Biography and History

George W. Storer (1789-1864) served in the United States Navy for more than fifty years, including a term as commander-in-chief of the Brazil squadron from 1847 to 1850, which, in part, had the goal of preventing American ships from transporting African slaves.

Born in 1789 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, George Washington Storer was the son of Samuel and Mary Storer. Legend has it that George Washington visited when he was a baby and stated that he hoped that Storer would be a better man than his namesake. Storer began his naval career in 1809 as a midshipman, but rose in rank to lieutenant in 1813, master-commandant in 1828, captain in 1837, and commander-in-chief of the Brazil Squadron in 1847, serving in that capacity until 1850. Following his service in the Brazil Squadron, Storer was on leave of absence from 1851 to 1854, and then, from 1855 to 1857, served as governor of the Philadelphia Naval Asylum, the first government-funded hospital and home for elderly and destitute United States sailors. In 1857 he served as president of the Naval Court of Inquiry #3, which followed an 1855 act of Congress amending "An Act to Promote the Efficiency of the Navy," under which more than 200 naval officers were dismissed from duty. Storer retired from the Navy in 1862, and died two years later, in 1864.

Storer was appointed a captain in the Brazil Squadron in 1837 which tended to a variety of American interests in the South Pacific relating to diplomacy with Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, as well as playing an important role in enforcing the long-standing ban on American participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Because Brazil was the last nation which permitted the importation of slaves, Rio de Janeiro was a stop for ships transporting slaves from Africa. During Storer’s tenure as commander of the Brazil Squadron, from 1847 to 1850, the fleet, frequently working with the British Navy, captured four slave ships. Storer, as Commander in Chief of the Brazil Squadron, served under three secretaries of the Navy: John Y. Mason, William B. Preston, and William A. Graham.

Storer married Mary Leah Blunt (1798-1868) in 1819, and they were the parents of Samuel Storer (1820/1-1898), Robert Blunt Storer (1825-1847), Jacob Jones Storer (1826-1902), Lincoln Lear Storer (1828-1849), and Mary Washington Storer (born 1830). Storer’s occupation became a tradition in the family: both Robert and Lincoln worked on the water and died at sea; and Samuel and his wife, Sarah Parker Rice Goodwin (1832-1867), had a daughter Mabel (1861-1926) who married Lieutenant Stephen Decatur (1855-1934) in 1884.

Source: From the finding aid for C1433

  • George W. Storer Brazil Squadron Papers. 1817-1868 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1433

    George W. Storer (1789-1864) served in the United States Navy for more than fifty years, including a term as commander-in-chief of the Brazil Squadron from 1847 to 1850, which, in part, was responsible for preventing American ships from transporting African slaves. This collection documents much of George Washington Storer's long career in the United States Navy as captain, lieutenant, and commander-in-chief of the Brazil Squadron, and also offers a wide-ranging look at the role of the United States Navy, primarily during the 1830s and 1840s, as a peacekeeper and a deterrent to the slave trade.