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Midshipman Pardon Mawney Whipple

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Pardon Mawney Whipple was born in New York in 1790 to William and Abigail Whipple. Raised in Providence, Rhode Island, he joined the United States Navy as a midshipman in 1812. He was assigned to USS Constitution in 1813 and saw battle with HMS Cyane and HMS Levant at the war’s end in 1815. Whipple detached from Constitution on September 10, 1815 and served in the Mediterranean on USS Washington and USS Spark. He attained the rank of lieutenant in March 1820 and the following year was again assigned to Constitution in the Mediterranean. Due to declining health, Whipple went on leave from December 1821 to November 1823, and left the navy for good on September 30, 1824. He died from tuberculosis at age 37 on May 11, 1827.

What is known of Whipple’s experiences is drawn from the personal possessions he left behind, including his letterbook, cocked hat, pommel sword, and a lock of hair. While his lock of hair is certainly the most intimate of these items, his personal letterbook, which he kept from 1813 to 1821, includes correspondence with family and friends. Through his writings, Whipple shares the excitement and horrors of serving the United States at sea in times of war.

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