William Lewis Herndon Photo

William Lewis Herndon

Born: Oct 25, 1813

Death: Sep 12, 1857

Birthplace: Fredericksburg

Nationality: United States

William Lewis Herndon

Date of Birth : Oct 25, 1813
Date of Death : Sep 12, 1857
Birth Place : Fredericksburg

Commander William Lewis Herndon was one of the United States Navy's outstanding explorers and seamen. In 1851 he led a United States expedition to the Valley of the Amazon, and prepared a report published in 1854 and distributed widely as Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon. He was noted especially for ensuring the rescue of 152 women and children when commanding the commercial mail steamer Central America in September 1857. During a three-day hurricane off the coast of North Carolina, the ship lost power. Herndon arranged for getting some women and children safely off the ship to another vessel. With no way to save the ship, Herndon chose to stay with more than 400 passengers and crew who drowned as the ship sank off Cape Hatteras on September 12. It was the largest loss of life in a commercial ship disaster in United States history. Two years later his daughter Ellen Lewis Herndon married Chester A. Arthur, the future U.S. President.

Also known as

  • William Herndon


  • Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur
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