Midshipman Frederic Baury, the son of a French planter from Haiti, who had served in the American Revolution, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, in 1792. He received his midshipman’s warrant in 1809 and joined the USS Constitution, commanded by Isaac Hull, at Boston in 1811. In the autumn of 1813 he was made an acting lieutenant and joined the crew of the second Wasp fitting out in Newburyport.
Prior to leaving Boston on the Constitution, Baury wrote to his mother on July 29, 1812: "Our Ship Sails remarkable fast & I think thus but Little Danger of our being Taken." This broadside illustrates the USS Constitution's defeat of the HMS Guerrière on 19 August 1812, several hundred miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was the first of a series of stunning victories by the American navy in 1812.
In 1913, Charles Francis Adams, the president of the Massachusetts Historical Society, dated the birth of the United States as a world power to the exact moment —"Wednesday, August 19, 1812, at 6:30 P.M."— when the Guerrière surrendered to the Constitution.