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First Name: Thomas

Last Name: Truxtun

Birthplace: Long Island, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Date of Birth: 17 February 1755

Date of Death: 05 May 1822

Rank or Rate: Commodore

Years Served:
Thomas Truxtun

•  Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783)
•  Quasi-War (Franco-American War) (1798 - 1800)


Thomas Truxtun
Commodore, U.S. Navy

Thomas Truxtun (or Truxton) was born on 17 February 1755 in Hempstead, Long Island, NY.

Truxtun had little formal education before joining the crew of the British merchant ship Pitt at the age of twelve. By the time he was twenty, however, his talents had garnered him the command of his own vessel, the Andrew Caldwell. He operated as a privateer during the American Revolutionary War, commanding several ships: Congress, Independence, Mars and St. James. Truxtun was highly successful in capturing enemy ships during this period, not once suffering a defeat.

After the war, he returned to the Merchant Marine, where he remained for twelve years and, in 1786, commanded one of the first American ships, the Canton, to engage in trade with China, operating from Philadelphia.

Truxtun was appointed a Captain in the U.S. Navy in 1794, and during the Quasi-War with France was in command of the USS Constellation. Previously, he had overseen its construction with Silas Talbot, and, after a rank dispute, was placed in charge of the ship by President Washington. He was promoted to Commodore and met with considerable success. His victories, perhaps most notably that over the French vessel L'Insurgente, made Truxtun a hero of the time. Consequently, he was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal on 29 March 1800, becoming the eighth recipient of that body's "highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions."

During this period, however, Truxtun was involved in a dispute over rank with Richard Dale. Truxtun took command of the USS President for a few months in 1800, soon after retiring from the Navy and locating first in Perth Amboy, NJ, and later in Philadelphia. He was offered command during the First Barbary War in 1801 but refused, settling firmly into retirement.

He ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1810, and in 1816 was elected sheriff of Philadelphia County, serving a four-year term. He also published several books, well-known at the time, covering navigation and naval tactics.


Several Navy ships have since been named in his honor (see USS Truxtun).

The town of Truxton, NY, was named for him.

Washington, DC, once had a traffic circle, Truxton Circle, named after him; although the circle has been demolished, the nearby neighborhood retains his name.

Truxtun Park in the City of Annapolis, MD, is named in his honor as well.

Also named for him was Truxtun, in Portsmouth, VA, one of the first federally-funded planned communities in America. It was built shortly after World War I for African-American workers at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (Cradock, also in Portsmouth and built around the same time, was the white counterpart).

Death and Burial

Commodore Thomas Truxtun died on 5 May 1822 in Philadelphia, PA. He is buried at Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia.

Honoree ID: 3159   Created by: MHOH




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