Richard P. Leary, 1842-1901.
Richard P. Leary, 1842-1901.

Guide to the Richard P. Leary Papers, 1860-1905

MS 404

A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
Nimitz Library

Naval Academy Seal

United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029

Prepared by: Liz Coelho

May 2010

Descriptive Summary

5 linear inches.
Access to the Richard P. Leary Papers is unrestricted.
The Richard P. Leary Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information
Preferred Citation:
Richard P. Leary Papers, MS 404
Special Collections & Archives Department
Nimitz Library
United States Naval Academy

Biographical Sketch

Richard Phillips Leary was born November 3, 1842 in Baltimore, Maryland. A member of the Naval Academy Class of 1864, he was attached to the blockading squadron off Charleston from 1863 to 1865, was aboard the sloop-of-war Canandaigua on the European Station from 1865 to 1868, on the monitor Dictator from 1870 to 1873 and on other special assignments up to 1882 when he was made a commander. He successively commanded the steamer Wyandotte, the sloop-of-war Iroquois, and the frigate Adams.

In 1888, while in command of the Adams, Leary confronted the German corvette Adler several times in Samoan waters, protesting the bombardment of a village on the island of Mauna "in the name of the United States of America, and the civilized world in general." He later placed the Adams between the Adler and a village its captain proposed to bombard, thereby heading off the attack.

Promoted to captain in 1897, Leary commanded the protected cruiser San Francisco off Havana, Cuba during the Spanish-American War. From 1899 through 1900, he served as U.S. naval governor of Guam. During his tenure Leary was noted for the frequency and scope of his proclamations and general orders, including requiring all Chamorros to be married by either church or state, prescribing the number of livestock each household must possess and forbidding public celebrations of feast days of the patron saints of the villages.

In April of 1900 Leary was recalled from Guam at his own request and was assigned command of the receiving ship Richmond at the League Island Navy Yard outside of Philadelphia. While there he created a stir by requiring that all enlisted men be able to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" before being granted liberty. In 1901 Leary was granted six months leave on account of illness and died December 27, 1901 at the naval hospital in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Leary was survived by his wife Nevill and sons Herbert Fairfax Leary and Neville Leary.

Scope and Content Note

The Richard P. Leary Papers, comprising 5 linear inches of documents, primarily spans Leary’s career from 1888 through his death in 1901. A series on his son Herbert Fairfax Leary focuses on his education from 1898 to 1905, culminating in his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy.

The Richard P. Leary Papers had originally been organized in scrapbook form and consists of various documents, including newspaper clippings, telegrams, photographs, ephemera, official correspondence, and documents, proclamations and general orders issued by Leary as naval governor of Guam.

Although material related to Leary’s entire career is present, the primary focus of the collection is on Leary’s confrontation with the German corvette Adler in Samoa in 1888, his governorship of Guam from 1899 to 1900, the "Star-Spangled Banner" incident at League Island Naval Base in 1901, his illness and subsequent death in 1901, and newspaper articles on naval vessels in the Spanish-American War. There is a small collection of photographs from the Philippine Insurrection and several of the American Colony in Topocobampo, Mexico. Newspaper clippings and photographs related to family members are also present, including that of his wife, whose family, though American citizens, still held the Scottish title of Fairfax of Cameron.

Research interests served by the Richard P. Leary Papers include information on the ships of the Spanish-American War, with photographs and articles on ships, shipboard training and U.S. colonialism in the Pacific.

Series Descriptions

The Leary Papers are organized into six series by document type and subject scope. CORRESPONDENCE includes official orders and correspondence, DUTY STATIONS consists of documents pertaining to Leary's duties as an officer in the United States Navy. Organized into five sub-series by primary duty location, the files contain newspaper clippings, official documents, correspondence and ephemera. DEATH OF RICHARD LEARY includes newspaper clippings and letters and telegrams pertaining to Leary’s final illness and death, with many providing a summary of his accomplishments as a naval officer. FAMILY consists of official documents, correspondence, newspaper clippings and ephemera. PHOTOGRAPHS consists of official and unofficial shots of ships and shipboard activities, portraits of Pacific islanders and island scenes, and family members. HERBERT FAIRFAX LEARY consists of correspondence, official documents and ephemera related to the education of Leary’s oldest son Herbert. It is organized into three sub-series: Education, Correspondence and Photographs.

Container List

Box Folder  
1 Official Correspondence, 1899-1901

Official correspondence- leave request from LT. D.W. Hourigan, USFS Olympia, letter from Louis McComas, U.S. Senate, to Mr. George B. Cortelyou, Secretary to the President, requesting audience with the president for Leary.

2 Official Orders, 1865-1900

Official orders- from Naval Examining Board, to duty Onboard US Steamer Canadaigua (1865), detachment from USS Portsmouth to duty onboard Guerriere (1869), orders to signal code training (1870), detachment orders from Guam (1900).

3 Acceptance of "Vote of Thanks"/ Toast "The Flag," 1893

Acceptance of "Vote of Thanks" and "Testimonial" from the State of Maryland regarding actions in Samoa (1893), a toast entitled "The Flag", given at U.S. Naval Academy (1893).

4 Telegram Re: Promotion to Rear Admiral, 1901

Telegram to Mrs. Leary regarding promotion of Captain Leary to Rear Admiral (December 28, 1901).

DUTY STATIONS/Spanish-American War
5 Newspaper Illustrations of Ships, 1899-1900

Newspaper illustrations of ships in the war.

6 Newspaper Clippings, 1888

Newspaper clippings on Adams' confrontation with the German corvette Adler.

7 Map and Chart of Guam, 1900

Map of Guam, chart of Port of St Louis de Apra, Guam.

8 "Official List" for Island of Guam (April 15, 1900), 1900
9 Proclamations, 1899-1900

Proclamations to Citizens of Guam signed by Leary (1899). Acknowledgement of receipt of proclamations and General Orders by British Museum (March, 1900).

10 General Orders, 1899-1900

General Orders issued by Leary as governor of Guam.

11 Newspaper Articles on Governorship, 1899-1900

Articles on Leary’s tenure as governor of Guam

12 Documents Related to Social Duties, 1899-1900

Documents related to social duties, including menus, programs and invitations.

Richmond/League Island Navy Yard
13 Newspaper Articles on "Star-Spangled Banner" Incident, 1901
Social Events
14 Menus and Illustrations, 1887-1901
15 Newspaper Clippings, 1901

Newspaper clippings on final illness and death of Leary.

16 Condolence Telegrams, 1901
17 Newspaper Clippings, 1860-1900

Newspaper clippings on family members, including brother-in-law Dr. Fairfax Irwin. Obituaries of Leary relatives.

18 Newspaper Articles on Marriage of Richard Leary, undated

Newspaper clipping on wedding of Richard Leary and Miss Nevill Irwin. Includes information on the Scotch title of Fairfax of Cameron.

19 Ephemera, 1888-1901

Ephemera and documents, including three watercolors by E. Irwin, orders to U.S. Naval Academy to Mr. William Galbraith, menu to dinner in honor of Major Peter Leary, Jr. (brother).

20 Richard P. Leary, 1870-1900

Four photographs of Leary.

21 USS Adams and German Corvette Adler in Samoa, 1888

Three photographs of Adams and Adler in Samoa, and of American wounded on the grounds of the English Consulate.

22 Spanish-American War, 1899-1900

Miscellaneous of Spanish-American War, including baseball team of the Maine.

23 USS Vandalia, Pensacola, and Gaulois, ca. 1889

Three photographs of Vandalia, Pensacola and Gaulois, and a group photograph of unidentified officers.

24 Philippines and Philippine Insurrection, ca. 1900

Sixteen photographs related to Philippine Insurrection, including a portrait of Emilio Aguinaldo.

25 Ships Underway, 1883-1900

Thirteen photographs of various unidentified ships underway.

26 Guam, 1899-1900

Twenty-eight photographs taken on Guam, including group shots of Company B Marines, Company A Marines, and Marines from the Yosemite.

27 Pacific Islanders, 1888-1900

Five portraits of unidentified Pacific Islanders.

28 American Colony at Topocobampo, Mexico, ca. 1900

Five photographs of the American Colony at Topocobampo, Mexico.

29 Venice, ca. 1900

Three photographs of Venetian scenes.

30 Clippings of Martial Poems, 1898-1900
31 Clippings of Illustrations, 1888-1900

Clippings of illustrations, including St Stephen and Ulysses S. Grant.

32 Documents on Early Education, 1898-1901

Reports on education prior to U.S. Naval Academy.

33 Correspondence on Naval Academy Recommendations and Examination, 1901
34 Telegrams Regarding Acceptance to Naval Academy, 1901
35 Newspaper Clippings on Acceptance to Naval Academy, 1901
36 Naval Academy Academic Instructions, 1901-1905
37 Performance Evaluations, 1901-1905
38 Midshipman Cruise Station Billets, 1901-1905
39 Sports Programs and Ephemera, 1901-1905
40 Dance Cards, Invitations, and Menus, 1901-1905
Dances and social events, including dance cards, menus and invitations.
41 Ephemera, 1901-1957
42 Family Correspondence, 1902
Family correspondence and correspondence on family visit.
43 Letter on Father's Death, 1901

Letter of condolence from Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States upon the death of father.

44 Photographs - Naval Academy Football Team (2), 1901-1905
45 Photographs - Midshipman Cruise (8), 1901-1905
46-47 Photographs - Family and Friends, 1890-1905
48 Photographs - "Dewey's Church," Chicago (3), ca. 1901
49 Postcards - European Scenes, ca. 1900

Nineteen postcards of European scenes and European costumes.

Box Folder
MSOS 1 Oversize Documents

- Newspaper illustrations of ships and crews of the Spanish-American War.
- Department of Customs carte, with photograph, of King George of Tonga.
- Letter to High Chief Tamasese, Apia, Samoa of November 11, 1888, threatening bombardment of village in punishment for theft.
- Certificate of appointment to the Naval Academy for Herbert Fairfax Leary.
- Certificate from Maryland Council of Defense to Mrs. E. Waring (1919).
- Two handbills with advertisements for midshipman performances.
- USNA Academic Instructions (1901-1905)
- Proclamation to the People of the Philippines on cession of Philippines by Spain to the U.S. (April 4, 1899).