Imagine a young seaman, two hundred years ago, standing night watch at the rail of an American frigate. Just one generation removed from the war for independence, he finds his Nation once again squaring off in battle with Great Britain, the world’s preeminent sea power. The sailor has ample reason to be anxious. Britain’s Royal Navy includes 115 ships of the line and 126 frigates, while the United States Navy consists of only 17 vessels. Perhaps the seaman musters confidence from the name of his ship: USS Constitution.