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CATEGORY

National Cruise

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On July 2, 1931, USS Constitution and a crew of 81 officers, sailors, and Marines set off on a three-year, three-coast tour around the United States. This National Cruise was a public “thank you” to the men, women, and children who, from 1925 to 1930, donated monies and materials to support the ship’s 1927 restoration. School children across the country contributed pennies, nickels, and dimes toward a fund that eventually raised $154,000 for “Old Ironsides.”

Constitution, towed by the minesweeper USS Grebe, stopped at over 70 ports along the East, Gulf, and West coasts of the United States. Hailed as honored guests in these ports, the crews of both Constitution and Grebe were invited to parties and dances, dinners with local politicians and dignitaries, sporting events, and festivals. In return, Constitution‘s officers and crew gave talks and lectures, made public appearances, and performed radio dramatizations of her most famous battles to reach as large an audience as possible.

Several crewmembers created scrapbooks to memorialize this once-in-a-lifetime trip, gathering postcards and photographs, newspaper clippings, invitations to dinners and dances, commemorative medals, cachets, hatband tallies, and even local brewery labels. More than just rich documentation of Constitution‘s activities during the early 1930s, these scrapbooks offer historical and cultural insights into America’s Great Depression.

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