The Student News Site of Stephen Decatur High School

The Hawk

The Student News Site of Stephen Decatur High School

The Hawk

The Student News Site of Stephen Decatur High School

The Hawk


Who was the REAL Stephen Decatur?

Remembering our school’s namesake naval hero

Everyone knows our school’s name, Stephen Decatur, but among students, maybe not everyone knows who that is.

Who was Stephen Decatur? What did he do? Where was he from? And most importantly why is our school named after him?

“We honor him because he was born here. He helped solidify our country in the early days right when we were trying to establish ourselves in our own independent world and try to establish ourselves in the Atlantic,” according to SDHS history teacher Mary Hathaway.

Decatur was an American naval commodore in the late 1700s and early 1800s. He was an honorable man who helped fought for and establish our country. He fought in both of the Barbary Wars, the Quasi-War, and the War of 1812. His qualities mirror those of the Stephen Decatur High School’s principles.

This 1820 portrait of Commodor Stephen Decatur, by the artist Charles Bird King, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

He was born January 5, 1779, in Worcester County, in an area known as Sinepuxent. He enlisted in the Navy in 1798 and served during the Quasi-War with France from 1798-1800. It was also known as the “Pirate Wars” and was an undeclared naval war with France.

He is best known for when he and 75 sailors set a captured ship on fire in Tripoli in 1804. Only one man was injured, and he led his men calmly and pridefully. This helped the United States to win the first Barbary War that started in 1801.     

Thanks to this heroic accomplishment, Decatur was promoted to captain. He was the youngest ever to hold this rank at just 25 years old.

Just before the War of 1812, he was appointed to be a commodore and was presented with a sword for his service. This means he was a commander of the Navy.

He would go on to fiught in the War of 1812 . Later, in the second Barbary War, he was a commander of the Guerrier, a ship that was captured. He dictated terms of peace in June of 1815.

Commodore Decatur was killed in 1820, in a duel with another commodore named Commodore Barron.

Decatur helped to fortify our young country in its early years, and he became a war hero.

Here at Stephen Decatur High School, we have a set of principles that students are expected to abide by: pride, achievement, respect, and responsibility. Commodore Decatur himself showed these qualities in his achievements and actions.

The real-life Stephen Decatur was prideful of his country and the work he did. He achieved many accomplishments that earned him respect. Without respect he would not have made it so far. If he was not responsible in his actions, the events that occurred may not have gone the way we know them today.

Commodore Decatur was a hero who will always be remembered in our school.

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