Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

USS Congress, 1799-1834, plan of Spars and Sails by C. Ware, Boston Navy Yard, circa 1819.l   Original plan is in the National Archives.  NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 57005.

USS Congress (Frigate), 1799-1834

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USS Congress (Frigate), 1799-1834

Designed by Joshua Humprheys, the frigate, USS Congress, was launched on August 15, 1799, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  In January 1800, she joined USS Essex, during the Quasi-War with France to escort merchant ships to the East Indies but lost her mast.   Repaired, she was placed in ordinary until returned to commission during the First Barbary War and served with the Mediterranean Squadron.   Placed in ordinary once again, she was recommission in 1811 for service in the Atlantic.   During the War of 1812, Congress captured four small enemy ships off Cape Verde Islands and the Brazilian coast before returning to Portsmouth Navy Yard in December 1813 for the remainder of the war.  In 1815, during the Second Barbary War, she sailed with the two U.S. Navy squadrons but did not see action due to a quickly signed peace treaty.  For the next few years, she served in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic.   While on a year-long cruise in the Pacific, Congress became the first U.S. Navy ship to visit China at Guanhzhou (Canton) in May 1820.  For the rest of her career, she served in the Gulf of Mexico and against West Indies pirates in 1822-23 until placed in ordinary the following year.  Congress served as a receiving ship and was laid up in ordinary until 1834 when she was found unfit for service and was broken up at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia.   

Image:  NH 57005:   USS Congress, 1799-1834, plans of spars and rigging by C. Ware, Boston Navy Yard, crica 1819.  Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.