Founder of a Naval Tradition: Captain Thomas Truxtun and the Constellation
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With the creation of any new governmental or military service individual persons are looked to for the initial inspiration, motivation, and leadership necessary to make that service successful. These individuals often leave an indelible and lasting mark on their respective institutions. When almost thirty years into its existence the United States finally decided that it needed a permanent naval branch, the opportunity for individuals to assert their abilities in the new service became possible. Born in 1794 the fledgling United States Navy needed able administrative leaders, which it received in its first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert. It also needed the services of skilled and innovative ship designers and builders, like those the Humphrey brothers of Philadelphia gave when they undertook the construction of the first few ships for the Navy. The United States Navy also needed battle leaders, ones who would not only demonstrate success on the seas, but also skill and intelligence in their handling of ships and men. No single character of the first ten years of the Navy's existence stands out in this manner as does Thomas Truxtun, an experienced and distinguished American mariner who was asked by his nation to help form and lead a capable naval service.