The Unlucky President

In honor of President’s Day, here is a beautiful pen and ink circa 1802 drawing by artist Antoine Roux of the 44-gun “Original Six” frigate, USS President.

NHHC 76-327-a

One of only two American warships named for the office of the United State’s Chief Executive, USS President was ordered on 27 March 1794 during the administration of General Washington. Completed in 1800, the vessel was heavily involved in the Barbary Wars, helped spark the War of 1812 with the “Little Bent” affair, and was captured after tangling with a much stronger four-frigate British squadron– ironically after the end of hostilities– in that conflict. The Brits would rename her HMS President for a time and scrap the vessel in 1817.

The only other USS President was a sloop constructed on Lake Champlain in 1812 and, like the first, was captured by the British.

Probably a good thing the Navy hasn’t suggested the name a third time.

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