Samuel L. Southard, Governor, U.S. Senator, 7th U.S. Secretary of the Navy

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Samuel Lewis Southard, Governor, Senator, 7th Secretary of the Navy

Birthdate: (55)
Birthplace: Basking Ridge, Somerset, New Jersey, United States
Death: June 26, 1842 (55)
Fredricksburg, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry Southard and Sarah Southard
Husband of Rebecca Harrow
Father of Samuel Southard
Brother of Joseph Southard; Lewis Southard; Lot Southard; Daniel Southard; Stephen Southard and 7 others

Managed by: Private User
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About Samuel L. Southard, Governor, U.S. Senator, 7th U.S. Secretary of the Navy

Find-a-Grave Memorial:

Southard, Samuel Lewis (1787-1842) of Trenton, Mercer County, N.J. Son of Henry Southard; brother of Isaac Southard. Born in Basking Ridge, Somerset County, N.J., June 9, 1787. Democrat. Member of New Jersey state house of assembly, 1815; associate justice of New Jersey state supreme court, 1815-20; Presidential Elector for New Jersey, 1820; U.S. Senator from New Jersey, 1821-23, 1833-42; died in office 1842; U.S. Secretary of the Navy, 1823-29; New Jersey state attorney general, 1829-33; Governor of New Jersey, 1832-33. Died in Fredericksburg, Va., June 26, 1842. Interment at Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Senate Years of Service: 1821-1823; 1833-1837; 1837-1842

Party: Republican; Anti-Jackson; Whig

SOUTHARD, Samuel Lewis, (son of Henry Southard and brother of Isaac Southard), a Senator from New Jersey; born in Basking Ridge, Somerset County, N.J., June 9, 1787; attended the village school; graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton College) in 1804; engaged as tutor by a family near Fredericksburg, Va., in 1805; studied law and was admitted to the bar in Virginia in 1809; returned to New Jersey and commenced practice in Flemington in 1811; member, State general assembly 1815; associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court 1815-1820; moved to Trenton, N.J.; appointed and subsequently elected as a Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of James J. Wilson and served from January 26, 1821, to March 3, 1823, when he resigned, having been tendered a Cabinet portfolio by President James Monroe; Secretary of the Navy 1823-1829; Secretary of the Treasury ad interim in 1825; Secretary of War ad interim in 1828; attorney general of New Jersey 1829-1833; Governor of New Jersey 1832-1833, when he resigned to become Senator; elected as a Whig to the United States Senate in 1833; reelected in 1838, and served from March 4, 1833, until his death; served as President pro tempore of the Senate during the Twenty-seventh Congress; chairman, Committee on Naval Affairs (Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses); died in Fredericksburg, Va., June 26, 1842; interment in the Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Samuel graduated from Princeton University on September 26, 1804, with the 5th honor in his class. He was awarded a Master's Degree on September 30, 1807, after 3 years of graduate work..

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 10th Governor of New Jersey.


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 Virginia and studied law there. 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 when he resigned, and served in office from January 26, 1821, to March 3, 1823 when Southard himself 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 became Acting Vice President from April 4, 1841 to May 31, 1842 after the death of William Henry Harrison and his Vice President John Tyler becoming President. 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 1820's, 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.


The destroyer USS Southard (DD-207), (later DMS-10), 1919–1946, was named in his honor.

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Samuel L. Southard, Governor, U.S. Senator, 7th U.S. Secretary of the Navy's Timeline

June 26, 1787
Basking Ridge, Somerset, New Jersey, United States
Age 31
June 26, 1842
Age 55
Fredricksburg, Virginia, United States
Washington, District of Columbia, United States