Question of the Week
Which 18th century ship was commanded by both John Paul Jones and John Barry?
Answer: The USS Alliance
The USS Alliance was a 36-gun frigate built in 1777. The ship, one of the stars of the American Navy during the Revolution, captured a number of prizes during the war and was involved in several battles. Initially under the command of Pierre Landais, her subsequent commanders included John Paul Jones and John Barry.
In September 1782 the Alliance, now under the command of Barry, captured four British merchant vessels: Britannia, Anna, Commerce, and Kingston. The ship and its prizes reached France in mid-October, then returned to the West Indies. In March of 1783, Barry encountered a number of British ships in West Indian waters. After the ensuing battle, Alliance sailed for Newport, Rhode Island, where most of the crew was released so that the ship could be overhauled.
In 1785, the Alliance was sold to John Coburn in Philadelphia. She was subsequently sold to Robert Morris, who converted her to a merchant ship and made her ready for sailing to the Orient. The ship arrived in Canton in 1787. Little is known of the subsequent voyages of the Alliance. She was eventually abandoned on Petty Island in the Delaware River, and the last of her hulk was destroyed in 1901.
HSP possesses a ledger of the USS Alliance (#3033), which chronicles prize money distributed to the crew of the USS Alliance in the wake of the capture of Britannia, Anna, Commerce, and Kingston. The volume dates from October 1782 to March 1783, and each member has an account and each account is numbered. There were a total of 237 men, but the first twelve accounts became detached from the volume at some point and are now absent.
About the Author
Look for these history stories every Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The stories, called Memory Stream, are published in the Currents section of the newspaper.