USS Constellation, constructed in 1854, is a sloop-of-war and the second of several United States Navy ships to carry the name Constellation (The first was a frigate that was completed in 1797 and was disassembled in 1853). This second ship, a sloop, was constructed shortly thereafter and served the Union Navy in the Civil War. Despite being a single-gundeck sloop, the Constellation is actually larger than the original frigate that served the Early Republic. This ship holds a special piece of history because it is the last surviving sail-only warship to be designed and built by the US Navy. Currently resting in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor—it was moved from Boston to Baltimore in 1955—the USS Constellation offers self-guided and guided tours to the public. In addition to being part of the Historic Ships of Baltimore, the USS Constellation is also a National Historic Landmark and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Backstory and Context
History of the USS Constellation
The Constellation garnered widespread renown in 1856 for rescuing a barque in distress, which led the Austrian emperor’s court to give the ship an official message of appreciation. At this time, the Constellation served as the flagship for the African Squadron, capturing three slave ships before the outset of the Civil War (the Atlantic slave trade was illegal at this time).