USS North Carolina (1820)

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1820USS NorthCarolina.jpg
United States
NameUSS North Carolina
NamesakeNorth Carolina
Ordered29 April 1816
BuilderWilliam Doughty (United States naval architect) Philadelphia Navy Yard
Laid down1818
Launched7 September 1820
Commissioned24 June 1824
Fatesold, 1 October 1867
General characteristics
TypeShip of the line
Length196 ft (60 m)
Beam53.6 ft (16.3 m)
Draft21.6 ft (6.6 m)
Complement820 officers and men
Armament74 guns, 42 and 32 pounders (19 and 15 kg)

USS North Carolina was a 74-gun ship of the line in the United States Navy. One of the "nine ships to rate not less than 74 guns each" authorized by Congress on 29 April 1816,[1] she was laid down in 1818 by the Philadelphia Navy Yard, launched on 7 September 1820, and fitted out in the Norfolk Navy Yard. Master Commandant Charles W. Morgan was assigned to North Carolina as her first commanding officer on 24 June 1824.

While nominally a 74-gun ship, a popular size at the time, North Carolina was actually pierced (had gunports) for 102 guns, and probably originally mounted ninety-four 42-pounder (19 kg) and 32-pounder (15 kg) cannons. In 1845, she had fifty-six 42-pounders (19 kg), twenty-six 32-pounders (15 kg), and eight 8 in (200 mm) cannons, a total of ninety.

Considered by many the most powerful naval vessel then afloat,[citation needed] North Carolina served in the Mediterranean as flagship for Commodore John Rodgers from 29 April 1825 to 18 May 1827. In the early days of the Republic, as today, a display of naval might brought a nation prestige and enhanced its commerce. This proved to be the case when Rodgers's squadron laid the groundwork for the 1830 commercial treaty with Turkey, opening ports of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea to American traders.

Lithograph of North Carolina, 1842. Currently in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

After a period in ordinary at Norfolk, North Carolina decommissioned on 30 October 1836 to fit out for the Pacific Squadron, the one other area where ships of her vast size could be employed. Only the Mediterranean and the western coast of South America at that time offered ports which could accommodate ships of great draft. Again flagship of her station, flying the pennant of Commodore Henry E. Ballard, North Carolina reached Callao, Peru, on 26 May 1837. With the War of the Confederation raging between Chile and Peru, and relations between the United States and Mexico strained, North Carolina protected the important American commerce of the eastern Pacific until March 1839. Since her great size made her less flexible than smaller ships, she returned to the New York Navy Yard in June, and served as a receiving ship until placed in ordinary in 1866. She was sold while at New York on 1 October 1867.


  1. ^ Gordon, John Steele (February 1993). "USS Boondoggle: The Business of America". American Heritage (magazine). 44 (1). Retrieved 1 August 2022. Consider the Navy’s ship-of-the-line program that followed the War of 1812… Congress, on April 29, 1816, ‘authorized to cause to be built, nine ships to rate not less than 74 guns each’. All nine were eventually laid down, in shipyards from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Norfolk, Virginia, and four of them were completed in a timely manner by the end of 1820. None of these ships ever saw action, of course, for the world had entered an extended era of peace.

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