Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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June 1st
“Don’t give up the ship! ”
During the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain, Captain James Lawrence sailed in command of the 36-gun frigate USS Chesapeake. On June 1, 1813, the Chesapeake engaged the  warship HMS Shannon near Boston in a ship-to-ship duel. Lawrence’s crew was young and inexperienced, while the Shannon had one of the best-trained crews in the Royal Navy. The British guns quickly cut away the Chesapeake’s rigging, setting her adrift, and the king’s men swarmed onto the American vessel.

Within a few minutes Captain Lawrence was mortally wounded. As he was carried below deck, he gave his last order: “Tell the men to fire faster! Don’t give up the ship!”

Despite the captain’s exhortation, the Chesapeake was soon captured. Lawrence died a few days later, leaving behind a wife and daughter.

When fellow officer Oliver Hazard Perry heard of Lawrence’s death, he had his friend’s dying words stitched onto a large blue banner, which he flew from his flagship, the USS Lawrence – named for Captain Lawrence – when he fought the British on Lake Erie in September 1813.

Perry’s flag now hangs in a place of honor in Memorial Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The words it bears – “Don’t Give Up the Ship” – have become a rallying cry of the Navy.

American History Parade
1774
In response to the Boston Tea Party, Britain closes the port of Boston.

1789
President George Washington signs the first act of Congress, which dealt with oaths of office for public officials.

1792
Kentucky becomes the fifteenth state.

1796
Tennessee becomes the sixteenth state.

1813
Captain James Lawrence gives his last command: “Don’t give up the ship!”

1990
President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sign an agreement to end chemical weapon production and begin destroying reserves.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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