George Dewey Biography

(Military Leader)

Birthday: December 26, 1837 (Capricorn)

Born In: Montpelier, Vermont, United States

George Dewey was an American naval commander, who became the only person in the history of the U.S. to be made the Admiral of the Navy. He is best remembered for securing a win at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War. After briefly studying at the ‘Norwich Military School,’ George joined the ‘United States Naval Academy.’ Toward the beginning of the Civil War, he was made in charge of the ‘USS Mississippi.’ He was part of the Siege of Port Hudson and the capture of New Orleans. Following the Civil War, he was in charge of the ‘Asiatic Squadron’ that clashed with the Spanish forces in April 1898. George led a successful attack on Manila Bay. Following this, he became a national hero and was promoted to Admiral of the Navy. He had planned to run as a ‘Democratic ‘presidential candidate but later withdrew his candidature. He remained on the ‘General Board’ of the ‘U.S. Navy’ till his death.
Quick Facts

Died At Age: 79


Spouse/Ex-: Susan Boardman Goodwin, Susan Boardman Goodwin (m. 1867 – 1872)

father: Julius Yemans Dewey

mother: Mary Perrin

Born Country: United States

Military Leaders American Men

Died on: January 16, 1917

place of death: Washington, D.C., United States

U.S. State: Vermont

Notable Alumni: Norwich University

More Facts

education: Norwich University

Childhood & Early Life
George Dewey was born on December 26, 1837, in Montpelier, Vermont, to Julius Yemans Dewey and his first wife, Mary Perrin. His father was a physician and one of the founders of the ‘National Life Insurance Company’ (1848). Julius was also part of the ‘Episcopal Church’ and was one of the founders of the ‘Christ Episcopal Church’ of Montpelier.
George had three siblings: two older brothers and one younger sister. He initially attended school in Johnson.
At 15, he joined the ‘Norwich Military School,’ also known as ‘Norwich University.’ The school offered full-fledged military education. George studied there from 1852 to 1854.
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Early Career in the Navy
In 1854, George joined the ‘Naval Academy.’ The 4-year course was still very new. George ranked fifth at the graduation on June 18, 1858.
George then became a midshipman and was sent on a practice cruise aboard the ‘Saratoga.’ He was a cadet officer and was soon sent on duty to the ‘Wabash.’ ‘Wabash’ was the flagship of the ‘Mediterranean Squadron.’ On 22 July 1858, the ‘Wabash’ left for Europe. The following year, Dewey worked on two short-term cruises.
Civil War
When the American Civil War began, George served as an executive lieutenant aboard the ‘USS Mississippi’ of the ‘Union West Gulf Blockading Squadron.’
In 1862, the ‘Mississippi’ was part of David Farragut's fleet that geared toward the capture of New Orleans. On 24–25 April 1862, Farragut’s ships went up to the Mississippi River, going beyond the ‘Confederate’ boundaries at Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip.
Toward the end of the ‘Mississippi’s war with the ‘Confederate’ ship ‘Manassas,’ the crew of ‘Manassas’ abandoned the ship. ‘Mississippi’ shelled it and marched into the city. This was George’s first significant battle.
During the attempted Siege of Port Hudson on March 14, 1863, ‘Mississippi’ fell after continuous attacks.
George was then made the executive officer of ‘Agawam.’ In late 1864, after serving under Commander McComb, George became the executive officer of the ‘Colorado’ of the ‘North Atlantic Blockading Squadron,’ under Henry Knox Thatcher.
By the end of 1864, Wilmington in North Carolina was the only remaining port under the ‘Confederacy.’ It was guarded by Fort Fisher, at the beginning of Cape Fear River.
After the unsuccessful First Battle of Fort Fisher from December 7 to 27, 1864, another confrontation took place in January. Named the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, the battle continued from January 13 to 15, 1865. George and the ‘Colorado’ were actively involved in the battle.
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Following this, Thatcher was promoted to the position of rear admiral and George was made the lieutenant commander.
After the Civil War
Following the Civil War, George served as an executive officer of the ‘Kearsarge’
In 1867 and 1868, he served as an executive officer of the ‘Colorado.’ From November 6, 1867, to August 1, 1870, he headed the ships of the ‘Naval Academy’ in Annapolis.
From 1868 to 1870, he worked as an instructor at the ‘Naval Academy.’ The following year, he worked as a surveyor on the ‘Narragansett.’ He also worked at the ‘Naval Torpedo Station,’ Rhode Island.
In 1873, he was in charge of the ‘Narragansett’ and spent 4 years at the Pacific Coast Survey.
He then became a lighthouse inspector in Washington (1880) and then worked as a secretary of the lighthouse board.
He had already been promoted to the position of commander. He was also part of the ‘Metropolitan Club’ of Washington.
In 1882, George was in charge of the ‘Juniata.’ He became a captain in 1884 and was sent to the ‘Dolphin’ of the "white squadron.” The ship was also used as the Presidential yacht.
In 1885, George began his 3-year command of the ‘Pensacola.’ In 1893, he returned to Washington and became a bureau officer. He was promoted to commodore and sent to the ‘Board of Inspection and Survey’ in 1896.
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The Spanish American War
In 1896, George became the commander of the ‘Asiatic Squadron.’ George went aboard the ‘Olympia’ in Nagasaki in January 1898 and moved toward Hong Kong in February, to check the U.S. warships in the British colony.
Soon, he learned that the ‘Maine’ had been attacked in Havana. George then gathered his fleet in Hong Kong. The ‘Baltimore’ was dispatched to Hong Kong.
George assumed control of the British merchant ships ‘Nanshan’ and ‘Zafiro.’ When Spain and the U.S. declared war, the U.K. remained neutral.
George was ordered to leave the British waters by the governor of Hong Kong. The ‘Asiatic Squadron’ then advanced toward the Chinese waters in Mirs Bay.
On April 27, 1898, George set sail from China, on ‘Olympia,’ after being ordered to attack the Spanish forces at Manila Bay.
On May 1, he launched an attack and crushed the ‘Spanish Pacific Squadron’ after a 6-hour battle, with only one casualty on the American side.
George helped General Wesley Merritt take over Manila on August 13, 1898. In the initial stages, they were helped by Emilio Aguinaldo’s Filipino nationalists.
By 1899, however, George intimidated Aguinaldo's forces before the American invasion of Manila.
Following this, George was promoted to the post of rear admiral in May 1898. The following year, he became the full admiral.
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He became a national hero after his return to the U.S. on September 27, 1899. He was welcomed by a 2-day parade in New York City.
In 1903, the ‘Congress’ promoted him to the special rank of Admiral of the Navy (retroactive to 1899).
He received the ‘Battle of Manila Bay Medal’ (or the ‘Dewey Medal’), which was also awarded to every American who participated in the battle.
George became one of only four Americans who could wear a US government medal with their own image on it.
On October 3, 1899, George received a special sword from President McKinley at the ‘Capitol Building.’
George also planned to run for president as a ‘Democratic’ candidate in 1900. However, he withdrew in May 1900 and endorsed William McKinley instead.
He was then made the president of the ‘General Board’ of the ‘Navy Department,’ which he served till his death.
Family, Personal Life & Death
In 1866, while serving in the ‘Portsmouth Navy Yard’ in Maine, he met Susan "Susie" Boardman Goodwin. Susan was the daughter of the ‘Republican’ war governor of New Hampshire, Ichabod Goodwin.
George and Susan got married on October 24, 1867. They had a son, George, but Susie died 5 days after giving birth, on December 28, 1872.
On November 9, 1899, George got married to Mrs. Mildred McLean Hazen at the rectory of ‘St. Paul's Catholic Church’ in Washington, D.C. Since George was not a Roman Catholic, they were not allowed to get married inside the church.
Mildred was the widow of General William Babcock Hazen. George later gave away his Washington mansion (which he had received through a fund-raising campaign) to his wife and was criticized for it.
He died on January 16, 1917, in Washington. He was buried in the ‘Arlington National Cemetery.’ A mausoleum was built there later. In 1925, his widow transferred his remains to the ‘Bethlehem Chapel,’ at the ‘Washington National Cathedral.’

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