Benjamin F. Tracy
|32nd United States Secretary of the Navy|
March 6, 1889 – March 4, 1893
|Preceded by||William Whitney|
|Succeeded by||Hilary A. Herbert|
|United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York|
Ulysses S. Grant
|Preceded by||Benjamin D. Silliman|
|Succeeded by||Asa W. Tenney|
|Member of the New York State Assembly|
from the Tioga County district
January 1, 1862 – December 31, 1862
|Preceded by||Cero Barber|
|Succeeded by||Nathaniel Davis|
Benjamin Franklin Tracy
April 26, 1830
Apalachin, New York, U.S.
|Died||August 6, 1915 (aged 85)|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Allegiance|| United States|
|Branch/service|| United States Army|
• Union Army
|Years of service||1862–1865|
Brevet Brigadier General
|Commands||109th New York Infantry Regiment|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
• Battle of the Wilderness
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Benjamin Franklin Tracy (April 26, 1830 – August 6, 1915) was a United States political figure who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1889 through 1893, during the administration of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.
He served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and commanded the 109th New York Infantry Regiment. At the Battle of the Wilderness in May, 1864, he was able to rally his men and hold the Union line. For his actions he subsequently was awarded the Medal of Honor. His citation reads: Tracy "seized the colors and led the regiment when other regiments had retired and then reformed his line and held it." Later that year, he became commandant of the Elmira prisoner of war camp, before being appointed Colonel of the 127th Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops, on August 23, 1864. Tracy was discharged from the volunteer service on June 13, 1865. On January 18, 1867, President Andrew Johnson nominated Tracy for appointment to the brevet grade of brigadier general of volunteers, to rank from March 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on February 21, 1867.
He resumed the practice of law after the war, and became active in New York state politics. He was United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York from 1866 to 1877. In December 1881, he was appointed by Governor Alonzo B. Cornell to the New York Court of Appeals to fill the vacancy caused by the appointment of Judge Charles Andrews as Chief Judge after the resignation of Charles J. Folger. Tracy remained on the bench until the end of 1882 when Andrews resumed his seat after being defeated by William C. Ruger in the election for Chief Judge.
Tracy was noted for his role in the creation of the "New Navy", a major reform of the service, which had fallen into obsolescence after the Civil War. Like President Harrison, he supported a naval strategy focused more on offense, rather than on coastal defense and commerce raiding. A major ally in this effort was naval theorist Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, who had served as a professor at the new Naval War College (founded 1884). In 1890, Mahan published his major work, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783—a book that achieved an international readership. Drawing on historical examples, Mahan supported the construction of a "blue-water Navy" that could do battle on the high seas.
Tracy also supported the construction of modern warships. On June 30, 1890, Congress passed the Naval Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1891 (also known as the Battleship Act of 1890), a measure which authorized the construction of three battleships. The first three were later named USS Indiana (BB-1), USS Massachusetts (BB-2), and USS Oregon (BB-3). The battleship USS Iowa (BB-4) was authorized two years later.
After leaving the Navy Department, Tracy again took up his legal practice. In 1896 he defended New York City Police commissioner Andrew Parker from accusations of negligence and incompetence by fellow commissioner Theodore Roosevelt in a performance that significantly embarrassed Roosevelt. He also helped end the Venezuela Crisis of 1895 by assisting Venezuela in negotiating a settlement to their boundary dispute with Great Britain.
Tracy was the Republican candidate to be the first Mayor of Greater New York City when the five boroughs consolidated in 1898. He came in third behind Democrat Robert A. Van Wyck and Seth Low of the Citizens' Union, winning 101,863 of the 523,560 votes cast in the election of 1897. Tracy was the president of the New York State Agricultural Society in 1897 and 1898, during which time he invited Van Wyck to attend the society's annual fair.
On April 3, 1900, seven men from the International Banking and Trust Company were elected as directors of the North American Trust Company. They included president Oakleigh Thorne of the International, as well as Tracy.
Family and death
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Colonel, 109th New York Infantry.
Place and date: At Wilderness, Va., 6 May 1864.
Entered service at: Owego, N.Y.
Born: 26 April 1830, Owego, N.Y.
Date of issue: 21 June 1895.
Citation: Seized the colors and led the regiment when other regiments had retired and then reformed his line and held it.
- "Gen. Benj. F. Tracy Dies In 86th Year. Soldier, Statesman, Jurist Had Been in Coma Since Paralytic Stroke. Father Of Fighting Navy. As Secretary Under Harrison He Took the Department Out of Politics. Funeral Monday". The New York Times. August 6, 1915. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
General Benjamin Franklin Tracy, Secretary of the Navy under President Harrison, died at 3:30 yesterday afternoon at the home of his daughter, ...
- "Gen. Benjamin F. Tracy Dead". The Wall Street Journal. August 6, 1915. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
General Tracy was born in Owego, NY, April 28, 1830. He was admitted to the Bar in 18... and was elected to the New York Assembly in 18.2. ...
- "Medal of Honor recipients". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
- 127th U.S. Colored Troops Infantry: Roster, Archived March 8, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. p. 535
- Eicher, 2001, p. 759
- Tracy, Benjamin (1875). "The Case of Henry Ward Beecher: Opening Address". Google Books. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
- "Naval Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1891 (Battleship Act of 1890), June 30, 1890". U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
- Proceedings of the Electoral College of the State of New York, January 11th, 1897. Albany. 1897. p. 29. hdl:2027/nnc1.cu54374480.
- Edmund Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, p. 555
- "NYS Agricultural Society". www.nysagsociety.org. NYSAS Past Presidents (2019). Retrieved September 19, 2020.
- "STATE AGRICULTURAL FAIR.; Mayor Van Wyck Lays Aside His Declared Rule and Accepts an Invitation". timesmachine.nytimes.com. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
- "Trust Companies Combine; International Banking and Trust to Unite with North American". The New York Times. New York City, New York, United States. April 4, 1900. p. 11. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
- "Medal of Honor recipients". United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- Meany, Edmond S. (1923). Origin of Washington geographic names. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 315.
- Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Naval History and Heritage Command.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 127. .
- Cooling, Benjamin F. Benjamin Franklin Tracy, Father of the American Fighting Navy. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1973.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Benjamin F. Tracy.|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Works by or about Benjamin F. Tracy at Internet Archive
- Michael J. Crawford; Mark L. Hayes; Michael D. Sessions (November 30, 1998). "The Spanish–American War: Historical Overview and Select Bibliography". Naval Historical Center. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- Michael A. Palmer (September 22, 2004). "The Navy: The Oceanic Period, 1890–1945". Naval Historical Center. Retrieved September 29, 2010. (Copyright notice from Naval Historical Center website: "Used by permission of Charles Scribner's Sons, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Macmillan from Encyclopedia of the American Military, John E. Jessup, Editor in Chief. Vol. I, pp. 365-380. Copyright c 1994, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1633 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. [The views expressed in this history are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy or the U.S. government.]")
- "Photograph of Tracy as Secretary of the Navy, c. 1890 From the Library of Congress". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "Secretary of the Navy: Benjamin F. Tracy (1889–1893) Brief biography from AmericanPresident.org". Archived from the original on October 1, 2006. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 by A. T. Mahan at Project Gutenberg Project Gutenberg link to Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783
- "The Political Graveyard". Retrieved September 29, 2010.