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The Captain's Clerk

In former days, the captain’s clerk was a junior “civil officer” in the Navy who had a decent command of the English language, could copy the captain’s out-going letters in a “fair round hand,” and maintained files of all his employer’s correspondence. The present Captain’s Clerk is a database created by Commander Tyrone Martin in 1986, based largely on primary historical sources. The documents in this section represent more than thirty years of research and writing. Nearly all of the contents relate to USS Constitution. Where a document is not included in its entirety, the quote or note listed in its place relates to the ship (leaving out “Constitution” saves a lot of space!).

Most of the files are working documents. Research never stops and may, from time to time, modify or expand the material in a number of entries. At the moment, the focus is on primary information concerning the ship’s first line service, from 1797 to 1855.

If you are interested in short articles about various aspects of Constitution’s history, go to The Captain Speaks. Most of the Ship’s Logs have been transcribed, giving a glimpse of the daily occurrences of shipboard life. Constitution has had many captains over the years, and these may be found in the Commanders section. Something worth recording has occurred on just about every day of the year in the ship’s long history, and you will find it in Calendar.

Only a portion of the full Captain’s Clerk database is reproduced here. For more information about other published and unpublished material available in the database, please visit the database homepage, or send an inquiry to timonier@windstream.net.

  • The Captain Speaks

    In these articles, a commanding officer of USS Constitution writes about some of the important moments in her history and about life aboard the famous frigate.

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  • Commanders of the Constitution

    Basic information about those who commanded the ship.

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  • The Ship's Calendar

    This shows the history for each month of the year by day for all the years that this ship has been in existence!

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  • The Ship's Logs

    "Notes" and "Quotes" from the Ship's Logs in the National Archives

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  • The Lucky Bag

    A variety of information essential for understanding the environment of the sailing navy. There follows here a "lucky bag," a randomly collected compilation, of such information gleaned from more than twenty years of poring over contemporary documentation and recording the same in The Captain's Clerk. It is a "working document," and by no means complete.

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