American President A Reference Resource ↑ John Tyler Front PageThomas W. Gilmer (1844–1844): Secretary of the NavyThomas Gilmer was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, on April 6, 1806. In 1825, he became a delegate to the Staunton Constitutional Convention. Gilmer later served in the Virginia House of Representatives, from 1829 until 1836, and then again from 1839 to 1840. He would serve as Speaker of the Virginia House from 1839 to 1840, following which time he served a two-year stint as governor of Virginia. Gilmer was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia, and served from 1841 until 1844, at which time he became President John Tyler's fourth secretary of the Navy. Gilmer died on his tenth day in office, February 28, 1844, in a explosion that also killed Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur.