Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Samuel L. Southard (1825–1829): Secretary of the Navy

Samuel Lewis Southard was born June 9, 1787, in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) in 1804, studied law near Fredericksburg, Virginia, and was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1809. Southard was elected to New Jersey general assembly in 1811 and served, at the same time, as an associate justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court 1842)(1815-1820). He later entered the U.S. Senate, being appointed to fill resignation of a predecessor, but he was subsequently elected in his own right as a Republican (1821-1823).

President James Monroe appointed him secretary of the Navy (1823-1829), but Southard would also serve temporarily as secretary of the treasury (1825) and secretary of war (1828). Following his time in the cabinet, Southard became attorney general of New Jersey (1829-1833) and was later elected governor of the state (1832-1833). He resigned his post in Trenton, serving in the U.S. Senate as a Whig from 1833 until death on June 26, 1842.