|December 26, 1837 - January 16, 1917|
|Place of birth||Montpelier, Vermont|
|Place of death||Washington, D.C.|
|Years of service||1858-1917|
|Rank||Admiral of the Navy|
|Battles/wars|| American Civil War|
* Battle of Manila Bay
George Dewey (December 26, 1837 – January 16, 1917) was an admiral of the United States Navy, best known for his victory (without the loss of a single life of his own forces due to combat; one man died of heat exhaustion) at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. He was also the only person in the history of the United States to have attained the rank of Admiral of the Navy, the most senior rank in the United States Navy.
Dewey was born in Montpelier, Vermont, attended Norwich University for two years (1852-1854), and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1858. He served as a lieutenant under Admiral David Farragut in the American Civil War, seeing action in Louisiana and along the Mississippi River. He attained the rank of lieutenant commander in 1865.
On April 27, 1898, he sailed out from China with orders to attack the Spanish at Manila Bay. He stopped at the mouth of the bay late the night of April 30, and the following morning he gave the order to attack at first light, by saying the now famous words “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley”. Within 6 hours, on May 1, he had sunk or captured the entire Spanish Pacific fleet under Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón and silenced the shore batteries at Manila, with the loss of only one life on the American side.
News of the victory in the Battle of Manila Bay made Dewey a great hero in the United States, and Dewey was promoted to Rear Admiral. Dewey’s swift easy victory no doubt did much to encourage the William McKinley administration in its decision to place the Philippines under American control.
Dewey aided General Wesley Merritt in taking formal possession of Manila on August 18, 1898. In the early stages of the war the Americans were greatly aided by the Filipino nationalists led by Emilio Aguinaldo who had been attacking the Spanish by land as Dewey was attacking them by sea. Dewey and Aguinaldo at first enjoyed a cordial relationship, and Dewey wrote that the Filipinos were “intelligent” and well “capable of self-government”; however the McKinley administration soon decided otherwise, and by the start of 1899, Dewey had to threaten to shell Aguinaldo’s forces to allow American troops to land in Manila (for details, see History of the Philippines).
After Dewey’s return from the Spanish-American War, many suggested he run for President of the United States on the Democratic ticket. However, newspapers started attacking him as naïve after he was quoted saying the job of President would be easy since the chief executive was merely following orders in executing the laws enacted by Congress. He further angered Protestants by marrying in November 1899 the Catholic Mildred McLean Hazen, widow of General William Babcock Hazen and daughter of Washington McLean, the former owner of The Washington Post, and giving her the house that the nation had given him following the war. 
Dewey withdrew from the race in mid-May and endorsed William McKinley.
Dewey officially remained an active officer of the Navy until his death, as a special honor after he passed retirement age. He published his autobiography in 1913. Admiral George Dewey died in Washington, D.C., still on active duty, while serving as President of the Navy Board.
Dates of Rank
|Ensign||Lieutenant Junior Grade||Lieutenant||Lieutenant Commander||Commander||Captain|
|Never Held||Never Held||April 19, 1861||March 3, 1865||April 13, 1872||September 27, 1884|
|Commodore||Rear Admiral||Vice Admiral||Admiral||Admiral of Navy|
|February 28, 1896||May 10, 1898||Never Held||March 2, 1899||March 24, 1903 Retroactive to March 2, 1899|
In 1898, the Borough of Hellertown, Pennsylvania formed its fire department naming it Dewey Fire Company No. 1 in honor of George Dewey.
Thomasville, Georgia, contains the Dewey City "subdivision," an area settled in the late 1880's by former slaves.
- Dates of promotion from The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Sixth Edition, 1889, by Lewis Randolph Hamersly. 
- Dewey biography on Spanish American War Centennial Website - includes links to some of Dewey's letters
- Dewey biographical information on Naval Historical Center website
|Member of the Schurman Commission
March 4, 1899–March 16, 1900
| Succeeded by|
Luke Edward Wright