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John Drake Sloat Passed Away

Today in Masonic History John Drake Sloat passed away in 1867.

John Drake Sloat was an American naval officer.

Sloat was born on July 6th, 1781 in Sloatsburg, New York. His father was killed two months before he was born when he was accidentally shot by one of his sentries. Sloat's mother passed away just a few years later. Sloat was raised by his maternal grandparents.

In 1800, Sloat was appointed as a midshipman in the United States Navy. He was the sailing master, now generally referred to as the navigator, on board the USS United States during the War of 1812. He was promoted for his "conspicuous gallantry" during the capture of the HMS Macedonian.

By 1825, Sloat had his own command the USS Grampus, a schooner, which he commanded during the pursuit and capture of the pirate Roberto Cofresi. The operation to stop Cofresi and his flotilla of pirate ships was a multi-country operation. In included Spain, Puerto Rico, the government of St. Thomas and the United States. After the capture of Cofresi, Sloat was stationed on the USS Franklin and the USS Washington.

In 1828, Sloat received his own command again. This time it was the sloop USS St. Louis as a master commandant. A master commandant was a rank slightly higher than a lieutenant and was generally given command of warships. He was promoted to captain in 1837.

From 1840 to 1844, Sloat was in command of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The year he left Portsmouth, he was put in command of a Pacific squadron. In 1845, Sloat was ordered to watch the situation with Mexico and that if grew to a point where war broke out between Mexico and the United States, he was to go ashore in Alta, California and claim California for the United States. This was a big concern, not just regarding Mexico, Great Britain was also looking for an opportunity to claim California. When the fighting started on the Texas Mexico border, Sloat headed into Monterey where he engaged in a brief skirmish before making it ashore and claiming California for the United States in 1846. Sloat was the military Governor of California for only 7 days before he was relieved by Robert F. Stockton.

After California, Sloat's health was failing so he was assigned shore commands for the rest of his career. From 1847 to 1851, he was in command of the Norfolk Navy Yard. He directed the construction of Stevens Battery, an early design for an ironclad, in 1855. He also helped to plan the Mare Island Navy Yard. He retired as a captain in 1861. In 1866, he was promoted to Rear Admiral on the retired list.

Sloat passed away on November 28th, 1867 in New Brighton, New York.

Sloat was a member of St. Nicolas Lodge No. 321 in New York City, New York.