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Save Old Ironsides

Save Old Ironsides Cause Button Museum
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Save Old Ironsides button back Cause Button Museum
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Illustration of a ship on the ocean; white text along top edge; red, white, blue shield with white banner and red text along bottom edge

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White back paper with black text; text reads: U.S. FRIGATE CONSTITUTION Victorious in War and a Protector of Peace for 128 years. From Washington to Coolidge, a patriotic inspiration. SAVE "OLD IRONSIDES" FUND Boston, Mass. THE W. & H. CO. NEWARK, N.J.

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The USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides”, is a wooden-hulled frigate that was constructed by the United States Navy to protect American merchant ships from the threat of Ottoman pirates off the northern coast of Africa. It was launched on October 21, 1797. The cost to build the vessel in 1797 was $302,718. The reputation of the ship came about during the War of 1812 when “Old Ironsides” defeated five British warships (HMS Guerriere, Java, Pictou, Cyane and Levant) and captured many merchant ships. The ship was also used as a training ship for the United States Naval Academy during the Civil War. The USS Constitution was retired from active service in 1881. In 1905 the Secretary of the Navy, Charles Joseph Bonaparte, made the suggestion that “Old Ironsides” by towed out into the ocean and used for target practice until it sank. After news of this proposal got out, a businessman named Moses H. Gulesian initiated a public campaign to save and restore the ship. The public protest prompted Congress to allocate $100,000 for the restoration of “Old Ironsides.” However, the funding only allowed for a partial restoration. It wasn’t until 1925, when the ship was evaluated and deemed to be in grave trouble and the National Save Old Ironsides campaign committee was organized. This committee raised funds through penny collections from school children and souvenir sales. While these campaigns in the end did not raise nearly enough money, Congress appropriated an additional $300,000 to finish the repairs. Today, Old Ironsides can be visited as a popular tourist attraction in Boston's Charlestown Navy Yard.

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