The USS Constitution is a wooden navy ship that is located today in Charlestown, Massachusetts, which is part of Boston. It was originally launched in 1797 and was named by George Washington after the American Constitution. She was one of six ships that had been paid for by the American Government to help fight against pirates. The USS Constitution was built in Boston and the metal bolts and copper pieces were made by Paul Revere. Her first job was in the Quasi-War with France when she was used to protect American merchants on the open water. In 1805, the Treaty of Peace and Amity was signed on the deck of the USS Constitution between America and Tripoli, which said that American ships would no longer be targeted by pirates.
The USS Constitution became very well-known during the War of 1812. There were several incidences on the ocean that made the Constitution become legendary in American history. In June of 1812, off the coast of New Jersey, the USS Constitution was surrounded by 5 British warships. Suddenly, the wind died down and the Constitution was able to keep pace in front of the warships for 36 hours and escape. Only one month later the Constitution encountered the British ship Guerrière and they shot cannon back and forth at one another. For twenty minutes, the cannon balls flew and when the battle was over, the Guerrière was destroyed and the Constitution was mostly intact. This is when the USS Constitution got the nickname of “Old Ironsides” because it looked like cannonballs bounced off her sides like she was made of iron rather than wood. This unexpected victory made the ship a war hero, and she would go on to capture more British ships before the War of 1812 was over.
Today, the USS Constitution is the oldest warship on the water. It has been floating in the Charlestown Naval Harbor in Boston since 1934 and thousands of people go to visit her each year.
Photo by Jorge Cancela
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