|Born||February 17, 1755|
Hempstead, New York
|Died||May 5, 1822 67) (aged|
|Years of service||1794–1801|
|Commands held|| USS Constellation |
|Battles/wars|| American Revolutionary War (as a privateer supporting the U.S.)|
Thomas Truxtun (or Truxton) (February 17, 1755 – May 5, 1822) was an American naval officer after the Revolutionary War, when he served as a privateer, who rose to the rank of commodore in the late eighteenth century and later served in the Quasi-War with France. He was one of the first six commanders appointed to the new US Navy by President Washington. During his naval career he commanded a number of famous U.S. naval ships, including USS Constellation and USS President. Later in civilian life he became involved with politics and was also elected as a sheriff.
Truxtun was born near Hempstead, New York, on Long Island, the only son of an English country lawyer.He lost his father at a young age and was taken to Jamaica on Long Island with relatives and placed under the care of a close friend, John Troup. Having little chance for a formal education, he joined the crew of the British merchant ship Pitt at the age of 12, against his father's previous wishes for him to pursue a career in politics.
Because of his skills, by the time he was twenty, Truxtun had garnered command of his own vessel, Andrew Caldwell. Before the Revolution he was impressed into the Royal Navy and was offered a midshipman's warrant, which he turned down.
He operated as a U.S. privateer during the American Revolutionary War, commanding several ships: Congress, Independence, Mars, and St. James. Truxtun was highly successful in capturing enemy ships during this period, not once suffering a defeat.[ clarification needed ]
After the war he returned to the merchant marine, where he remained for 12 years. In 1786 he commanded Canton, operating from Philadelphia, one of the first American ships to engage in trade with China.
In 1794 and the war with France looming, Truxtun was one of the first six captains appointed by President Washington in the newly formed US Navy. Constellation. For his first assignment he had previously[ when? ] overseen her construction in Baltimore, Maryland, with Silas Talbot. After a rank dispute with captains Dale and Talbot, Truxtun was placed in charge of the ship by President Washington. He commanded her with considerable success.During the Quasi-War with France, Truxtun commanded USS
Because of constant French privateering attacks against American vessels, an American squadron commanded by Truxtun was sent to the West Indies to patrol the waters between Puerto Rico and Saint Kitts with orders to engage any French forces they found in the area. Also on board was the young and later famous John Rodgers, acting 1st Lieutenant. 'Insurgente, a larger and more heavily armed vessel commanded by Captaine Barreau. After chasing the French ship through a storm, Constellation was able to force L'Insurgente into an engagement that lasted an hour and fourteen minutes. Barreau did not strike his colors until his ship was almost a complete wreck. French losses were 29 killed and 44 wounded, while Truxtun's crew only suffered one killed and two wounded. It was the first battle engagement since the Revolutionary War that an American ship had encountered an enemy ship.On 9 February 1799, while sailing independently of his squadron in his flagship Constellation, Truxtun encountered and engaged the French frigate L
On 31 January 1800, Constellation engaged La Vengeance , a larger vessel with a broadside of 559 pounds (254 kg) compared to Constellation's 372 pounds (169 kg). Constellation had sailed under Truxtun from Saint Kitts on 30 January, and encountered La Vengeance the following day. La Vengeance was bound for France under Capitaine de Vaisseau François Pitot carrying passengers and specie, and initially attempted to outrun Constellation. During the battle Constellation was partially dismasted and was forced to make her way to Jamaica. Thirty six hours after the engagement with La Vengeance, while passing the eastern end of Puerto Rico, Enterprise, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Shaw, arrived and fell in with Truxtun. After a short fall in[ clarification needed ] Truxtun sent Enterprise to Philadelphia with important dispatches. [ clarification needed ]
USS President was launched on 10 April 1800 and, at the time, was considered[ by whom? ] America's fastest sailing ship. She was the last of the original six frigates launched. After the vessel was fitted out for sea duty, she set sail for Guadeloupe on 5 August with Captain Truxtun in command, relieving Stephen Decatur. She conducted routine patrols during the latter part of the Quasi-War and recaptured several American merchant ships; however, her overall service in this period was uneventful. She returned to the United States in March after a peace treaty with France was ratified on 3 February 1801.
Truxtun's victories made Truxtun a hero of the time; when he arrived home he was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal on 29 March 1800, becoming the eighth recipient of that body's "highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions."
During this period, Truxtun was involved in a dispute over rank with Richard Dale.[ clarification needed ] Truxtun took command of President for a few months in 1800, then retired from the Navy and located first in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and later in Philadelphia. He was offered command during the First Barbary War in 1801 but refused, settling firmly into retirement.
Truxtun had a thorough understanding of the art of celestial navigation and was one among few men of his day who possessed such intimate knowledge of this navigational art. He also designed the original Navy signal manual and wrote the predecessor to the Navy Regulations in use today.
Truxtun ran an unsuccessful campaign for the United States House of Representatives in 1810. In 1816 he was elected sheriff of Philadelphia County, serving until 1819. [ clarification needed ]He also published several books, well known at the time, covering navigation and naval tactics.
Truxtun died in Philadelphia on 5 May 1822 and is buried at Christ Church Burial Ground.
The Quasi-War was an undeclared war fought almost entirely at sea between the United States and France from 1798 to 1800, which broke out during the beginning of John Adams's presidency. After the French Monarchy was abolished in September 1792, the United States refused to continue repaying its large debt to France, which had supported the U.S. during its own War for Independence. The U.S. claimed that the debt had been owed to a previous regime. France was also outraged over the Jay Treaty and that the United States was actively trading with Britain, with whom France was at war. In response, France authorized privateers to conduct attacks on American shipping, seizing numerous merchant ships and ultimately leading the U.S. to retaliate.
USS United States was a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy and the first of the six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794. The name "United States" was among ten names submitted to President George Washington by Secretary of War Timothy Pickering in March of 1795 for the frigates that were to be constructed. Joshua Humphreys designed the frigates to be the young Navy's capital ships, and so United States and her sisters were larger and more heavily armed and built than standard frigates of the period. She was built at Humphrey's shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and launched on 10 May 1797 and immediately began duties with the newly formed United States Navy protecting American merchant shipping during the Quasi-War with France.
USS Congress was a nominally rated 38-gun wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy. James Hackett built her in Portsmouth New Hampshire and she was launched on 15 August 1799. She was one of the original six frigates whose construction the Naval Act of 1794 had authorized. The name "Congress" was among ten names submitted to President George Washington by Secretary of War Timothy Pickering in March of 1795 for the frigates that were to be constructed.Joshua Humphreys designed these frigates to be the young Navy's capital ships, and so Congress and her sisters were larger and more heavily armed and built than the standard frigates of the period.
USS Philadelphia, a 1240-ton, 36-gun sailing frigate, was the second vessel of the United States Navy to be named for the city of Philadelphia. Originally named City of Philadelphia, she was built in 1798–1799 for the United States government by the citizens of that city. Funding for her construction was the result of a funding drive which raised $100,000 in one week, in June 1798. She was designed by Josiah Fox and built by Samuel Humphreys, Nathaniel Hutton and John Delavue. Her carved work was done by William Rush of Philadelphia. She was laid down about November 14, 1798, launched on November 28, 1799, and commissioned on April 5, 1800, with Captain Stephen Decatur, Sr. in command. She is perhaps best remembered for her burning after being captured in Tripoli.
USS Constellation was a nominally rated 38-gun wooden-hulled, three-masted frigate of the United States Navy.
USS President was a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy, nominally rated at 44 guns. She was launched in April 1800 from a shipyard in New York City. President was one of the original six frigates whose construction the Naval Act of 1794 had authorized, and she was the last to be completed. The name "President" was among ten names submitted to President George Washington by Secretary of War Timothy Pickering in March of 1795 for the frigates that were to be constructed.Joshua Humphreys designed these frigates to be the young Navy's capital ships, and so President and her sisters were larger and more heavily armed and built than standard frigates of the period. Forman Cheeseman, and later Christian Bergh were in charge of her construction. Her first duties with the newly formed United States Navy were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi War with France and to engage in a punitive expedition against the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.
Silas Talbot was an officer in the Continental Army and in the Continental Navy during the American Revolution. Talbot is most famous for commanding USS Constitution from 1799 to 1801.
Chesapeake was a 38-gun wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy. She was one of the original six frigates whose construction was authorized by the Naval Act of 1794. Joshua Humphreys designed these frigates to be the young navy's capital ships. Chesapeake was originally designed as a 44-gun frigate, but construction delays, material shortages and budget problems caused builder Josiah Fox to alter her design to 38 guns. Launched at the Gosport Navy Yard on 2 December 1799, Chesapeake began her career during the Quasi-War with France and later saw service in the First Barbary War.
Commodore Alexander Murray was an officer who served in the Continental Navy, the Continental Army, and later the United States Navy, during the American Revolutionary War, the Quasi-War with France and the First Barbary War in North Africa.
The first USS Norfolk was a brig in the United States Navy during the Quasi-War with France.
L'Insurgente was a 40-gun Sémillante-class frigate of the French Navy, launched in 1793. During the Quasi War with the United States, the United States Navy frigate USS Constellation, with Captain Thomas Truxtun in command, captured her off the island of Nevis. After her capture she served in the United States Navy as USS Insurgent, patrolling the waters in the West Indies. In September 1800 she was caught up in a severe storm and was presumed lost at sea.
USS Pickering was a topsail schooner in the United States Revenue Cutter Service and then the United States Navy during the Quasi-War with France. She was named for Timothy Pickering, then the Secretary of State.
The United States Congress authorized the original six frigates of the United States Navy with the Naval Act of 1794 on March 27, 1794, at a total cost of $688,888.82. These ships were built during the formative years of the United States Navy, on the recommendation of designer Joshua Humphreys for a fleet of frigates powerful enough to engage any frigates of the French or British navies yet fast enough to evade any ship of the line.
HMS Orestes was an 18-gun Dutch-built brig-sloop of the Royal Navy. She was originally built as the privateer Mars, and was captured by the British in 1781. She went on to serve during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War and the French Revolutionary Wars.
The Truxtun Bowl is a Chinese porcelain punch bowl made for Captain Thomas Truxtun in 1794. Captain Truxtun is noted for his command of the frigate USS Constellation during the Quasi-War with France in 1798 to 1800. Truxtun had served on privateers during the American Revolutionary War. After the Revolution, as a Philadelphia merchant captain, he was a pioneer of American trade with China. In 1794, Truxtun was appointed one of six captains to oversee the building of the United States Navy's first frigates. That year, to illustrate a book he was publishing on navigation, he asked naval constructor, Josiah Fox, who would play a part in designing these ships, for a drawing of a 44-gun frigate. Truxtun commissioned two punch bowls featuring Fox's drawing. One of these is in the U.S. Navy Museum at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. The other bowl, presented to President George Washington, is in Washington's home of Mount Vernon.
USS Trumbull, the third US Navy ship to bear the name, was an 18-gun sloop-of-war that took part of the so-called Quasi-War between the United States and France, between 1800 and 1801.
HMS Vengeance was originally a 48-gun frigate of the French Navy and lead ship of her class. She engaged USS Constellation during the Quasi-War, in an inconclusive engagement that left both ships heavily damaged. During the French Revolutionary Wars, HMS Seine hunted Vengeance down and captured her after a sharp action. She was recommissioned in the Royal Navy as the 38-gun fifth rate HMS Vengeance, but the British apparently never returned her to seagoing service. Accounts are divided as to her eventual fate. She may have been broken up in 1803 after grounding in 1801, or continued as a prison ship until 1814.
USS Enterprise vs Flambeau was a single ship action fought in October 1800 during the Quasi-War, and the final battle between French and American forces. During the action, USS Enterprise defeated the French brig Flambeau off the leeward side of the island of Dominica in the Caribbean Sea. Although Enterprise was outgunned by Flambeau, she was still able to take her as a prize after a short battle. The battle helped bring to fame Enterprise's commanding officer, John Shaw, who added the capture of Flambeau to his already long list of French prizes.
USS Constellation vs L'Insurgente, or the Action of 9 February 1799, was a single-ship action fought between frigates of the French Navy and the United States Navy during the Quasi-War, an undeclared war that lasted from 1798 to 1800. The battle resulted in USS Constellation's capture of L'Insurgente, after an intense firefight in which both sides exchanged heavy broadsides and musket fire.
USS Constellation vs La Vengeance, or the Action of 1 February 1800, was a single-ship action fought between frigates of the French Navy and the United States Navy during the Quasi-War. In the battle the American frigate USS Constellation tried to take the French frigate La Vengeance as a prize. Both ships were heavily damaged. Although the French frigate struck her colors (surrendered) twice, she managed to flee only after the main mast of her opponent had fallen.