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Encyclopedia > Abel Parker Upshur
Portrait of U.S. Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur

Abel Parker Upshur (June 17, 1790February 28, American statesman. He was born in Northampton County, Virginia and attended Yale and Princeton Universities, then he studied law in Virginia and was admitted to the bar in 1810.

After a brief time at Baltimore, Maryland, Upshur developed a thriving law practice in Richmond, Virginia and was an active participant in state politics. He was elected to a term in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1812, was Commonwealth Attorney for Richmond, ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Congress, returned to the legislature in 1825, was an influential delegate to the Virginia State Constitutional Convention in 1829 to 1830 and was elected to the Virginia General Court.

Upshur's political reach became national when John Tyler became President of the United States in 1841 and selected him to become the 13th United States Secretary of the Navy in October of that year. His time with the Navy was marked by a strong emphasis on reform and reorganization and efforts to expand and modernize the service. He served from October 11, 1841 to July 23, 1843, and among his achievements were the replacement of the old Board of Navy Commissioners with the bureau system, regularization of the officer corps, increased Navy appropriations, construction of new sailing and steam warships, and the establishment of the United States Naval Observatory and Hydrographic Office.

In July 1843, President Tyler appointed Upshur United States Secretary of State. On February 28, 1844, while joining the President and many other dignitaries for a Potomac River cruise on the new steamship USS Princeton, Secretary Upshur and several others were killed when one of the ship's guns exploded. He is buried at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C..

Upshur County, West Virginia and Upshur County, Texas are named in his honor.

Upshur Street in Northwest Washington, D.C. is also named after him.

Preceded by:
Daniel Webster
United States Secretary of State
Succeeded by:
John C. Calhoun
Preceded by:
George E. Badger
United States Secretary of the Navy
Succeeded by:
David Henshaw

External links

  • Naval Historical Center: Secretary Upshur (http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/pers-us/uspers-u/a-upshur.htm)
  • Historical Congressional Cemetery: "Most Awful and Most Lamentable Catastrophe!" (http://www.congressionalcemetery.org/HTML/Pomp/Princeton1844.html)

  Results from FactBites:
Abel P. Upshur (636 words)
Abel Parker Upshur—born on 17 June 1791 in Northampton County, Va.—was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1810 and practiced law in Richmond.
Abel P. Upshur assumed duties at the Washington Navy Yard in March 1928 as a training ship for Naval Reserave personnel from the District of Columbia and continued this routine until 5 November 1930, when the ship was transferred to the Treasury Department.
Abel P. Upshur was returned to Navy custody on 21 May 1934 but was laid up at Philadelphia until 4 December 1939, when she was again placed in commission and assigned to the Atlantic Squadron.
Bryansite - History of Upshur County, Texas (2564 words)
Upshur County was originally part of Nacogdoches County, but later when Harrison County was organized, it was included in that county, therefore all of Upshur County was detached from Harrison.
Abel Parker UPSHUR, born 17 Jul 1791 in Virginia, served several terms in the Virginia Legislature and in 1826, was appointed to the Virginia Supreme Court.
When the Texas Legislature organized Upshur County, it said the new county should be named in honor of the late cabinet member, who was killed in 1844, in an explosion of the "Peacemaker" which was a large cannon, on the Navy war cruiser, "Princeton".
  More results at FactBites »



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