George Dewey (December 26, 1837 – January 16, 1917) was an admiral of the United States Navy, best known for his victory (without the loss of a single life of his own forces) at the Battle of Manila Bay (1898) during the Spanish-American War. He is also the only person in the history of the United States to attain the rank of Admiral of the Navy (United States), the senior-most rank in the United States Navy.
Dewey was born in Montpelier, Vermont, attended Norwich University for two years (1852-1854), and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1858. He served as a lieutenant under Admiral David Farragut in the American Civil War, seeing action in Louisiana and along the Mississippi River. He attained the rank of lieutenant commander in 1865.
Dewey remained in the Navy after the war and in 1896 was made a Commodore (USN). He was appointed to the command of the United States Asiatic Squadron a few weeks before the start of the war with Spain.
On April 27, 1898, he sailed out from China with orders to attack the Spain at Manila Bay. He arrived at the mouth of the bay late the night of April 30, and the following morning he gave the order to attack at first light, by saying the now famous words "You may fire when you are ready, Charles Vernon Gridley". Within 6 hours, on May 1, he had sunk or captured the entire Spanish Pacific fleet under Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón and silenced the shore batteries at Manila, without the loss of a single life on the American side.
News of the victory in the Battle of Manila Bay (1898) made Dewey a great hero in the United States, and Dewey was promoted to Rear Admiral. Dewey's swift easy victory no doubt did much to encourage the William McKinley administration in its decision to place the Philippines under American control.
Dewey aided Wesley Merritt in taking formal possession of Manila on August 18, 1898. In the early stages of the war the Americans were greatly aided by the Filipino nationalists led by Emilio Aguinaldo who had been attacking the Spanish by land as Dewey was attacking them by sea. Dewey and Aguinaldo at first enjoyed a cordial relationship, and Dewey wrote that the Filipinos were "intelligent" and well "capable of self-government"; however the McKinley administration soon decided otherwise, and by the start of 1899, Dewey had to threaten to shell Aguinaldo's forces to allow American troops to land in Manila (for details, see History of the Philippines).
Dewey returned to America to a hero's welcome, and by act of United States Congress was made Admiral of the Navy (United States) in 1899. A special Awards and decorations of the United States military, the Dewey Medal, was also named in his honor.
After Dewey's return from the Spanish-American War, many suggested he run for President of the United States on the Democratic Party (United States) ticket. However, newspapers started attacking him as naive after he was quoted saying the job of President would be easy since the chief executive was merely following orders in executing the laws enacted by Congress. He further angered Protestantism by marrying in November 1899 the Catholic Mildred McLean Hazen, widow
of General William Babcock Hazen and daughter of Washington McLean, the owner of The Washington Post, and giving her the house that the nation had given him following the war. http://elections.harpweek.com/1900/cartoon-1900-Medium.asp?UniqueID=7&Year=1900
Dewey withdrew from the race in mid-May and endorsed William McKinley.
Dewey officially remained an active officer of the Navy until his death, as a special honor after he passed Mandatory retirement age. He published his autobiography in 1913. Admiral George Dewey died in Washington, D.C..
Dates of Rank
Midshipman: September 23, 1854 Lieutenant: April 19, 1861 Lieutenant Commander: March 3, 1865 Commander: April 13, 1872 Captain: September 27, 1884 Commodore (USN): February 28, 1896 Rear Admiral: May 11, 1898 Admiral of the Navy: March 2, 1899
In 1898, the Borough of Hellertown, Pennsylvania formed its fire department naming it Dewey Fire Company No. 1 in honor of George Dewey.
Three ships of the United States Navy have borne the name USS Dewey, including an Arleigh Burke class destroyer destroyer, USS Dewey (DDG-105) that began construction in 2005.
Thomasville, Georgia, contains the Dewey City "subdivision," an area settled in the late 1880's by former slaves.
Courtesy of: http://www.wikipedia.org/