Isaac Hull, an American naval officer, born at Derby, Conn., March 9, 1775, died in Philadelphia, Feb. 3, 1843. He commenced his career in the merchant service, and was commissioned as lieutenant in the navy at the commencement of hostilities with France in 1798. In 1800 he was first lieutenant of the frigate Constitution, and performed a very gallant achievement in cutting out a French letter of marque from under the guns of a strong battery in the harbor of Port Platte, Santo Domingo. During the war with Tripoli, 1802-'5, Hull served with distinction in the several attacks on the city of Tripoli in July, August, and September, 1804, and subsequently cooperated with Gen. Eaton in the capture of Derne. In 1806 he was made captain. At the opening-of the war of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, he was in command of the frigate Constitution, and in July of that year, while cruising off New York, he fell in with a British squadron consisting of a razee of 64 guns and four frigates, which chased the Constitution closely for nearly three days and nights. By the greatest efforts, and the exercise of a skill in handling his ship which excited the admiration of his pursuers, he succeeded in escaping.
After this remarkable feat, Hull went into Boston for a few days, whence he sailed Aug. 3, and on Aug. 19, in lat. 41° 41' K, Ion. 55° 48' W., discovered a ship to leeward, which was soon made out to be an English frigate. The course of the Constitution was shaped to close with this vessel, which hove to to await an engagement. At 5 P. M. the English frigate opened her fire at very long range, and at a little after 6 the Constitution closed with her. After a desperate fight of about half an hour the English frigate was reduced to a wreck and surrendered. She proved to be the Guerriere, Capt. Dacres, one of the ships which had recently chased the Constitution. Possession was taken of her soon after 7 P. M. The next day she was discovered to be in a sinking condition, and after the removal of the prisoners she was set on fire and soon afterward blew up. The Constitution suffered somewhat aloft in this action, though but little in her hull. Her loss in killed and wounded was 14, and that of the Guerriere 79. The Constitution was the larger and heavier ship, mounting 54 guns, long 24s and 32-pounder carronades, the Guerriere mounting 49 guns, long 18s and 32-pounder carronades. As this was the first naval action of the war, it was regarded as very important.
Capt. Hull carried his prisoners into Boston, where he was enthusiastically received. Congress at its next session presented a gold medal to him, and silver ones to each commissioned officer under his command in this engagement. After the war his principal services were in command of the navy yards at Boston and Washington, of the squadrons in the Pacific and Mediterranean, and in the board of navy commissioners.