"Old Ironsides" is a poem written on September 16, 1830, by American writer Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. as a homage to the 18th-century USS Constitution. The poem was one of the reasons the frigate was rescued from decommissioning, and it is presently the world's oldest commissioned ship still afloat.
Here are some other things you should know about the Constitution:
She has been involved in several major battles over her long career. These include the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and World War II.
The Constitution has never been defeated in battle, and she has only lost once at sea to another British ship. This is not very often considered a great victory today, but at the time it was seen as a huge accomplishment.
She has also been involved in many notable incidents outside of battle. These include the burning of Washington by its own government, the arrest of Andrew Jackson for treason after he became president, and the killing of Thomas Jefferson by lightning.
In addition to being a soldier, President George Washington was also an accomplished artist who made several drawings of the Constitution. He is believed to have painted the picture now on display in the National Archives Building.
The Constitution has been preserved almost exactly as she was found after the war.
NRHP citation The USS Constitution, popularly known as Old Ironsides, is a three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy with a wooden hull. She is the world's oldest floating ship of any sort. She served as a training ship for the United States Naval Academy during the American Civil War. The Constitution was originally built in 1797 to protect the new nation's commerce from enemy ships and has been involved in many battles over the years. She has been credited with capturing or burning more than 120 enemy vessels. In 2007, she was relocated from her mooring off Boston to make way for the new $450 million National Maritime Museum. The move was expected to cost between $15 and $20 million.
She was named after the Founding Fathers of the United States: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Her construction was funded through the will of Massachusetts merchant John Hancock who wished to have a ship built to honor the third president. According to local legend, when asked what he wanted done with his estate after his death, Washington replied, "Sail her until she sails herself." The phrase now represents an instruction to keep a vessel under maintenance while still allowing it to be seen publicly.
The Constitution was designed by Captain Samuel Goodrich and built by Henry Eckford at the New York Ship Building Company in New York City.
The USS Constitution, popularly known as Old Ironsides, is a three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy with a wooden hull. She was the third of six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794 when she was launched in 1797. Her name refers to the fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibited slavery except as punishment for crime. The Constitution was the first U.S. ship to be built with an aim toward combat effectiveness rather than ornamental decoration.
Not only was she meant to be combat effective but also easy to sail, fast, and able to withstand most conditions found in the ocean. These attributes made her ideal for patrolling America's coastlines to prevent the smuggling of goods between the United States and its allies. The Constitution served in this capacity from 1798 until 1842 when she was retired. During that time, she went on several tours around the world including two trips to Australia to protect British interests during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1845, the Constitution was given a new mainmast and other repairs were done over the next few years. In 1850, she had her old mainmast removed and replaced with one more suitable for modern ships. In 1852, the Navy sold Old Ironsides to a private company who planned to turn her into a museum.