In 1797, the frigate USS United States was the first American warship to be launched under the naval provisions of the fledgling nation’s new Constitution. Built in time to participate in the Quasi-War with France, she captured a number of French privateers and recaptured several American ships that had been taken by the French earlier. But it was in the War of 1812, under the command of Stephen Decatur, that she reached the pinnacle of her glory by capturing the British frigate HMS Macedonian and bringing her back to New York to ultimately serve in the U.S. Navy as the USS Macedonian. The capture of a Royal Navy warship caused a huge sensation, raising American spirits at a time when the war was not going well on other fronts.
Such a celebrated beginning seemed to promise a glorious career for the ship bearing the name of her country. But in the ensuing years, the United States would go in and out of service, periodically deploying to various parts of the world, but never accomplishing anything like she had in her early days.