Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jamsetjee Bomanjee Wadia (1756-1821), (oil painting byJ. Dorman) and the American national anthem

He was a great Indian shipbuilder and was the master-builder at Bombay Dockyard from 1792 to 1821, a post he shared with his cousin Framji Manackjee until the latter's death in 1804. Although their work had been praised by successive British commanders-in-chief in India, from Admiral Sir Edward Hughes in 1781 onwards, the seal was set on Jamsetjee Bomanjee's work when he laid down
the 'Minden'. This was the first ship of the line to be built for the Royal Navy out of England.
MNIATURE MODEL OF MINDEN


Like all the Bombay ships she was built of teak and very strong and durable. On her delivery to England their Lordships of the Admiralty sent Bomanjee a letter of appreciation and a piece of plate.

The one ship that the Wadias built and of most historic significance for Parsis is the H.M.S. Minden.
The Bombay Courier, June 23, 1810 wrote:

“On Tuesday last His Majesty’s Ship, the “Minden” built in the new docks (Bombay) by Jamshedji Bomanji Wadia was floated into the stream at high water, after the usual ceremony of breaking the bottle had been performed by the Honorable Governor Jonathan Duncan.

In having produced the “Minden”, Bombay is entitled to the distinguished praise of providing the first and only British ship of the line built out of the limits of the Mother Country; and in the opinion of very competent judges, the “Minden”, for beauty of construction and strength of frame, may stand in competition with any man-o-war that has come out of the most celebrated Dockyards of Great Britain. For the skill of its architects, for the superiority of its timber, and for the excellence of its docks, Bombay may now claim a distinguished place among naval arsenals”.

A young American lawyer, Francis Scott Key was sent on board the British ship “Minden”, in Chesapeake Bay to negotiate the release of a friend who had been captured after the defeat of the US forces in Maryland. Key was detained on the ship overnight while the British attacked Baltimore. “At the dawn’s early light” amidst the “rockets’ red glare”, he saw the American flag still flying high over Fort McHenry which inspired him to hurriedly scribble on an envelope a poem, that was to become :-

the Star Spangled Banner, national anthem of United States of America!




The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
By Francis Scott Key 1814


Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!



And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,[battle_of_fort_mchenry.]
He also built four more two-deckers for the Navy. The lower hull of one of these, the 74-gun 'Cornwallis' of 1813, survived in use as depot ship and floating jetty at Sheerness from the 1870s to 1957, when it was still so strong that it had to be broken up using explosives. A model of 'Cornwallis', built by Jamsetjee's son at the same time as the ship, is the largest sailing warship model in the National Maritime Museum collection
Painting (BHC2803) Repro ID: BHC2803
{In the portrait the sitter is wearing a shawl and it was customary for the ship-builders to be given shawls by the representatives of the East India Company at the launching of a new ship. Jamsetjee Bomanjee was one of the famous Lowjee family of Parsi shipbuilders active in Bombay from the early 19th century and was highly respected there and by the East India Company Court of Directors in London. He was also the first Parsi entrusted by the Admiralty with the building of a man-of-war in India.}

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