The USS Constitution, Pt. 1
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The USS Constitution, Pt. 1


The Constitution was built to protect
American trade, first against Algiers in the Mediterranean, but she saw her for service in the war
against France in 1798. Between 1803 and 1805 she was the
flagship of the American squadron in the war against Tripoli,giving rise
to the marine hymn, “To the Shores of Tripoli.” Constitution’s greatest service may have been in the war
of 1812, in the fight with the British frigate Guerriere in August 1812 Over the course of half an hour Constitution dismasted and defeated Guerriere. During the battle one of the
sailors firing the guns noticed the cannonball from Guerriere
were bouncing off the hull of Old Ironsides and actually shouted, “Huzzah! Her
sides are made of iron!” and that gave her the nickname “Old
Ironsides.” Constitution sailed around the world in
the 1840s, stopping in South America, in Africa, India, Vietnam, Hawaii. One other sellers noted in the bazzar
in Zanzibar bolts of cloth woven in Lowell. He wrote, “We really are a great country.”
Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat anywhere in the world, a ship of state,
and here, permanently berthed in Boston by an act of
Congress. This is the Constitution’s gun powder
magazine. This is where we will store the gunpowder, you see the room is lined with copper. And Paul Revere actually built a rolling
mill in Canton to roll out copper sheets, the first
copper rolling mill in the United States. As he rolled the copper for the ship’s
hull and to line the gunpowder magazine. Very tight quarters here in the hull of the ship, and so boys would be taking on
to be powder monkeys, to bring power from the
gunpowder magazine up to the deck during the battle, running up the latter’s with small
satchels of gunpowder to feed the guns from the magazine down here in the very
depths of the ship. During the United States’
bicentennial in 1976, Queen Elizabeth II visited the USS Constitution. She came
aboard the ship and she noted that the cannons have the “G.R.” for George Rex, these are British
guns. She said to her husband, “When we get home
we have to talk to the defense minister about these foreign arms sales.” Now, this is one of the ship’s
technological innovations, a diagonal rider. Joshua Humphries who
designed the Constitution and the five other frigates ordered by Congress in 1793, knew one of
the big problems with a long sailing ship, a wooden ship, was hogging; the bow and the stern start to sag on
either end. So this series of these cross braces, or
diagonal riders, he installed to prevent that problem.

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