Today is the United States Navy's 245th birthday. Happy Birthday to all the sailors. My grandfather was a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy during WWII and was very proud to have been in the Navy.

Now, if you had asked me where the US Navy was born, I would have never said in a million years Whitehall, NY on the shores of Lake Champlain. According to the Whitehall Chamber of Commerce, they are the birthplace of the US Navy.

Under the command of Benedict Arnold, several naval vessels were built in present-day Whitehall in the summer of 1776 and they were later used that year in an important early war battle on the lake. The U.S. Congress officially declared Whitehall the Navy's birthplace in 1965.

U.S. National Archives
U.S. National Archives

So that settles it right? No, not exactly. Several other towns also claim to be the birthplace of the Navy.

According to the United States National Archives, there are six cities that claim to be the official birthplace. Here's the where, when, what, and why to the claims.

  • Machias, Maine, June 1775: two small sloops armed with woodsmen capture the Royal Navy schooner Margaretta.
  • Beverly, Massachusetts, September 1775: George Washington authorizes a ship, Hannah, to harass British supply ships.
  • Marblehead, Massachusetts, September 1775: The Hannah is outfitted with a Marblehead crew, and owned by a Marblehead resident.
  • Providence, Rhode Island, October 1775: The small state’s delegates are the first to propose a resolution to build and equip an American fleet.
  • Philadelphia, October 13, 1775: the Continental Congress votes to outfit two sailing vessels. This is the original legislation out of which the Continental Navy was born.
  • Whitehall, New York, Summer, 1776: Benedict Arnold conducts naval attacks on British interests on Lake Champlain, using ships constructed at Whitehall.

No matter where the Navy was born, Happy Birthday and thank you to all the men and women protect us in the Navy.

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