James Barron (September 15, 1768 – April 21, 1851) was an officer in the United States Navy.[n 1] He served in the Quasi-War and the Barbary Wars, during which he commanded a number of famous ships, including USS Essex and USS President. As commander of the frigateUSS Chesapeake, he was court-martialed for his actions in 1807, which led to the surrender of his ship to the British. After criticism from some fellow officers, the resulting controversy led Barron to a duel with Stephen Decatur, one of the officers who presided over his court-martial. Suspended from command, he pursued commercial interests in Europe during the War of 1812. Barron finished his naval career on shore duty, becoming the Navy's senior officer in 1839.
Barron was born in Hampton, Virginia, the son of a merchant captain named James Barron who became Commodore of the tiny Virginia State Navy during the American Revolution. He was a younger brother of Samuel Barron. As a boy, Barron served as an apprentice in with his father for several years and entered the navy as a lieutenant and served aboard United States under John Barry. For his exceptional ability and service Barron was promoted to captain in 1799.