1789 - 1868

On July 24, 1807, Lawrence Kearny was appointed a midshipman in the Navy, and for a number of years was assigned to vessels engaged in cruising up and down the coast to protect American shipping. Commissioned Liuetenant March 6, 1813, he commanded successively the schooners CAROLINE, FERRET, and NONSUCH, and then a flotilla of galleys and barges. On January 29, 1815, he captured the tender belonging to the British ship HEBRUS, and thirty-six men. While in command of the ENTERPRISE (1821), he captured several piratical boats off southern Cuba, and destroyed a pirate rendezvous at Cape Antonio, Cuba, on December 21, 1822. Promoted to rank of Master Commandant March 3, 1825, he was given the WARREN and ordered to the Mediterranean. At this time the Greeks, no longer controlled by the Turks, were making depredations on ships of all nations. Cruising almost constantly (1827-29), he convoyed American ships to Smyrna and patrolled the waters about he Cyclades. In a little over two months after his arrival he had taken seven boats belonging to the pirates and recovered much stolen property. He was promoted to Captain December 27, 1832.

In 1840 he was given command of the East India Squadron and instructed to protect American interests in China. Going to Canton at the conclusion of the Opium War, he made a highly favorable arrangement for a treaty of trade. Here was the beginning of the Open Door Policy in China. The successful negotiation of the first treaty (July 3, 1844) between the United States and China was in no small measure due to the influence of Kearny, who promoted friendly feeling during the critical period, urged equal rights for America while the details of the British treaty were being elaborated, and by timely representations at Washington prompted the sending of the commission that negotiated the treaty. On his retun trip, Kearny visited Hawaii to lend his influence towards maintaining the sovereignty and independence of the islands, which was being seriously threatened.

In 1846 he was president of the board to examine midshipme, commandant of the Norfolk Navy Yard in 1847, general superintendent of ocean mail steamships at New York in 1852, and commandant of the New York Navy Yard in 1857. He was retired November 14, 1861 and commissioned Commodore on the retired list April 4, 1867.

Commodore Kearny died at Perth Amboy, New Jersey on November 1868, in the house in which he was born.