A Guide to the Papers of Admiral John Randolph Tucker 1865-1897 Tucker, John Randolph (Admiral) Papers. MG 40

A Guide to the Papers of Admiral John Randolph Tucker 1865-1897

A Collection in
Special Collections and University Archives
Collection Number MG 40


Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University

Special Collections
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Old Dominion University
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Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Ellen Emser

Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University
Collection number
MG 40
Papers of Admiral John Randolph Tucker 1865-1897
Physical Characteristics
One Hollinger document Case.

Administrative Information


Open to researchers without restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title],The Papers of Admiral John Randolph, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Commander Douglas Tucker, USN, January 8, 1980

Biographical/Historical Information

John Randolph Tucker was born January 31, 1812 in Alexandria, Virginia. His parents were John Tucker, originally from Bermuda, and Sara Douglas, daughter of Dr. Charles Douglas, a physician who came to America after the Revolution. The Tucker family, some of whom had been in Virginia since before the Revolution, produced a number of prominent men in Virginia's political and social life.

After attending private schools in Alexandria, Tucker entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman on June 1, 1826. Although six years later he passed the examination for advancement, there were no vacancies at that time and he had to wait until December 20, 1837 to be promoted to Lieutenant. As Lieutenant Commander he commanded the Stromboli during the Mexican War. Tucker received his commission as Commander on September 14, 1855 when he took over the command of the Pennsylvania. His last duty in the U.S. Navy was as Ordnance Officer of the Norfolk Navy Yard, from which he resigned due to the secession of Virginia.

Tucker was appointed Commander, first of the Virginia Navy and then the Confederate States Navy, at which time he assumed command of the Patrick Henry, formerly a U.S. Navy Steamer which was seized and converted into a Confederate man-of-war. As commander of the Patrick Henry, Tucker participated in battles with the Union Navy at Hampton Roads and Drewry's Bluff. In August of 1862, Tucker took over command of the Chicora at Charleston, South Carolina. Following Tucker's surrender in April 1865 at the Battle of Saylor's Creek, he was sent North as a prisoner of war. After his release July 24, 1865, he returned to the South to work as an agent of the Southern Express Company of Raleigh, North Carolina.

While Tucker was in Raleigh, the Peruvian Minister to the United States contacted him to arrange an interview in Washington. Peru, which was at war with Spain, invited Tucker to join their Navy as a Rear Admiral, bringing with him two staff officers. Tucker accepted and went to Peru with Captain David Porter McCorkle and Commander Walter Raleigh Butt. Although some Peruvian Naval Officers objected to a foreigner in command of their fleet, Tucker distinguished himself in battle with Spain.

Following his resignation in 1871 from the Peruvian Navy, Tucker was appointed President of the Peruvian Hydrographical Commission of the Amazon. This Commission, which explored and surveyed the Upper Amazon River and its tributaries, discovered two new rivers, the Trinidad and the Herrera- yacu. Upon completion of the expedition, Tucker traveled to New York to meet with engravers to make maps and atlases from the Commission's findings.

Tucker retired to Petersburg, Virginia, until his sudden death on June 12, 1883. He was buried in Norfolk next to his wife, the former Virginia Webb, whom he married June 7, 1838, and who died in 1858. Their children were Randolph Tucker, Tarleton Webb Tucker, and Virginius Tucker.

Scope and Content Information

The John Randolph Tucker papers, many of which are in Spanish, deal primarily with his service as President of the Peruvian Hydrographical Commission of the Amazon. They are divided into four series: Correspondence, Legal and Business Papers, Publications and Newspaper Clippings, and Miscellaneous. Of these, Series I: Correspondence is by far the most extensive and important. The letters describe the expedition of the steamer Tambo and the difficulties encountered by Tucker and the Commission. These include hostile natives, as well as financial and other problems in their dealings with the Peruvian government. Correspondence from Captain James H. Rochelle, Tucker's friend and a Commission member, indicates that for years afterward Tucker and Rochelle suffered from malaria contracted on the expedition. Letters in Subseries C written by Tucker's son and Rochelle's nephew reveal that as late as 1897, years after the deaths of Tucker and Rochelle, the Peruvian government still had not paid the Commission members the money owed them.

Contents List

Series I: Correspondence
  • Subseries A: Admiral John R. Tucker
    • Box 1, Folder 1
      Admiral John R. Tucker: 1870
    • Box 1, Folder 2
      Admiral John R. Tucker: 1871
    • Box 1, Folder 3
      Admiral John R. Tucker: 1872-1873
    • Box 1, Folder 4
      Admiral John R. Tucker: 1874
    • Box 1, Folder 5
      Admiral John R. Tucker: 1877-1880
    • Box 1, Folder 6
      Admiral John R. Tucker: undated
    • Box 1, Folder 7
      Admiral John R. Tucker (incoming): 1865-1866
    • Box 1, Folder 8
      Admiral John R. Tucker (incoming): 1867
    • Box 1, Folder 9
      Admiral John R. Tucker (incoming): 1868-1869
    • Box 1, Folder 10
      Admiral John R. Tucker (incoming): 1870
    • Box 1, Folder 11
      Admiral John R. Tucker (incoming): 1871
    • Box 1, Folder 12
      Admiral John R. Tucker (incoming): 1872
    • Folder 13
      Admiral John R. Tucker (incoming): 1873
    • Box 1, Folder 14
      Admiral John R. Tucker (incoming): 1874
    • Box 1, Folder 15
      Admiral John R. Tucker (incoming): 1877
    • Box 1, Folder 16
      Admiral John R. Tucker (incoming): 1880
    • Box 1, Folder 17
      Admiral John R. Tucker (incoming): undated
  • Subseries B: Captain James H. Rochelle
    • Box 1, Folder 18
      Captain James H. Rochelle: 1872
    • Box 1, Folder 19
      Captain James H. Rochelle: 1873-1874
    • Box 1, Folder 20
      Captain James H. Rochelle: January-April 1876
    • Box 1, Folder 21
      Captain James H. Rochelle: June-December 1876
    • Box 1, Folder 22
      Captain James H. Rochelle: January-April 1877
    • Box 1, Folder 23
      Captain James H. Rochelle: May-December 1877
    • Box 1, Folder 24
      Captain James H. Rochelle: 1878-1882
    • Box 1, Folder 25
      Captain James H. Rochelle (incoming): 1865, 1878
  • Subseries C: John Randolph Tucker
    • Box 1, Folder 26
      John Randolph Tucker (incoming): 1897
    • Box 1, Folder 27
      John Randolph Tucker (incoming): 1895-1896
  • Subseries D: Other correspondence
    • Box 1, Folder 28
      Other (copy): 1794
    • Box 1, Folder 29
      Other (copy): 1865
    • Box 1, Folder 30
      Other: 1873-1874
    • Box 1, Folder 31
      Other: 1897
    • Box 1, Folder 32
      Other: undated
Series II: Legal and Business Papers
  • Box 1, Folder 33
    Registro metereologico by F. L. Galt March-June 1873
  • Box 1, Folder 34
    Contract between Admiral J. R. Tucker and Pusey, Jones and Company: October 13, 1869
  • Box 1, Folder 35
    Passport for Admiral J. R. Tucker: December 17, 1873
  • Box 1, Folder 36
    Certificate for services rendered on the Mario, issued to Admiral J. R. Tucker: May 12, 1874
  • Box 1, Folder 37
    Receipt - land purchased by Admiral J. R. Tucker October 3, 1870
  • Box 1, Folder 38
    Receipts for Admiral J. R. Tucker: 1874, 1879
Series III: Publications and Newspaper Clippings
  • Box 1, Folder 39
    Newspaper Clippings (English): 1864-1865
  • Box 1, Folder 40
    Newspaper Clippings (Spanish): 1868-1872
  • Box 1, folder 41
    Brief for the Defense 1869
  • Box 1, Folder 42
    Congressional Materials: 1878
  • Box 1, Folder 43
    Advertisements for Forthcoming Books: 1870's
Series IV: Miscellaneous
  • Box 1, Folder 44
    Calling cards: undated
  • Box 1, Folder 45
    Unattached envelopes: 1880's
  • Box 1, Folder 46
    Other: undated