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Stephen Pleasonton

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Stephen Pleasonton Famous memorial

Birth
Delaware, USA
Death
31 Jan 1855 (aged 78–79)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA GPS-Latitude: 38.8804905, Longitude: -76.978237
Plot
Range 43, Site 244.
Memorial ID
View Source
Politician, Civil Servant. Stephen Pleasonton was the United States 5th Auditor of the Treasury. Although he did not hold a major office in American history during the 19th century, he did impact the country's history. During the War of 1812, the British attacked Washington, D.C in 1814 burning part of the United States Capitol building and the White House. This happened after the Secretary of War, John Armstrong Jr. declared the British would not burn Washington D.C. During the city's fire, he is credited with saving the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, George Washington's commission as Commander-in-chief of the Army of the Revolution and many other documents by packing them in linen bags and finding wagons, transporting the items to a sanctuary in Leesburg, Virginia, 35 miles to the west far from the flames of Washington, D.C. His career started in 1800 when he relocated to Washington, D.C. to become a clerk in the United States Treasury Department. Although he had no maritime experience, in 1820 he was appointed to oversee operations of the United States Treasury's Lighthouse Establishment, or managing the funds to keep lighthouses functioning. He appointed direct supervisors, who had the authority to pick the site of lighthouses, purchase the land, build the lighthouses and maintain them. Of course, some of the supervisors had more experience building lighthouses over other supervisors. The supervisors were to give him an annual report. Pleasonton was a frugal administrator, dispensing funds only when absolutely necessary. While this proved to be very acceptable by the Secretary of the Treasury and other in the government, it proved to be a great concern to those in the ships at night along the Eastern shoreline as lighthouses were not functioning well. In 1830 an investigation of his methods was reviewed by a juridical board. A 10-page report was submitted on May 29, 1830 stating that Pleasonton's budget was impacted by supplying funds for the office of Indian Affairs, which he was not responsible for funding, thus he did not have the funds that others thought he had. The report contained letters from President James Monroe and Pleasonton. In the end, he was not a fault for any wrong doing. Each lighthouse had a lens and the Lewis Lens had been adopted to be used in all of the American Lighthouses. Trying to save money, he was part of the problem of changing from the Lewis Lens to the much-improved French Fresnel Lens. Even though Lewis had sold the lens' patent to the United States the year it was invented, it was a monopoly using one lens in all the lighthouses. This was his downfall. This led to another investigation, his removal, and the United States Lighthouse Board was formed in 1852. He died three years later. By 1910 the Lighthouse Board had been resolved. On October 30, 1801, he married Molly Hopkins, daughter of John Hopkins of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His son, United States Army Major General Alfred Pleasonton, a veteran of the American Civil War, is also buried in the Congressional Cemetery. Stephen Pleasonton should be remembered as the man who managed our nation's lighthouses for 32 years and saved America's most valued historical documents.
Politician, Civil Servant. Stephen Pleasonton was the United States 5th Auditor of the Treasury. Although he did not hold a major office in American history during the 19th century, he did impact the country's history. During the War of 1812, the British attacked Washington, D.C in 1814 burning part of the United States Capitol building and the White House. This happened after the Secretary of War, John Armstrong Jr. declared the British would not burn Washington D.C. During the city's fire, he is credited with saving the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, George Washington's commission as Commander-in-chief of the Army of the Revolution and many other documents by packing them in linen bags and finding wagons, transporting the items to a sanctuary in Leesburg, Virginia, 35 miles to the west far from the flames of Washington, D.C. His career started in 1800 when he relocated to Washington, D.C. to become a clerk in the United States Treasury Department. Although he had no maritime experience, in 1820 he was appointed to oversee operations of the United States Treasury's Lighthouse Establishment, or managing the funds to keep lighthouses functioning. He appointed direct supervisors, who had the authority to pick the site of lighthouses, purchase the land, build the lighthouses and maintain them. Of course, some of the supervisors had more experience building lighthouses over other supervisors. The supervisors were to give him an annual report. Pleasonton was a frugal administrator, dispensing funds only when absolutely necessary. While this proved to be very acceptable by the Secretary of the Treasury and other in the government, it proved to be a great concern to those in the ships at night along the Eastern shoreline as lighthouses were not functioning well. In 1830 an investigation of his methods was reviewed by a juridical board. A 10-page report was submitted on May 29, 1830 stating that Pleasonton's budget was impacted by supplying funds for the office of Indian Affairs, which he was not responsible for funding, thus he did not have the funds that others thought he had. The report contained letters from President James Monroe and Pleasonton. In the end, he was not a fault for any wrong doing. Each lighthouse had a lens and the Lewis Lens had been adopted to be used in all of the American Lighthouses. Trying to save money, he was part of the problem of changing from the Lewis Lens to the much-improved French Fresnel Lens. Even though Lewis had sold the lens' patent to the United States the year it was invented, it was a monopoly using one lens in all the lighthouses. This was his downfall. This led to another investigation, his removal, and the United States Lighthouse Board was formed in 1852. He died three years later. By 1910 the Lighthouse Board had been resolved. On October 30, 1801, he married Molly Hopkins, daughter of John Hopkins of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His son, United States Army Major General Alfred Pleasonton, a veteran of the American Civil War, is also buried in the Congressional Cemetery. Stephen Pleasonton should be remembered as the man who managed our nation's lighthouses for 32 years and saved America's most valued historical documents.

Bio by: Linda Davis



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: SLGMSD
  • Added: May 25, 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID:
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/37484736/stephen-pleasonton: accessed ), memorial page for Stephen Pleasonton (1776–31 Jan 1855), Find a Grave Memorial ID 37484736, citing Congressional Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA; Maintained by Find a Grave.