Happy birthday, Navy: Recruiting posters through the years
A Navy recruiting poster by artist George Hand Wright urges Americans to "follow the boys in blue."
Stars and Stripes
The birth of America's Navy is inextricably tied to the birth of the nation.
In late 1775, the original 13 colonies were embroiled in open rebellion with Britain over perceived unfair taxation, lack of equal representation in Parliament and oppressive authority over the colonists. Britain had superiority at sea, and the mother country intended to use it to stymie American coastal trade and attack settlements.
The debate over the formation of a Continental Navy had been brewing in the Continental Congress for months. But support grew in early October with help from George Washington, whose report to Congress stated he'd went ahead and taken three schooners under his command, at Continental expense, to intercept British supply ships off the coast of Maryland. With ships now sailing under American authority, members of Congress who previously had balked at forming a navy now were less likely to fight the issue.
On Friday, October 13, 1775, in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress voted to outfit two sailing vessels with swivel and carriage guns. For three months, the 80 men aboard the warships would intercept British transports and seize supplies.
Legislation from the Journal of the Continental Congress forming the Continental Navy:
"Resolved, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months, and that the commander be instructed to cruize eastward, for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct.
That a Committee of three be appointed to prepare an estimate of the expence, and lay the same before the Congress, and to contract with proper persons to fit out the vessel.
Resolved, that another vessel be fitted out for the same purposes, and that the said committee report their opinion of a proper vessel, and also an estimate of the expence."
Since then, the U.S. Navy has become the world's largest and mightiest. Through wars, conflict, turmoil and peacetime, Navy service has been the ambition of generations of Americans. Those who joined may have been inspired by the patriotism, honor and courage depicted in Navy recruiting posters, seen here in our photo gallery commemorating the U.S. Navy's 238th birthday. Browse through for a quick trip through the Navy's more recent history.
Happy 238th birthday, U.S. Navy.