Clark Daniel Stearns

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Clark Daniel Stearns
9th Governor of American Samoa
In office
July 14, 1913 – October 2, 1914
Preceded by Nathan Woodworth Post
Succeeded by Nathan Woodworth Post
Personal details
Born January 15 1870
Miami-Dade County, Florida
Died May 25, 1944(1944-05-25) (aged 74)
Alma mater United States Naval Academy
Occupation Naval officer
Awards Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Captain
Commands USS Roanoke
USS Michigan (BB-27)

Clark Daniel Stearns (1870 – May 25, 1944) was the ninth Naval Governor of American Samoa. Stearns commanded various vessels, on which he set up organized committees for the crew to give suggestions to the officers. He hoped to alleviate tensions between the enlisted men and officers. However, upon his appointment to the battleship USS Michigan (BB-27), he was removed from command of these activities.

Stearns relieved Nathan Woodworth Post as Governor of American Samoa on July 14, 1913, and helped the Samoans achieve more involvement in government. He received a medal from the Japanese Red Cross, as well as the Navy Distinguished Service Medal during his career. He retired at the rank of Captain.[1]

Life and career

Stearns was born in Florida in 1870, in what would become Miami-Dade County.[2] He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1891.[3] He died on May 25, 1944 aboard a submarine in Miami, Florida of a coronary thrombosis.[4]

Naval career

In 1918, Stearns was posted to USS Roanoke, a civilian ship converted into a minelayer, where he eventually took command. While in command, Stearns allowed the crew to form two organized committees, one for the petty officers, and another composed of one man from each enlisted division.[3] These committees investigated questionable rulings regarding minor disciplinary actions, and to make complaints and suggestions about the "health, happiness and comfort of the ship's company."[3] He believed that these committees would lead to less unrest on the ship, as there would be less tension between officers and enlisted sailors, and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels supported the effort.[3] During his command of Roanoke, Stearns received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.[3] After leaving command of Roanoke, Stearns examined the Naval Penal System, ruled it "archaic", and recommended the creation of an Office of Discipline.[3]

Stearns commanded the battleship USS Michigan next, but was relieved of his command in 1921 after only 107 days, after allowing his sailors to form the same organized committees as he had on Roanoke. At the time, this action was seen as a move which could subvert naval authority by implementing organizations similar to labor unions, claiming it resembled a "Soviet spirit [which] had crept into the Navy."[5] After petitions from various Admirals of the United States Atlantic Fleet, Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby stripped Stearns of command, and transferred him to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility,[5] claiming that allowing sailors to advise officers was against naval tradition and broke down disciplinary authority.[6]

After the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, Stearns led the emergency relief efforts, and received a medal from the Japanese Red Cross; he sent this medal back to Japan following the Attack on Pearl Harbor.[2] He also served as a lighthouse inspector.[7]


Stearns became the ninth Governor of American Samoa on July 14, 1913, relieving Nathan Woodworth Post.[8] While Governor, he set up three committees to aid Samoans in becoming more involved in government. These committees were "Committee A: Executive Committee, consisting of District Governors; Committee B: Committee of the Samoan Hospital, with three members from each district, and Committee C: Auditing Committee, to give fullest publicity to the statement of government accounts."[8] He further established the American Samoan Judicial, Treasury, Interior, Agriculture, and Public Health Departments.[9] Stearns gave command back to Lt. Post on October 2, 1914.


  1. Military Times (2009).
  2. 2.0 2.1 University of Miami (2009).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Guttridge (2006), 178.
  4. Sorensen and Theroux (2007), 126.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Guttridge (2006), 179.
  6. The Evening Independent (1921), 18.
  7. Lake Carriers' Association (1911), 153.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Government of American Samoa (2008), 2.
  9. Sorensen and Theroux (2007), 225.