Barron, James

Barron, James,

1768–1851, U.S. naval officer, b. Hampton, Va. Of a seafaring family, he served in the Virginia navy in the Revolution, entered the U.S. navy as a lieutenant in 1798, and held commands in the Mediterranean at the time of the Tripolitan War. Promoted to commodore in 1807, he had just left Norfolk, Va., when his flagship, the ChesapeakeChesapeake,
U.S. frigate, famous for her role in the Chesapeake affair (June 22, 1807) and for her battle with the H.M.S. Shannon (June 1, 1813). The Chesapeake left Norfolk, Va., for the Mediterranean under the command of James Barron in June, 1807.
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, was halted and then bombarded by the British warship Leopard on June 22, 1807. The incident, notable in the troubles over the right of the British to search American vessels, aroused American anger. Barron was court-martialed, found guilty of "neglecting, on the probability of an engagement, to clear his ship for action" and suspended (1808) from duty for five years. Later, embittered and convinced (perhaps with justice) that Stephen DecaturDecatur, Stephen
, 1779–1820, American naval officer, b. Sinepuxent, near Berlin, Md.; son of a naval officer, Stephen Decatur. After joining the U.S. navy in 1798, he rose to fame in the Tripolitan War.
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 was barring his return to honorable standing in the navy, Barron challenged him to a duel, in which Decatur was mortally wounded (Mar. 22, 1820). Though reinstated to duty (1821) Barron never regained his earlier status. He retired in 1848.


See biography by W. O. Stevens (1969).

Barron, James

(1768–1851) naval officer; born probably in Norfolk, Va. After youthful service in the American Revolution, he became a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy (1798). Commanding the USS Chesapeake in its disastrous fight with the British Leopold (1807), he was courtmartialed and found guilty of negligence. After five years with the French navy, he returned to the U.S. Navy; convinced that Stephen Decatur was leading an effort to block his career, he challenged and killed Decatur in a duel (1820). Despised by most in the navy, he remained on inactive status until his death.
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