Topic: USS Constitution’s Legacy

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Reading Patriotic Symbols

Students discuss the symbols on a silver urn given to Captain Issac Hull from the citizens of Philadelphia in 1812.

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USS Constitution: A National Symbol

USS Constitution emerged from the War of 1812 as a national symbol, much as we think of the Statue of Liberty or the Liberty Bell today. Artists have long depicted the ship with that legacy in mind. Share these paintings of Constitution and discuss with your students the artist’s point

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Creative Writing: Broadside Poem

View an 1812 poem/song set to the tune of “Yankee Doodle” that celebrates USS Constitution’s victory over HMS Guerriere. Students then write their own lyrics to the same tune.

Returning Home

Returning Home Illustration

Huzza! HUZZA! The captain and crew of Constitution were heroes! News of their victory over Guerriere spread fast as soon as Constitution returned to Boston. So when captain Isaac Hull stepped ashore on the first day of September, the whole city greeted him. Flags flew. Bands played. Cannons fired deafening

Broadside: Huzza for the Constitution

Broadside: Huzza for the Constitution

Broadsides are oversized printed sheets containing proclamations, announcements, or advertisements. They were publicly posted or distributed door to door. This broadside with a six-stanza poem commemorates USS Constitution‘s arrival in Boston Harbor on April 17, 1814 after its recent War of 1812 exploits.

Broadside: Hull’s Victory

Broadside: Hull’s Victory

Broadsides are oversized printed sheets containing proclamations, announcements, or advertisements. They were publicly posted or distributed door to door. This broadside is a statement of patriotic pride. It displays a 14-stanza poem which commemorates one of the most famous engagements in American naval history, USS Constitution’s victory over the British

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Engraving: U.S. Frigate Constitution, of 44 Guns

USS Constitution became a patriotic symbol after its victories during the War of 1812. Images of the Ship, like this detailed engraving, were popular among the public in the country at the time. This engraving is especially notable for the accurate depiction of the rigging and sails. 

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Frank Prusz’s National Cruise Scrapbook

On July 2, 1931, USS Constitution and a crew of 81 sailors, officers, and Marines set off on a three-year tour around the United States. This National Cruise was a “thank you” to the men, women, and children who donated money and materials to support the Ship’s 1927 restoration. Frank

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Cane made from USS Constitution Wood

In the 19th century, canes were a symbol of power and importance, not just aids for walking. This cane had extra prestige, being made of wood from the famous ship USS Constitution. After the ship had major restoration work done in 1857, souvenir hunters scooped up the removed wood to


Earliest Known Painting of USS Constitution

This painting, completed about 1803, is the earliest known depiction of USS Constitution. With nearly all of its sails set, the Ship is especially impressive in this portrayal. Look closely and you’ll spot the Ship’s original Hercules figurehead on the bow! Over 200 years later in 2012, the United States

Painting - USS Constitution

Painting: USS Constitution

This depiction of “Old Ironsides” in its glory was created in the 1920s when the Ship was in desperate need of repairs. Over 1 million prints of the original oil painting were sold to raise money for the Ship’s restoration.

Creamware Pitcher

Staffordshire Creamware Pitcher

This ceramic pitcher depicts two of USS Constitution‘s exploits during the War of 1812. It is an example of the many pitchers, plates, bowls, mugs, and vases that glorified the accomplishments of the new United States, motifs which were popular among Americans.

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USS Constitution Cookie Box

Demoulas Market Basket, a grocery store chain based in New England, released a series of themed cookies in the 1990s. Each type of cookie represented a different historical site in Boston. The “U.S.S. Constitution” cookie flavor was oatmeal chocolate chip, which was probably much tastier than the ship’s biscuit served

Four Flag Fragments

Four Flag Fragments from War of 1812 Victories

This framed display contains four fragments of flags captured during American naval victories in the War of 1812. Flags captured from enemy vessels were often cut up and distributed or sold as souvenirs.

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Musicians on Board

Why did USS Constitution need a band? Who was in the band? This article looks at a musical part of the Ship’s history.

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Maintaining & Restoring an Icon

There have been numerous restorations of USS Constitution throughout her history. Read about some of these efforts to maintain America’s Ship of State in this blog article.

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Julia Kochevar: A Young Voice for USS Constitution

In 1925, USS Constitution was in desperate need of expensive repair. Students across the country answered the call by collecting pennies and participating in a national essay contest to raise awareness. Learn about the winner, Julia Kochevar, and read her essay in this blog article.

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The Battle: HMS Guerriere

USS Constitution earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” and became a household name after her victory over HMS Guerriere in August of 1812. This blog post uses contemporary paintings and logbook entries to outline the events of the engagement.

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Bow Decor

Choosing a ship’s figurehead is a big decision–it serves as a symbol for the vessel. Learn about the different figureheads and symbols that have adorned USS Constitution’s bow throughout history.

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Constitution Circles the Globe: The World Cruise, 1844-1846

From 1844 to 1846, USS Constitution sailed a total of 52,370.5 miles during a circumnavigation of the globe that took the ship to 24 ports of call from Brazil to Borneo and back. In this video, learn about some of the events that happened along the way.

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Objects Up Close: Gifts from a Grateful Nation

Following USS Constitution’s first victory in the War of 1812, Captain Issac Hull and his crew returned to praise and adulation. This video looks at some of the gifts he received as a thank-you from a grateful nation.

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Objects Up Close: Commemorative Medals

In 1776, the U.S. Congress began awarding congressional gold and silver medals to distinguished military figures as expressions of appreciation for their achievements and contributions. Learn about some of the medals awarded to USS Constitution’s crew in this video.

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Objects Up Close: Victory Song

This poem, sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle,” captures Bostonians’ excitement about USS Constitution’s victory over HMS Guerriere in 1812.

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Building a Desk for the Office of the Vice President

Builder 1st Class Hilary Lemelin, assigned to USS Constitution, talks about what it was like building two desks for the Vice President of the United States and the Secretary of the Navy. The desks were built using materials from USS Constitution and other historic U.S. Navy ships.

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USS Constitution Under Sail, August 19, 2012

See USS Constitution under sail in Boston Harbor on August 19, 2012 to commemorate the anniversary of 200 years of peace between the United States and Great Britain, and the United States and Canada, since the War of 1812. Video courtesy of Defense Media Activity (DMA).

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“Old Ironsides” Poem

This poem “Old Ironsides,” originally written by Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1830, was a rallying cry to save the aging warship from the scrap heap. The poet’s words were published widely and sparked a public outcry that eventually convinced the U.S. Navy to preserve USS Constitution.

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Activity: Make a Poppy Flower

The poppy is an international symbol used to remember and honor those who gave their lives in military services to their country. In the United States, it is often displayed or worn on Memorial Day. Create your own poppy flower out of paper with these step by step directions. Written

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Activity: Make a Tin Foil Trophy

Follow along and emboss your own “silver” trophy similar to the one presented to Captain Isaac Hull after USS Constitution’s victory over the HMS Guerriere.

Letter from William Bainbridge to George Harrison, October 28, 1817

Letter from William Bainbridge to George Harrison, October 28, 1817

USS Constitution, under the command of Commodore William Bainbridge, defeated the British frigate HMS Java in December 1812 in its second victory of the War of 1812. In this letter, Bainbridge discusses a medal he received in honor of this victory. Bainbridge was dissatisfied with the design on the back,

Silver Urn Presented to Isaac Hull

Silver Urn Presented to Isaac Hull

This ceremonial silver urn was a gift from the merchants of Philadelphia to Captain Isaac Hull in honor of USS Constitution‘s defeat of HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812. The urn was created as a symbol of gratitude, pride, and patriotism following America’s early naval successes. However, the merchants