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Richard P. Leary Papers, 1860-1957 (bulk 1860-1905): Finding Aid

Published in May 2010

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 404
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Richard P. Leary Papers
  • Dates: 1860-1957
  • Bulk Dates: 1860-1905
  • Size: 0.42 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 manuscript box and 1 oversize folder containing 408 items
  • Creator: Leary, Richard Phillips, 1842-1901
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Richard P. Leary was an officer in the U.S. Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1864 who served during the Civil War and as Naval Governor of Guam. The Leary Papers primary focus 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.

Biographical Sketch of Richard P. Leary

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.

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Description of Contents

The Richard P. Leary Papers, comprising 0.42 linear feet 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.

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  • Series 1: CORRESPONDENCE, 1865-1901
  • Series 2: DUTY STATIONS, 1887-1901
  • Subseries 2A: Spanish-American War, 1899-1900
  • Subseries 2B: Adams/Samoa, 1888
  • Subseries 2C: Guam, 1899-1900
  • Subseries 2D: Richmond/League Island Navy Yard, 1901
  • Subseries 2E: Social Events, 1887-1901
  • Series 3: DEATH OF RICHARD LEARY, 1901
  • Series 4: FAMILY, 1860-1919
  • Series 5: PHOTOGRAPHS, 1870-1900
  • Series 6: EPHEMERA, 1888-1900
  • Series 7: HERBERT FAIRFAX LEARY, 1890-1957
  • Subseries 7A: Education, 1901-1902, 1957
  • Subseries 7B: Correspondence, 1901-1902
  • Subseries 7C: Photographs, 1890-1905
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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

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.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition


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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional biographical material on Richard P. Leary and Herbert Fairfax Leary can be found in their respective Alumni Jackets in Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

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Processing and Other Information

The Leary Papers were previously processed and housed with the Alumni/Memorabilia section of the Naval Academy Archives until May 2010.

Preferred Citation

Richard P. Leary Papers, MS 404

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Liz Coelho in May 2010. Finding aid written by Liz Coelho in May 2010.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Adler (Gunboat)
  • Guam -- Politics and Government
  • Leary, Herbert Fairfax
  • Leary, Richard Phillips, 1842-1901
  • Philippines -- History -- Philippine American War, 1899-1902
  • Spanish American War -- Naval Operations

Genre Terms

  • Certificates
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
  • Printed ephemera
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Contents List

Series 1: CORRESPONDENCE, 1865-1901 4 folders

Series Description

Includes official orders and correspondence.

Box 1 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.

Box 1 Folder 2

Official Orders, 1865-1900

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

Box 1 Folder 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).

Box 1 Folder 4

Telegram Re: Promotion to Rear Admiral, 1901

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

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Series 2: DUTY STATIONS, 1887-1901 12 folders

Series Description

Consists of documents pertaining to Leary's duties as an officer in the United States Navy. The files contain newspaper clippings, official documents, correspondence and ephemera.

Series Arrangement

Organized into five sub-series by primary duty location.

Subseries 2A: Spanish-American War, 1899-1900 2 folders

Box 1 Folder 5
Newspaper Illustrations of Ships, 1899-1900

Newspaper illustrations of ships in the war.

Oversize Documents, 1888-1919
Drawer MSOS Folder 1 Item 1
Newspaper illustrations of ships and crews of the Spanish-American War, 1898-1900
Drawer MSOS Folder 1 Item 2
Proclamation to the People of the Philippines on cession of Philippines by Spain to the U.S., 1899 April 4

Subseries 2B: Adams/Samoa, 1888 2 folders

Box 1 Folder 6
Newspaper Clippings, 1888

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

Oversize Documents, 1888-1919
Drawer MSOS Folder 1 Item 3
Department of Customs carte, with photograph, of King George of Tonga, undated
Drawer MSOS Folder 1 Item 4
Letter to High Chief Tamasese, Apia, Samoa of November 11, 1888, threatening bombardment of village in punishment for theft, 1888 November 11

Subseries 2C: Guam, 1899-1900 6 folders

Box 1 Folder 7
Map and Chart of Guam, 1900

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

Box 1 Folder 8
"Official List" for Island of Guam (April 15, 1900), 1900
Box 1 Folder 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).

Box 1 Folder 10
General Orders, 1899-1900

General Orders issued by Leary as governor of Guam.

Box 1 Folder 11
Newspaper Articles on Governorship, 1899-1900

Articles on Leary's tenure as governor of Guam.

Box 1 Folder 12
Documents Related to Social Duties, 1899-1900

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

Subseries 2D: Richmond/League Island Navy Yards, 1901 1 folders

Box 1 Folder 13
Newspaper Articles on "Star-Spangled Banner" Incident, 1901

Subseries 2E: Social Events, 1887-1901 1 folders

Box 1 Folder 14
Menus and Illustrations, 1887-1901

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Series 3: DEATH OF RICHARD LEARY, 1901 2 folders

Series Description

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.

Box 1 Folder 15

Newspaper Clippings, 1901

Newspaper clippings on final illness and death of Leary.

Box 1 Folder 16

Condolence Telegrams, 1901

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Series 4: FAMILY, 1860-1919 4 folders

Series Description

Consists of official documents, correspondence, newspaper clippings and ephemera.

Box 1 Folder 17

Newspaper Clippings, 1860-1900

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

Box 1 Folder 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.

Box 1 Folder 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).

Oversize Documents, 1888-1919

Drawer MSOS Folder 1 Item 5
Certificate from Maryland Council of Defense to Mrs. E. Waring, 1919 November 11

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Series 5: PHOTOGRAPHS, 1870-1900 10 folders

Series Description

Consists of official and unofficial shots of ships and shipboard activities, portraits of Pacific islanders and island scenes, and family members.

Box 1 Folder 20

Richard P. Leary, 1870-1900

Four photographs of Leary.

Box 1 Folder 21

U.S.S 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.

Box 1 Folder 22

Spanish-American War, 1899-1900

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

Box 1 Folder 23

U.S.S. Vandalia, Pensacola, and Gaulois, 1889 (approximate)

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

Box 1 Folder 24

Philippines and Philippine Insurrection, 1900 (approximate)

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

Box 1 Folder 25

Ships Underway, 1883-1900

Thirteen photographs of various unidentified ships underway.

Box 1 Folder 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.

Box 1 Folder 27

Pacific Islanders, 1888-1900

Five portraits of unidentified Pacific Islanders.

Box 1 Folder 28

American Colony at Topocobampo, Mexico, 1900 (approximate)

Five photographs of the American Colony at Topocobampo, Mexico.

Box 1 Folder 29

Venice, 1900 (approximate)

Three photographs of Venetian scenes.

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Series 6: EPHEMERA, 1888-1900 2 folders

Box 1 Folder 30

Clippings of Martial Poems, 1898-1900

Box 1 Folder 31

Clippings of Illustrations, 1888-1900

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

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Series 7: HERBERT FAIRFAX LEARY, 1890-1957 19 folders

Series Description

Consists of correspondence, official documents and ephemera related to the education of Leary’s oldest son Herbert.

Series Arrangement

Organized into three sub-series: Education, Correspondence and Photographs.

Subseries 7A: Education, 1901-1957 11 folders

Box 1 Folder 32
Documents on Early Education, 1898-1901

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

Box 1 Folder 33
Correspondence on Naval Academy Recommendations and Examination, 1901
Box 1 Folder 34
Telegrams Regarding Acceptance to Naval Academy, 1901
Box 1 Folder 35
Newspaper Clippings on Acceptance to Naval Academy, 1901
Box 1 Folder 36
Naval Academy Academic Instructions, 1901-1905
Box 1 Folder 37
Performance Evaluations, 1901-1905
Box 1 Folder 38
Midshipman Cruise Station Billets, 1901-1905
Box 1 Folder 39
Sports Programs and Ephemera, 1901-1905
Box 1 Folder 40
Dance Cards, Invitations, and Menus, 1901-1905

Dances and social events, including dance cards, menus and invitations.

Box 1 Folder 41
Ephemera, 1901-1957
Oversize Documents, 1888-1919
Drawer MSOS Folder 1 Item 6
Certificate of appointment to the Naval Academy for Herbert Fairfax Leary, 1901 May 21
Drawer MSOS Folder 1 Item 7
Two handbills with advertisements for midshipman performances, 1902
Drawer MSOS Folder 1 Item 8
USNA Academic Instructions, 1901-1905

Subseries 7B: Correspondence, 1901-1902 2 folders

Box 1 Folder 42
Family Correspondence, 1902

Family correspondence and correspondence on family visit.

Box 1 Folder 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.

Subseries 7C: Photographs, 1890-1905 6 folders

Box 1 Folder 44
Photographs - Naval Academy Football Team (2), 1901-1905
Box 1 Folder 45
Photographs - Midshipman Cruise (8), 1901-1905
Box 1 Folder 46-47
Photographs - Family and Friends, 1890-1905
Box 1 Folder 48
Photographs - "Dewey's Church," Chicago (3), 1901 (approximate)
Box 1 Folder 49
Postcards - European Scenes, 1900 (approximate)

Nineteen postcards of European scenes and European costumes.

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