Friday, October 09, 2009

Ten Days of Truxtun- In the Navy

Day 7, in March of 1794 Congress decided grudgingly to support a Navy. The idea was 6 ships would be built, they would address the attacks from the Algiers on American ships, and once that's done disband and go back to being a shiny new nation. Well that was the idea. Tom Truxtun agreed to be one of the 6 captains of this American navy which limited his income. He would make more money as a merchant seaman than as a captain in the navy. Each captain was in charge of overseeing the building of his ship and Truxtun chose Baltimore for his ship. Unfortunately there was a huge problem with finding suitable live oak, needed to build the type of ship needed, which created delays and it didn't help that peace was achieved with the Algerians. In 1796 the US Navy was in danger of being dismantled, per the act of Congress that commission it, but was saved with the Navy bill signed by George Washington April 20, 1796.
Besides getting the Constellation built, Truxtun's other great contribution to the Navy was creating a system of organization. The initial idea of the Navy was there would be 6 ships, six captains, and they would operate independently of each other. The nation was loathe to use signals and other customs from the Royal Navy, so Truxtun wrote a book in 1797 Instructions, Signals, and Explanations, Ordered for the United States Fleet. He stressed learning and the study of the naval arts in a profession that wasn't known for it's love of reading, or scientific study.



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