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USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship in the world still afloat. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” she is today berthed in Boston and is known as “America’s Ship of State.” Her story illuminates much about the U.S. Navy during the nation’s first 100 years.
See the fact file below for more information on the Old Ironsides or alternatively, you can download our 27-page Old Ironsides worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The USS Constitution was one of the first large warships that the United States built after the American Revolution.
- It was one of six frigates that the US Congress requested to be built in 1794 to protect American merchant fleets from Barbary pirates’ attacks and British and French forces’ harassment.
- The ship was constructed in Boston, and it was deployed in Boston on October 21, 1797.
- It first sailed on July 22, 1798.
- Captain Samuel Nicholson led the ship’s first sail to the Caribbean during the Quasi War with France.
- General Characteristics as provided by www.battlefields.org:
- Signed: President George Washington (May 27, 1794)
- Principal Designer: Joshua Humphrey
- Builder: Col. George Claghorn, Edmund Hartt’s Shipyard, Boston, Massachusetts
- Unit Cost: $302,718 (in the year 1797)
- Propulsion: 48 sails, 44,000+ square feet of sail, equal to over 1 acre of canvas
- Length: Overall 305 feet (93 meters); 207 feet (63.1 meters), billet head to taffrail; 175 feet at waterline (53.3 meters)
- Height: Main mast, from the spar (upper) deck to the top of the mast, is 172 feet (54.4 meters)
- Speed: 1812 Speed: 13+ knots (approximately 15 miles per hour, 24 kilometers per hour)
- Crew: 1812 Crew: Over 450 Sailors and Marines; Crew Today: 3 officers, 85+ enlisted U.S. Navy men and women
- Homeport: Charlestown Navy Yard, National Parks of Boston
OLD IRONSIDES MISSIONS
- In July 1798, a crew of 450 cruised the West Indies with a mission to protect U.S. ships from French privateers.
- President Thomas Jefferson then ordered the American warship to the Mediterranean to fight Barbary pirates off the coast of Tripoli in 1803.
- In 1805, a peace treaty with Tripoli was signed on the Constitution‘s deck, thus ending the battle. It spent the next two years cruising the Mediterranean.
- In June 1812, war broke out with Britain, and the USS Constitution took part. It was then commanded by Isaac Hull, who served as lieutenant on the ship during the Tripolitan War.
- On July 16, the Constitution encountered a squadron of five British ships off Egg Harbor, New Jersey.
- Surrounded, the Constitution prepared for escape, but the wind died.
- With both sides dead in the water and just out of gunnery range, the Constitution‘s crew kept their ship ahead of the British by towing the frigate with rowboats and by tossing the ship’s anchor ahead of the ship and reeling it in.
- One month later, on August 19, she ran across the Guerriere, a British frigate that accepted the battle.
- In the engagement, the Constitution wrecked the Guerriere while suffering only slight damage herself.
- This victory earned the USS Constitution praise that “her sides are made of iron,” and her nickname became “Old Ironsides”.
- Old Ironsides went on to defeat or capture seven more British ships in the War of 1812 and defeated the British blockade of Boston twice.
- In December 1812, it also encountered the HMS Java off Brazil, but the latter soon surrendered.
- Postwar, she captured five merchantmen and captured two British ships before 1820.
LIFE AFTER WAR
- In 1830, the navy considered scrapping the Constitution, considered her unseaworthy. This led to an outcry of public support for preserving the famous warship.
- People began to demand that the ship be saved and the Navy Department agreed with them.
- In 1843, Old Ironsides took Ambassador Henry A. Wise to Brazil. She then departed around Cape Horn to the Pacific, where she operated off Singapore and China.
- In 1846, the ship joined the Pacific Squadron off Mexico and California.
- Pope Pius IX visited her in 1849, and she captured her last prize, the slaver H.N. Gambrill, in 1854.
- In 1855, the USS Constitution retired from active military service. However, it continued to serve the United States, first as a training ship and then as a touring national landmark.
- In 1924, she once again needed to be hauled out of the water to have a lot of her wooden hull repaired and replaced.
- A “pennies campaign” was organized by schoolchildren to restore the ship, and it raised $250,000. $148,000 of it came from the kids who had saved their pennies and sent it to the ship.
- Today, the USS Constitution is still a commissioned US Navy ship, and it is berthed in Boston. She is a national treasure, offering a tangible link to the very first years of the Navy and the United States as a whole.
Old Ironsides Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Old Ironsides across 27 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Old Ironsides worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the USS Constitution which is the oldest commissioned warship in the world still afloat. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” she is today berthed in Boston and is known as “America’s Ship of State.” Her story illuminates much about the U.S. Navy during the nation’s first 100 years.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Old Ironsides Facts
- The United States
- The U.S. Navy
- The Command
- Navy Dress-up
- Ironsides Commanders
- Parts of the Ironsides
- “Old Ironsides”
- Then and Now
- Navy Nicknames
- The Modern Naval Ship
- Modern Ironsides
Link/cite this page
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Link will appear as Old Ironsides Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, July 28, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.