The Info List - Robert F. Stockton

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Robert Field Stockton (August 20, 1795 – October 7, 1866) was a United States
United States
Navy commodore, notable in the capture of California during the Mexican–American War
Mexican–American War
but also for causing the USS Princeton disaster of 1844. He was a naval innovator and an early advocate for a propeller-driven, steam-powered navy. Stockton was from a notable political family and also served as a U.S. Senator
U.S. Senator
from New Jersey.


1 Biography

1.1 Early naval service 1.2 Business affairs 1.3 Resumes active naval service 1.4 Mexican–American War 1.5 Political pursuits

2 Legacy 3 Bibliography 4 Further reading 5 References 6 External links


Coat of Arms of Robert F. Stockton

Robert F. Stockton
Robert F. Stockton
was born at Morven, Stockton Street, Princeton, New Jersey, into a political family; his father Richard Stockton was a U.S. Senator
U.S. Senator
and Representative, and his grandfather, Judge Richard Stockton was Attorney General
for New Jersey
New Jersey
and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Robert F. Stockton
Robert F. Stockton
was of English descent, and his family had been in what is now the United States since the early colonial period.[1] Early naval service[edit] Stockton was appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy in September 1811, shortly after his 16th birthday, and served at sea and ashore during the War of 1812. After that conflict, Lieutenant Stockton was assigned to ships operating in the Mediterranean, in the Caribbean and off the coast of West Africa. He was the first naval officer to act against the slave trade and captured several slave ships. Stockton along with Dr. Eli Ayers of the American Colonization Society negotiated a treaty that led to the founding of the state of Liberia. One source describes that he "leveled a pistol at King Peter's head and thereby convinced the latter to sell some of his territory".[2] Business affairs[edit] During the later 1820s and into the 1830s, he primarily devoted his attention to business affairs in New Jersey. In addition, Stockton owned and operated the Tellurim gold mine in Orange County, Virginia, beginning at the earliest in 1832.[3] The birth of his son John P. Stockton, later also a U.S. Senator
U.S. Senator
representing New Jersey, occurred during this time. In 1835, he purchased a property in Monmouth County, New Jersey, called "Sea Girt".[4] The property was purchased in 1875 by a group of land developers, with the name of Stockton's estate ultimately leading to the choice of the name Sea Girt, New Jersey, when the borough was established in 1918.[5]

Cdre. Robert F. Stockton

Resumes active naval service[edit] In 1838, Stockton resumed active naval service as a captain. He served in the European area, but took leave in 1840 to undertake political work. Offered the post of U.S. Secretary of the Navy
U.S. Secretary of the Navy
by President John Tyler in 1841, he declined the offer, but worked successfully to gain support for the construction of an advanced steam warship with a battery of very heavy guns. This ship became USS Princeton, the Navy's first screw-propelled steamer. The ship was designed by John Ericsson. Stockton commanded her when she was completed in 1843. The ship was armed with two long 225 pound wrought iron guns, called the "Peacemaker" and the "Oregon". Although he was the deviser of the defective gun, Captain Stockton's political influence allowed him to be absolved of all responsibility for the February 1844 explosion of the gun, the Peacemaker, on board the ship. The explosion killed two cabinet secretaries and several others.[6] Cleared by the court of any wrongdoing in the explosion incident, Stockton was sent by President James K. Polk
James K. Polk
to Texas. Stockton carried with him Polk's offer to annex Texas, sailing on the Princeton and arriving in Galveston. Stockton's observations while in Texas
made him aware of the looming war with Mexico, a fact he communicated directly to Polk once he arrived back in Washington.[7] No vessel during the Mexican war was more useful than the Princeton in the Gulf of Mexico.[8][9] The records of the Navy Department showed she performed more service than all the rest of the Gulf squadron put together.[citation needed] Mexican–American War[edit] Conquest of California On July 23, 1846, Commodore Stockton arrived in Monterey, California, and took over command from the ailing Commodore John D. Sloat
John D. Sloat
of the Pacific Squadron
Pacific Squadron
of U.S. naval forces in the Pacific Ocean.[10] Commodore Sloat had previously raised the US flag, without resistance, at Monterey, but had no plan to conduct any further military operations on shore and once relieved, sailed home to the United States, leaving Commodore Stockton in command of all US forces. Stockton's command ship was the USS Congress and his combined fleet of three frigates with about 480 men each, one Ship of the line with about 780 men and up to four sloops with about 200 men each as well as three storeships made him the strongest force in California as well as the senior military commander. He was the main driving force in continuing to take possession of Alta California. On August 11, 1846, Commodore Stockton marched on Pueblo de Los Angeles to meet in battle with General
Castro's army. Upon learning of the imminent arrival of Commodore Stockton, Castro retired, leaving behind all his artillery and made off in the direction of Sonora. Immediately after these events Stockton dispatched a courier (the celebrated Kit Carson) to inform Washington of the proceedings and details of his conquest of California. On December 6, 1846, Stockton learned that General
Stephen Kearny had arrived in California with a small force and that he was besieged by vastly superior enemy forces at the Battle of San Pasqual. Kearny was among the wounded and in command of only 60 weary dragoons mounted on tired mules who were in a perilous position and under attack from a Californio-Mexican cavalry force under Andrés Pico. But for Commodore Stockton's immediate decision to take personal command of a relief column, the outcome could have been disastrous for Kearny. Later, the combined forces consolidated control over San Diego, and in January 1847 won the minor skirmishes at the Battle of Rio San Gabriel and Battle of La Mesa
Battle of La Mesa
taking back control of Los Angeles. Faced with the approximate 200 men under John C. Fremont's California Battalion as well as Stockton and Kearny's troops, the Californios sued for peace and signed the Treaty of Cahuenga, which ending fighting in Alta California. Stockton, as senior military authority and U.S. Military Governor of California
Governor of California
territory, authorized John C. Fremont's appointment to succeed him as military governor and commander of the California Battalion
California Battalion
militia force. When General
Kearny finally arrived with orders to assume control of the temporary government Stockton turned over control to Kearny. Political pursuits[edit] Stockton resigned from the Navy in May 1850 and returned to business and political pursuits. In 1851 he was elected as a Democrat from New Jersey to the United States
United States
Senate, where he sponsored a bill to abolish flogging as a Navy punishment. He resigned on January 10, 1853, to serve as president of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Company, a position he held until 1866. He was a delegate to the unsuccessful Peace Conference of 1861
Peace Conference of 1861
that attempted to settle the secession crisis; instead the American Civil War began later that year. In 1863, he was appointed to command the New Jersey
New Jersey
militia when the Confederate Army invaded Pennsylvania. Stockton died at Princeton, New Jersey, in October 1866, and is buried in the Princeton Cemetery.[11] Legacy[edit] Four U.S. Navy ships have been named USS Stockton in his honor. The cities of Stockton, California, Stockton, Missouri, and Fort Stockton, Texas, are named in his honor, as is the borough of Stockton, New Jersey, Stockton Street
Stockton Street
in San Francisco, and Fort Stockton, San Diego, California, which is now a ruin, but was occupied during the Mexican–American War. In Mariposa County, California Stockton Creek
Stockton Creek
is named after him due to a mine he owned in the California Gold Rush. In Liberia, Stockton Creek, a tidal channel that connects the Mesurado River
Mesurado River
and the Saint Paul River, and that separates Bushrod Island from the mainland in Monrovia, is also named for him. Formerly Commodore Stockton Elementary School in Stockton between Clay and Pacific Streets was named after him. Stockton Street
Stockton Street
in San Jose was named after him and his Garden Alameda San Jose neighborhood. In Sacramento, Stockton Boulevard is the historic thoroughfare linking Sacramento and Stockton, now superseded by Highway 99 and Interstate 5. But it is still a major thoroughfare in the City of Sacramento. The actor Gregg Barton
Gregg Barton
played Stockton in the 1966 episode "The Firebrand" of the syndicated western television series, Death Valley Days. Robert Anderson (1920–1996) was cast as General
Philip Kearny, with Gerald Mohr
Gerald Mohr
as Andrés Pico
Andrés Pico
and Will Kuluva as Pío Pico. The episode is set in 1848 with the establishment of California Territory and the tensions between the outgoing Mexican government and the incoming American governor.[12] Bibliography[edit]

United States
United States
Congress. " Robert F. Stockton
Robert F. Stockton
(id: S000942)". Biographical Directory of the United States
United States
Congress. Retrieved 2009-05-03.  Brockmann, R. John, (2009) Commodore Robert F. Stockton, 1795-1866: Protean Man for a Protean Nation Cambria Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, p. 622. The only scholarly biography. ISBN 978-1-60497-630-4 Url Beach, Edward Latimer. The United States
United States
Navy: A 200-year History. Houghton Mifflin Company. C 1986. pp. 196–221.

Further reading[edit]

Jordan, Jonathan (2006) Lone Star Navy: Texas, the Fight for the Gulf of Mexico, and the Shaping of the American West Potomac Books, Washington, DC, p. 381, ISBN 978-1-57488-512-5 Url Call to Freedom: Beginnings to 1914 by Sterling Stuckey and Linda Kerrigan Salvucci, Copyright 2000 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Chapter 17, Section 2, Page 520, Subtitle Conquering California, Paragraph 2.


^ A Sketch of the Life of Com. Robert F. Stockton
Robert F. Stockton
By John Bayard Samuel John Bayard, Samuel Bayard page 9 ^ Burin, Eric; Slavery and the Peculiar Solution, University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 2005, p. 141. ^ Green, Fletcher (Jul 1937). "Gold Mining in Ante-Bellum Virginia". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 45 (3): 357.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Library & Archives Manuscript Collections - Collection 31 Morris Family Papers, 1875-1968, The Monmouth County Historical Association. Accessed October 1, 2015. "In the early part of the nineteenth century the 800 acres which comprised Sea Girt were divided into two farms owned by men named Bell and Sherman. In 1835 Commodore Robert Stockton bought the farm from John Sherman and in 1847 Dr. Charles Montrose Graham of New York City bought the Bell farm." ^ History, Borough of Sea Girt. Accessed October 1, 2015. "In 1853, Commodore Robert F. Stockton
Robert F. Stockton
acquired the large tract of land and built a lavish summer estate in the area between Stockton Lake and Wreck Pond. Yet it was not until 1875, after a group of Philadelphia land developers purchased the land that Sea Girt’s growth as a community was spurred." ^ Fatal Cruise of the Princeton - Page 1 ^ A Sketch of the Life of Com. Robert F. Stockton. Derby & Jackson. 1856.  ^ "Monitor 150th Anniversary - Inventor John Ericsson". monitor.noaa.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-22.  ^ Spencer Tucker (2013). Almanac of American Military History. ABC-CLIO. p. 659. ISBN 978-1-59884-530-3.  ^ Hubert Howe Bancroft
Hubert Howe Bancroft
(1886). History of California: 1846-1848. History Company. p. 255.  ^ "Robert F. Stockton". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2009-05-03.  ^ ""The Firebrand" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. March 24, 1966. Retrieved September 10, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Collection of letters written by Robert Stockton

U.S. Senate

Preceded by William L. Dayton U.S. Senator
U.S. Senator
(Class 1) from New Jersey 1851–1853 Served alongside: Jacob W. Miller Succeeded by John R. Thomson

v t e

Governors of California

Colony (1769–1822)

Capt. Portolà Col. Fages Capt. Rivera Capt-Gen. de Neve Col. Fages Capt. Roméu Capt. Arrillaga Col. Bórica Lt. Col. Alberní Capt. Arrillaga Capt. J. Argüello Don Solá

Territory (1822–36)

Capt. L. Argüello Lt. Col. Echeandía Gen. Victoria Don P. Pico Lt. Col. Echeandía Brig. Gen. Figueroa Lt. Col. Castro Lt. Col. Gutiérrez Col. Chico Lt. Col. Gutiérrez

Sovereignty (1836–46)

Pres. Castro Pres. Alvarado · Uncle Carrillo (rival) Brig. Gen. Micheltorena Don P. Pico

Republic (1846–50)

Cdre. Sloat Cdre. Stockton · Gen. Flores (rival) Gen. Kearny · Maj. Frémont (mutineer) Gen. Mason Gen. Smith Gen. Riley Burnett (from 1849)

U.S. State (since 1850)

Burnett McDougal Bigler J. Johnson Weller Latham Downey Stanford Low Haight Booth Pacheco Irwin Perkins Stoneman Bartlett Waterman Markham Budd Gage Pardee Gillett H. Johnson Stephens Richardson Young Rolph Merriam Olson Warren Knight P. Brown Reagan J. Brown Deukmejian Wilson Davis Schwarzenegger J. Brown

Before 1850 After 1850 After 1850 by age

v t e

United States
United States
Senators from New Jersey

Class 1

Elmer Rutherfurd Davenport Schureman Ogden Condit Lambert Wilson Southard McIlvaine Bateman Dickerson Southard W. Dayton R. F. Stockton Thomson Field J. Wall Wright F. T. Frelinghuysen J. Stockton Randolph Sewell Blodgett J. Smith J. Kean Martine J. Frelinghuysen Edwards H. Kean Moore Milton Barbour Walsh A. Smith Williams Brady Lautenberg Corzine Menendez

Class 2

Paterson Dickinson F. Frelinghuysen R. Stockton J. Dayton Kitchell Condit Dickerson T. Frelinghuysen G. Wall Miller Wright Ten Eyck J. Stockton Cattell F. T. Frelinghuysen McPherson Sewell Dryden Briggs Hughes Baird Edge Baird Jr. Morrow Barbour Smathers Hawkes Hendrickson Case Bradley Torricelli Lautenberg Chiesa Booker

v t e

(1852 ←) United States
United States
presidential election, 1856 (1860 →)

Democratic Party Convention


James Buchanan

VP nominee

John C. Breckinridge


Lewis Cass Stephen A. Douglas Franklin Pierce

Republican Party Convention


John C. Frémont

VP nominee

William L. Dayton


Nathaniel P. Banks Abraham Lincoln John McLean Robert F. Stockton

American Party


Millard Fillmore

VP nominee

Andrew J. Donelson


George Law

Other 1856 elections: House Senate

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 43344010 LCCN: n86858531 GND: 140441263 US Congress: S000