Tracy, Benjamin Franklin

SKU: AUT6623


Benjamin Franklin Tracy (April 26, 1830 – August 6, 1915) was a United States political figure who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1889 through 1893, during the administration of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.  Typed Letter Signed, n.d. -  3 3/4 x 1 1/4 TLS/Leaf:  signed, in blk ink and cut from a TLS.  A common practice to cut the body of a document and give the signing to a political friend or family member.  Lovely age-toning seen on leaf overall, fine condition. 

"He was born in the hamlet of Apalachin located in the Town of Owego, New York on April 26, 1830. Tracy was a lawyer active in Republican Party politics during the 1850s.

During the Civil War, he commanded the 109th New York Infantry Regiment. He was awarded a Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864.

According to the official citation, Tracy "seized the colors and led the regiment when other regiments had retired and then reformed his line and held it." Later that year, he became commandant of the Elmira prisoner of war camp, before being appointed Colonel of the 127th Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops, on August 23, 1864. Tracy was discharged from the volunteer service on June 13, 1865.

On January 18, 1867, President Andrew Johnson nominated Tracy for appointment to the brevet grade of brigadier general of volunteers, to rank from March 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on February 21, 1867.

In December 1881, he was appointed by Governor Alonzo B. Cornell to the New York Court of Appeals to fill the vacancy caused by the appointment of Judge Charles Andrews as Chief Judge after the resignation of Charles J. Folger. Tracy remained on the bench until the end of 1882 when Andrews resumed his seat after being defeated by William C. Ruger in the election for Chief Judge.

Tracy was noted for his role in the creation of the "New Navy", a major reform of the service, which had fallen into obsolescence after the Civil War. Like President Harrison, he supported a naval strategy focused more on offense, rather than on coastal defense and commerce raiding. A major ally in this effort was naval theorist Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, who had served as a professor at the new Naval War College (founded 1884).

In 1890, Mahan published his major work, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783-a book that achieved an international readership. Drawing on historical examples, Mahan supported the construction of a "blue-water Navy" that could do battle on the high seas.

Tracy also supported the construction of modern warships.

On June 30, 1890, Congress passed the Navy Bill, a measure which authorized the construction of three battleships. The first three were later named USS Indiana (BB-1), USS Massachusetts (BB-2), and USS Oregon (BB-3). The battleship USS Iowa (BB-4) was authorized two years later."


USS Tracy (DD-214) was named for him, as was the town of Tracyton, Washington.

Tracy Arm is a fjord in the U.S. state of Alaska that bears his name.