Old Ironsides - New London

Photograph of USS Constitution during the National Cruise, 1931

Launched in Boston’s North End on October 21, 1797, USS Constitution is today the oldest commissioned warship still afloat in the United States. One of six original frigates built for the newly-established US Navy in the 1790s, USS Constitution has served in a variety of roles throughout her 221-year history. During her 58 years of active service, Constitution fought pirates in the Barbary wars, engaged in close combat during the Quasi-War with France and the War of 1812, served as the flagship in the Mediterranean and African squadrons, and sailed around the world. She has served as a classroom for the Naval Academy, a receiving ship for sailors, a floating museum, an educational vessel, and a diplomatic envoy.

Throughout, Constitution’s story has been one of service and resilience. Threatened at various points in her history by use, age, and neglect, public affection and abiding sentiment have come to her rescue time and again. Today, Constitution serves a primarily educational mission, promoting an understanding of her role and the role of the US Navy at large in both war and peace.

This exhibit highlights photographs, documents, and other resources held in the collections of the New London Maritime Society’s Custom House Maritime Museum which tell the story of USS Constitution’s connection to New London, Connecticut.

- Rebecca Parmer, Charles E. Shain Library, Connecticut College

Old Ironsides - New London