Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

William Jones (1813–1814): Secretary of the Navy

William Jones was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1760. He began his national service in the military during the Revolutionary War, serving from 1776 to 1783 as a volunteer with the Continental Army, leaving with the rank of first lieutenant. After a brief stint in the merchant marine, Jones made a living in the business of commercial shipping and overseas trade.

He entered politics in 1801, joining Congress as a representative from Pennsylvania, and serving until 1803. After a ten year hiatus from public service, Jones returned in 1813, entering President James Madison's cabinet as secretary of the Navy. Jones fulfilled the duties of that post until his resignation in 1814. From April 1813 to February 1814, Jones also served as Madison's interim secretary of treasury while Secretary Albert Gallatin was in Europe on diplomatic missions.

Two years later, Jones accepted President James Monroe's offer to become president of the Second Bank of the United States. He spent only three years in that office before resigning in 1819, and he would hold only one more position in public service, acting as collector of customs at the port of Philadelphia (1827-1829), before his death in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on September 6, 1831.