The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953 Page: 379
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General Ranald Slidell Mackenzie
equally, and possibly more, prominent than he was. Ranald
Mackenzie was such a man. His father was Commodore Alex-
ander Slidell Mackenzie, a naval officer of considerable distinc-
tion in his day and an author whose excellent but now forgotten
book, A Year in Spain, strongly influenced the writings about
Spain of his intimate friend Washington Irving. The commodore
was the center of a national controversy after he hanged Mid-
shipman Philip Spencer from the yardarm of the brig Somers
in December, 1842, off the coast of Africa. Although Spencer
was the son of the secretary of war, John Spencer of New York,
Mackenzie executed him for mutiny without a trial. The com-
modore faced a court-martial for this seemingly highhanded act
on charges preferred by the secretary of the navy but was ac-
quitted by the court." It was a front-page affair of the day.
Commodore Mackenzie's real name was Slidell, but he had
taken his wife's family name of Mackenzie. His brother was John
Slidell, the Confederate commissioner to France, who, with James
Mason, the commissioner to Great Britain, was taken off the
British steamer Trent in 1861 by a zealous United States naval
officer. This incident was the famous Mason and Slidell case
which nearly involved the United States in a war with Great
Britain. His sister, Jane Slidell, married Matthew C. Perry, the
naval officer who opened Japan to the western world in 1853,
and a daughter of this union married August Belmont of New
York.' The commodore's son, Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, Jr.,
younger by two years than Ranald, also deserves mention. A
lieutenant-commander in the navy, Alexander was killed in 1867
while leading a charge against the savages on the island of
Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, the commodore's eldest child, was
born in New York City on July 27, 1840, and, a few weeks later,
his parents moved to a farm on the Hudson River between Tar-
rytown and Sing Sing. His father, returning from the Mexican
War in the spring of 1848, with broken health, died from a
2Van Wyck Brooks, The World of Washington Irving (New York, 1944), 320o-32.
"Proceedings of the Naval Court-Martial in the Case of Alexander Slidell Mac-
kenzie . (New York, 1844)
4Dictionary of American Biography (2o vols.; New York, 1933), XIV, 486.
sAppleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography (7 vols.; New York, 1900oo), IV,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953, periodical, 1953; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/m1/451/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.