John D. Sloat

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John Drake Sloat
John Drake Sloat
1st Military Governor of California
In office
July 9 – 16, 1846
Preceded by William B. Ide
(California Republic)
Succeeded by Robert F. Stockton
Personal details
Born (1781-07-06)July 6, 1781
Sloat House, Sloatsburg, New York
Died November 28, 1867(1867-11-28) (aged 86)
New Brighton, New York
Resting place Green-Wood Cemetery, New York City
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1800–1861
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands Grampus
St. Louis
Pacific Squadron
Battles/wars War of 1812
Action of 2 March 1825
Mexican–American War

John Drake Sloat (July 6, 1781 – November 28, 1867) was a commodore in the United States Navy who, in 1846, claimed California for the United States.

Life[edit]

He was born at the family home of Sloat House in Sloatsburg, New York, of Dutch ancestry, and was orphaned at an early age, his father, Captain John Sloat, having been mistakenly shot and killed by one of his own sentries two months before he was born,[1] and his mother dying a few years later. Sloat was brought up by his maternal grandparents.

Appointed midshipman in the Navy in 1800, he was sailing master of the frigate United States under Commodore Stephen Decatur during the War of 1812, and was promoted to lieutenant for conspicuous gallantry in the capture of the frigate HMS Macedonian. Sloat then commanded the schooner Grampus during which he fought the Action of 2 March 1825 against the pirate ship of Roberto Cofresí. He later served on the ships Franklin and Washington, and from 1828 commanded the sloop St. Louis with the rank of master commandant, to which he had been promoted in 1826. He was promoted to captain in 1837, and from 1840 to 1844 was in charge of the Portsmouth Navy Yard.[2]

California[edit]

The monument commemorating John D. Sloat.

In 1844 Sloat was appointed to command the Pacific Squadron, and in 1845, as tensions with Mexico grew, he was instructed to land in Alta California and claim it for the United States if war broke out. Receiving a report of fighting on the Texas border while off Mazatlán, he raced north (the British were reportedly interested in California too), engaged in a skirmish called the Battle of Monterey, raised the flag over the Customs House at Monterey on July 7, 1846, and issued a proclamation announcing that California was now part of the United States. He was a Military Governor of California for only seven days, before handing over the office to Robert F. Stockton.

Later, his poor health forced Sloat to take commands ashore, where he commanded the Norfolk Navy Yard 1847-51,[3] directed the construction of the Stevens Battery in 1855, and helped plan the Mare Island Navy Yard. He retired with the rank of Captain in December 1861, and was promoted to Rear Admiral on the retired list in July 1866. Sloat was a Freemason, and belonged to St. Nicholas lodge No. 321 in New York City. He died in New Brighton, New York, and was buried in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery.

Legacy[edit]

Sloat Ave. in Monterey, California.

Two destroyers have been named USS Sloat in his honor as well as a World War II Liberty ship, the SS John Drake Sloat. A major street, Sloat Boulevard, and Commodore Sloat elementary school, both in San Francisco, are named after him. Local streets in Monterey, California, Sacramento, California, and the Carthay Circle neighborhood of Los Angeles also bear his name. There is a large monument erected in his honor on the Presidio of Monterey U.S. Army post. An elementary school in Sacramento is also named for him. His home town in New York was also named Sloatsburg.


Dates of Rank[edit]

  • Midshipman - 12 February 1800
  • Sailing Master - 10 January 1812
  • Lieutenant - 24 July 1813
  • Master Commandant - 21 March 1826
  • Captain - 9 February 1837
  • Reserved List - 27 September 1855
  • Retired List - 21 December 1861
  • Commodore on Retired List - 16 July 1862
  • Rear Admiral, Retired List - 25 July 1866

Notes[edit]

References[edit]