9.25" x 29" x 26" USS Constellation
On 27 March 1794, the United States Congress passed the Naval Act of 1794, which provided for building the US Navy its first new ships: the frigates Chesapeake, Congress, Constellation, Constitution, President, and United States. Constellation was the first to be commissioned. Constellation was built at Harris Creek Shipyard in Baltimores Fells Point and launched on 7 September 1797, just as the United States entered the Quasi-War with France. On 9 February 1799, under the command of Captain Thomas Truxtun, Constellation fought and captured the frigate LInsurgente of 36 guns, the fastest ship in the French Navy ? the first major victory by an American-designed and built warship. In February 1800 Constellation fought a night encounter with the frigate La Vengeance of 54 guns. Constellation was victorious after a five-hour battle. The French commander just managed to save his ship from capture and -upon returning to port- was so humiliated he later boasted that the American ship he had fought was a much larger and more powerful ship of the line. Since the encounter, Constellations incredible speed and power inspired the French to nickname her the "Yankee Racehorse.