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USS Constellation (1797)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Constellation (1797)

USS Constellation (1797), a frigate designed by naval constructors Joshua Humphreys and Josiah Fox whose plans were altered in the execution by builder, David Stodder, and the superintendent of shipbuilding, Captain Thomas Truxtun, was built at the Sterrett Shipyard, Baltimore, Md., and launched on 7 September 1797.

USS Constellation (1797) convoyed American merchantmen at the outset (June through August 1798), before sailing for the West Indies to protect United States’ commerce in those waters. Under the command of Captain Thomas Truxtun, she sailed for the Caribbean in December 1798. At the end of the Quasi-War with France, USS Constellation (1797) returned to home waters, where misfortune awaited her. Anchoring in Delaware Bay on 10 April 1801, the ship was caught in winds and an ebb tide that laid her over on her beam ends, occasioning extensive repairs.

USS Constellation (1797) cruised widely throughout the Mediterranean in 1804 to show the flag in demonstration of United States seapower; evacuated in June 1805 a contingent of U.S.Marines, as well as diplomatic personages, from Derne at the conclusion of a remarkable fleet-shore operation against Tripoli; and took part in a squadron movement against Tunis that culminated in peace terms in August 1805. USS Constellation (1797) underwent extensive repairs at Washington in 1812-13, and with the advent of war with England, USS Constellation (1797), commanded by Captain Charles Stewart, was dispatched to Hampton Roads. In January 1813, shortly after her arrival she was effectively blockaded by an imposing British fleet.

Except for brief periods under repair in 1828-29, 1832, 1834-35, and 1838-39, USS Constellation (1797)’s career through the mid-point in the 19th century proved varied and colorful. In 1827, USS Constellation (1797) acted briefly as flagship for the West India Squadron on a twofold mission involving the eradication of the last of the pirates and the interception of slavers operating in the area. In August 1829, USS Constellation (1797) cruised to the Mediterranean to watch over American shipping and to collect indemnities from previous losses suffered by U.S. merchantmen.

In October 1835, USS Constellation (1797) sailed for the Gulf of Mexico to assist in crushing the Seminole uprising. The decade of the 1840’s saw USS Constellation (1797) circumnavigate the globe. As flagship of Captain Kearny and the East India Squadron, her mission, as assigned in March 1841, was to safeguard American lives and property against loss in the Opium War, and further, to enable negotiation of commercial treaties. En route home in May 1843 she entered the Hawaiian Islands, helping to keep them from becoming a British protectorate, and thereafter she sailed homeward making calls at South American ports. Ultimately laid up in ordinary at Norfolk from 1845 to 1853, USS Constellation (1797) was broken up there in 1853.

For a complete history of USS Constellation (1797) please see its DANFS page.