Stockton, Robert Field (1795–1866)

By: C. T. Neu

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: January 24, 2020

Robert Field Stockton, United States Navy officer who informed the Texas government of the annexation decree in 1845, was born at Princeton, New Jersey, on August 20, 1795, the son of Richard Arthur and Mary (Field) Stockton. After attending the College of New Jersey, he was appointed midshipman in the United States Navy in 1811. He married Harriet Maria Potter on March 17, 1823, and they had eight children. In 1845 he was chosen to convey to the Texas government the resolution providing for annexation. He was instructed to put in at Galveston, display the American flag, and endeavor to ascertain the sentiment of the people regarding annexation. Stockton was so eager to bring Texas into the Union and to extend its limits at the expense of Mexico, that his superiors felt it necessary to warn him against rashness. His presence at Galveston had some influence in determining the action taken by Texas, the first news of which was brought to President James K. Polk by Stockton. His next assignment was to the command of the Pacific fleet, and his vigorous action in California at the outbreak of the Mexican War contributed to the American success there. He resigned from the navy in 1850 with the rank of commodore, held the office of Senator from New Jersey (1851–53), espoused the cause of the American party, and in 1861 was a delegate to the Peace Conference at Washington. Stockton died on October 7, 1866, and was buried at the Princeton Cemetery in New Jersey.

Samuel John Bayard and Robert Field Stockton, A Sketch of the Life of Commodore Robert F. Stockton (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1856). R. John Brockmann, Commodore Robert F. Stockton, 1795-1866: Protean Man for a Protean Nation (Amherst, New York: Cambria Press, 2009). George L. Crocket, Two Centuries in East Texas (Dallas: Southwest, 1932; facsimile reprod. 1962). Dictionary of American Biography. Justin Harvey Smith, The Annexation of Texas (New York: Baker and Taylor, 1911; 2d ed., New York: Macmillan, 1919; 3d ed., New York: Barnes and Noble, 1941; 4th ed., New York: AMS Press, 1971). Walter N. Vernon, "McMahan's Chapel: Landmark in Texas," Methodist History 9 (October 1970). Walter N. Vernon et al., The Methodist Excitement in Texas (Dallas: Texas United Methodist Historical Society, 1984).

Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

C. T. Neu, “Stockton, Robert Field,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

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January 24, 2020