“Probably the proudest day of my 22 years …

… came when I, Pardon Mawney Whipple of Providence, Rhode Island, was appointed midshipman and assigned to Constitution. My father, an officer in the American Revolution, instilled in me a love for our young country and a belief that there is no greater honor than to fight for it.”

So you want to be a midshipman?

Do you want more money, better food, and greater respect? USS Constitution’s crew included midshipmen, young officers in training, who learned seamanship, naval tactics, and navigation to prepare them to be a lieutenant or even captain someday.

Find out if you qualify.

Even if you have all the qualifications necessary, your chances of becoming a midshipman are only one in ten.

Pardon Mawney Whipple

“I have not one cent in my pocket …

… and my father has spent all of his money to buy the things I need to be a midshipman. I must pack.”

Dictionary, Rules and Regulations for the Navy, 2 Journals, 1 Quire (25 sheets) Paper, 1 Slate, 1 Nautical Almanac, Hat, Sword, 8 pair trousers (pants), 12 shirts, 1 uniform coat, Sextant or Octant, Book of Common Prayer, Telescope

Meet a Midshipman

Drawn from the ranks of the middle class, midshipmen went to sea to learn seamanship and leadership. They had no official duties, but were expected to do whatever was ordered of them.

My uniform is cut to the latest regulations and perfectly fitted for me by a tailor. This is the first luxury connected to my new life as a midshipman. I say luxury because it cost me the equivalent of five months pay!

A cut above the rest

My education on board will include determining Constitution‘s location at sea. How’s this done with no land in sight? Well, each day at noon we measure the sun’s position above the horizon using a sextant. We calculate our position using these measurements and mathematical tables. It's getting into action that I’m looking forward to the most. I’ll be in the zenith of my glory to look through a telescope and spot an enemy sail on the horizon!

Good thing I like math!

Not all my time will be spent fighting the enemy or learning to be an officer. I’ll have some time to spend as I please. When not enjoying my friends’ company or reading, I plan to record my experiences in a journal so when I am old I can review these scenes of my former life.

Free time