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FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS OF THOMAS TRUXTUN, ESQ.
Late Commander of an American Squadron.
Illi robur et aes triplex
Circa pectus erat, qui fragilem truci
Primus, nec timuit praecipitem Africum
Nec tristes Hyadas, nec rabiem Noti.
Qui siccis oculis monstra natantia,
HOR. Lib. I. Car. iii.
of that ardent spirit of enterprise, which, for the most important purposes, Nature has implanted in the heart of man, where shall we find stronger instances than in the biography of seamen? Inured to toil, and familiar with danger, it is in difficulty and peril that they are seen to advantage. In vain does the ocean roll its stormy billows to confine them to any part of this globe:
Nequicquam Deus abscidit
Prudens Oceano dissociabili
Forsaking the earth, that heritage of the children of Adam, they win another element:
Their march is on the mountain wave,
In the languor and calms of peace, to them are we indebted for most of the delights and luxuries which surround us; in the tumult of war, they are the buckler of our safety. And though their country, unmindful of their services, may have treated them with coldness and neglect, yet generous to excess, and brave to temerity, should the tempest of war lower upon her coast, in them, regardless of the bickerings of party, would she again behold the most zealous of her defenders.
A Representation of the Medal presented by the United States to
THOMAS TRUXTUN ESQUIRE, and a copy of the Resolution of Congress. The lower circle is the Obverse side of the Medal .
pursues attacks and Vanquishes the French
states higate Constellation of 38 Guns pursues attacks
the French ship La Vengeance of 54 Guns 1.Feb.1800.
BY YOTE OP CONGRESS TO
29 MARCH 1800
Resolved, or the Senate and house of Representatives, of the United States of America, in congress asembled. That the President of the United States, Be requested to present to Ouptain Thomas Trutun, a Golden Medal, anblenatical of the late action between the United States Frigate Constellation of thirov eight Guns, and
The subject of the present 'memoirs, whose achievements shed a lustre on the infant navy of his country, is the son of an eminent English barrister of the State (then Colony) of NewYork, and was born at Long Island, on the 17th of February, 1755. Our hero, in consequence of the death of his father, was placed under the guardianship of his intimate friend, John Troup, Esq. of Jamaica, on Long-Island; from whose affectionate care, however, in a short time, the kindling spark of that spirit, which has since shone so conspicuously in his character, led him to the sea; and, at the early age of twelve years, he embarked, on his trial voyage, on board the ship Pitt, captain Joseph Holmes, bound to Bristol. In the following year he was placed, at his own request, under the direction of captain James Chambers, a celebrated commander in the London trade. During his apprenticeship, when the armament, in consequence of the dispute respecting the Falkland Islands, took place, he was impressed on board the Prudent, an English man of war of 64 guns; but was afterwards released, in consequence of the application of a person in authority. While on board the Prudent, the captain, pleased with his intelligence and activity, endeavoured to prevail on him to remain in the service, and assured him that all his interest should be used for his promotion : but notwithstanding the prospects thus opened to his youthful and aspiring mind, as he conceived that his engagements with his former commander, would not permit him with honour to indulge his wishes, he left the Prudent, and returned to his old ship.
In the early part of 1775, he commanded a vessel, and was very successful in bringing considerable quantities of powder into the United Colonies: but about the close of the same year, when bound to St. Eustatius, he was seized off the Island of St. Christopher by the British frigate Argo, and detained until the general restraining bill came out, when his vessel and cargo, of which he owned the half, were condemned. But what “ill-wind” can wreck the buoyant mind of the sailor? He made his way from St. Christopher's to St. Eustatius, and thence, embarking in a small vessel, after a short passage, he arrived in Philadelphia. At this period, the two first private ships of war fitted out in the colonies, called the Congress and Chance, were equipping for sea, and he entered on board the former as lieute.
nant. They sailed in company, early in the winter of 1776, and proceeded off the Havanna, where they captured several valuable Jamaica ships, bound home through the gulf of Florida; of one of which he took the command, and brought her safe into Bedford, Massachusetts. In June 1777, in company with Isaac Sears, Esq. he fi:ted out, at New-York, a vessel called the Independence, of which he took the command, and passing through the Sound (Lord Howe having arrived with the British fleet at Sandy Hook, and blocked up that outlet,) he proceeded off the Azores, where, besides making several other prizes, he fell in with a part of the Windward Island convoy, of which he captured three large and valuable ships; one of which was much superior to the Independence in both guns and men. On his return, he fitted out the ship Mars, mounting upwards of 20 guns, in which he sailed on a cruise in the English channel. Some of his prizes, which were numerous, he sent into Quiberon Bay, which in a great measure, laid the foundation of Lord Stormont's remonstrance to the French court, against the admission into her ports of our armed vessels and their prizes. On his return from this cruise he settled in Philadelphia, commanded, and in part owned, during the rest of the war, several of the most important armed vessels built in this place; and brought in from France and the West India Islands large cargoes of the articles, which, in those eventful times, were of the first necessity for the army. While carrying out to France, Thomas Barclay, Esq. our Consul General to that country, he had a very close and severe engagement with a British private ship of war of 32 guns (double his own force) which he obliged to sheer off; and she was afterwards towed into New-York by one of the king's ships, in a very dismantled condition. The ship, then under his command, was called the St. James, and mounted 20 guns, with a crew of about 100 men —not half the number on board his enemy. Here let us pay a tribute of justice founded upon unquestionable authority. Captain William Jones, of this city, and lately a member of Congress, being at this period a very young man, was patronised by Truxtun, and placed on board the St. James in capacity of third lieutenant; in this station he conducted himself so bravely and handsomely, and with such activity in this engagement, as well as on all other occasions, that he not only received the applause of his commander, but