United States Coast Guard - 200th Anniversary


The Revenue Cutter Eagle chases and captures the French privateer Boit Pere during the Quasi War The first international challenge to the young United States was flie undeclared naval war with France. The French Revolution not only caused a great deal of turmoil in Europe but also had an impact on U.S. domestic affairs. It eventually created a rift between the United States and France. Congress authorized President John Adams to employ the revenue cutters to operate with the newly created Navy Department to protect American mercantile interests.

By the middle of 1798, diplomacy had failed. A pro-war faction of the Federalist Party wanted an immediate declaration of war against France. President Adams, however, favored peace while strengthening national defenses. The first action between rival ships of the two nations occurred in November The Quasi War had begun.

During the spring of 1799, most available forces were employed in the Caribbean to protect American commerce from French cruisers. This included eight revenue cutters, which by the end of the war had increased to seventeen. Aided by ten years of active duty, the Revenue Cutter Service had great success and made many captures. The revenue cutters captured twenty-one French ships. Eagle was the most successful capturing ten French vessels and retaking four American prizes.

The Eagle was designed and built by the well-known naval architect Josiah Fox in the yard of William and Abra Brown of Philadelphia. The cutter was launched on August 4, 1798, shortly before the conflict began. Eagle first operated between the Delaware and Virginia capes before sailing to the Caribbean.

This painting depicts the brig Eagle chasing the French sloop Bon Pere in April 1799. This scene was typical of many of the ship-to-ship actions in the West Indies with a chase and capture of the more lightly armed ship. During the war Eagle carried fourteen six-pounder guns while Ron Pere had only four Captured near Antigua after a short chase, Ban Pere later served as the Revenue Cutter Bee until 1801 when the hostilities ended.

The duties performed by the Revenue Cutter Service in this undeclared war helped to establish the military traditions that have continued throughout the history of the service and which continue today in the modern Coast Guard.

Artist: Wendell Minor

Wendell Minor has illuslrated hundreds of bookcovers for maiorpublishihg houses.

His book covers include Looking for Mr Goobbar'. To Kill a Mockingbird James Mithenerts Alaska' and 'Texas'. His work is exhibited in the permanent collections of the U.S. Alt Force, NASA, Illinois State Museum and the Library of Congress.

He designed the North Dakota Statehood Commemorative Stamp and is currently working on other commemoratives for the Postal Service. He is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts and is president of the Society of Illustrators.