The first painting is Action between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere, 19 August 1812, by Michel Felice Corne. The second picture is courtesy of the US Park Service, and shows the Constitution during the 2014 Independence Day celebrations at Boston Harbor.
Many people will look at the USS Constitution and the USS Olympia and see nothing to compare or connect the two ships together. Both ships indeed bookmark the 19th Century for the United States Navy. Each ship also fulfilled similar roles in the Navy’s national mission
The USS Constitution was launched in October 1797 while the USS Olympia was commissioned for the first time in Feb 1895, almost a century apart. Both ships would see battle soon after joining the fleet. The USS Constitution would participate in the Quasi War and the First Barbary War, while the USS Olympia would lead the American Asiatic Squadron into the Battle of Manila Bay in the Spanish American War.
Marines from the Constitution captured the French privateer Sandwich in 1800, and the Constitution would help blockade the Barbary Coast ports in 1802 and 1803. All of this was to defend American merchant ships against attacks.
The Olympia would take over as flagship of the Asiatic Squadron in 1896. This was a mission of showing the flag and patrolling the West Pacific sea lanes to protect American national interest. The Olympia would secure Manila Bay for the United States from Spain, and even a threatened seizure by the German Imperial fleet. In the years after, she would head up the Caribbean Squadron and take part in an intervention into Honduras.
Both ships would go on to serve in various roles for decades more. The Constitution would see extensive action in the War of 1812, while the Olympia would serve in several vital roles during World War One.
In the 18th Century the frigate was the ship class to patrol sea lanes, show the flag, and disrupt enemy mercantile shipping. By the late 19th Century the cruiser became the class to fulfill the same role. The role also had work with the fleet to act as a scout for the fleet and harassers for any retreating units.
Because of the historical importance of the USS Constitution, the United States Navy goes to great length to make her available to the public.
As the symbolic and acting flagship for the US Navy, she is both a symbol and a great public relations for the sea service.
She even has her own official blog and webpages: http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/constitution/
Currently the USS Constitution is undergoing drydock work that should be completed by the end of 2017.
To any visitors to Boston it is well worth their time to visit the USS Constitution Museum.
On the 21st of October in 1797 the heavy sailing frigate USS Constitution was named by President George Washington. As one of the authorized first six frigates built by the young Republic, the ship would go on to serve the US Navy through the first half of the 19th century, seeing action in the War of 1812, the Barbary Coast pirate wars, and interdiction of slaver ships off the coast of Africa.
On the 5th of February in 1895 the USS Olympia was commissioned the sixth steel cruiser built for the US Navy. She would go on to serve American in the Battle of Manila and numerous other functions till she was decommissioned on 9 Dec 1922.
Both ships still exist today as museum ships. Between them lay almost a century of technological development. By comparing the two ships’ technologies an observer can see the rapid technological change that underwent naval sea power throughout the 19th century. By comparing their strategic usages and service to the Republic which built them, an observer can see the changing focus and aspiration of these United States.