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Revenue Cutter Photo Archive

USRC William P. Fessenden

Chase Class Revenue Cutter:

  • Built in 1883 by the Union Drydock Company, Buffalo, New York
  • Commissioned USRC William P. Fessenden 11 August 1883
  • Decommissioned 14 August 1907
  • Sold March 1909 to George Craig of Toledo, OH
  • Rebuilt as a passenger steamer and renamed Chippewa
  • Acquired in 1913 by the Arnold Transit Co. of Mackinac Island, MI
  • Acquired in 1922 by the Sandusky and Islands Steamboat Co. of Sandusky, OH
  • Reduced to a barge in 1938 at Sandusky, OH
  • Acquired in 1939 by the Peerless Cement Co, of Port Huron, MI
  • Towed in June 1942 to Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada
  • Scrapped in 1943 at Hamilton, Ontario.


  • Displacement 300 t.
    1909 - 398 t.
    1910 - 452 t.
  • Length 191' 8"
    1909 - 181.42'
    1910 - 198'
  • Beam 28'
  • Draft 8'
    1909 - 10'
  • Complement 40
    1923 - Four
  • Armament: Four rapid-fire guns
  • Propulsion: One vertical-beam steam engine, side wheels.
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    USRC William P. Fessenden
    William P. Fessenden 50k

    William P. Fessenden (October 16, 1806 September 8, 1869) was an American politician from the U.S. state of Maine. Fessenden was a Whig (later a Republican) and member of the Fessenden political family. He served in the United States House of Representatives and Senate before becoming Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln appointed William P. Fessenden, a senator from Maine, to be the 26th Secretary of the Treasury after Salmon P. Chase resigned. Fessenden served from 5 July 1864 until 3 March 1865. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee from 1861 until 1864, Fessenden took a leading part in framing measures relating to revenue and appropriations to finance the Civil War. Reluctant to take the position of Secretary due to ill health, Fessenden succumbed to Lincoln's wishes when Lincoln told him "that the crisis demanded any sacrifice, even life itself." Upon assuming office he was immediately faced with the government's need for money. With the aid of Civil War financier Jay Cooke, Fessenden marketed several successful short-term loans bearing exceptional interest rates that were well subscribed to by the American people. During Fessenden's term, the problem created by the inflationary greenbacks, first issued in 1863, began to emerge. Debate would rage for the rest of the century over replacing them with currency backed by specie or taking advantage of the inflationary soft money during periods of expansion. After only eight months, Fessenden resigned and returned to the Senate where he became chairman of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction

    William P. Fessenden 196k John Spivey
    William P. Fessenden 123k Joe Radigan

    Coast Guard History: The 1883 Fessenden was a purported rebuild of the 1865 William P. Fessenden when in fact that vessel was completely dismantled and her hull and fittings sold for a little over $3,000; the only major part of the vessel kept was her machinery. The work was done by the Union Dry Dock Company of Buffalo, New York. The 1865 Fessenden's machinery was placed in a newly built iron hull which was successfully launched from her builder's yard on 26 April 1883. The "new" vessel was accepted by the Revenue Cutter Service on 11 August 1883. The "rebuild" cost the government $97,379.60.

    She was designed for cruising the Great Lakes and was therefore decommissioned and laid-up each winter, usually sometime in December. Her crew was discharged at this time as well. She was re-commissioned each spring for her patrol season, with a new crew hired on for the year. Her home port was originally Detroit and her cruising grounds were Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. After 1893 her cruising ground was Lake Erie to the Niagara River. In 1903 she steamed to Baltimore for repairs and entered back into commissioned service on 14 November 1905. From 1905 until she left the service permanently in 1907, she was based out of Key West, Florida. Her cruising grounds now consisted of the waters off southern Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico.

    In 1905 her officers conferred with state officials regarding the protection of the sponge industry. She and her crew were briefly detained at Mullet Key Quarantine Station when a case of small pox broke out on board in March, 1906. She saved a number of schooners that were adrift after a storm in June, 1906 and the following month examined vessels engaged in gathering sponges. That fall and winter she cruised the Gulf of Mexico in search of vessels in distress.

    She steamed for Curtis Bay, Maryland in May, 1907, arriving there on 6 June 1907. Here her officers and crew transferred to the cutter Forward on 7 August 1907 and on the 14th Fessenden was decommissioned. She was decommissioned in 1907 and sold in March 1908 to the Craig Shipbuilding Company of Toledo, OH, for $9,100.

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