Brigadier General Jacob Zeilin, seventh Commandant of the Marine Corps, was born 16 July 1806 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on 1 October 1831. After completing the preliminary training of a Marine officer in Washington, D.C., his first tours of duty were ashore at the Marine Barracks, Philadelphia, and at Gosport (Portsmouth), Virginia.

He first went to sea on board the sloop of war Erie in March 1832, which was followed by a tour of duty at Charlestown (Boston), Massachusetts. In August 1834, he again joined the sloop Erie on a long and eventful voyage which lasted for more then three years. He was promoted to first lieutenant 12 September 1836.

From September 1837 to April 1841, 1stLt Zeilin served at Charlestown, Massachusetts, and New York. In February 1842, he returned to sea duty, on board the Columbus, and during the cruise that followed spent several months on the Brazil station. Upon the conclusion of this tour of sea duty, and after again serving at important Marine Corps stations on the east coast of the United States from 1842 to 1845, he was transferred to duty aboard the frigate Congress of the U.S. Pacific Squadron.

During the conquest of California, 1846-1847, 1stLt Zeilin took part in the capture and occupation of Santa Barbara and San Pedro, early in August 1846, and soon afterwards assisted in the first capture of Los Angeles. A few days later, with the Marines of the Squadron, he recaptured San Pedro, which had been lost to the insurgent Californians.

In December 1846, when General Kearney's army was beleaguered at San Bernardo Ranch, California, 1stLt Zeilin took a prominent part in its relief and rescue.

In January 1847, he served as adjutant of Commodore Stockton's mixed column of sailors, Marines, and volunteers that marched from San Diego and defeated the Californians in the battle of San Gabriel and the affair at La Mesa. For his services he was brevetted major, two grades above his regular rank at that time.

On 28 January 1847, he was appointed Military Commandant of San Diego and served in that capacity until the completion of the conquest of California.

He was promoted to the regular rank of captain 14 September 1847. During the following few months, Capt Zeilin, with the Marines of the Pacific Squadron, participated in the capture of important ports in lower California and the west coast of Mexico, and served as Fleet Marine Officer of the Pacific Squadron.

After the close of the war with Mexico, he proceeded to Norfolk, Virginia, where he served for a time, thence to New York. He remained at New York until June 1852, when selected to accompany Commodore Perry as Fleet Marine Officer in the famous expedition to Japan. With elaborate ceremonies, the Marines under command of Capt Zeilin took a prominent part. He was the second person to set foot on shore at the formal landing of the naval forces at Yokohama, Japan, on 14 July 1853, and was one of those later accorded special honor for his part in the expedition that opened the doors of Japan to the outside world.

Upon his return from Japan, he was again stationed at Norfolk. This duty was followed by his being placed in command of the Marine Barracks, Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. After remaining for a time at Washington he again went to sea, this time aboard the frigate Wabash, on the European Station, until the year 1859.

During the early part of the Civil War, he was on garrison duty in command of Marine Barracks, first at Philadelphia and later at Washington, D.C. In July 1861 he was on detached duty with the Marine battalion at the Battle of Bull Run in which he was wounded. Five days later he was appointed to the regular rank of major.

In 1863, Maj Zeilin was given command of the battalion of Marines sent to support the naval force whose mission was the capture of Charleston, South Carolina, but, because of illness, he returned after a few weeks of this duty to garrison duty at Marine Barracks, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

While serving at Portsmouth he was appointed Colonel Commandant of the Marine Corps, 10 June 1864. His faithful and efficient performance of the duties of Commandant of the Corps during the trying period of the last year of the war and those years immediately following the close of the war is evidenced by the fact that he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on 2 March 1867.

After the war, BGen Zeilin successfully defended the Marine Corps against its critics. In 1868, he approved the design of the "Eagle, Globe, and Anchor'' Marine Corps emblem.

Brigadier General Zeilin retired on 1 November 1876 after having served over forty-five years as an officer of the Marine Corps. He died in Washington, D.C., on 18 November 1880 and was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In the year 1920, Destroyer No. 313, Zeilin was named in his memory, and then in 1941 the Navy transport Zeilin was also named in his honor.

Commandants of the Marine Corps