Acts and Resolutions of Congress Relating to US Naval Warship Names (1795-1898)
by Ryan Crierie

Act of March 3, 1819

VII. RESOLUTION declaring the manner in which the vessels composing the navy of the United States shall be named.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That all the ships of the navy of the United States, now building, or hereafter to be built, shall be named by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President of the United States, according to the following rule, to wit : Those of the first class shall be called after the states of this Union; those of the second class after the rivers ; and those of the third class after the principal cities and towns; taking care that no two vessels in the navy shall bear the same name.

Approved, March 3, 1819.

   

Excerpt from Act of June 12, 1858

Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That all the steamships of the navy of the United States now building, or hereafter to be built, shall be named by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President of the United States, according to the following role, namely : All those of forty guns or more shall be considered of the first class, and shall be called after the States of the Union ; those of twenty guns and under forty shall be considered as of the second class, and be called after the rivers and principal towns, or cities ; and all those of less than twenty guns shall be the third class, and named by the Secretary of the Navy as the President may direct, care being taken that no two vessels in the navy shall bear the same name.

   

Excerpt from Act of August 5, 1861

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of the Navy be, and he is hereby, authorized to change the names of any vessels purchased for the use of the Navy Department by authority of law, and they shall be thereafter known by the names so given them by virtue of this act.

   

Excerpt from Act of March 2, 1895

.......and any of the ships, gunboats, and torpedo boats provided for in this Act may be constructed of steel or other metal, or of alloy, except where it is otherwise provided in this Act, and one of said battle ships shall be named Kearsarge.

   

Excerpt from Act of May 4, 1898

That hereafter all first-class battle ships and monitors owned by the United States shall be named for the States, and shall not be named for any city, place, or person until the names of the States, shall have been exhausted: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to interfere with the names of States already assigned to any such battle ship or monitor.



Bibliography:
U.S. Statutes at Large, Various Volumes. GPO