222 yrs ago today – 6 June 1799 – the newly built USS CONNECTICUT is launched from Stevenson’s Wharf (private shipyard rented by the US Government for this purpose), at the northside of the end of Shipyard Lane (now Indian Hill Ave.) in Chatham (now Portland). Below is the text of the article that was published the following day in the Middlesex Gazette, Middletown, CT. I emphasized “Old Father Connecticut” in the text for a future posting, noting that the Connecticut River was referred to as male (like the Mississippi) rather than female like we all seem to expect when coming to waterways.
Middletown, June 7
More of the Wooden Walls of Columbia.
Yesterday at 35 minutes and 4 seconds past five P.M. the United States Ship Connecticut, was safely deposited in the bosom of the majestic stream whence she derives her name. No words can convey an adequate idea of the beauty and brilliancy of the scene. Nature, as inclined to do honor to the occasion, had furnished one of the most delightful days that the vernal season ever witnessed – while Old Father Connecticut, eager to receive his beautiful offspring, had swollen his waters by the liquefaction of snows reserved for the occasion near his source, in order to facilitate her passage to his wave; and extending his liquid arms, welcomed her to his embrace. Flora, decked in her richest attire, smiled gleeful around, and a brilliant concourse of spectators from this and the neighbouring towns, whose countenance expressed the liveliest sensibilities at thus witnessing the progress of our nautical armament, destined to protect our commerce and hurl the thunders of Columbia on her shrinking foes, formed a most magnificent moving picture, in addition to the brilliancy of nature which shone around. The preparation for the launch was exquisite, and evincive of the consummate skill of the architect who superintended the operations of the day, and whose orders were given with dignity, and obeyed with punctilious nicety. When the moment arrived at which the elegant fabric was to leave her earthly bed, never more to return, the anxiety of the crowd was witnessed by a solemn silence, awful and profound. The stroke was struck, the blocks were removed; when lo! with the grace and majesty of the divine Cleopatra, on the wonder-struck Cydnus, she glided into the arms of her Parent River, and as if reposing herself to sleep upon a bed of roses, sunk upon his breast. In a moment the peal of Federalism burst forth, the poems of the gazing thousands met the heavens, and the echo faintly expired on the distant hills.
While shad and salmon feel the patriot glow,
And throng in numerous shoals the watry way,
And sturdy sturgeon from the depths below,
Leap up, her matchless beauties to survey.
>>>The above Bostonian paragraph translated into the vernacular tongue, reads thus – The United States ship Connecticut, which is to be commanded by Capt. Moses Tryon, was yesterday in the afternoon, safely launched from the ship-yard at Chatham, into Connecticut River.