elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
elisa_rolle
elisa_rolle

Richard Somers & Stephen Decatur

Stephen Decatur was one of America’s first naval heroes. As a commander, he endured the loss of his closest friend and companion, Richard Somers (1778 or 1779–4 September 1804). Battling the Barbary Pirates in 1804, Somers volunteered to blow up the pirates’ coastal stronghold. Instead it was Somers and his crew that went up in smoke, while Decatur watched helplessly from the deck of his own vessel. Prior to the fatal mission, Somers had given Decatur a gold ring, which the aggrieved seaman wore for the rest of his life. (P: LOC npcc.19686. Stephen Decatur, between 1908 and 1919 (©4))

In the War of 1812, Decatur commanded the battleship United States in its victory over the British Macedonian, and the President in victory over the Endymion. In 1815 he led a team to Algeria and obtained a peace treaty on America’s terms. On his return, at a banquet in his honor, he made the famous statement: “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right, but our country right or wrong!” Decatur died at age forty-one in a duel with naval officer James Barron. (Stern, Keith (2009-09-01). Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals (Kindle Locations 4206-4214). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.)

Stephen Decatur, Jr. (January 5, 1779 – March 22, 1820) was a United States naval officer and Commodore notable for his many naval victories in the early 19th century.


Stephen Decatur was one of America’s first naval heroes. As a commander, he endured the loss of his closest friend and companion, Richard Somers. Battling the Barbary Pirates in 1804, Somers volunteered to blow up the pirates’ coastal stronghold. Instead it was Somers and his crew that went up in smoke, while Decatur watched helplessly from the deck of his own vessel. Prior to the fatal mission, Somers had given Decatur a gold ring, which the aggrieved seaman wore for the rest of his life.

He was born on the eastern shore of Maryland, in Worcester County, the son of a U.S. naval officer who served during the American Revolution. Shortly after attending college, Decatur followed in his father's footsteps and joined the U.S. Navy at the age of nineteen. He was the youngest man to reach the rank of captain in the history of the United States Navy. Decatur's father, Stephen Decatur, Sr., also became a commodore in the U.S. Navy – which brought the younger Stephen into the world of ships and sailing early on. Decatur supervised the construction of several U.S. naval vessels, one of which he would later command. He became an affluent member of Washington society and counted James Monroe and other Washington dignitaries among his personal friends.

Decatur joined the U.S. Navy in 1798 as a midshipman and served under three presidents, playing a major role in the development of the young American navy.

In almost every theater of operation, Decatur's service was characterized with acts of heroism and exceptional performance in the many areas of military endeavor. His service in the Navy took him through both Barbary Wars in North Africa, the Quasi-War with France, and the War of 1812 with Britain. During this period of time he served aboard and commanded many naval vessels and ultimately became a member of the Board of Navy Commissioners. He built a large home in Washington, known as Decatur House, on Lafayette Square, which later became the home to a number of famous Americans, and was the center of Washington society in the early 19th century. He was renowned for his natural ability to lead and for his genuine concern for the seamen under his command. Decatur's distinguished career in the Navy would come to an early end when he lost his life in a duel with a rival officer. His numerous naval victories against Britain, France and the Barbary states established the United States as a rising power.

Decatur subsequently emerged as a national hero in his own lifetime, becoming the first post–Revolutionary War hero. His name and legacy, like that of John Paul Jones, soon became identified with the United States Navy.

At the direction of his father, Decatur attended the Protestant Episcopal Academy, at the time an all-boys school that specialized in Latin, mathematics and religion; however, Decatur had not applied himself adequately, and barely graduated from the academy. He then enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania in 1795 for one year where he better applied himself and focused on his studies. At the university Decatur met and became friends with Charles Stewart and Richard Somers, who would later become naval officers themselves.

Decatur transferred to United States in June 1800; with extra guns and sails and improved structure the refurbished ship made her way down the Delaware River. Aboard ship at this time were Decatur's former classmates Lieutenant Charles Stewart and Midshipman Richard Somers, along with Lieutenant James Barron.

Decatur's life and distinguished service in the U.S. Navy came to an unfortunate end when in 1820, Commodore James Barron challenged Decatur to a duel, related in part to comments Decatur had made over Barron's conduct in the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair of 1807.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Decatur

Further Readings:

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=elimyrevandra-20

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher



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