THE BICENTENNIAL COMMEMORATIONS ARE HAPPENING!

The Bicentennial of the War of 1812
The Bicentennial of the Second War for Independence is upon us and the commemorations are already beginning. And, while you might not be able to recall everything (or anything) that happened during the War of 1812, by the end of 2012 you will be a true expert. The USS Constitution Museum will ensure it!

War of 1812 Refresher
The War of 1812 brought us together as a nation, and left us with lasting icons that remain symbols of our unity today. Among them, the Star Spangled Banner and our beloved – USS Constitution. Authorized for construction by George Washington, Constitution was one of the first six ships in our United States Navy, and remains the most recognizable today. The world’s largest commissioned warship afloat, it was during the War of 1812 that she earned her famous nickname, “Old Ironsides.”

In the years after the Revolutionary War and leading up to the War of 1812, our young nation struggled to forge an identity and assert our independence. Our maritime roots still strong, we relied heavily upon overseas trade for economic survival, two of our primary trading partners being Britain and France, then at war with one another. Though we remained neutral, Britain imposed trade restrictions on our fleet in an effort to weaken her enemy. Lacking enough men to man her ships, Britain simultaneously took to impressing or kidnapping American sailors, forcing them to serve under her flag. On June 18, 1812, President Madison declared war on Great Britain as our nation cried, “Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights!”

Meet the Crew from 1812!
David Debias was born in Boston on August 9, 1806 where he lived with his parents in Belknap St., on Beacon Hill—a predominantly African-American community. On December 17, 1814, Debias’ father entered him on board Constitution. Scarcely eight years old, David was rated a boy (his rank) and assigned as a servant to Master’s Mate Nathaniel G. Leighton. He was discharged and paid off on July 16, 1815. His father collected his pay from the purser: for 7 months service he received $31.98.

David served on Constitution during her battle with HMS Cyane and Levant on the night of February 20, 1815. Placed on board Levant (along with Master’s Mate Leighton) as part of the prize crew, he was captured by a British squadron on the way back to the United States. Imprisoned in Barbados until May, he returned home, where he was finally reunited with his family.