William E. Chandler, U.S. Sec. of the Navy

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William Eaton Chandler

Birthdate: (81)
Birthplace: Concord, NH, USA
Death: November 30, 1917 (81)
Concord, NH, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Nathan S. Chandler and Mary Ann Chandler
Husband of Ann Gilmore and Lucy Lambert Hale Chandler
Father of Lloyd Horwitz Chandler and John Parker Hale Chandler, Sr.
Brother of John Kent Chandler and George Henry Chandler

Occupation: U.S. Senator
Managed by: Daniel Chandler Monroe
Last Updated:

About William E. Chandler, U.S. Sec. of the Navy


William Eaton Chandler (December 28, 1835 – November 30, 1917) was a lawyer who served as United States Secretary of the Navy and as a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire.

Early life

William E. Chandler was born in Concord, New Hampshire to Nathan S. Chandler and Mary Ann (Tucker) Chandler. William's elder brother, John Chandler, was a successful East India merchant and his younger brother George Chandler, an attorney who served as a major during the Civil War.

William Chandler attended the common schools, Thetford Academy and Pembroke Academy before attending Harvard Law School, where he began a romantic correspondence with Lucy Lambert Hale, daughter of Senator John Parker Hale. He graduated in 1854, was admitted to the bar in 1855, and commenced practice in Concord.

In 1859 Chandler married Ann Gilmore, the daughter of Governor Joseph A. Gilmore. In 1874, after his first wife's death, Chandler resumed his romance with Lucy Hale, who had been secretly betrothed in 1865 to John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin. Chandler and Hale were married in 1874, and in March 1885, their only son, John Parker Hall Chandler, was born.

Political career

In 1859, Chandler was appointed reporter of the decisions of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire. He then served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1862–1864 and was the Speaker during the last two years.

In 1865, Chandler was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln solicitor and judge advocate general of the Navy Department. Subsequently, he was appointed First Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, until he resigned in 1867.

Chandler returned to New Hampshire and became a newspaper publisher and editor during the 1870s and 1880s. Continuing in politics, he was a member of the State constitutional convention in 1876 and a member of the State house of representatives in 1881.

Chandler was appointed by President Chester A. Arthur as Secretary of the Navy in 1882. He took charge in 1883 in planning for the rescue of Lt. Adolphus Greely's Lady Franklin Bay Expedition. Chandler served until 1885.

As a Republican, he was elected to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Austin F. Pike and served from June 14, 1887, to March 4, 1889. Subsequently elected for the term beginning March 4, 1889, he was reelected in 1895 and served from June 18, 1889, to March 4, 1901. He was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination. He served as chairman of the Committee on Immigration (Fifty-first and Fifty-second Congresses), Committee on Census (Fifty-fourth Congress), Committee on Privileges and Elections (Fifty-fifth and Fifty-sixth Congresses).

Chandler was appointed by President William McKinley to the Spanish Treaty Claims Commission in 1901. He was the president of the Commission from its inception until 1907, when its work was nearly complete.

Leaving public office, Chandler resumed the practice of law in Concord and Washington, D.C..

He died at Concord in 1917 and was buried in Blossom Hill Cemetery in Concord.


USS Chandler (DD-206) was named for him.

Chandler's grandson, Theodore E. Chandler joined the U.S. Navy in 1911 and later distinguished himself as a Rear Admiral in World War II, and was killed in action by a Japanese kamikaze aircraft.

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William E. Chandler, U.S. Sec. of the Navy's Timeline

December 28, 1835
Concord, NH, USA
Age 33
March 22, 1885
Age 49
Washington D.C., DC, USA
November 30, 1917
Age 81
Concord, NH, USA