March 12, 1834
Secretary of the Navy Hilary Abner Herbert was born in South Carolina. A Confederate veteran and attorney from Greenville, Alabama, Herbert became a powerful Bourbon Democrat in the period following Reconstruction and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1877 to 1893. As chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee, he played a leading role in advocating for the expansion of the nation’s Navy, which had languished since the Civil War. He was appointed to the position of Secretary of the Navy by President Grover Cleveland in 1893 and led efforts to modernize the country’s fleet, advancing the Navy from the 19th to the seventh most powerful in the world. Herbert was the first Alabamian to hold a cabinet position.
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