Bainbridge, Commodore William

1825 ALS of the War of 1812 naval hero while member of the Board of Naval Commissioners

Price: $525.00

Description:
(1774-1833) US Navy Commodore notable for his many victories commanding several famous ships, incl. USS Constitution, serving in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. Trained as a seaman on the Delaware River, he served on a small merchant ship in 1792. With the US Navy’s 1798 organization, he joined the officer corps and in Sept. 1798 was named commanding Lieutenant of USS Retaliation, patrolling the West Indies. On Nov. 20, 1798, he surrendered her without resistance to 2 French frigates, the 1st Navy ship to be surrendered; he was not disciplined for this action. In March 1799, Bainbridge became Master Commandant of USS Norfolk cruising against the French. In 1800, before the First Barbary War broke out, he carried the tribute which the US paid the Dey of Algiers to secure exemption from capture for US merchant ships in the Mediterranean. After humiliating treatment of Bainbridge and the US flag, President Jefferson decided to act against the Barbary States. On 21 May 21 1803, Bainbridge led USS Philadelphia to enforce a blockade of Tripoli but ran her aground on an uncharted reef on 21 Oct. After unsuccessful efforts to refloat after 5 hours of inaccurate, harmless cannon fire, Bainbridge surrendered to the Pasha of Tripoli; if he had waited until high tide his ship would have floated free. He and his crew were imprisoned in Tripoli for 19 months. Lt. Stephen Decatur led a 16 Feb. 1804 night raid into Tripoli harbor that destroyed Philadelphia. President Jefferson sent the 1st US covert mission to overthrow a foreign government in 1805, supported at sea by Capt. Isaac Hull on USS Argus, to free the 300 hostages. The "combined operation" took Derna on 27 April 1805, memorialized in the “Marines’ Hymn”, and peace was negotiated with the Pasha of Tripoli. Released from prison 3 June 1805, he received a warm welcome home; a Naval Court of Inquiry found no misconduct. Believing war with Britain was coming, Bainbridge urged Jefferson and Congress to strengthen naval forces and returned to Boston to head the Charleston Navy Yard. He commanded the frigate USS President in 1809, patrolling the Atlantic coast in September, transferred to shore duty June 1810. On 15 Sept., after the War of 1812 broke out, Bainbridge commanded USS Constitution, cruising the So. Atlantic. On 29 Dec., Constitution met HMS Java off the coast of Brazil. Java was cut to pieces, surrendered after inflicting moderate damage to Constitution, incl. removing her helm with shot. Bainbridge, wounded twice, maintained command. He replaced Constitution’s missing helm with Java’s before she was destroyed and sunk. The still-commissioned Constitution (moored in Boston Harbor) sports the helm Bainbridge salvaged from Java. On 3 March 1813, President Madison presented him with the Congressional Gold Medal for his service aboard Constitution. Two years later, Congress authorized deploying naval power against Algiers in the Second Barbary (or, Algerian) War, and Bainbridge led a squadron to Algiers to enforce a blockade, show US naval resources and determination, and enforce the previously established neutrality and peace; the war ended in 1815 with a US victory. In 1820, he was Stephen Decatur’s second in the fatal duel with James Barron. Bainbridge served on the Board of Navy Commissioners 1824-27. Several US ships have been named for him, as have several places, incl. Bainbridge Island, Washington, and several cities, towns and streets. ALS, Washington, 23 July 1825, to Thomas Wilson, Cashier of the (Second) Bank of the United States at Philadelphia. Wilson’s letter to Bainbridge of the 23rd stated that Bainbridge’s dividends on his Bank stock were to be placed to his credit at the “parent Bank” (Philadelphia). However, Bainbridge’s Philadelphia agent has informed him that the last dividend on his Bank stock was transferred to the Bank at Boston, and Bainbridge asks Wilson to transfer them to the “parent Bank”.

Condition: Very good, dry mounted to another sheet with address leaf mounted on verso
Type:Letter






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