October 14, 2010
National Archives Stokes Debate on Birthplace of US Navy
Washington, DC…"Where is the birthplace of the US Navy?” That was the burning question answered by a series of rousing huzzahs from the audience at a public program "Setting the Record Straight", co-hosted by the National Archives and the USS Constitution Museum in Boston, MA. The event was held to celebrate the Navy’s 235th birthday on October 13, 2010.
Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, who is a Beverly, MA, native, and National Archives military expert Trevor Plante laid out the historical evidence and the arguments for the six towns that claim the distinction of being the birthplace of the US Navy: Providence, RI; Machias, ME; Philadelphia, PA; Whitehall, NY; Marblehead, MA; and Beverly, MA. Evidence included historic records of the various cities’ claims to Navy paternity, including maps, official acts of the Continental Congress, instructions to the Continental Congress, a letter from George Washington to the Massachusetts General Court, and after action battle reports.
At the conclusion of the program, the Archivist of the United States called on Commander of the USS Constitution Tim Cooper to teach the audience the 18th-century cheer “Huzzah!" After a few practice tries, the voting began.
Providence, RI: No huzzahs
Machias, ME: One huzzah
Philadelphia, PA: One huzzah
Whitehall, NY: Two huzzahs
Marblehead, MA: Thunderous huzzahs
Beverly, MA: Thunderous huzzahs
The winner was to be determined by the loudest huzzahs from the Massachusetts audience. The Archivist's conclusion: “There you have it--that's it!”
Museum President Anne Grimes Rand summed up the program by saying, “This is how history works in a democracy."
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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 357-5300.