Newspapers & Magazines


The Early Years (1794-1811)


Columbian Centinel (Boston), Wednesday, May 9, 1798






            Orders having been received for the nomination of Warrant and Petty Officers for the United States Frigate CONSTITUTION, now lying in Boston harbour; Notice is hereby given, that applications for the following stations will be received by the subscriber, if made immediately, viz.  Eight Midshipmen, One Boatswain, One Gunner, One Shipcarpenter [sic], One Sail-Maker, and Two Master’s Mates.  No application will be considered as good, unless accompanied with recommendations on the seamanship, capability, integrity and sobriety, of the applicants.


                                                                         SAMUEL NICHOLSON.

Constitution Frigate, May 2, 1798.



Columbian Centinel (Boston), Saturday, July 20, 1798




     Deserted from on board the United States ship Constitution the following seamen; George Round, William Thompson, Saml Phillips, William Coffin, Benj Butler, Sam’l Baxter, Thomas Copitt, Edw’d Leavitt, Wm Pierce, Richard Collins, Job Chinney, James Doore, Saml Browne, Will Utherd [sic], Asa Fisher, Peter Coffin, Nathl Murril [sic], Ths Fezzanden [sic], Wm Symmes, George Dixon, James R. lee.

     Whoever will apprehend any of the above deserters, shall receive five dollars reward, and all reasonable charges.                       ISAAC HULL, Lieut.  July 20.


Massachusetts Spy, or Worcester Gazette (Massachusetts),

3 October 1798


United Columbia.


NORFOLK, September 15.


In our last paper we mentioned the arrival of a ship of war, taken by the United States frigate Constitution; we are now enabled to lay before our readers, the following statement, detailed by Capt. Nicholson:

            On the 8th inst, in lat. 33 10, long. 70, at 6 A.M. they discovered a sail to which  they gave chace [sic]; at 10 o’clock they got along side [sic] and fired a shot over her, on which she hoisted British colors and fired a shot to leeward.  The 3d lieutenant was sent on board of her and on searching found they had laid a train of gun powder to the magazine to blow up the ship; the officers were dressed in the French naval uniform, and said they were            French royalists, and were bound from Jamaica to Philadelphia; they had a commission from the English government, and a register and clearance from Jamaica, all of which appear to be counterfeit; they have no articles, shipping paper, or log book on board; the crew are made up of seven French officers, Frenchmen, Spaniards, three Englishmen, Portuguese, Italians, one American, Dutch, and several negroes,, in all about 75 men.  A British officer, his lady and two children, and an American gentleman (of Baltimore) are passengers.  She is called the Niger, is built of cedar by the Spaniards, was taken by the British two or three years ago, and sold at Jamaica; she mounts 24 guns, nine and twelve pounders, well coppered, sound, and is a remarkable [sic] fine vessel.  It appears she has a large sum of money on board, as well as 30 hogsheads of sugar and 15 puncheons of rum; the crew have a great deal of money, and every one of them an American made trunk full of good, clothes, &c, which it is supposed they have plundered.

            One of the seamen on board the Constitution has, that seven months ago he belonged to a schooner from Portsmouth (N.H.) which was taken by a French privateer, on board of which the boatswain of the Niger was an officer, who stripped him and the crew naked, and sent them into Guadaloupe.  They have behaved in a cruel manner to the passengers, whom they turned out of the cabin; and, we understand, had attempted to poison them by giving them drugs in their wine.  There was every reason to believe the ship was cruising, as she was not consigned to any person in Philadelphia, and it is supposed has different sets of papers.  They had English and national colors both bent, when boarded by the officers of the Constitution; they sailed from Port Royal to Port Antonio with a few hands, and took the remainder on board at that place.

            It also appears that they could not stay at Jamaica, in consequence of a proclamation issued by the government of which the sub-joined are the leads:

            The commander in chief has, with the advice of the privy council, issued a proclamation, under the assize bill, passed last session, ordering that, as of the 1st day of September next all vessels having French people on board arriving at Port Royal from Santo Domingo, shall not be suffered to pass the forts until the French passengers are carried on shore and examined with regard to their principles before John Ramsay, and Dennis O’Farrell, Esqs., appointed by the proclamation, commissioners if police, who ill judge whether they are proper persons to have certificates granted them to go at large in the island--  All all French people of every description, now here, (denizens and naturalized subjects excepted) are to repair before the honorable John Jaques [sic], Kean Osborne, Simon Taylor, Henry Shirley, and Alexander Shaw, Esqs., to be examined by them and to receive from them police tickets, otherwise to e considered improper person to reside in  this island; and every French person traveling in this island without a police ticket is to be taken up and carried before any Justice of the Peace, and in the case of his or her not giving a satisfactory reason for his or her being without it, and the magistrate have reason to suppose he or she is going about with sinister views, to keep him or her in safe custody asd send notice  thereof to the commander in chief.

            Lieut. Claiborne is making preparations to receive the prisoners at Fort Norfolk, where they will be landed in two or three days.

            By a gentleman passenger we learn, that the Niger, three days after she was out, retook the outward bound Jamaica ships Favorite and Bou??? Park, captured a short time before by a French privateer, and sent them into Port Antonio.

            By this same gentleman we are informed, that Jeremie was evacuated by the British; and they had accounts at Jamaica, that there had recommenced the evacuation of Cap Nichola Mole.


Columbian Centinel (Boston), 3 August 1799


DESERTED from on board the United States Ship Constitution, the following seamen; George Round, William Thompson, Saml. Phillips, William Coffin, Benj. Butler, Sam’l Baxter, Thomas Coplitt,  Edw’d Leavitt, Wm. Pierce, Richard Collins, Job Chinney, James Doore, Saml. Browne, Will Utherd, Asa Fisher, Peter Coffin, Nathl. Murill,  Thos. Fezzenden {sic),  James Symmes,  George Dixon, James R. Lee.

            Whoever will apprehend any of the above deserters, shall receive five dollars reward, and all reasonable charges.                                                   ISAAC HULL, Lieut.  July 20.

Columbian Centinel & Massachusetts Federalist, Saturday, June 18, 1803


“On Thursday last, the novel and interesting operation of heaving down the Constitution frigate, for the purpose of recoppering her, was performed here, under the direction of Commodore PREBLE.-- The preparations for this experiment evince his judgment, intelligence, and enterprize. This stout Ship was hove down, by a purchase leading from the Main and Fore-mast heads, to Col. MAY's Wharf, which had previously been prepared for the purpose:-- Each mast had been had been strengthened by two oak fishes; and in addition to the shrouds, they were supported by five careening pendants at the Main; and four at the Fore-mast heads; set up to as many out-riggers projecting from the gun-deck ports;-- the out-riggers secured by gammoning to bolts in the Ship's bottom. This operation has been performed without either straining the Ship or parting a rope-yarn; although we learn from conversation with those acquainted therewith, that owing to the construction of the Ship, she heaves down harder than a ship of the line. The workmen commenced recopperiing on Thursday morning, when her keel was hove out, and her larboard side was completed yesterday afternoon. The copper is from the furnace of Col. REVERE at Canton;-- it is the first ever manufactured in the United States, and will not suffer by comparison with the best sheets imported.

- - -

“We learn, that Capt. PREBLE is appointed to command the squadron ow fitting out in the United States, for foreign service. This squadron, it is expected, will be composed of several vessels, and will sail in all July. “


National Intelligencer (Washington, DC) Abstracts, 1801‑1805



MON AUG 17, 1801


Supreme Crt of the US ‑ Chief Justice Marshal.  Silas Talbot, Capt of US ship of War Constitution v Hans Frederic, seaman, claimant of the ship, Amelia, her tackle, apparel & furniture.  Decree of the Crct Crt of NY was correct in reversing the decree of the Dist Crt, but not correct in decreeing the restoration of the Amelia without paying salvage.  [This case is covered in 2 1/3 pages of the paper.]


WED APR 21, 1802


An act for the relief of Paolo Paoly, a subject of his Danish Majesty, the sum of $7040.55 ‑ the damages & cost of suit, awarded by the Crct Crt of Pa, in favor of Paoly, owner of the schooner, Amphitheatre, against William Maley, Cmdr of the armed vessel, the Experiment, belonging to the US; for capture of said schnr.

‑ approved, Thos Jefferson, Aug 14, 1802.


FRI JUL 15, 1803


Tobias Lear is apptd Cnsl Genrl to the Barbary Powers & is expected, with his sec & family, in Boston to take passage in the frig Constellation [sic: Constitution], Cmdor Preble.


MON MAR 26, 1804


Ltr from Capt Wm Bainbridge to Cmdor Edw Preble; dated Tripoli, Barbary, 125h Nov 1803; Subj: Loss of US frig. Philadelphia, late under my command.


WED MAY 23, 1804


List of ofcrs on board the Ketch, Intrepid, Lt. Com. Stephen Decatur, Jr.; Lts: Jas Lawrence, Jos Bainbridge, Jonathan Thorn; Surg: Lewis Herman [sic].  Midshipmen belonging to the Constitution: Ralph Izard, John Rowe, Chas. Morris, Alex Laws, John Davis.  Thos McDonough [sic] ‑ Enterprize & Thos Oakley Anderson ‑ Syren.  Orders were to burn the frig Phil, at anchor in Tripoli Harbour, Feb. 16, 1804.


WED JAN 2, 1805


Ltr from Richd O'Brien, late Consul of US, at Algiers, to John Gavino, cnsl at Gibraltar; dated Malta, Sep 5, 1804; Subj: Transactions before Tripoli American ships attacked Tripoli Castle; we lost Lt Jas Decatur; others lost were Lt Caldwell & Mr Dorsey.  Boat blew up.  Sep 14, 1804 ‑ Capt Somers with Lt Wadsworth & Mr Israel, Midshipman, blown up at Tripoli.


WED FEB 27, 1805


Ltr from Cmdor Preble to sec. of  Navy.  Subj ‑ Tyranny at Tripoli. ‑Edw Preble, US Ship Constitution, Malta Harbor, Sep 18, 1804.


MON MAR 4, 1805


Address of ofcrs of squadron under command of Cmdor Edw Preble on giving up his command of the Mediterranean Squadron to Cmdor Barron was signed at Syracuse Harbor on Nov 4, 1804 by:

Stephen Decatur Jr  Capt  Frig ‑ Congress
Chas Stewart                   Master & Cmdnt Brig ‑ Syren  
Isaac Hull                           Master & Cmdt Brig ‑ Argus
John Smith                             Master & Cmdt Brig ‑ Vixen
John H Dent                      Lt Cmdnt Schnr ‑ Nautilus
Thos Robinson                      Lt Cmdt Enterprize
Officers of the Constitution

Chas Gordon 

  Jas Tarbell  
  Saml Elbert  
  Chas Morris  
  Hethcote J Reid  
  Danl S Dexter  
Mstr                   Nathaniel Haraden  
Capt of Marines    John Hall  
Lt of Marines     Robt Greenleaf  
Surg                  Jas Wells  
Purser                 N Morris  
Chaplain            P Leonard  
Ofcrs of the John Adams
Lieutenants                     Edw Bennet  
  J B Nicholson  

Marmaduke Dove                     

  J Thorn  
  Thos McDonough  
Officers of the Siren [sic]


Michael Carrol  
  Jos I Maxwell  
  Robt Spence  
  J Thorn  
Surgeon              Saml R Marshall  
Mstr                    Wm Burrows  
Ofcrs of the Argus
Lieutenants          Sybrant  
Purser                Tim Winn  


L Griffin   
  N T Weems  
  John W Dorsey  
Marines              John Johnson  
Ofcrs of the Vixen


John Tripp  
  Wm Crane  
  Geo Wash. Reid  
  Chas Ridgely  
  Ralph Izard  
Mstr                             Richd Butler  
  Stephen Cassin  
Purser                            Jas Tootel    
  J Green  
Surgeon             G Jacques  
Marines                       J M Haswell  
  G Marcellin  


WED SEPT 4, 1805


Force at present in the Mediterranean employed against Tripoli:

Frig President Com S Barron
Frig Constitution         Capt J Rogers
Frig Constellation         Capt H G Campbell
Frig Congress               Capt S Decatur
Frig Essex                     Capt J Barron
Frig John Adams           Capt J Shaw
Brig Siren                     Capt Stewart
Brig Argus                    Capt Hull
Vixen                            Capt Smith
Schnr Nautilus              Capt Dent
Enterprize                     Capt Robinson
2 Americ bomb vessels  
9 Americ gun boats  
2 bomb vessels & 3 gun boats  
Procured in the Mediterranean are 3200 men  



WED SEP 11, 1805


Ltr from Robt Dennison, esq, sec to the Cmdor of the Mediterranean squad, dated Malta, Jun 15, 1805.  Peace has been concluded betwixt the US & the Bashaw of Tripoli & our countrymen restored to liberty.


MON SEP 16, 1805


Cmdor Barron, owing to the debilitated state of his constitution has resgn'd the command of squadron to Capt Rodgers on May 22.


WED SEP 25, 1805


Syracuse, Jun 29th, 1805.  US Ship Constitution.  The Court are decidedly of opinion that Capt Wm Bainbridge acted with fortitude & conduct in the loss of his ship, US frig Philadelphia, on Oct 31, 1803, & no degree of censure shld attach itself to him from that event.  Jas Barron, Pres ‑ Wm Eaton, Acting Judge Advocate.  Witnesses: Lt David Porter late of the frig Philadelphia; Lt Jacob Jones; Lt Theodore Hunt; Lt Benj Smith; Mr Wm Knight ‑sailing mstr; Lt Wm Osborn of Marine Corps; Mr Keith Spence ‑ Purser; Danl T Patterson, Benj F Read & Jas Gibbons ‑ Mstrs' Mates; Midshipmen ‑ Jas Biddle, Jas Henshaw & ______ Anderson; Richd Stephenson ‑ gunner; Geo Hodge ‑ boatswain; Wm Godby ‑ carpenter; all of said frig sworn & approved as witnesses.

Farmer's Museum,” Walpole, NH, 16 Sep 1799

Secretary of the Navy letter to “a respectable merchant in New York

.“Navy Department, 21st Aug '99.


In answer to your letter of the 17th inst, I do myself the honour [sic] to state the cause of Captain Truxton's [sic] resignation, as the best mode of vindicating his character from the injurious surmises which prevail, and which have appeared in the newspapers on that subject.

“It is well known that there has existed, for a considerable time, a question concerning the relative rank of Captain Talbot and Captain Truxton. Each of these gentlemen was so confident of his right to seniority, that each had, long since, determined to quite the Navy service, should the question of rank be settled in favor of the other. The merits of both were too highly appreciated not to make it a matter of serious regret that the service of either should be lost to the public. Hence the decision of the question was delayed as long as it could be without injury to the service. It became it length however, necessary to decide it. The decision has been made by the proper authority – the result is, that Captain Talbot remains in service, and Captain Truxton, consistently with his uniform declarations repeatedly made, and long before the capture of the Insurgente was thought of, retires to private life.

“That Capt. Truxton should have thought it incumbent upon him to pursue this course, occasions real concern to the President, as it must do to all the friends to their country, who have properly estimated the merits of this gallant officer.

“I have the honour to be, &c.”