George von Lengerke Meyer

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George von Lengerke Meyer (24 June, 1858 – 9 March, 1918) served as the fortieth Secretary of the Navy from 1907 through 1909.

Life & Career

This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

George von Lengerke Meyer was born on 24 June, 1858 in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1879 and pursued a career in the mercantile and banking world until 1899. During that period he also served as councilman and alderman for the city of Boston, and in 1892 became one of its representatives in the Massachusetts Legislature. Meyer served in the Legislature until 1897, and acted as Speaker of the House from 1894 through 1896.

From 1900 to 1905 he served as Ambassador to Italy and, from 1905 to 1907, as Ambassador to Russia. Returning to the United States, he served President Roosevelt as Postmaster General and was then appointed Secretary of the Navy by President Taft on 6 March, 1909. Unlike Roosevelt, Taft retained Meyer as Secretary through his entire term of office.

The Army and Navy Register reported on 16 July, 1910 that Meyer had traveled to Restigouche, Canada for "practically all summer" in order to spend his vacation fishing.[1]

One of Meyer's major reforms as Secretary was to appoint several officers as advisory aides on specialist subjects to supplement (some would say circumvent) the advice of the Bureau chiefs. These positions were abolished by Meyer's successor Josephus Daniels because they smacked of "Prussianism".

Upon Taft's departure from the White House in 1913, Meyer returned to Massachusetts. He died at Boston on 9 March, 1918. The following year the U.S. Navy named Destroyer No. 279 in his honor.

See Also


  • Howe, M. A. DeWolfe (1919). George von Lengerke Meyer: His Life and Public Services. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co.
  • Wiegand, Wayne A. (1988). Patrician in the Progressive Era: A Biography of George von Lengerke Meyer. New York: Garland.


Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Truman H. Newberry
Secretary of the Navy
6 Mar, 1909 – 4 Mar, 1913
Succeeded by
Josephus Daniels


  1. "Personal Matters". Army and Navy Register. 16 July, 1910. Vol. XLVIII, No. 1,895, p. 15.