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Catalog Number WF 5450
Caption aboard the U. S. S. CONSTITUTION
Description The visit of the U.S.S. CONSTITUTION to Anacortes in July 1933 is recorded in this series of five photographs, WF 5449-5453. This image is of the ship's deck.

The CONSTITUTION's keel was laid in 1794 in Boston, Massachusetts, by order of President George Washington; she was commissioned and launched in 1797. The nickname "Old Ironsides" came from the sight of cannonballs bouncing off her sides during battle in the War of 1812. She is a 44-gun frigate (although actually mounted with more than 50 guns) with square sails that in total cover nearly an acre. The ship's crew of 450 could set those sails in minutes. Frigates were designed as fast cruisers, but the CONSTITUTION's designer, Philadelphia Quaker Joshua Humphreys, designed her as an especially large frigate, with "stronger but finer underwater lines" that allowed the ship to carry more guns while still maintaining its speed. As a result, she sailed at fourteen knots, or sixteen miles an hour, "a remarkable speed for a sailing warship," and in 42 naval engagements she was never defeated.

The CONSTITUTION's visit was significant not only for the opportunity it gave Skagit residents and many others to view a vessel replete with much historical significance. The occasion also provided a much-needed break from the gloom of the early 1930s, coming as it did in the midst of the Great Depression. The ship's visit provided an occasion for Anacortes to celebrate in a big way as it hosted many Puget Sound communities. The CONSTITUTION had been overhauled from 1925-1931, a restoration that cost $980,000 and was partially funded by a "Penny Campaign." Conducted by American schoolchildren, the campaign raised $154,000 toward a much-needed restoration of the ship. Following the completion of that effort, the 1933 West Coast tour of the U.S.S. CONSTITUTION brought the ship to the American people. It was a huge event for Anacortes, which, as "Skagit County's Deep Water Terminal," hosted thousands from July 20-24. The official program for the event listed the following executive committee: Anacortes Mayor R. B. Phillips, Honorary Chairman, Charles Stapp, General Chairman, and Harriet Elder, Secretary. Additionally, the mayors of Burlington, Concrete, Coupeville, Hamilton, LaConner, Mount Vernon, Lyman, Oak Harbor and Sedro-Woolley all served as honorary vice-chairmen, and association among communities that illustrates the immense importance of the ship's visit to the area. Anacortes businessman Edgar M. Schwartz (1897-1985), the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce president, headed the reception committee and played a key role in bringing the CONSTITUTION to Anacortes. Just weeks after this event, Schwartz was asked to head the formation of a National Recovery Administration campaign in Anacortes. A parade was held down Commercial Avenue to celebrate the arrival of the ship. On July 20th, an elaborate banquet and dance were held for 300 guests at the Elks Hall, including the men and officers of the CONSTITUTION and the Navy tug GREBE, which towed the ship from city to city along the West Coast. July 21 was "Mount Vernon and Island County Day," with a pavement dance at 9:00 p.m. July 22 was a day for all "crippled children of the County" to visit the ship, and more dances were held that night in the Elks and Eagles' Halls. July 23 was "Skagit County Day," with a band concert and more dancing that evening. 27,689 people visited the ship during its stay in Anacortes.
Date 1933
Photographer LECHMAN, Paul
Collection Wallie Funk Collection
Subjects Maritime
Maritime - Boat
Place - Anacortes, WA
Credit line Donated by Wallie Funk, Wallie Funk Collection
Place Anacortes, WA
Search Terms Guemes Channel
sailing vessel
Object Name Print, Photographic