A Sacred Obligation

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Boarding and Taking the American Ship Chesapeake, by the Officers & Crew of H.M. Ship Shannon

Boarding and Taking the American Ship Chesapeake, by the Officers & Crew of H.M. Ship Shannon

American Minute from William J. Federer

“Don’t Give Up The Ship!” commanded 31-year-old Captain James Lawrence, as he lay wounded on the deck of the U.S.S. Chesapeake.

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Captain Lawrence fought Muslim Barbary pirates in 1804, and when the War of 1812 began, he commanded the U.S.S. Hornet which captured the privateer Dolphin and the H.M.S. Peacock.

President Madison wrote May 25, 1813:

“The brilliant achievements of our infant Navy, a signal triumph has been gained by Captain Lawrence…in the Hornet sloop of war…

“The contest in which the United States are engaged appeals…to the sacred obligation of transmitting…to future generations that…which is held…by the present from the goodness of Divine Providence.”

On JUNE 1, 1813, Captain Lawrence sailed from Boston and was attacked by the British ship Shannon.

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Within an hour, nearly every officer was killed.

Later, Captain Oliver Hazard Perry was inspired to name his flagship on Lake Erie “Lawrence.”

Theodore Roosevelt wrote in Hero Tales from American History, 1895:

“Lawrence, dying with the words on his lips, ‘Don’t give up the ship’ and Perry…with the same words blazoned on his banner…won glory in desperate conflicts and left a reputation hardly dimmed.”

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William J. Federer is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and president of Amerisearch, Inc, which is dedicated to researching our American heritage. The American Minute radio feature looks back at events in American history on the dates they occurred, is broadcast daily across the country and read by thousands on the internet.
William J. Federer
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