William H. Hunt

William H. Hunt

Infobox US Cabinet official
name=William Henry Hunt

title=United States Secretary of the Navy
term_start=March 7, 1881
term_end=April 16, 1882
predecessor=Nathan Goff, Jr.
successor=William E. Chandler
birth_date=birth date|1823|6|12|mf=y
birth_place=Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
death_date=death date and age|1884|2|27|1823|6|12
death_place=Saint Petersburg, Russia
profession=Politician, Lawyer

William Henry Hunt (June 12, 1823 – February 27, 1884) was the United States Secretary of the Navy under President James Garfield and briefly under President Chester A. Arthur.


Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Hunt studied law at Yale. He finished his professional training in his brothers' office in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was admitted to the bar in 1844. Hunt opposed secession and favored the Union cause. He was nevertheless drafted into the Confederate Army and commissioned Lieutenant Colonel. However, he managed to avoid involvement in military operations until Admiral David Farragut captured New Orleans.

In March 1876, Hunt was appointed Attorney-General of Louisiana, and in July of that year he was the Republican candidate for this office. Both parties claimed victory in the election, but Hunt lost the position when President Rutherford B. Hayes recognized the Democratic government of the State. As compensation, the President appointed him Associate Judge of the United States Court of Claims, May 15, 1878. He served in this capacity until he became President Garfield's Secretary of the Navy in 1881.

Secretary Hunt rendered invaluable service by reporting that the Navy, grossly neglected after the Civil War, was no longer able to protect Americans abroad. He appointed the first Naval Advisory Board which undertook the work of rebuilding the Navy, emasculated by public apathy and lock of funds. After Vice President Arthur succeeded Garfield in the presidency, he retired Hunt from the cabinet by appointing him Minister to Russia on 7 April 1882.

He died February 27, 1884, while representing the United States at Saint Petersburg, and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.


Two ships in the United States Navy have been named USS "Hunt" for him.




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