Constitution to Olympia – An Introduction

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.