Two hundred years ago today, a note appeared in the National Intelligencer, a newspaper in Washington, DC, calling on the government to preserve USS Constitution, even then known as “Old Ironsides”.
A transcription of the piece appears below:
Our National Ship, the Constitution, is once more arrived.
Let us keep “Old Iron Sides” at home. She has, literally, become a Nation’s Ship, and should be preserved. Not as a “sheer bulk, in ordinary” (for she is no ordinary vessel); but, in honorable pomp, as a glorious Monument of her own, and our other Naval Victories.
She has “done her duty“; and we can therefore afford to preserve her from future dangers.
Let a dry dock, such as are used in Holland, and other parts of Europe, be contracted for her reception, at the Metropolis of the United States. Let a suitable and appropriate building be erected over her, to secure her from the weather; and other measures used to preserve her from decay: that our children, and children’s children, may view this stately monument of our National Triumphs.
The decks of this noble Ship have witnessed peculiarly striking instances of superiority and success over her enemies — When in battle, the skill and courage of her officers and crew, have invariably brought her victory: and when pursued by a superior force (frequently happening) the superior seamanship of her different commanders has completely baffled the efforts of her foes, and preserved her for new and splendid triumphs!
“She has done her duty”; she had done ENOUGH!
Let us preserve her as a precious model, as an example for future imitations of her illustrious performances!
Just five days ago, on May 18, Constitution once again went into dry dock, as the author of this piece called for 200 years ago, to be further conserved and restored, so she will continue to be around for our children’s children, and more.
This time-lapse video shows the ship’s movement into position:
And the Navy’s website about USS Constitution has much more about the ship’s history, and how she was, in fact, saved, many times, in the past two hundred years.