Dewey, George(do͞o`ē, dyo͞o`–), 1837–1917, American admiral, hero of the battle of Manila, b. Montpelier, Vt., grad. Annapolis, 1858. He saw active duty in the Civil War and rose in the navy in service and rank, becoming chief of the Bureau of Equipment in 1889, president of the Board of Inspection and Survey in 1895, and commodore in 1896. He was unpopular with many high-ranking naval commanders, and it seems to have been through the influence of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt and the direct intervention of President McKinley that Dewey was appointed in 1897 to command the Asiatic squadron. When the Spanish-American WarSpanish-American War,
1898, brief conflict between Spain and the United States arising out of Spanish policies in Cuba. It was, to a large degree, brought about by the efforts of U.S. expansionists.
..... Click the link for more information. broke out, Dewey was ready. He sailed to Manila, entered the harbor after midnight on May 1, 1898, and engaged the Spanish fleet at dawn. By noon he had destroyed eight Spanish ships with only eight Americans wounded. Manila was at his mercy, but he waited for reinforcements; meanwhile he brought Emilio Aguinaldo, the Filipino rebel, back from exile to lead a revolution in the Philippines. In maintaining relations with neutral warships at Manila, Dewey had to exercise firmness with the officers of five German ships who would not accede to his blockade rules. When Gen. Wesley Merritt arrived with army forces, the commanders cooperated in capturing Manila. Promoted to admiral of the navy in 1899, he was feted on his return to the United States with almost hysterical enthusiasm and briefly received wide support as a potential presidential candidate.
See his autobiography (1913, repr. 1971); L. H. Healy and L. Kutner, The Admiral (1944); N. Sargent, Admiral Dewey and the Manila Campaign (1947); R. S. West, Admirals of American Empire (1948, repr. 1971).
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Dewey, George(1837–1917) naval officer; born in Montpelier, Vt. He served under David Farragut during the Civil War, then followed the standard career of a peacetime naval officer. In 1897 he was assigned command of the Asiatic Squadron, and in May 1898 he directed the action in Manila Bay that totally defeated the Spanish fleet (during which he is said to have commanded his flagship's captain, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.") Dewey stayed on for over a year to oversee the American takeover of the Philippines, then returned to a tremendous hero's welcome. He was honored with a special rank, admiral of the navy, and urged to run for U.S. president; but he settled for presidency of the General Board of the Navy Department, serving as an adviser on naval affairs to his death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.