Launched on October 21, 1797, the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship in the United States. The ship earned the nickname Old Ironsides after it was victorious over Great Britain’s HMS Guerriereduring the War of 1812. Despite the considerable damage caused to the British vessel, many of the shots from the Guerrierebounced off the hull of the Constitution. The ship remained in active service until 1881. Today it is docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, and is open to the public.
The Constitution has undergone numerous restorations over the course of it’s over 200-year history. Since its first refit in 1833, parts made of wood and copper have been replaced on the vessel. This material has been repurposed for various souvenirs, such as bookends, canes, gavels and boxes.
Bunker Hill Council No. 62 presented a gavel to the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council during the 1914 Supreme Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. The head piece of this gavel is made of wood removed during the 1906-1907 restoration of the Constitution and the shaft wood is from Faneuil Hall in Boston. Many years later, John F. Kennedy, then-President of the United States, became a member of this same council.
The Massachusetts State Council gave a gavel and presentation box to Martin H. Carmody, past supreme knight (1927-39), at the 1930 Supreme Convention held in Boston. Both the wood used in the presentation box and gavel are from the 1927-1930 restoration of the Constitution.