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David G. Farragut Letter to Isaac Toucey

Identifier: MS-1670

  • Staff Only

This collection features a letter written by Admiral David G. Farragut to Secretary of the Navy Isaac Toucey, dated September 25, 1860. The letter addresses Farragut's concern that the Department of the Navy was displeased with him as they had placed orders virtually putting Farragut's ship, the USS Brooklyn, under the authority of Captain Engle, Farragut's subordinate.


  • 1860 September 25

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0.1 Linear Feet (1 oversize folder)


This collection features a letter written by Admiral David G. Farragut to Secretary of the Navy Isaac Toucey, dated September 25, 1860.

Biographical/Historical Note

David G. Farragut was born in Tennessee, in the town that now bears his name, on July 5, 1801. His father, George, was an old seahand from the island of Minorca, one of the Balearic group, who brought Farragut up with a great appreciation for the United States Navy. In 1808, he was assigned to his first ship in New Orleans. Farragut's mother died of yellow fever in New Orleans that same year.

After meeting Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton, Farragut was appointed a midshipman in the Navy on December 17, 1810. The first action he saw was aboard the Essex, serving under Captain David Porter, in the War of 1812 off the coast of Canada and New England. In the spring of 1819, he was appointed an acting Lieutenant at only 18 years of age. He received his first command aboard the Ferret in 1823.

In 1841 he was commissioned as Commander, in charge of the Delaware, his first ship-of-the-line. In 1854 he was assigned as the first naval commandant of Mare Island Shipyard near San Francisco. His job was to oversee the construction of the shipyard, the first Pacific shipyard of the U. S. Navy. In 1855 he was promoted to Captain, the highest grade in the Navy, and upon completion of the shipyard in 1858 he was assigned to his first steamer, the Brooklyn. This would also be the last single vessel he would command.

His Civil War record brought him from naval officer to American hero. His leading of the naval units in the taking of New Orleans, his passing of Port Hudson and his blockade of Mobile and the subsequent Battle of Mobile Bay made Farragut's name commonplace throughout the United States and Europe. Following the war Congress created the rank of Admiral, and bestowed it upon him in July, 1866.

Unfortunately, his personal life was not quite as happy as his professional life. He married Miss Susan C. Marchant of Norfolk on September 24, 1823. She passed away on December 27, 1840, after Farragut had been by her side nursing her for almost two years. She had suffered from an illness, since shortly after they had gotten married, that caused her great pain at times.

On December 26, 1843, Commander Farragut married Virginia Loyall of Norfolk. Their family moved to California while Farragut was at Mare Island, living out of a boat for the first seven months, and then returned to Norfolk in 1858. After the secession of Virginia, Farragut found his Union leanings running counter to the majority of the Norfolk naval officers that he had been associating with and wisely moved to New York in 1860.

Farragut's only child, Loyall, entered the Naval Academy at West Point in 1863 and was there when Farragut received his Civil War fame. He would go on to a short naval career and later publish a biography of his father that would include long extractions from his journals.

After the war, Farragut received great honors from all over the United States and Europe. Entertained by Kings and Princes in Europe, and mayors and businessmen in the United States, he received $50,000 from the citizens of New York, his adopted home during the war, and other wondrous gifts. He also travelled to Spain to discover more about his heritage, spending most of the time in Barcelona and the Balearic Islands.

His health, however, failed him shortly after the end of the war. His weakened constitution from Yellow Fever in the 1830's and his travels after the war took their toll. Farragut passed away in January of 1870. After his passing, Congress approved $20,000 for a statue to be erected in his honor in Washington, and another was erected by the state of New York.

Isaac Toucey was born on November 15, 1792, in Newton, Connecticut. He studied law in school and was admitted to the bar in Hartford, Connecticut in 1818. He was elected to the 24th and 25th United States Congresses beginning in 1835. He was appointed governor of Connecticut by the Connecticut State Legislature in 1846 but was defeated in an attempt at reelection. Toucey was appointed Attorney General of the United States in 1848 by President James K. Polk, serving in that capacity for one year. In 1850, he was elected to the Connecticut Senate and then to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1852. Following this, he served on the United States Senate from 1852 to 1857. Toucey was then appointed Secretary of the Navy in 1857 by President James Buchanan, a position he held until President Abraham Lincoln's election in 1861. He then returned to Connecticut to continue to practice law and died in Hartford on July 30, 1869.


This collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

This collection was purchased by Special Collections in 1985.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA