Saturday, September 16, 2017


16 September 2017: In 1830, the United States Frigate Constitution had, according to the government (Department of the Navy), outlived her usefulness. She was, after all, launched in October of 1797 as one of the "Six Frigates" approved by President Washington in 1794. So it was announced in the papers that she would be scrapped. 
A young Harvard medical school recent graduate, headed to law school, and part time poet named Oliver Wendell Holmes (father of the Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.) saw the article in the Boston paper and immediately sat down to write a poem, expressing his outrage that such an iconic and historic vessel should be discarded like so much junk. He wrote it on this day, September 16th in 1830.  Here is his poem: 

Frigate Constitution Vs HMS Guerierre August 1812

The poem was published in the paper, picked up by several others, and eventually found a willing and agreeable audience in the government. It still resonates today!

So, clearly his efforts to rally the populace paid off and the ship, now the United States "Ship of State" survived. While she has been used for many tasks over the years, she sits today in Boston - Charlestown Navy Yard, as the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. 


And she just completed a 26 month overhaul to ensure she remains sound. Here she is on the bi-centennial anniversary of her launching in 1997. You might note she is sailing free and unattended by her usual tugboat escort.

Ahh, the power of the pen! 

Until next time,
                                         Fair Winds,
                                               Old Salt

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