Robert Wilson Shufeldt (Naval Officer)

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Robert Wilson Shufeldt (Naval Officer)
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Rear Admiral Robert Wilson Shufeldt

(1822-02-21)February 21, 1822
Red Hook, New York
DiedNovember 7, 1895(1895-11-07) (aged 73)
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Alma materMiddlebury College
  • Naval officer
  • Diplomat
Spouse(s)Sarah Hutchins Abercrombie
ChildrenRobert Wilson Shufeldt Jr.

Rear Admiral Robert Wilson Shufeldt (1822 - 1895) was a 19th century American naval officer and diplomat.

Personal life

Robert Wilson Shufeldt was born in Red Hook, New York on February 21st, 1822. He was married in 1848 to Sarah Hutchins Abercrombie, daughter of Reverend James Abercrombie, and their first child, Robert Wilson Shufeldt Jr., was born in 1850,[1] and died of pneumonia on November 7th, 1895.[2]

Naval and Diplomatic career

Shufeldt studied at Middlebury College from 1837 until 1839, but left before graduation to join the United States Navy as a midshipman[3]. After the outbreak of the American Civil War, Shufeldt was appointed to the position of Consul-General of the United States' mission in Havana, Cuba, likely with the support of Secretary of State William Seward. As Consul-General to Cuba from 1861 to 1863, he played a role in the Trent Affair.[4] He returned to the Navy in 1863, and commanded a ship blockading Southern ports. Following the war, he commanded USS Wachusett. In 1867, he attempted to investigate the sinking of the SS General Sherman in Korea, but was forced to turn back by bad winter weather.[5] During the 1860's and 1870's, Shufeldt became established in naval circles as an advocate of reform and the expansion of trade.[6] Between this reputation and his strong political connections, he was appointed the first head of the newly-formed Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting, which eventually became the Navy's Bureau of Naval Personnel.[7]

He returned to Korea as the captain of the USS Ticonderoga during her circumnavigation of the globe, establishing relationships with Japanese and Chinese diplomats and political leaders in the region, including Li Hongzhang.[8] As a result of that interest, he was appointed the American representative to the 1882 Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce and Navigation with Korea, which negotiated protection for shipwrecked sailors, commerce regulations, and a most-favored nation status for the United States.[9]


  1. Drake 1984, p. 8-10
  2. Drake 1984, p. 332-333
  3. Drake, Frederick C., 1937- (1984). The empire of the seas : a biography of Rear Admiral Robert Wilson Shufeldt, USN. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. pp. 5–6. ISBN 0-8248-0846-0. OCLC 10404227.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. Drake 1984, p. 29-72
  5. "SS General Sherman Incident". Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  6. Mobley, Scott (2018). Progressives in Navy blue : maritime strategy, American empire, and the transformation of U.S. naval identity, 1873-1898. Annapolis, Maryland. pp. 154–155. ISBN 978-1-68247-193-7. OCLC 1005489112.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. Drake 1984, p. 156-163.
  8. Drake 1984, p. 257-304
  9. "Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce and Navigation" (PDF). 2016-12-26. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-12-26. Retrieved 2020-10-06.

External links

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