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In Memory of an Old Sea-Dog
Bruce Grant, Evanston, III.—The coat of arms of Captain Isaac Hull, famed commander of the U. S. Frigate Constitution, most appropriately showed sea-dogs emblazoned on a shield. To students of armorial bearings they are more aptly designated as seals, but the seal in many cases was termed “sea-dog” or “sea lion.”
It is possible that the rotund and fun- loving Hull got many a salty chuckle from this congruous heraldic shield, but—
“The coat of arms of Hull was always treated solemnly and with great reverence in my family,” Haviland Hull Platt of New York says. “My father (Dr. Isaac Hull Platt), who claimed knowledge of heraldry told me the beasts were properly designated as seals. That does not make you out too far wrong, just sea-dogs instead of sea- lions.”
Mr. Platt, who with his brother, Philip Galpin Platt, are the closest living relatives of Captain Isaac Hull, through the latter’s brother, Levi Hull, today has the greater part of the personal effects, trophies and Private property of the Captain of “Old Ironsides.”
Through the courtesy of Mr. Platt, I am privileged to present photographs and descriptions of some of these cherished and historic objects.
In the entrance hall of Mr. Platt’s Park Avenue apartment, for instance, is the original Gilbert Stuart portrait of Hull, painted in 1807 when Hull returned a hero from the War with Tripoli. A later portrait, copied hy Stuart, now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Beneath the portrait are displayed two swords. One is Captain Hull’s dress sword and the other a curved scimitar which he brought back from Tripoli. On a small table under the picture are arranged a miniature and the priceless enamel done by Thomas Birch, illustrating the artist’s conception of the fight between the U.S.S. Constitution and H.B.M. frigate GuerrUre. This enamel presented by the City of New York to Hull shortly after his victory, formerly graced the top of a gold box; however, Hull’s widow melted down the gold box and had the enamel made into a small tray.
The Hull coat of arms hangs on a wall in the living room alongside Hull’s certificate of honorary membership in the Society of the Cincinnati. This latter document bears the signature of George Washington and had been signed by him in blank on December 10, 1785. It was issued to Hull on June 25 1815.
Interesting, too, is a seal which hung from Captain Hull’s watch chain. It was used by Hull on his correspondence and shows the frigate Constitution under full sail, with the words “I. Hull” beneath.
In one corner of the room stands a huge clock, the very one Hull brought back from Amsterdam on the Constitution in 1811. This handsome article, on the order of the so- called grandfather’s clocks, still runs perfectly, and not only tells the hour of the day, with a variety of four striking tunes, but also the day of the month and month of the year.
Mr. Platt has the gold medal awarded Hull by Congress for the defeat of the Guerriere, two of his watches, his silver service, plate and china, not to speak of hundreds of manuscript documents, including a small diary Hull kept when he visited Paris in 1811. Besides those inherited items, many were collected by Mr. Platt’s father, Dr. Isaac Hull Platt.
Hull’s diary description of Napoleon’s throne room reads:
“Emperor’s Bed Chamber
“Salloon of the Throne—Ellegant. To go up to the Throne are Three Steps covered with Silk Velvet—the Drapery about the Throne Red Silk Gold Worked very Rich Chandeliers Ellegant This Room is Where the Emperor sits in State to Receive the Congratulations of the Sennate on any great Event.
“An Ellegant Room with blue silk Curtains and Silk Bottoms to the Chairs Ellegant Carpet and Many Paintings of the first artists and at one End of the Room an Ellegant Moddle of the— (Brass?)
Monument—This Moddle is about 14 feet high & made of Porslain—Very handsomely Guilt & Painted.”
San Francisco Harbor One Hundred Years Ago
(See page 385, April, 1952, Proceedings)
Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Murch, U.S. Naval Reserve.—Captain Oliver’s narrative regarding the “gold fever” of 1849 and the subsequent rush of the Argonauts to the gold fields of California via square rigger ’round the Horn, brought to mind an interesting manuscript which I have in my files. The title of this manuscript is “CELEBRATION OF THE SEVENTY-THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE OF THE UNITED STATES ON BOARD THE BARQUE ‘HANNAH SPRAGUE,’ AT SEA, JULY 4th, 1849. South Latitude 18° 28'—Longitude 38° 10'.”
Of particular interest are the many toasts proposed by the fellow travelers of the good ship Hannah Sprague. In all, thirty-two toasts were proposed by the patriotic (and thirsty) goldseekers. The themes of the toasts were strikingly similar as some of the examples indicate, namely, gold, women, and the safety of the ship.
To recapture, for a moment, the spirit of the occasion, the program of the day and some of the more pertinent toasts are quoted forthwith.
Order of Exercises
Opening Address—By Lewis Peck, Esq.
Prayer—By R. Hulse, Esq.
Ode—“Hail Columbia”—By the Amateur Band Reading of the Declaration of Independence, by David R. Garniss, Esq.
Ode—“Grave of Washington”—By the Amateur Band
ORATION—By Alfred Wheeler, Esq.
ODE—“Star Spangled Banner”—By the Band
After the proceedings of the day were over, the passengers repaired to the main saloon, where a cold collation was lavishly provided. When Lewis Peck, Esq. announced the following Regular Toasts.
1. The day we celebrate. May the spirit of ’76 never flag but continue to inspire the hearts of Americans, till time shall cease.
2. Washington and the Illustrious dead.
3. The President of the United States.
4. The Army and Navy.
5. California. May the light of freedom shine as bright on our Western as on our Eastern shores.
6. Our absent friends.
7. Our country. May she ever take the lead in the establishment of Earth’s entire Freedom.
The following toasts were then handed in and read—
Captain D. F. Lansing, Master of the Barque: May the good spirit which has conducted you thus far over the waters of the deep, continue to conduct you and enable you to maintain the same good feeling that exists between you and your passengers till you arrive in safety at our destined port.
Captain Lansing: A gentleman and navigator of the highest order, whose heart is too big to be covered by his waistcoat.
The Senoritas of California: May they make good American wives, and the supply equal the demand.
The “New York Commercial and Mining Company”: May they have a clear sky above, a yellow soil beneath, good fortune before, a safe retreat behind, and faithful friends around. The girls we have left behind: May God bless them, and may they remain in the same deplorable state of singleness, till our return, but no longer.
The Officers, Passengers, and Crew of the Hannah Sprague: May the all seeing Eye watch over them in their present exile and after they have fulfilled their mission to the golden region, may
they be permitted to return in safety to their friends.
The Mines of California: Exhibiting to all other governments the superior liberality of the American Republic, in permitting her citizens to enjoy the full amount of their labors at the placer WITHOUT FEE OR EMOLUMENT whatever.
The Ships of Our Navy:
The Ships of Our Navy The Ladies of Our Land May the former be well rigged And the Latter be well manned.
The Merchant Ships of the United States: May they continue to prosper and increase, till every sea is whitened by their canvas and every port filled with their prows.
How Does Your Correspondence Read?
(See page 141, February and page 991, September, 1951, Proceedings)
Captain John D. Hayks, U. S. Navy.— This is just a point to help keep up discussion and interest in that vital subject of clear expression of ideas in official correspondence, so ably developed by Chief Dewey. Admiral Williams, in his discussion of the original article, indicated the efforts of President Roosevelt to reduce “gobble-gook.” I would like to call attention to some remarks he made about a “directive” issued by the Office of Civil Defense during World War II. It read as follows:
“Such preparations shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal buildings and non- Tederal buildings occupied by the Federal Government during an air-raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of external or internal illumination. Such obscuration may be obtained either by blackout construction or by termination of the illumination.”
^resident Roosevelt suggested translating this to:
“Tell them that in buildings where they have to keep the work going, to put something across the window. In buildings where they can afford to let the work stop for a while, turn out the lights.”
This illustration is contained in the United States Armed Forces Institute Manual, EM 104, “Writer’s Guide and Index to English.” It might be well for officers, who have to prepare correspondence, to have a copy of this manual available to be read occasionally and to be referred to often. It can be obtained by the simple expedient of sending a yeoman to the nearest District Publications’ office and having him ask for it.
Theodorus Bailey Meyers Mason
(See page 265, March, 1952, Proceedings)
Captain D. E. Cummings, U. S. Navy (Retired).—Captain Ellicott’s very interesting story of a very brilliant officer in the Class of 1868, which produced several such, includes an account of his own connection with the landings in the Isthmus of Panama in 1885. An examination of the letters of Rear Admiral Jouett, C-in-C North Atlantic Squadron at the time, sheds additional light on this affair.
The insurrection started while the Atlantic Fleet was at New Orleans attending the exposition of that year. The fleet was moved out hurriedly and ordered to Aspinwall (Colon), the Tennessee stopping briefly at Pensacola to pick up a contingent of Marines. At the same time an expeditionary force of Marines from New York under Col. Heywood sailed in a chartered steamer. The expeditionary force as a whole was under Commander B. H. McCalla. Landing parties from the fleet and from the Iroquois of the Pacific Fleet, on the Pacific side of the Isthmus, as well as the expeditionary force landed with a view to keeping transit of the Isthmus open in accordance with the terms of a treaty of 1846. The insurrection was quite widespread, Colon being largely burned and Panama occupied and threatened. We occupied first a midway point at Matachin, then both ends, maintained train guards, and awaited arrival of adequate forces of the National constitutional government to maintain order. There was some difference of opinion between Commander McCalla and Rear Admiral Jouett, the former feeling that, having been sent in command of the expeditionary forces he was independent of the Admiral, and accordingly communicating directly with the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation without letting the Admiral know about it. However, the Admiral, when he found out
about it, saw differently, and after due preparation went in person to Panama with his Flag Secreatry, Lt. B. F. Tilley, and Lt. Richard Wainwright of the Tennessee to whom he was deeply indebted “for much valuable assistance in accomplishing the object of my mission to Panama.” The Admiral got the national leaders and those of the insurrectionists together and negotiated a settlement which left the constitutional authorities in charge, and as they were by that time arriving in overwhelming force, quiet and order were soon restored. The Admiral tried to settle the troubles in other parts of the country too, but in vain, and as our interests gave us no responsibility beyond the Isthmus and as the yellow fever season was getting ominous, the fleet was withdrawn.
Submarine or Submersible?
(See page 100, January, 1952, Proceedings)
Lieut. (S.C.) Aldo Fraccaroli, Italian Naval Reserve.—I read that “ . . . Soviet industry . . . might produce a ‘true submersible’—a submarine having the ability to stay under-water for long periods. . . .”
It is not the first time I read the word “submersible,” and I do not intend to modify the American (and British) naval terms, but I can’t help to remark how more correct the Italian words are. Here, in Italy; we called “sottomarini" the first boats, of the XIX century and of the first years of this century. Then we called “sommergibili” the boats of the World Wars I and II, but now we use again the former term to designate the very modern boats which are planned for sailing and remaining underwater nearly all the time they are operating.
One can easily observe that there is quite an opposition among the American and the Italian terms: The Americans call “submarine” what the Italians call “sommergi- bile”; and the word “submersible,” used in the States, corresponds to the Italian “sotto- marino.” If we examine the etymologies, we note that “sommergibile" means a boat which can plunge (but which does not necessarily remain underwater); whilst “sotto- marino” is a boat planned to operate always —or nearly always—underwater (sotto [it] mare = under the water, or sea): in conclusion, a boat which operates in immersion (and which has only torpedoes, and no more one or two guns), as it cannot surface, for the danger to be located by aircraft or by ships. The German XXI and XXVI class boats were true “sottomarini.”
Also the old boats were “sottomarini,” for they had been planned for submarine operations only, and they had generally only electric motors; so, with their short radius of action and poor seaworthiness, they preferred underwater operations.
U. S. Navy and the Open Door
(See page 247, March, 1951, Proceedings)
Captain Lucius C. Dunn, U. S. Navy (Retired).—Reference is made to the very informative article by Captain J. M. Sheehan, U. S. Navy (Retired), which appeared in the March, 1951, Proceedings, on the subject of The Genesis and the Passing of the Open Door.
In the interest of historical accuracy, however, on such an important theme as the very impressive part played by the United States Navy in laying the groundwork for concluding the first Sino-American Treaty, the writer would respectfully invite attention to a couple of statements of error in Captain Sheehan’s subject article, particularly as relates to the colorful and outstandingly successful “blue-water diplomacy” displayed by Commodore Lawrence Kearney, U. S. Navy, in connection with consummating that Treaty.
First, Captain Sheehan writes: “Moreover, rarely if ever is he [Kearney] given credit for having probably originated the famous phrase which has been a standard and ever-present feature of the text of our international trade agreements and treaties now for so many years. This is the time- honored expression we used to encounter so much in our study of International Law, viz.,— ‘. . . the most favored nation.’”
Of course, that phrase—“the most favored nation”—harks back into history very many • decades prior to Commodore Kearney’s negotiations with the Celestial Empire in 1842. Indeed, in the very first American commercial treaty ever consummated (Fran-
co-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, of 1778) we find that identical expression used, Article 4 of which reads as follows:
“The Subjects, People and Inhabitants of the said United States, and each of them, shall not pay in the Ports, Havens Roads, Isles, Cities & Places under the Domination of [France] his most Christian Majesty in Europe, any other or greater Duties or Imposts, of what Nature soever, they may be, or what Name soever called than those which the most favour’d Nations* are or shall be obliged to pay; & they shall enjoy all the Rights, Liberties, Privileges, Immunities & Exemptions, in Trade, Navigation and Commerce, whether in passing from one Port in the said Dominions in Europe to another, or in going to and from the same, from and to any Part of the World, which the said Nations do or shall enjoy.” ■
Second, Captain Sheehan again writes: “The story of this little-known episode in the history of our relations with the Celestial Kingdom began when Commodore Lawrence Kearney, U. S. Navy, commander of our East India Squadron, arrived at Canton in the summer of 1842. . . . Apparently it was not a visit planned for any specific major purpose, but probably was merely to ‘look in’ and show the flag in the port, as was the custom of our far-flung naval units in those earlier days. . .
As a matter of fact, Commodore Kearney, flying his broad command pennant on the grand old Frigate Constellation, arrived in Cantonese Waters (off Whampoa) in April, 1842.
Moreover, this call in those waters was not “merely to ‘look in’ and show the flag,” but was made in obedience to very definite orders from the Navy Department, assigning the Commodore a specific task, as indicated in the following extract from his operation orders, dated November 2nd, 1840, and signed by James K. Paulding, Secretary of the Navy:
“Arriving at the scene of Naval operations on the coast of China, should you find a legal blockade established by the British force, it must be respected. If communication with the Country
(“Italics, the writer’s).
is open, you will communicate with the Consul and give all lawful and necessary assistance to the persons and interests of American Citizens, at the same time paying due respect to the laws, authorities and customs of the Chinese People and Government, which last you are aware has from time immemorial been governed by a peculiar system of Foreign and domestic policy different from all others.
“With this you will be careful not to interfere, but on the contrary, will avail yourself of every opportunity, to impress on the Chinese People and Government, the friendly disposition of the United States, and their determination to encourage only such trade as may be recognized and, sanctioned by the Imperial will; that it is the; uniform policy of the Government, which you represent, never to interfere with the Laws or Rights of other Nations, and to preserve peace with all, by a just interchange of mutual good offices; that our Vessels-of-war visit that and other Countries to protect our Citizens from Pirates; and other unlawful interruptions, and not to uphold them in violating the laws and commercial regulations of any Nation whatever.
“You will take occasion to impress upon the Chinese, and their authorities, that one great object of your visit, is to prevent and punish the smuggling of Opium into China, either by Americans or by other Nations under cover of the the American Flag, should it be attempted.”
Thus Commodore Kearney’s important contribution in connection with the first Sino-American Treaty was performed incident to his timely presence at Canton, while carrying out the objective of his original mission assigned by the Navy Department, which fortuitously, was at the time that the Anglo-Chinese Treaty of Nanking was being negotiated.
Incidentally, the foregoing extract of the Navy Department’s orders to Commodore Kearney is quoted from this writer’s article, “The United States Navy and the Open Door Policy,” published in the January, 1949, issue of the Proceedings.
The writer heartily concurs with Captain Sheehan in the idea expressed in his article, that the United States Navy’s contribution to the evolution of the policy of the Open Door has been very inadequately covered by political science writers and historians in the past.