Grateful American® Foundation

Who uttered the Navy motto “Don’t give up the ship”?

June 1st

JamesLawrenceATcommonsJune 1, 1813 – Today, American naval officer James Lawrence — the Captain of the USS Chesapeake — uttered the heroic words. “Don’t give up the ship!”

Reportedly, it was his last dying command to his men fighting in the War of 1812.

Lawrence was injured when his ship took on the HMS Shannon. Although the USS Chesapeake was forced to surrender, Lawrence’s words were a powerful rallying cry.

Words of Wisdom

After American naval officer James Lawrence's death (on June 4, 1813) was reported to his friend and fellow officer Oliver Hazard Perry, he ordered a large blue battle ensign, stitched with the phrase Dont Give Up The Ship, in bold white letters.

The Perry Flag was displayed on his flagship during a victorious engagement against the British on Lake Erie in September 1813. The original flag is displayed in the Naval Academy Museum and a replica is displayed in Memorial Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

A replica is also on view at Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, on South Bass Island, Ohio.

Image by: Johnson, Fry & Co. after A. Chappel. NY. Hand-colored engraving. 1867. Independence Seaport Museum

"Don't give up the ship," the dying command of James Lawrence in 1813 aboard the USS Chesapeake

Partners & Supporters