Who Birthed The Navy?

Photo of old painting of USS Hannah in background.

Philadelphia claims to be the birthplace of the Navy because it was in that city that the Continental Congress voted to outfit two sailing vessels. But, according to a story in the Boston Globe, at least five communities in the Northeast beg to differ with the City of Brotherly Love.

Machias, Maine; Beverly and Marblehead, Mass.; Philadelphia; Providence; and Whitehall, New York, all claim the honor, according to Rebecca Parmer, an archivist at the USS Constitution Museum.

Who is right depends on your interpretation of what constitutes the Navy being born. In June 1775, a group of small fast ships called sloops, out of Machias, Maine, captured a British Navy schooner. That September, George Washington authorized a ship to harass British supply ships. He was in Beverly when he made the order, but the ship was outfitted in Marblehead and owned by a family that lived there. Early the next month, delegates from the Continental Congress were in Providence when they came up with the proposal to build an American fleet. The proposal was put into effect in Philadelphia. Whitehall, New York, claims the distinction because the first official naval engagement in the country’s history happened there when Benedict Arnold conducted attacks on British ships on Lake Champlain in 1776.

What do you think?

What constitutes when the Navy was born, and who is the rightful parent? (Please voice you thoughts below.)

To read more:

The Boston Globe: Boston.com