USS President (1800)

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.[7][8] 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.

President rides out a storm at anchor.
United States
NameUSS President
NamesakePresident of the United States
Ordered27 March 1794[1]
BuilderInitially Forman Cheesman; later Christian Bergh
Laid down1798[3]
Launched10 April 1800[4]
Maiden voyage5 August 1800
Captured15 January 1815
General characteristics
Class and type44-gun Frigate
Tonnage1,576 tons [5]
Length175 ft (53 m) between perpendiculars
Beam44 ft 4 in (13.51 m)
DecksOrlop, Berth, Gun, Spar
  • 32 × 24-pounder guns(10.9 kg)
  • 22 × 42-pounder guns(19 kg) carronades
  • 1 × 18-pounder (8 kg) long gun[5]
United Kingdom
NameHMS President
Acquired15 January 1815
FateBroken up, 1818[lower-alpha 1]
General characteristics [6]
Class and type
  • 50-gun
  • 60-gun (1817)
Tons burthen1533 794 (bm)
  • 173 ft 3 in (52.8 m) (overall);
  • 146 ft 4+34 in (44.6 m) (keel)
Beam44 ft 4 in (13.5 m)
Depth of hold13 ft 11 in (4.2 m)
  • 30 × 24-pounder guns (10.9 kg)
  • 28 × 42-pounder (19 kg) carronades
  • 2 × 24-pounder guns (10.9 kg)

On 16 May 1811, President was at the center of the Little Belt affair; her crew mistakenly identified HMS Little Belt as HMS Guerriere, which had impressed an American seaman. The ships exchanged cannon fire for several minutes. Subsequent U.S. and Royal Navy investigations placed responsibility for the attack on each other without a resolution. The incident contributed to tensions between the U.S. and Great Britain that led to the War of 1812.

During the war, President made several extended cruises, patrolling as far away as the English Channel and Norway; she captured the armed schooner HMS Highflyer and numerous merchant ships. In January 1815, after having been blockaded in New York for a year by the Royal Navy, President attempted to run the blockade, and was chased by a blockading squadron. During the chase, she was engaged and crippled by the frigate HMS Endymion off the coast of the city. The British squadron captured President soon after, and the Royal Navy took her into service as HMS President until she was broken up in 1818. President's design was copied and used to build the next HMS President in 1829.

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