Commodore George Dewey Is Born

This flowery tribute captures the sense of romance with which turn-of-the-century Americans regarded the naval hero of the Spanish-American War, Commodore George Dewey.

In actuality, Dewey did not arise from the "ocean mist" or the "smoke of battle" but was born in Montpelier, Vermont on December 26, 1837.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Dewey served in the Union Navy during the Civil War, fighting in the Battles of New Orleans, Port Hudson, and Donaldsville, Louisiana. Dewey rose up steadily through the Navy's leadership ranks until Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, in 1897, appointed him commander of the Asiatic Squadron stationed in Hong Kong.

George Dewey (December 26, 1837 – January 16, 1917) was an admiral of the United States Navy, best known for his victory (without the loss of a single life of his own forces due to combat; one man died of heat stroke) at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. He was also the only person in the history of the United States to have attained the rank of Admiral of the Navy, the most senior rank in the United States Navy.

Dewey was born in Montpelier, Vermont to Julius Yemans Dewey and his first wife, Mary Perrin. His father was a physician, having received his degree from The University of Vermont. Julius was among the founders of the National Life Insurance Company in 1848. According to the "Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont" by Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont, his fellow founders included among others Paul Dillingham, later Governor of Vermont.

On a bright May morning two years ago there came from out the ocean mist an untried naval squadron, mirroring in the rippling waves the flag of the mistress of the Western world, the lustre of whose shining stars has never been dimmed by dishonor or defeat, seeking in Manila Bay the naval pride and power of Spain…from out the din and smoke of battle there arose a colossal figure, calm and majestic, cool and self-reliant…a naval hero, the splendor and brilliancy of whose achievement have written on the eternal tablet of fame…the immortal name of Admiral George Dewey.”

— Address of Hon. Josiah T. Settle, Delivered at the Reception Given Admiral and Mrs. Dewey