Military Wiki
William Eaton Chandler
Senator William E. Chandler
30th United States Secretary of the Navy

In office
April 16, 1882 – March 4, 1885
President Chester A. Arthur
Preceded by William H. Hunt
Succeeded by William C. Whitney
United States Senator from
New Hampshire

In office
June 14, 1887 – March 4, 1889
June 18, 1889 – March 4, 1901
Preceded by Person C. Cheney
Gilman Marston
Succeeded by Gilman Marston
Henry E. Burnham
Personal details
Born (1835-12-28)December 28, 1835
Concord, New Hampshire
Died November 30, 1917(1917-11-30) (aged 81)
Concord, New Hampshire
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ann Gilmore
Lucy Lambert Hale
Children John Parker Hale Chandler
Alma mater Harvard Law School
Occupation lawyer
Religion Universalist Unitarian Church

William Eaton Chandler (December 28, 1835 – November 30, 1917) was a lawyer who served as United States Secretary of the Navy and as a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire.

Early life

A young William E. Chandler with his parents, Nathan S. Chandler and Mary Chandler

William E. Chandler was born in Concord, New Hampshire to Nathan S. Chandler and Mary Ann (Tucker) Chandler. William's elder brother, John Chandler, was a successful East India merchant and his younger brother George Chandler, an attorney who served as a major during the Civil War.[1]

William Chandler attended the common schools, Thetford Academy and Pembroke Academy before attending Harvard Law School, where he began a romantic correspondence with Lucy Lambert Hale, daughter of Senator John Parker Hale. He graduated in 1854, was admitted to the bar in 1855, and commenced practice in Concord.[2]

In 1859 Chandler married Ann Gilmore, the daughter of Governor Joseph A. Gilmore. In 1874, after his first wife's death, Chandler resumed his romance with Lucy Hale, who had been secretly betrothed in 1865 to John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin. Chandler and Hale were married in 1874, and in March 1885, their only son, John Parker Hall Chandler, was born.[3]

Political career

In 1859, Chandler was appointed reporter of the decisions of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire. He then served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1862–1864 and was the Speaker during the last two years.[1][4]

In 1865, Chandler was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln solicitor and judge advocate general of the Navy Department. Subsequently, he was appointed First Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, until he resigned in 1867.[1]

Chandler returned to New Hampshire and became a newspaper publisher and editor during the 1870s and 1880s. Continuing in politics, he was a member of the State constitutional convention in 1876 and a member of the State house of representatives in 1881.[1] Chandler was appointed by President Chester A. Arthur as Secretary of the Navy in 1882. He took charge in 1883 in planning for the rescue of Lt. Adolphus Greely's Lady Franklin Bay Expedition. Chandler served until 1885.

As a Republican, he was elected to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Austin F. Pike and served from June 14, 1887, to March 4, 1889. Subsequently elected for the term beginning March 4, 1889, he was reelected in 1895 and served from June 18, 1889, to March 4, 1901. He was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination. He served as chairman of the Committee on Immigration (Fifty-first and Fifty-second Congresses), Committee on Census (Fifty-fourth Congress), Committee on Privileges and Elections (Fifty-fifth and Fifty-sixth Congresses).

In 1892, Chandler proposed a one-year ban on immigration, to keep out undesirables, which included cholera carriers, Anarchists, Nihilists, polygamists, Mafia members, illiterates, "blind or crippled" persons, persons without means, etc.[5] The strongest opponents of the bill were the steamship companies, who stood to lose a major portion of their business.[6] A watered-down version of The Chandler Immigration and Contract Labor Bill became law on March 3, 1893. It simply required steamship companies to prepare lists of their passengers containing full information,[7][8] and thus very likely served as a compromise to get the steamship companies to back down on Immigration Reform at this time.

Chandler was appointed by President William McKinley to the Spanish Treaty Claims Commission in 1901. He was the president of the Commission from its inception until 1907, when its work was nearly complete.

Leaving public office, Chandler resumed the practice of law in Concord and Washington, D.C..

He died at Concord in 1917 and was buried in Blossom Hill Cemetery in Concord.


USS Chandler (DD-206) was named for him.

Chandler's grandson, Theodore E. Chandler joined the U.S. Navy in 1911 while his grandparents were both still alive and later distinguished himself as a Rear Admiral in World War II, and was killed in action by a Japanese kamikaze aircraft.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 John Badger Clarke, Sketches of successful New Hampshire men ...(J.B. Clarke, 1882) 261-265
  2. The New England magazine, Volume 36 ("What's Doing at Washington" by David S. Barry, New England Magazine Co., 1907) pg. 261
  3. Kunhardt, Dorothy and Philip, Jr. (1965). Twenty Days. North Hollywood, Calif.: Newcastle. pp. 178–179. LCCN 62015660. 
  4. Jenks, George E. (1866). "Political Journal for the State of The New Hampshire 1867". Concord, New Hampshire: McFarland and Jenks. p. 45.. 
  5. See, for example, "To Control Immigration: Four More Classes of Excluded Persons Proposed," New York Times, January 5, 1893.
  6. See, for example, "Prohibition of Immigration: Opposition of the Steamship Companies to the Chandler Bill," New York Times, December 12, 1892.
  7. "The New Immigration Bill," New York Times, March 4, 1893.
  8. Untitled editorial, New York Times, March 5, 1893.
Government offices
Preceded by
William H. Hunt
United States Secretary of the Navy
Succeeded by
William C. Whitney
United States Senate
Preceded by
Person C. Cheney
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from New Hampshire
Served alongside: Henry W. Blair
Succeeded by
Gilman Marston
Preceded by
Gilman Marston
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from New Hampshire
Served alongside: Henry W. Blair, Jacob H. Gallinger
Succeeded by
Henry E. Burnham
Political offices
Preceded by
Edward A. Rollins
Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives
1863 – 1864
Succeeded by
Austin F. Pike

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