Constitution & Gurriere (sic)
Broadsides are oversized printed sheets containing proclamations, announcements, or advertisements. This broadside features a ten-stanza poem commemorating USS Constitution’s victory over HMS Guerriere (mistakenly spelled “Gurriere”) on August 19, 1812. On that day, Guerriere, a 38-gun British frigate under the command of Captain James Richard Dacres, battled Captain Isaac Hull’s Constitution. By sunset the Royal Navy ship had been disabled by cannon fire and surrendered. Though the victory was of little strategic importance to the outcome of the War of 1812, it was a symbolic moment for America. It served to raise the morale of a nation suffering from several military setbacks and boosted the confidence of the U.S. Navy.
The poem’s unidentified author praises the “Yankee tars” and “gallant Hull” and cheers the victorious Constitution. Small woodcut illustrations of two frigates at the top of the broadside presumably represent Constitution and Guerriere. This sheet, like other broadsides of the time, may have been posted publicly or distributed door to door.