On Thursday, February 21, 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis made one final cabinet appointment, naming Stephen Mallory as Secretary of the Navy. The Confederate Navy had just been officially established the day before.
Mallory was born in Trinidad. His father was from Connecticut, his mother from Ireland. The family moved to the United States, settling in Key West, Florida. After passing the bar, Mallory became an expert in maritime law, especially the laws of wrecks and salvage. He served in several minor public offices before being elected to the United States Senate in 1850. For much of his time in Washington, he served as chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs, overseeing the modernization of the United States Navy.