The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Saturday, June 23, 2018

Navy Birthplace in Dispute; Five Communities Claim to Be the Navy's Birthplace
A welcome sign in Marblehead, Mass. that includes the phrase "Birthplace of the American Navy," is shown. No fewer than five communities claim to be the birthplace of the Navy, including Beverly and Marblehead, Mass. AP Photo/Steven Senne.

By: Jay Lindsay, Associated Press Writer

BOSTON (AP).- The old sign near its border that proclaims the upstate New York town of Whitehall to be the birthplace of the U.S. Navy is a bit worn out, town clerk Elaine Jones admits. Residents of several other Northeast towns might describe it another way: Not true.

Five communities claim to be the Navy's birthplace, from a wealthy former fishing hub north of Boston to Whitehall, a town about 200 miles from the nearest ocean.

On the Navy's official birthday Wednesday — its 235th — the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, may try to settle the question at a meeting in Boston at the museum of the USS Constitution, the country's oldest commissioned Naval warship.

Ferriero will bring documents from the National Archives that detail the claims of the parade of communities asserting Navy paternity, which also include Marblehead and Beverly, Mass.; Philadelphia and Providence, R.I.

But will he rule on the location of the Navy's true birthplace? Ferriero says only, "We'll see."

There are questions about Ferriero's impartiality. He grew up in Beverly.

Ferriero, who's married to a woman from another claimant — Marblehead — wouldn't say last week if he's already leaning one way or another. "No comment," he said with a laugh.

Whatever Ferriero rules, it likely won't prompt other Navy birthplaces to gracefully give way.

"It won't matter to Marbleheaders, we know what's right," said Karen MacInnis, curator of the Marblehead Museum.

Ferriero set his staff researching the Navy's origins shortly after he was appointed the archivist last year. Curiosity about the competing claims to his hometown's title was one reason, he said, but he added the real purpose is not to settle the argument. Rather it's to use the good-natured debate to send a message about the archives: "These are your records, you should be using them, we provide access to them and there are all kinds of stories to be told from the records of your government," Ferriero said.

The claims of Beverly and Marblehead revolve around the same schooner, the Hannah. In September 1775, it became the first vessel that George Washington, commander of the Continental Army, ordered outfitted as a warship, for the purposes of harassing British supply vessels.

The Hannah was modified and launched in Beverly, which are the basis of that city's claim. But to people in Marblehead, an old-time fishing port now known as a monied enclave, those are just details. MacInnis notes the Hannah was owned and manned by Marblehead residents.

"It was Marblehead men and Marblehead ownership, and there endeth the story," MacInnis said.

Not to the people of Whitehall, N.Y., a small town along Lake Champlain and three states due west of the ocean. Under the command of Benedict Arnold, several naval vessels were built in present-day Whitehall in the summer of 1776 and they were later used that year in an important early war battle on the lake.

"We built the ship(s) and you can't sail unless you got one," Jones said.

The U.S. Congress officially declared Whitehall the Navy's birthplace in 1965. Jones said another community can try to wrest away the title, but predicted they'll have the same success as those who've tried to knock down another one of the community's claims to fame: that Bigfoot has been sighted there several times.

"Some things are indisputable, you know?" Jones said. "How are you going to claim it's not true?"

Valdine C. Atwood, a historian in Machias, Maine, takes the opposite approach, disavowing that the town is the Navy's birthplace, though the title's been foisted on the community several times and it's one of the places the archivist is investigating.

"You know what happens," she said, explaining the misunderstanding. "Anything gets printed in the newspaper by anybody that doesn't know anything and then it becomes gospel."

In fact, Atwood said, Machias was the site of the first naval battle of the American Revolution in June 1776, after several woodsmen refused to hand over their lumber to a British commander, Lt. James Moor, in exchange for badly needed supplies. The woodsmen later commandeered a vessel and attacked his ship, seizing the supplies and killing Moor.

No cannon fire accompanies Providence, R.I.,'s claim to cradle of the Navy. The city just points out its residents were the first to call for the establishment of a Navy. But Lee Arnold, library director at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, notes that his city is the place where the Continental Navy was actually established on Oct. 13, 1775, by the Continental Congress, which resolved that day to build two armed vessels. To Arnold, it's a bulletproof basis for Philadelphia's claim.

With the Navy recognizing its own birthday as Oct. 13, 1775, it would seem it also sides with Arnold. But the Navy has taken a diplomatic tack on its website, summing up the various claims, saying each "unquestionably" deserves recognition and concluding blandly, "Perhaps it would be historically accurate to say that America's Navy had many 'birthplaces.'"

Arnold doesn't buy it. "It's Philadelphia," he said. "Case closed."

He also has a lighthearted suggestion for those who disagree, and it's tough to do at sea: "Go take a hike."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Boston | Elaine Jones | Marblehead |

Today's News

October 14, 2010

The Audrey Hepburn Stamp: A Portrait of Eternal Beauty to Be Sold by Schlegel Briefmarken

Frieze Art Fair Features 173 of the World's Most Exciting Contemporary Art Galleries

Art World Acts to Save Energy and Money, Mayor Launches Green Visual Arts Guide at Frieze Art Fair

U.S. Collector and Gallery Owner Larry Gagosian Tops 2010 Art Review Power List

Exhibition at Yale Center for British Art Assesses the Career and Legacy of British Architect James Stirling

19th Century Quill Pen Given to Russian Prince Aleksander Gorchakov to Sell for £100,000 at Bonhams

Exhibition at Berlin's German Historical Museum Views Hitler's Hold on Germans

World Records for David Hockney, Aaron Young, Sterling Ruby & Dana Schutz at Phillips de Pury

Museum of American Finance To Display Jeweled Monopoly Set and Host Tournament

Iconographic Analysis Conducted by Archaeologists on Murals Reveal Maya Military Life

Royal Academy of Arts Announces Jeff Koons as New Honorary Member of the Royal Academy

Up to 100 Greek Culture Ministry Workers Shut Down the Acropolis, Clash with Police

Jewish Museum in New York Exhibiont Shows Key Works by Top Women Artists

Joshua Hagler and George Pfau: Nearly Approaching Never To Pass at Reaves Gallery

Michelle Obama Says She's Bringing the Arts to the White House to Lift Young People

3,500 Courtroom Sketches by Marilyn Church Heading for Library of Congress

Egypt's Chief Archaeologist Says United States to Return Smuggled Sarcophagi

Russian Claims to Uncover "Caucasian Stonehenge"

Exhibition at Cantor Arts Center Provides a Glimpse into the Practice of Modern-Day Vodou

Exhibition of New Installations, Light Works, Sculptures and Prints by James Turrell at Gagosian

North Sea Paintings by Distinguished Artist John Virtue on View at Marlborough Fine Art

LACMA Debuts World.Class European Costume Acquisition with Fashioning Fashion

National Gallery in London Invites Contemporary Artist Clive Head to Display His Work

New and Key Past Works in First Show by Marina Abramović on View at Lisson Gallery

Important Photographic Archive Acquired for Birmingham Central Library

Sotheby’s Announces the Inaugural Sale of Important Russian Art in New York

Personal Collection of Elton John's Mother Sheila Farebrother Offered to Music Fans Around the Globe

Navy Birthplace in Dispute; Five Communities Claim to Be the Navy's Birthplace

Thomas Moran's Early Landscape of Juniata Valley, Pa, is Acquired by National Gallery of Art

Galerie St. Etienne Shows Works by Max Beckmann's Student, Marie-Louise Motesiczky

Norman Dilworth's First Solo Show in Britain in Almost 30 Years Opens at Laurent Delaye

New Book Says Painting Stored Behind a Couch for 25 Years may Be a Michelangelo

Ex-J. Paul Getty Museum Curator Marion True's Trafficking Trial Ends in Italy

Sotheby's Launches App for iPhone and iPad

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Porsche Super Speedster offered for first time in 50 years at RM Sotheby's Porsche 70th Anniversary Auction

2.- Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens opens 'Storytelling: French Art from the Horvitz Collection'

3.- Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti stars Vincent Cassel as the famed French artist

4.- Stunning colored diamonds expected to dazzle at Heritage Auctions' Summer Fine Jewelry Auction

5.- US designer Kate Spade found dead at 55

6.- Vincent Van Gogh painting sells for over 7 million euros: Artcurial auction house

7.- Sir Stanley Spencer painting discovered hidden under a bed during a drugs raid

8.- Oxford's Bodleian Libraries unveil UK's first major Tolkien exhibition in decades

9.- Major exhibition at the Guggenheim explores decades of work by Alberto Giacometti

10.- World's largest freshwater pearl goes for 320,000 euros

Related Stories

Degas and the Nude, first museum exhibition dedicated exclusively to Edgar Degas's Nudes

Dale Chihuly's Lime Green Icicle Tower will remain at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Turkey puts repaired Hercules statue on display

Ellsworth Kelly shines in new Boston Museum of Fine Arts Contemporary Art wing

14th Annual Boston International Fine Art Show to be Held this Week at The Cyclorama

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston Announces Two New Curatorial Appointments

Boston Looks to Rebuild Museum at Tea Party Site

Exhibition at Museum of Fine Arts Features Acclaimed Series, The Brown Sisters

Moore Sculpture Returns to Historic New England's Gropius House

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Announces the Naming of Three Curatorships

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful