Don’t Give Up the Ship


In 1813, during the War of 1812, James Lawrence was Captain of the USS Chesapeake. When he left Boston Harbor, he engaged the HMS Shannon which disabled and captured the Chesapeake. Capt. Lawrence, mortally wounded and died a few days later. He was only 31 years old. As he lay dying on the deck of the Chesapeake Captain Lawrence ordered his men “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” Another officer created a flag displaying his famous words.

James Lawrence

FRED was talking to his sister one day. He said, “Alice, what makes people say, ‘ Don’t give up the ship’?”

Alice said, “I don’t know. That’s what the teacher said to me yesterday when I thought that I could not get my lesson.”

“Yes,” said Fred, “and that’s what father said to me. I told him I never could learn to write well. He only said, “You must not give up the ship, my boy.”

“I haven’t any ship to give up,” saidAlice.

“And what has a ship to do with my writing?” said Fred.

“There must be some story about a ship,”Alicesaid.

“Maybe grand-father would know,” said Fred. “Let’s ask him.”

They found their grandfather writing in the next room. They did not wish to disturb him. They turned to leave the room. But grand-father looked up just then. He smiled, and laid down his pen.

“Did you want something?” he asked.

“We wanted to ask you a question,” saidAlice. “We want to know why people say, ‘Don’t give up the ship.’ ”

“We thought maybe there is a story to it,” said Fred.

“Yes, there is,” said their grandfather. “And I know a little rhyme that tells the story.”

“Could you say it to us?” askedAlice.

“Yes, if I can think of it. Let me see. How does it begin? ”

Grandfather leaned his head back in the chair. He shut his eyes for a moment. He was trying to remember.

“Oh, now I remember it!” he said.

Then he said to them these little verses: 


WHEN I was but a boy, I heard the people tell

How gallant Captain Lawrence So bravely fought and fell.

The ships lay close together,I heard the people say,

And many guns were roaring Upon that battle day.

A grape-shot struck the captain, He laid him down to die :
They say the smoke of powder  Made dark the sea and sky.

The sailors heard a whisper Upon the captain’s lip:

The last command of Lawrence Was, ” Don’t give up the ship.”

And ever since that battle, The people like to tell

How gallant Captain Lawrence, So bravely fought and fell.

When disappointment happens, And fear your heart annoys,

Be brave, like Captain Lawrence, And don’t give up, my boys

Tomorrow, Daniel Boone’s Daughter Disappears     Rita Bay

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