Ship model, Frigate USS President

The frigate President was built by Christian Bergh of New York; William Doughty of Philadelphia was the naval constructor. It measured 175 feet in length, 44 feet 4 inches in beam, 13 feet 11 inches in depth of hold, and 1,576 tons. The ship was launched on April 1, 1800, sister ship of Constitution and United States. Famous for its speed and appearance, contemporary accounts credit President with being a faster ship than USS Constitution. It served as a flagship in the Mediterranean in 1801-02 and 1804-05. It was on the American coast from 1809 to the War of 1812. During the War of 1812, President served as flagship for Commodores John Rogers and Stephen Decatur. It was captured by the British in 1815 after being disabled and grounded in battle. It was then taken into the Royal Navy but was never serviceable. Its lines were taken off in the Portsmouth Dockyard in 1815, and it was broken up there in 1817. Subsequently, the British built a frigate on its lines, slightly modified and with the same name. It became part of the Royal Navy in 1847.
In all but size, President represented the highest development in frigate design, for it combined the desired features of its class to such a degree that no marked changes were made from its model in the best of the later frigates.
The President model was probably built at Dartmoor Prison, 14 miles from Plymouth, England, where many of American prisoner-of-war models were built.
Currently not on view
Object Name
ship model
date made
ca 1815
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 18 in x 27 in x 7 in; 45.72 cm x 68.58 cm x 17.78 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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Work and Industry: Maritime
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

Visitor Comments

7/27/2013 12:16:20 PM
Eric Honig
Is there any available information as to the President's color scheme 1814-1815? Paintings by Thomas Buttersworth at the time of her capture suggest that the gunport stripe was painted out, perhaps to disguise her. Is there supporting evidence? While laid up in New York prior to her last voyage, what would her colors have been? Would this model accurately reflect her appearance in January 1815 or are these British changes post capture?
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