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Jedediah Preble

PREBLE, Jedediah, soldier, born in Wells, Maine, in 1707; died in Portland, Maine, 11 March, 1784. He began life as a sailor, and in 1746 became captain in a provincial regiment, settling in Portland about 1748. He was a lieutenant-colonel under General John Winslow in Acadia, in 1755, became colonel, 13 March, 1758, and brigadier-general, 12 March, 1759. He was for twelve years a representative in the general court, and became a councillor in 1773. On 27 October, 1774, he was commissioned brigadier-general by the Provincial congress of Massachusetts, and he was afterward made major-general, but refused on account of age. General Preble was judge of the court of common pleas in 1778, and a member of the state senate in 1780.--His son, Edward, naval officer, born in Portland, Maine, 15 August, 1761; died there, 25 August, 1807. When he was seventeen years old he ran away and shipped in a privateer, and on his return was appointed midshipman in the Massachusetts state marine, participating in the "Protector" in a gallant attack on the British privateer "Admiral Duff," which took fire and blew up. In 1779 he was captured in the "Protector" and sent to the " Jersey" prison-ship in New York. After his release he served in the state cruiser "Winthrop," and took a British armed brig. After the peace of 1783 he cruised around the world in the merchant marine. Upon the organization of the navy he was one of the first five that were commissioned as lieutenants, 9 February, 1798, served as acting captain of the brig "Pickering," and was commissioned captain, 15 May, 1799, commanding the "Essex" on a cruise to China, whence he convoyed fleet of fourteen merchantmen, valued at many millions. He married Mary Deering in 1801. In May, 1803, he commanded the "Constitution," and the squadron to operate against the Barbary states, with the "Philadelphia," Captain Bainbridge: the "Argus," under Lieutenant Hull the "Siren," Lieutenant Stewart ; the "Enterprise," Lieutenant Decatur ; the "Nautilus," Lieutenant Somers ; and the "Vixen," Lieutenant Smith. On 6 October, 1803, the fleet arrived off Tangiers, where, by display of force and firm demands, he compelled the sultan of Morocco to renew the treaty of 1786. The "Philadelphia" was sent to blockade Tripoli, and, while chasing Tripolitan gunboats, ran on a reef and was captured, after the guns had been thrown overboard in vain efforts to float the ship. Subsequently the Tripolitans removed her to the inner harbor Preble arrived off Tripoli, 17 December, 1803, reconnoitred the harbor, received letters from Bainbridge in prison, and matured a plan for the destruction of the "Philadelphia "that had been suggested by Bainbridge. He sailed to Syracuse, where he detailed Decatur with volunteers in the captured Tripolitan ketch re-named "Intrepid," to destroy the "Philadelphia." Decatur (q. v.) accomplished the feat and rejoined Preble at Syracuse, 19 February, 1804. Preble cruised along the Barbary coast, blockaded Tripoli, and collected a force of small vessels, until 25 July, 1804, when he arrived off Tripoli with a frigate, three brigs, three schooners, two bomb-vessels, and six gunboats. The town was defended by forts with 45, -000 Arabs, besides two schooners, a brig, and nineteen gun-boats. Preble conducted six spirited attacks, in which three Tripolitan vessels were captured and three were sunk. The pacha sued for peace, offering to waive all claim for future tribute, and reduce the ransom of American prisoners from $1,000 to $500 each. Preble insisted on equal exchange, and continued operations. The relief squadron arrived on 10 September, 1804, under Commander Barron, Preble's senior, and the latter, being relieved, sailed home after settling negotiations with Italian authorities for the vessels and supplies that had been furnished. Preble's strict discipline, prudent and energetic measures, and perseverance are demonstrated by the details of this series of the most gallant attacks that are recorded in naval history. No gun was fired against Tripoli after he left. His operations resulted in the peace signed 3 June, 1805, by which the tribute that European nations had paid for centuries, and the slavery of Christian captives, were abolished. His officers wrote a letter expressing their esteem and affection, he was given an enthusiastic welcome on his return, and congress gave him a vote of thanks and an emblematical gold medal. He was the first officer to receive a vote of thanks after the adoption of the constitution. In 1806 Jefferson offered him a seat in the cabinet as the head of the navy department, but feeble health prevented his acceptance ; he returned to Portland, where he died of consumption.--Edward's nephew, George Henry, naval officer, born in Portland, Maine. 25 February, 1816; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 1 March, 1885, entered the navy as midshipman, 10 October, 1835, cruised in the Mediterranean in the frigate "United States" in 1836-'8, became passed midshipman 22 June, 1841. served in the Florida war in 1841-'2, and circumnavigated the world in the "St. Louis " in 1843-'5, when he took ashore the first American force that landed in China. In the Mexican war, in 1846-'7, he participated in the capture of Alvarado, Vera Cruz, and Tuxpan. He became a master. 15 July, 1847, and lieutenant, 5 February, 1848, served in the frigate "St. Lawrence " in 1853-'6, took goods to the London exhibition, joined Commander Matthew C. Perry's expedition to China, and fought Chinese pirates, for which the English authorities gave him their thanks He surveyed the harbors of Keelung, Formosa, Jeddo, anal Hakodadi, Japan, and prepared sailing directions for Singapore, which were published extensively. In 1856-'7 he was light-house inspector, in 1857-'9 he served at the navy-yard at Charles-town, Massachusetts, and in 1859-'61 he was executive of the steamer "Narragansett" in the Pacific. In January, 1862, he took command of the steamer "Katahdin," in which he participated under Farragut in the capture of New Orleans, and subsequent operations in the Mississippi and Grand gulf. He was commissioned commander, 16 July, 1862. For failure to capture the Confederate cruiser "Florida" on the blockade he was summarily dismissed the navy, but the captain of the "Florida" testified that his superior speed alone saved him, and the dismissal was revoked, he was restored to his rank, and given command of the " St. Louis," which he joined at Lisbon, cruising after Confederate rovers. The "Florida" again escaped him at Madeira while he was becalmed, lie next commanded the fleet brigade from 24 November, 1864, till April, 1865, and co-operated with General William T. Sherman. With the steamer " State of Georgia," in 1865, he rescued six hundred passengers from the wrecked steamer "Golden Rule," near Aspinwall. He became captain on 16 March, 1867, was at the Boston navy-yard in 1865-'8, and served as chief of staff and in command of the flag-ship " Pensacola" in 1868-'70 in the Pacific. After being commissioned commodore, 2 November, 1871, he was commandant of the navy-yard at Philadelphia in 1873-'5, was promoted to rear-admiral, 30 September, 1876, and on 25 February, 1878, was retired by law, being sixty-two years old. Admiral Preble constantly contributed to the professional periodical press, and was a member of various historical societies. A collection of navy registers, naval tracts, and other works from his library constitute the rarest sets of United States naval publications in existence. They are now in the navy department, serving in many cases to supply information for the biographies of naval officers that is not otherwise obtainable. His writings, many of which were printed privately and in small editions, include " Chase of the Rebel Steamer of War 'Oreto'" (Cambridge, 1862): "The Preble Family in America" (Boston, 1868); "First Cruise of the United States Frigate ' Essex'" (Salem, 1870) ; "History of the American Flag" (Albany, 1872); and " History of Steam Navigation" (Philadelphia, 1883).--Jedidiah's granddaughter, Harriet, translator, born in Lewes, England, in 1795; died in West Manchester, near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, 4 February, 1854, was the daughter of Henry Preble, who became a merchant in Paris, France. She was educated at the school of Madame Campan in St. Germain-en-Lave, came to the United States with her mother in 1830, and in 1832 established a school in Pittsburg, which feeble health compelled her to abandon in 1836. She published translations into French prose of Bulwer's poem "The Rebel," with an historical introduction (Paris, 1827), and of James Fenimore Cooper's "Notions of the Americans" (4 vols., 1828), and left several works in manuscript. See "Memoir of Harriet Preble, containing Portions of her Correspondence, Journal, and other Writings," by Professor Richard H. Lee (New York, 1856).

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