Naval commander John Rodgers (1773-1838) was born in Maryland to farmers John Rodgers and Elizabeth Reynolds. He entered the U.S. navy and, in March 1798, was appointed 2nd lieutenant aboard the U.S.S. Constellation , under Commodore Thomas Truxtun.
Within a little more than a year, he rose to the rank of captain and took command of the Insurgent and later the Maryland , during the Quasi-War with France. Rodgers left the Navy briefly in 1801, only to return to participate in the first Barbary Wars, 1802-1806, as captain of the John Adams in the blockading fleet off Tripoli, under the command of Richard V. Morris. Rodgers played a key role in negotiating a treaty with the four Barbary States, which ensured the safety of American shipping interests in the Mediterranean.
After the court-marital of James Barron, commander of the Chesapeake during the scandalous Chesapeake-Leopard Affair (1807), the Rodgers became the commander of the Northern Division fleet, which enforced the Embargo Act between 1810 and 1811. His first flagship was the Constitution , but he later shifted his flag to the President . Rodgers became one of the highest ranking officers in the Navy during the War of 1812, and was renowned for his role in the disruption of British shipping to North America, as well as for his participation in the harassment of British forces as they retreated from the sack of Washington. Rodgers led the Navy Board of Commissioners from 1815-1824 and 1827-1837, and served briefly as Secretary of the Navy in 1823.
In October 1806, Rodgers married Minerva Denison (1784-1877), daughter of Gideon Denison, Jr., of Havre de Grace, Maryland; they had eleven children. John Rodgers died in the Naval Asylum in Philadelphia in 1838 after complications from cholera.