Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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Samuel Augustus Foote
FOOTE, Samuel Augustus, senator, born in Cheshire, Connecticut, 8 November 1780; died there, 15 September 1846. He was graduated at Yale in 1797, and became a merchant in New Haven. He served in the legislature for many years, and was speaker of the house in 1825'6. He was elected to congress as a Whig, and served in 1819'21, and again in 1823'5o In 1827'33 he served one term in the U. S. senate but was defeated as a candidate for reelection by Nathan Smith. He was in congress again in 1833'4, but resigned on being elected governor of Connecticut, which office he filled for one term° He was a presidential elector on the Clay and Frelinghuysen ticket in 1844. It was he who in 1830 offered the resolutions "on the public lands" that occasioned the great debate between Hayne and Webster.
His son, Andrew Null Foote, naval ott3cer, born in New Haven, Connecticut, 12 September 1806; died in New York City, 26 June 1863, was entered as midshipman, 4 December 1822, on the eider Com. David Porter's squadron that was sent out in 1823 to break up the piratical nests among the West India islands. He was promoted lieutenant in 1830, and in 1849 was appointed captain of the brig" Perry," in which he cruised off the African coast for two years, doing effective service in the suppression of the slave trade. He was put in command of the sloop-of-war "Plymouth " in 1856, and arrived at Canton, China, on the eve of the hostilities between the Chinese and English. He exerted himself to protect American property, and was fired on by the Barrier forts while thus engaged. He obtained permission from Com. Armstrong to demand an apology, and when it was refused he attacked the forts, four in number, with the "' Portsmouth" and the "Levant," breached the largest, and carried them by storm, His loss was 40, while that of the enemy was 400. At the beginning of the civil war he was chosen by the government to command the western flotilla. The equipment and organization of this flotilla taxed the energies of Flag officer Foote to the utmost, and he always spoke of it as his greatest work.
In the beginning of February 1862, in connection with the land forces under Grant, he moved upon Fort Henry on the Tennessee, and upon the 6th, after a hotly contested engagement before the army came up, he carried the fort with his gunboats. His bra 1 very and conduct were conspicuous; and this proved to be his most important achievement in the war. The same impetuosity marked the succeeding action on the 14th, in the combined assault upon Fort Donelson, where for an hour and a half he engaged the fort and contributed greatly to the demoralization of its garrison, but several of the boats having been disabled, the fleet was compelled to withdraw, and Foote himself was wounded. He then aided Pope on the Mississippi, and, after a series of ineffectual attempts, Island No. 10 was surrendered to him on 7 April. His wound became so serious that He was obliged to give up his western command.
On 16 June 1862, he received a vote of thanks from congress, and was made a rear admiral, and on 22 June he was appointed chief of the bureau of equipment and recruiting. On 4 June 1863, he was chosen to succeed Rear Admiral Dupont in command of the fleet off Charleston, and while on his way to assume this command he died in New York. He was a man of a high type of Christian character, with most genial and lovable traits, but uncompromisingly firm in his principles, especially in regard to temperance reform in the navy, where he was the means of abolishing the spiritration.
Admiral Smith said of him: "Rear Admiral Foote's character is well known in the navy. One of the strongest traits was great persistence in anything He undertook, He was a man who could neither be shaken off nor choked off from what he attempted to carry out. He was truly a pious man, severely an honest man, and a philanthropist of the first order. He was one of our foremost navy officersnone before him."
The work he did for his country was mainly in being the first to break the Confederate line of defense, and in an hour of great depression, by a well timed and brilliant even if minor action, to raise the hope and prestige of success. In a word, he was a courageous and successful officer, thoroughly devoted to his profession, and uniting the best characteristics of the old and new schools of the U. S. navy. During a period of four years after 1852, when he remained at home, he wrote "Africa and the American Flag" (1854). His biography has been written by Professor James M. Hoppin (New York, 1874).Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM