Biography: Rear Admiral Stephen Bleecker Luce

Stephen Bleecker Luce (25 March 1827 – 28 July 1917).  Born in Albany, New York, Stephen Luce was one of the Navy’s outstanding officers in many fields, including strategy, seamanship, education, and professional development.  In 1776, 24% of the Martha’s Vineyard Sea Coast Defense was comprised of the Luce family from which he descended.

Stephen was appointed Midshipman at the age of 14 by President van Buren.  He then married a grand-niece of Martha Washington.  He later served with the Atlantic coast blockaders during the American Civil War, and commanded the monitor Nantucket at the siege of Charleston, South Carolina.

In 1846, he sailed on the Columbus under Commander James Biddle into Edo Bay, Tokyo in an attempt to open Japan to the world ten years before Commodore Perry.  In 1862, while serving as head of the Department of Seamanship at the U.S. Naval Academy, he prepared one of the first seamanship textbooks used by the Academy.

As Rear Admiral, he founded the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1884 and served as its first president.  He and his protégée Alfred Thayer Mahan conceptualized America’s grandiose policy of “Manifest Destiny.”

Three ships have been named USS Luce in his honor.  The United States Naval Academy and the Naval War College both have buildings named Luce Hall in his honor.  There is also an auditorium at the former Naval Training Center (San Diego, CA) named Luce Auditorium, constructed 1941. The library at the State University of New York Maritime College in New York City is the Stephen B. Luce Library.  His biographer characterized him as “intensely un-humorous.”

March 12, 1988: USS Luce DDG-38 underway.


The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation ( There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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