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October 26 1812: Capture of Guerriere an American Joke



On October 26, 1812, in St Petersburg, John Quincy Adams is told a "story of the capture of the British frigate "Guerriere" by our frigate Constitution." He had heard the story before and considered it a "joke invented by some of the Americans here." The diary entry reads:

26th. At twelve o'clock Mr. Smith and myself attended at the Winter Palace, according to the notification. The Te Deum commenced between one and two. There was no Court held after it, notwithstanding the notice. The new Diplomatic Corps were there—Lord Cathcart, the British Ambassador, with his suite of seven persons; the Duke de Serra Capriola, with his son; Mr. Zea, as Spanish Minister, and Captain Guedes, as Charge des Affaires from Portugal; Baron Lowenhielm, as Minister from Sweden, with the Russian riband of St. Anna of the first class, which the Emperor gave him at Abo; Mr. Brandel, as Secretary of Legation. Baron Blome and Mr. Krabbe, from Denmark, and Count Maistre, from Sardinia, were, with us, the only remnants of the former corps. There was a Comte de Noailles there, an emigrant, lately from England. Lord Walpole, the Secretary of the British Embassy, asked Lord Cathcart to introduce him to me; which he did, and I had some conversation with him about architecture and sculpture, Guarenghi's buildings, and the statue of Peter the Great. The Te Deum was like all the others I have heard in the chapel. Baron Blome told me he hoped the expedition against the island of Zealand was postponed, but he did not venture yet to be confident. Met Messrs. Willing, Redwood, Fisher, and Plummer, who all told me the story of the capture of the British frigate "Guerriere" by our frigate Constitution. I considered it as a joke invented by some of the Americans here, and had indeed been told that it was.

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