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Gustavus Vasa Fox

Gustavus V. Fox, August 1866

In office
1 August 1861 – 26 November 1866
President Abraham Lincoln
Succeeded by William Faxon

Born June 13, 1821(1821-06-13)
Saugus, Massachusetts
Died October 29, 1883 (aged 62)
Lowell, Massachusetts
Resting place Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
Spouse(s) Virginia Woodbury Fox
Alma mater Phillips Academy
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1838–1856

Gustavus Vasa Fox (June 13, 1821–October 29, 1883) was an officer of the United States Navy, who served during the Mexican-American War, and as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War.



Born at Saugus, Massachusetts, and a student at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts (1835), Fox was appointed midshipman 12 January 1838. During the Mexican-American War, he served in the brig Washington in the squadron of Commodore Matthew Perry and took active part in the second expedition against Tabasco, Mexico, 14–16 January 1847, which resulted in the capture of that town. He was in command of several mail steamers and after his resignation 30 July 1856, engaged in the manufacture of woolen materials.

At the start of the American Civil War he volunteered for service. He was given a temporary appointment in the Navy and was sent in the steamer Baltic to the relief of Major Robert Anderson and the remnant of his command in Fort Sumter, and brought them away.

Gustavus V. Fox

On 1 August 1861, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy under Secretary Gideon Welles, an office which he held until the close of the Civil War. In 1866, he was sent on a special mission to Russia and conveyed the congratulations of the President of the United States to Tzar Alexander II upon his escape from assassination. His voyage was made in the monitor Miantonomoh which was the first vessel of this class to cross the Atlantic. They were accompanied by Augusta.

In 1882 he published a paper suggesting Samana Cay in the Bahamas to be Guanahani, or San Salvador, the first island Christopher Columbus reached at his discovery of the Americas. Little attention was paid to it until 1986, when the National Geographic Society also appointed Samana Cay to be San Salvador.

He died at Lowell, Massachusetts, aged 62.

Three ships of the US Navy have been named USS Fox in his memory.


  • Fox, Gustavus V. (1882), An Attempt to Solve the Problem of the First Landing Place of Columbus in the New World. Report of the Superintendent of the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (Appendix No. 18, June 1880), Washington: Government Printing Office.


This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Naval History & Heritage Command.

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
1 August 1861 – 26 November 1866
Succeeded by
William Faxon

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