According to most and the best historians can do, today is the anniversary of the famous ‘dying command’ of Commodore James Lawrence, “Don’t give UP the ship!”
Commodore Lawrence was the commander of the USS Chesapeake.
Commodore Lawrence was from New Jersey, and was born during the American Revolution. His mother died when he was an infant, and his father, loyal to the crown, fled the US and went to Canada.
James was left with an aunt.
He entered the Navy as a midshipman, serving in the Quasi-War with France and fighting at Tripoli.
During the War of 1812, he served heroically on several ships and eventually ended UP as the Commander of a battleship.
On June 1, 1813, he was wounded, and as the story goes, the men carried him below. As he left the deck, he cried, “…Tell them to fire faster. Don’t give UP the ship.”
The ship was lost to a British boarding party moments later. He died on the ship’s journey to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was buried there. His body was later moved to New York.
So, history lesson aside, why the heck is this important?
Well, I live in Lawrenceville, Georgia. It was named for him.
Incorporated in 1821, it is the second oldest city in the Metro Atlanta Area. One of the founders, William Maltbie suggested the name in honor of the Commodore.
Larryville, as some of us call it is famous for a few people and things, Larry Flynt (happy now Jan?) was shot here, Ezzard Charles – world heavy weight champion, Jeff Francouer and Brian McCann – major league baseballers, EJ Day – the first person ever to be voted off American Idol, Darius Walker and Kenny Miles – footballers, Maya Moore – WNBA, Jennifer Ferrin – Dawson’s Creek and As The World Turns, and Rachael G. Fox – Tom Scavo’s creepy love child on Desperate Housewives, were all either born or ‘hail’ from here.
But of course, our most famous native son is none other than Junior Samples of Hee-Haw. Even though he was born UP the road in Forsyth County, he “hails” from Lawrenceville.
Thanks for makin’ us proud!