William H. Hunt

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William Henry Hunt
William-Henry-Hunt.jpg
29th United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
March 7, 1881 – April 16, 1882
Preceded by Nathan Goff, Jr.
Succeeded by William E. Chandler
Personal details
Born (1823-06-12)June 12, 1823
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
Died February 27, 1884(1884-02-27) (aged 60)
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Political party Republican
Alma mater Yale College
Profession Politician, Lawyer
Military service
Allegiance  Confederate States of America
Service/branch  Confederate States Army
Rank Confederate States of America Lieutenant Colonel.png Lieutenant Colonel
Battles/wars American Civil War

William Henry Hunt (June 12, 1823 – February 27, 1884) was the United States Secretary of the Navy under President James Garfield and briefly under President Chester A. Arthur.

Biography[edit]

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Hunt studied law at Yale. He finished his professional training in his brothers' office in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was admitted to the bar in 1844. Hunt opposed secession and favored the Union cause. He was nevertheless drafted into the Confederate Army and commissioned lieutenant colonel. However, he managed to avoid involvement in military operations until Admiral David Farragut captured New Orleans.

In March 1876, Hunt was appointed Attorney-General of Louisiana, and in July of that year he was the Republican candidate for this office. Both parties claimed victory in the election, but Hunt lost the position when President Rutherford B. Hayes recognized the Democratic government of the State. As compensation, the President appointed him Associate Judge of the United States Court of Claims, May 15, 1878. He served in this capacity until he became President Garfield's Secretary of the Navy in 1881.

Secretary Hunt rendered invaluable service by reporting that the Navy, grossly neglected after the Civil War, was no longer able to protect Americans abroad. He appointed the first Naval Advisory Board which undertook the work of rebuilding the Navy, emasculated by public apathy and lack of funds. After Vice President Arthur succeeded Garfield in the presidency, he retired Hunt from the cabinet by appointing him Minister to Russia on April 7, 1882.

Hunt died February 27, 1884, while representing the United States at Saint Petersburg, and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Namesakes[edit]

Two ships in the United States Navy have been named USS Hunt for him.

References[edit]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
  • The United States Court of Claims : a history / pt. 1. The judges, 1855-1976 / by Marion T. Bennett / pt. 2. Origin, development, jurisdiction, 1855-1978 / W. Cowen, P. Nichols, M.T. Bennett. Washington, D.C.: Committee on the Bicentennial of Independence and the Constitution of the Judicial Conference of the United States. 1976. 
Government offices
Preceded by
Nathan Goff, Jr.
United States Secretary of the Navy
March 7, 1881 – April 16, 1882
Succeeded by
William E. Chandler
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John W. Foster
United States Ambassador to Russia
August 23, 1882 – February 27, 1884
Succeeded by
Alphonso Taft