(1895 - 1973)
The U.S. Frigate Constellation
Oil on canvas
28 x 42 inches
The name Constellation is one of the most famous in U.S. naval history. The first Frigate Constellation was commissioned by Navel Act of 1794; this act, passed by congress on March 27, 1794 authorized the construction of six vessels that were each given a symbolic name to represent the United States of America: The Constitution, The Congress, The Chesapeake, The United States and The President. The Constellation was held in highest esteem as the name represented the ring of stars on the new American flag.
The U.S. Frigate CONSTELLATION was built at Harris Creek Shipyard in Baltimore's Fells Point. The ship was designed with a main battery of 38 guns and had a crew of 340 men.
The ship was launched on September 7, 1797 just as the United States entered its first naval war; the "Quasi War" (1798-1801) with. The Constellation was responsible for the United States’first navel victory when it captured the French frigate L’Insurgente, which was the fastest ship of the French Navy. Many victories for the Constellation followed and due to her speed she was nicknamed the “Yankee Racehorse.”
The Constellation would continue to serve with distinction in the Barbary Wars against Tripoli and the War of 1812 against Great Britain. In 1840, CONSTELLATION completed a historic voyage around the world, which included being the first U.S. warship to enter the inland waters of China.
After more than 50 years of extraordinary service, the U.S. Frigate CONSTELLATION was thoroughly worn out. In 1853 she was broken up at the Gosport Navy Yard, Norfolk, VA.
After the destruction of the Constellation, a new ship was commissioned in 1854, the U.S. Sloop of War Constellation, which was launched in Gosport and was most likely built from the keel of the remains of the first constellation, as the dimensions were similar to her predecessor, although this one carried 22 guns and had a crew of 240 men.
This ships first assignment was to stop the illegal slave trade off the coast of Africa. The Constellation captured the slaver brig, The Triton, and released the imprisoned slaves at the time of the Civil War. After the war, the ship had more humanitarian duties such as bringing famine relief to Ireland and carrying precious American works of art to the Paris Exposition of 1895.
The Constellation subsequently became a training ship for the Naval Training Center in Newport, R.I., as well as helped train more than 60,000 recruits during World War I.
Decommissioned in 1933, the Constellation was re-commissioned as a national symbol on August 24, 1940 by President Franklin Roosevelt. Shortly after the country's entry into World War II, she became the flagship for Admiral Ernest J. King and Admiral Royal Ingersoll.
The treasured warship was decommissioned in February 1955 and was taken "home" to her permanent berth in Baltimore Harbor. Now a National Historic Landmark, she is the last existing Civil War era naval vessel and the last sail-powered warship built by the U.S. Navy. Ironically, just as the aircraft carrier USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) was beginning her 19th overseas deployment, the U.S. Sloop of War CONSTELLATION completed a $9-million restoration project in July 1999.
Frost & Reed, London
John J. McMullen, New Jersey
Mrs. John J. McMullen (by descent)
Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City