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Remarks Made on Board the United States Frigate Congress, 1817: Finding Aid

Published in August 2004

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 23
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Remarks Made on Board the United States Frigate Congress
  • Dates: 1817
  • Size: 0.13 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 volume of 68 leaves
  • Creator: Congress (Frigate: 1794-1834)
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: This journal continues the Special Collections & Archives Department's MS 22. The frigate, under the command of Captain Charles Morris, patrolled the Gulf of Mexico, making stops in Haiti and Venezuela.

History of the U.S.S. Congress

The U.S.S. Congress, one of the original six frigates authorized by congress on March 27, 1794, was laid down at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, New Hampshire. Following a hiatus in construction, Congress was launched August 15, 1799, Captain J. Sever in command.

Initially assigned to the East Indies protecting American interests from French privateers, Congress was forced back to Hampton Roads following the loss of a mast. Following repairs, Congress served nearly two years, before being placed into ordinary in August 1801. Three years later, she was recommissioned for service in the Mediterranean Squadron, before being placed in ordinary a second time in 1811.

Just prior to the outbreak of hostilities with Great Britain, Congress was recommissioned under the command of Captain John Smith. Throughout 1812, she patrolled the North Atlantic, capturing nine prizes, before being reassigned to the Brazilian Coast in 1813, where she captured four more prizes.

Following the cessation of hostilities, Congress, now under the command of Captain Charles Morris, sailed for the Mediterranean. In November 1815, she returned home for service in the Gulf of Mexico suppressing piracy, until September 1817.

Over the next six years, Congress made several more cruises battling piracy and protecting American commerce on several stations, before finally being converted to a receiving ship in 1829. In 1834, Congress was deemed beyond repair and broken up at the Norfolk Navy Yard.

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Description of Contents

This volume spans the period 27 April 1817 to 11 September 1817, continuing the Special Collections & Archives Department's MS 22. The U. S. S. Congress (frigate), under the command of Captain Charles Morris, had sailed from Boston in November 1816 to the Gulf of Mexico. In July 1817, Morris received orders to proceed to Port-au-Prince with dispatches for the consular agent there, and from thence to Cap-Haïtien with an agent to demand satisfaction from Henry Christophe (1767-1820) for a captured American vessel. Afterwards, Morris was to sail to the coast of Venezuela to gather intelligence on the war for independence from Spain.

The journal pages are printed forms with the running head "Remarks made on board the United States' frigate [Congress Charles] / [Morris Esqr] Commander, of [36] Guns, [ ] day of [ ] 181[ ]," the owner supplying the content within the brackets. There is no evidence as to who kept this journal, although from the handwriting, it is not the same person who kept MS 22. The entries contain the standard information found in logbooks.

On the afternoon of 19 May, the U.S.S. Tom Bowline, a hermaphrodite brig, fired a salute and sailed for New York. Other U.S. Navy vessels mentioned are the schooner Firebrand and the brig Boxer. On 10 June, "Lt Comt Porter and __ Tyler Esqr came on board...At 7 Lt Comt Porter left the ship." Lieutenant John Porter commanded the Boxer, which had sailed from New York in May with Septimus Tyler, the agent designated to negotiate with Christophe.

The Congress stopped a Spanish brig on 30 June, taking "an Amn. Seaman out of her, he having been impress'd in the Havanna [sic]." The frigate arrived at Port-au-Prince on 23 July. After anchoring, she fired a 15-gun salute that was returned from the town. On 1 August, Congress arrived at Cap-Haïtien, called Cape François in the journal. Soon after, the warship was on its way to Venezuela. The remarks for 21 August read, "the town of Pampata [Pampatar] on the Island of Margaretta [Margarita], a poor impverish'd place, the Royalists landed a few days since sack'd the suburbs & reimbark'd after being severely 'drubb'd' as the Patriots report." A week later, the Congress was anchored at Barcelona and Captain Morris left the ship in the gig. He returned the next day "accompanied by a Spanish Officer." The journal ends with the Congress still on its cruise.

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The entries of the Remarks Made on Board the United States Frigate Congress are arranged chronologically.

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Access and Use


Access is restricted to microfilm.

Copyright and Permission

The Remarks Made on Board the United States Frigate Congress is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Due to its fragile nature, use of the Remarks Made on Board the United States Frigate Congress is restricted to microfilm.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Accessioned on February 3, 1872. Accession No. 13828.

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Related Materials

Location of Copies or Alternate Formats

This collection is also available in microfilm.

Related Archival Material

This collection is a continuation of the Journal of the U.S.S. Congress, MS 22, in Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Remarks Made on Board the United States Frigate Congress, MS 23

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

Morris, Charles. The Autobiography of Commodore Charles Morris, U.S. Navy. Boston: A. Williams & Co. published for the Naval Institute, 1880.

Annals of Congress, 16th Cong., 1st sess., 2259-60.

Niles' Weekly Register, 5 May 1817.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in August 2004. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in August 2004 and revised by Jennifer A. Bryan in August 2009.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Congress (Frigate: 1794-1834)
  • Logbooks
  • Morris, Charles, 1784-1856
  • United States. Navy -- History -- 19th century -- Sources

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Ships' logs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Remarks Made on Board the United States Frigate Congress, 1817

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