Isaac Toucey
23rd United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
March 7, 1857 – March 4, 1861
PresidentJames Buchanan
Preceded byJames C. Dobbin
Succeeded byGideon Welles
United States Senator
from Connecticut
In office
May 12, 1852 – March 3, 1857
Preceded byRoger Baldwin
Succeeded byJames Dixon
20th United States Attorney General
In office
June 21, 1848 – March 3, 1849
PresidentJames K. Polk
Preceded byNathan Clifford
Succeeded byReverdy Johnson
33rd Governor of Connecticut
In office
May 6, 1846 – May 5, 1847
LieutenantNoyes Billings
Preceded byRoger Baldwin
Succeeded byClark Bissell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1837 – March 3, 1839
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byJoseph Trumbull
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1835 – March 3, 1837
Preceded byNoyes Barber
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born(1792-11-15)November 15, 1792
Newtown, Connecticut, U.S.
DiedJuly 30, 1869(1869-07-30) (aged 76)
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Catherine Nichols
(m. 1827)

Isaac Toucey (November 15, 1792 – July 30, 1869) was an American politician who served as a U.S. senator, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, U.S. Attorney General and the 33rd Governor of Connecticut.

President Buchanan and his Cabinet
From left to right: Jacob Thompson, Lewis Cass, John B. Floyd, James Buchanan, Howell Cobb, Isaac Toucey, Joseph Holt and Jeremiah S. Black, (c. 1859)


Born in Newtown, Connecticut, Toucey pursued classical studies; studied law and was admitted to the bar at Hartford, Connecticut, in 1818.[1] From 1825 to 1835 he had his own practice in Hartford, Connecticut. He married Catherine Nichols in Hartford on October 28, 1827. The couple had no children.[2]


In 1822, Toucey was named prosecuting attorney of Hartford County, Connecticut. He served in that position until 1835, when he was elected to the 24th and 25th Congresses (at-large and then representing the 1st District). He served from 1835 to 1839. He lost the election of 1838 and returned to his position as prosecuting attorney in 1842.

In 1845, Toucey ran for Governor of Connecticut and lost, but the Connecticut State Legislature appointed him to the position following the election in 1846. During his tenure, an antibribery bill geared toward eliminating fraudulent electoral procedures was considered. He was defeated in an attempt at re-nomination in 1847.[3]

In 1848, President James K. Polk appointed Toucey the 20th Attorney General of the United States, a position he held until 1849. He returned to Connecticut and took a place in the Connecticut Senate in 1850, and then in the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1852.

Toucey was elected to the U.S. Senate for the term commencing March 4, 1851, and served from May 12, 1852, to March 3, 1857, having that year declined to be a candidate for reelection.[4] During that time, he often served as the legislative point man for Franklin Pierce and his administration.

James Buchanan, with whom Toucey had served in the Polk administration, appointed him U.S. Secretary of the Navy in his Cabinet in 1857 as a sop to the Pierce faction as well as to represent New England in the Cabinet. A moderate Northerner much in line with Buchanan's thought in the sectional controversies of the day, Toucey held that post until 1861 and the arrival of the Abraham Lincoln administration. During that time, Toucey would undergo criticism for alleged corruption as uncovered by the Covode Committee, resulting in him being censured by the House of Representatives in June 1860.[5] Toucey was then replaced by one of his chief rivals in Connecticut, Gideon Welles. After 1861 he returned to his law practice.

Death and legacy

Toucey died in Hartford on July 30, 1869.[6] He is interred at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford, Connecticut. USS Toucey (DD-282) was named for him.


  1. ^ "Isaac Toucey". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  2. ^ "Isaac Toucey". Connecticut State Library. Archived from the original on May 17, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  3. ^ "Isaac Toucey". National Governors Association. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  4. ^ "Isaac Toucey". Govtrack US Congress. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  5. ^ "The Story of the Five Little Pigs". HarpWeek. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  6. ^ "Isaac Toucey". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byNoyes Barber Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Connecticut's at-large congressional district 1835–1837 Constituency abolished New constituency Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Connecticut's 1st congressional district 1837–1839 Succeeded byJoseph Trumbull Party political offices Preceded byChauncey Cleveland Democratic nominee for Governor of Connecticut 1845, 1846 Succeeded byIsaac Whittlesey Political offices Preceded byRoger Baldwin Governor of Connecticut 1846–1847 Succeeded byClark Bissell Preceded byJames C. Dobbin United States Secretary of the Navy 1857–1861 Succeeded byGideon Welles Legal offices Preceded byNathan Clifford United States Attorney General 1848–1849 Succeeded byReverdy Johnson U.S. Senate Preceded byRoger Baldwin U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Connecticut 1852–1857 Served alongside: Truman Smith, Francis Gillette, Lafayette S. Foster Succeeded byJames Dixon