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Location: San Antonio, Texas, United States

Monday, July 27, 2009

USS Constitution


One of the most popular features of the Reformation 500 were the Faith and Freedom Mini Tours. These took place all over Boston in various historic settings, and were led by speakers such as Paul Jehle, Marshall Foster and Scott Brown. We were able to hear Geoff Botkin and his son David speak about the USS Constitution, while standing 100 yards away from that famous ship!

The USS Constitution was commissioned by President George Washington, as one of a small fleet which would make up our fledgling country's navy. Without a navy, the United States did not have a world presence. We also didn't have any protection for American merchant vessels. These ships were special targets for British warships who would take men off our ships in order to fill their thinned ranks.

Barbary pirates also recognized us as prey, capturing ships and enslaving their crews. The USS Constitution, soon to be nicknamed "Old Ironsides", was intended along with several sister ships to combat these enemies. Built in the Boston shipyards, the Constitution was a frigate, and boasted forty-four guns, which was a heavy armament for a ship of that size.

A man by the name of Joshua Humphreys presented the plans for "Old Ironsides", along with her sister ships the "Constellation", and the "States". He created a special technique in which the hulls of these ships were strengthened, causing enemy shot of the same metal as her own to bounce off the Constitution's sides. Thus the nickname, "Old Ironsides".

The Constitution is the oldest war vessel still commissioned, and has a full complement of U.S. sailors. She has a very unique and glorious history. I would recommend listening to the fascinating lecture by Geoff Botkin and his son David, which is included in the Reformation 500 Celebration Audio.

Upon coming home from the conference I remembered that I had a small book about the Constitution on my bookshelf, entitled Old Ironsides. It's by James Fenimore Cooper, (author of Last of the Mohicans), and I would recommend this book if you are interested in further study.



~John

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