U.S.S Constitution

Charlestown
MA

Portrait by Artist to Come

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Launched in 1798, the beautifully preserved USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Known as Old Ironsides, because during the War of 1812, when she fought the British Frigate HMS Guerriere cannonballs bounced off her sides — as if she were made of iron.

One of six frigates recommended by Secretary of War Henry Knox and approved by Congress in 1794, USS Constitution was put to sea, after two false starts, four years later. The durability of Constitution is attributed to a three-layer sandwich of wood. The ship’s copper fastenings were constructed by Paul Revere.

Open to the public for guided tours.

Part of the Freedom Trail™.

At the end of March [1783] Franklin applied to [French Foreign Secretary] Vergennes for permission to publish a complete translation of the United States constitutions in French, the only language in which they could be widely read. He was eager to correct Europe’s misapprehensions about the new nation; he knew as well that he was offering up an advertisement for American trade and immigration.... Copies went out over the summer to the entire diplomatic corps and, in extravagantly bound editions, to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The most influential of Franklin’s European publications the constitutions were universally well received.

Stacy Schiff
A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (2005)