoli, had been pirating American shipping vessels, ransoming the sailors, and demanding tribute to prevent future pirate attacks. The tribute rose after each successful payment, as did the brutality and boldness of the attacks.

End of career

In September 1804, Commodore Preble requested relief due to a long time illness. He returned to the United States in February 1805 and became engaged in the comparably light duty of shipbuilding activities at Portland, Maine. By Congressional resolution in March, 1805, a gold medal was struck and presented to Commodore Preble for the "gallantry and good conduct" of himself and his squadron at Tripoli. President Jefferson offered him the Navy Department in 1806, but Preble declined appointment due to his poor health. He died in Portland of a gastrointestinal illness on 25 August 1807.


Six ships of the United States Navy named USS Preble DDG88

Preble Hall at the United States Naval Academy

Preble County in Ohio

Fort Preble at Spring Point in South Portland, Maine

Preble Street in Portland, Maine

Preble Street in Bremerton, Washington

Preble Township, Minnesota

Town of Preble, Cortland County, NY

Preble, Wisconsin, a former town in Wisconsin, now part of the city of Green Bay

Preble High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin

In fiction

Preble appears as a character in the science fiction novel Time for Patriots, ISBN 978-1-60693-224-7, performing much as he did historically.

Naval Commodore. One of America's first Naval heroes. He was the Officer in Charge of the Naval Blockade of Tripoli in the war against the Barbary Corsairs. This action asserted the Navy as a powerful tool in American diplomacy that lasts to this day. The USS Preble battleship was named in his honor. Parents: Brig. Gen. Jedidiah Preble, Mehitable Preble (born Bangs). Siblings: Jedidiah Preble, Jr., John Of Machias Preble, Lucy Webb (born Preble), Samuel Preble, William Preble, Martha Oxnard (born Preble), Ebenezer Preble, Captain Enoch Preble, Statira Codman (born Preble), Henry Preble. Wife: Mary Preble (born Deering) - 17 Mar 1801 in Portland, ME. Wife: Hannah Preble (born Cross). Son: Edward Deering Preble.

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Commodore Edward Preble's Timeline

August 15, 1761
Portland, ME, USA
February 22, 1806
Age 44
Portland, Cumberland, Maine, USA
August 25, 1807
Age 46
Portland, ME, USA
Age 45
Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, United States
United States Navy