What is this?
A six-stanza poem written to commemorate USS Constitution‘s April 17, 1814 arrival in Boston Harbor after her recent War of 1812 exploits.
When is it from?
Why is it Important?
On August 19, 1812, approximately six hundred miles due east of Boston, USS Constitution earned a place as arguably the most famous warship in U.S. history. Late that day HMS Guerriere, a 38-gun frigate under the command of Captain James Richard Dacres, battled Captain Isaac Hull’sConstitution. By sunset the Royal Navy ship had been disabled by cannon fire and surrendered. Though the victory was of little strategic importance it was significant from a symbolic standpoint. It served to raise the morale of a nation suffering from several military setbacks and boosted the confidence of the U.S. Navy. The fight also gave the ship the famous nickname “Old Ironsides.”
In January 1814 Constitution evaded the British blockade of Boston, and sailed to the West Indies, where she captured HMS Picton and three other vessels, returning to Boston in April.
With patriotic fervor the poet praises Constitution‘s prowess and jeers at the inability of the British fleet to capture her. It is no wonder then that the poet chose this famous ship as the subject of the work. The poem represents not just a commercial or literary endeavor, but a statement of patriotic pride.
On the broadsheet’s reverse side is printed the lyrics to “Battle of Bunker Hill,” described as a “Song was Composed by the British after the Engagement.” That the printer would link together a major conflict of the American Revolution, which took place June 17, 1775, and USS Constitution, reflects the fact that both were held in high esteem by the public. With content on both sides of the page, the item is in effect a double broadside.
27.3 cm X 20.5 cm double-sided broadside, printed by Boston-based printer Nathaniel Coverly. Author unknown. Overall fair condition, with worn edges and stains from glue used to adhere it to a mount, and some small tears and thin spots throughout.
Learn more (download): Poetry Archives