Commodore John Barry Book Award for American Maritime Literature

An annual Commodore John Barry Book Award is established by the New York Council, Navy League of the Unites States for the purpose of recognizing significant contributions to American maritime literature and to encourage excellence in authorship. Such maritime literature should be devoted to books pertaining to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.

The inspiration for this Award is the life and service of Commodore John Barry (1745-1803), a native of County Wexford, Ireland, and a Continental Navy hero of the American War for Independence. Barry's many victories at sea during the Revolution were important to the morale of the patriots, as well as to the successful prosecution of the war. When the first Congress, acting under the new Constitution of the United States, authorized the raising and construction of the United States Navy, President George Washington turned to Barry to build and lead the nation's new navy, the successor to the Continental Navy. On February 22, 1797, President Washington conferred upon Barry, with the advice and consent of the Senate, the rank of Captain with Commission Number 1, United States Navy, effective June 7, 1794. Barry supervised the construction of his own flagship, the USS United States. As commander of the first United States naval squadron under the Constitution, which included the USS Constitution (later to be nicknamed "Old Ironsides"), Barry was a commodore with the right to fly a broad pennant which made him a flag officer.

Barry continued serving as the senior officer of the United States navy, with the title of "Commodore" (in official correspondence) under Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The ships built by Barry, and the captains selected, as well as the officers trained by him, constituted the United States Navy that performed outstanding service in the Quasi-War with France, in battles with the Barbary Pirates, and in the War of 1812.

Significantly and by joint resolution, the Congress pursuant to Public Law 109-142, signed by President George W. Bush on December 22, 2001, John Barry was formally recognized as the first flag officer of the United States Navy.

The Committee shall consist of a Chairman and four members appointed by the President. Said Committee shall select a book designated for the Award, specify the nature of the Award, and arrange for its presentation to the author(s) at an appropriate ceremony. -- Navy League New York Council

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Tags: American Revolution, Ireland, Military History, Philadelphia, United States, Wexford

Comment by Gerry Regan on April 4, 2014 at 12:11pm

The New York Council, Navy League has appointed a Committee that has chosen the first book, "John Barry: An American in the Age of Sail" by Tim McGrath who is well-known for his historical perspective.  According to the committee, "This book is well-researched and well-written, and provides another window into the birth of the Republic."  The first presentation of the award is to be held in the Spring of 2014 at Manhattan's historic Fraunces Tavern, where Washington bade farewell to his officers in 1783.

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