Lt. Jonathan Thorn

Namesake of the USS Thorn


Jonathan Thorn was born on January 8, 1779 in Schenectady, New York.  The son of an American Revolution veteran, he entered the Navy on April 28, 1800 and was assigned the position of midshipman.  On January 20, 1802, Midshipman Thorn was attached to the frigate John Adams, part of a squadron commissioned under Captain Richard W. Morris.  The squadron's first assignment sent Midshipman Thorn to the Mediterranean, challenging Barbary pirates who were demanding tributes from American ships for the right to travel the high seas.  His time on John Adams was followed by service on the USS ENTERPRISE and USS CONSTITUTION, both part of a blockade of the coast of Tripoli.

While serving on Enterprise, Midshipman Thorn was hand selected by Lieutenant Stephen Decatur to take part in the capture and eventual destruction of the U. S. frigate PHILADELPHIA, an American asset that had run aground off the coast of Tripoli and had fallen into the hands of the Tripolitans.  The exploits of Decatur and his crew were hailed by Lord Nelson as "the most bold and daring act of the age."

Midshipman Thorn was promoted to acting Lieutenant on November 7, 1803, by order of Captain Edward W. Preble.  On August 3, 1804, Lieutenant Thorn commanded a gunboat during the CONSTITUTION's bombardment of the City of Tripoli.  As commander of Boat No. 4, he was recognized by both Captain Decatur and Captain Preble for his great bravery and meritorious service.

On June 6, 1806, Lieutenant Thorn was appointed the first commandant of the New York Navy Yard at the age of 27, the youngest officer ever to command a United States Navy Yard.

Lieutenant Thorn was tragically killed by Indians in June of 1811 while furloughed to John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company, trading furs in what is now the state of Oregon.  He was 32.

Related Information:
Heroic Life and Tragic Death of Lt. Jonathan Thorn

Return to the USS Thorn

Source: USS Thorn DD988 website, Thorn family