Arthur Sinclair

Born 2/28/1780 in Virginia
Died 2/7/1831 in Norfolk, Virginia


Commodore Arthur Sinclair(28 February 1780 – 7 February 1831) was an early American naval hero, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Quasi-War with France, the First Barbary War and in the War of 1812. His three sons also served in the Navy; they resigned in 1861, however, to serve in the Confederate Navy.

Sinclair was the great-grandfather of novelist Upton Sinclair, author of the novel The Jungle (1906).


Born in Virginia, Sinclair entered the Navy as Midshipman in 1798. He served as Midshipman in Constellation during the capture of the French frigate L'Insurgente on 9 February 1799. He was attached to the Mediterranean Squadron from June 1804 to July 1806, participating in the attacks on Tripoli on board Essex.

He then sailed Gunboat No. 10 to the United States. On 13 December 1811, he was ordered to the command of Argus; and, between 12 October and 17 December 1812, cruised in Argus with the North Atlantic Squadron and took a number of prizes. During the cruise, he became separated from the squadron and was chased for three days and nights by an enemy squadron before his superior ship handling enabled him to escape. On 18 May 1813, he was ordered to duty in the squadron on Lake Ontario and commanded General Pike in the engagement on 28 September 1813. In 1814, he commanded Niagara on Lake Huron and Lake Superior and directed the naval squadron in the Battle of Mackinac Island and the Engagement on Lake Huron.

Promoted to Captain in 1813, he commanded Congress in 1817; served in Washington in 1818; and, in 1819, was placed in command of the Norfolk Station where, in 1821, he established a naval school on the schoolship Guerriere.

Captain Sinclair died at Norfolk, Virginia on 7 February 1831.