| American History Stories, Volume III|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Anecdotes from the time Washington became president through the War of 1812, the rise of Andrew Jackson, and the sectional differences leading to the Civil War. Numerous black and white illustrations complement the text. Ages 8-12 |
"DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP"
This has come to be so much a watchword among our people,
that it would never do for us to pass on without
learning what it means. You have already learned the
meaning of "Taxation without Representation," "Millions
for defense, but not one cent for tribute." You will
recall, too, that battle in the Revolution where "Molly
Stark" was the watchword; then there was the attack by
Ethan Allen on the fort—when he cried, "In the
name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress
I command you to surrender."
All these sayings uttered at one time or another by
 loyal son of America, have been passed down in our
history, until they have come to be immortal,
that is, never-dying sayings.
And now let us see how it was that "Don't give up the
Ship!" came to be another of these "immortal sayings."
There was in our navy, a ship called the
Hornet—a twin, perhaps to the fiery
Wasp that you have just heard about. This
Hornet, with Captain Lawrence as its commander,
was buzzing about in pretty nearly the same part of the
ocean in which we found the Wasp—on the lookout
for some unlucky English vessel into which to fix its
stings. Soon up came the English
Peacock,—strutting along, I imagine, under full
sail, feeling as vain and sure of success as a real
peacock might have felt when about to attack so small a
thing as a hornet. But size isn't everything; as we
have already found in many a battle of the history of
The Peacock gave the signal for battle.
Instantly the furious little Hornet flew at the
Peacock, and an angrier little hornet, with
hotter stings, you never saw.
Boom! boom! boom! buzz! buzz! buzz! hiss! hiss!
hiss! went the fire from both Peacock and Hornet. So
fast and so thick flew the balls, so hot and so
terrible was the battle, that in fifteen minutes the
proud Peacock had lost all her glory and her pride, all
her beauty and her courage, and lay upon the waters a
Her hold was now half full of water; and, knowing that
 she must sink, her commander surrendered to Lawrence,
the crew were taken prisoners and transferred to the
The generous way in which Lawrence treated his
prisoners won the hearts of the British even; and his
bravery carried delight to the hearts of his
When he came into Boston harbor with the Hornet, he was
greeted with shouts and hurrahs; and another vessel was
given him, while the Hornet was set aside for repairs.
Now, this new vessel which was given into the charge of
Captain Lawrence, had been, from its very beginning, an
unlucky vessel. So much so, indeed, that the sailors
were afraid to board her, believing that she was fated,
and must surely bring only sorrow to her crew.
But brave Captain Lawrence willingly took command of
her; feeling confident and secure after his recent
No sooner was he ready to sail forth from Boston
Harbor, than he met in battle the Shannon, an English
vessel. I wish I could tell you that the gallant
Lawrence again came out victorious. But, instead, I
shall have to tell you that after a hot, fierce battle
of only fifteen minutes—a battle as fierce, and
hot, and terrible as had been that between the Wasp and
the Frolic, or between the Hornet and the
Peacock—the unlucky vessel was reduced to a mere
wreck. At the very beginning of the fight, Lawrence
himself, who always stood in the very thickest of the
fire, fell mortally wounded.
FIGHT BETWEEN THE CHESAPEAKE AND THE SHANNON.
 Thus folded in his country's flag, Lawrence was carried
by the British to Halifax, where he was buried with the
respect and honor which he so richly deserved.
Very carefully did his officers carry below their much
loved commander; and Lawrence, not forgetting his
charge even in dying, whispered almost with his last
breath, "Don't give up the ship!"
The British, wild with delight, that at last, after so
many defeats, victory was once more on their side,
swarmed upon the deck of the American vessel, singing
and shouting with joy.
But when they found the brave Lawrence lying dead, they
did not forget how nobly and how kindly he had dealt
with the English prisoners at his victory over the
English Peacock. And so, seizing the American flag,
which they had torn from the mast with such yells of
delight, they carefully lifted the unfortunate
commander, and wrapped around him this banner which he
had so loved, and for which he had so bravely fought.
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