George Dewey

George Dewey was born in Montpelier, Vermont, on December 26, 1837. After studying at Norwich University, he attended the US Naval Academy, graduating in 1858. During the Civil War, he served as executive officer of a number of ships, including the Mississippi, and worked with the Atlantic Blockading Squadron and at Fort Fisher. After the war, he was promoted through the ranks, reaching the rank of commodore in 1896. In November 1897, Dewey was placed in command of the Asiatic Squadron. When the Spanish American War broke out in April of 1898, he led his squadron to Manila Bay, 600 miles from where they had been stationed. Beginning the morning of May 1, 1898, he and his squadron managed to destroy the entire Spanish fleet in seven hours of fighting, without a single American casualty or loss of ship. For this accomplishment, Dewey was acclaimed a hero throughout the United States, and was promoted to rear admiral, then admiral in 1899. In 1900, after his return to the United States, he was appointed president of the general board of the Navy Department, a position he held until his death. In that capacity, he worked toward moving the military toward interservice strategic planning, serving as the first seniority chairman of the army-navy joint board (1903-1917). Dewey published an Autobiography in 1913. He died in Washington, D.C., on January 16, 1917.