Oliver Wendell Holmes
This was the popular name by which the frigate Constitution
was known. The poem was first printed in the Boston Daily Advertiser, at the time when it was proposed to break up the old
ship as unfit for service. I subjoin the paragraph which led to the writing of the poem. It is from the Advertiser of Tuesday,
September 14, 1830:--
"Old Ironsides.--- It has been affirmed
upon good authority that the Secretary of the Navy has recommended to the Board of Navy Commissioners to dispose of the frigate
Constitution. Since it has been understood that such a step was in contemplation we have heard but one opinion expressed,
and that in decided disapprobation of the measure. Such a national object of interest, so endeared to our national pride as
Old Ironsides is, should never by any act of our government cease to belong to the Navy, so long as our country is to be found
upon the map of nations. In England it was lately determined by the Admiralty to cut the Victory, a one-hundred gun ship (which
it will be recollected bore the flag of Lord Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar), down to a seventy-four, but so loud were
the lamentations of the people upon the proposed measure that the intention was abandoned. We confidently anticipate that
the Secretary of the Navy will in like manner consult the general wish in regard to the Constitution, and either let her remain
in ordinary or rebuild her whenever the public service may require."--New York Journal of Commerce.
Rev. Abiel Holmes was the poet's father who
may have been the inspiration for the poem "Old Ironsides." In 1830, Oliver Wendell Holmes was a law student when
he wrote the famous poem at age 21 in one quick inspirational session.
Oliver Wendell Holmes died in 1894 at age
85. When he "passed to the other shore" on October 7, the USS Constitution was still afloat and being used as a receiving
ship at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.