Stamp Issues & Covers 1846 to 1900
1871 Small Cover from Providence, RI to Halifax, Nova Scotia
Care of the American Consul at Halifax
for Lieutenant Commander S. D. Ames - USS Constellation
Pre-Paid 6 cents
(April 1868 Treaty Rate)
(Scroll Down for Biographical Information and Background History)

The small cover above, (13 x 7.4 mm) was sent from Providence, Rhode Island on June 21, 1871 to Lieutenant Commander S. D. Ames on board the USS Constellation while on a port visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia. This 6 cent rate was set in April 1868 for prepaid mail, (10 cents unpaid) to the Dominion of Canada, (established 1867).

The treaty rate to Nova Scotia was initially established in July 1851 at 10 cents for under 3000 miles and 15 cents for over 3000 miles. Prepayment was optional at this time. This rate remained in effect until January 1868 when the rate was set at 10 cents (prepayment optional) for all distances. Three months later in April 1868, the rate changed to 6 cents prepaid and 10 cents unpaid

On July 1, 1867, the British North America Act united the provinces of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia into the Dominion of Canada and under the Postal Act of 1867, effective on April 1, 1868; Nova Scotia became an integral part of the Canadian Postal Service

NOTE: The Treaty Rate to the province of Canada was established on April 6, 1851 with the province of Nova Scotia following in July 1851. During this time period British North America was divided into several provinces; each with their own postal system; New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and British Columbia. The province of Canada consisted of Quebec and Ontario. The Northwest Territories, consisted of the present provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Northwest and Yukon territories. The Northwest Territories were owned by the Hudson Bay Company until 1870 when they were incorporated into the Dominion of Canada. The last province or British Colony to join the Dominion of Canada was Newfoundland, which joined the union in 1949 and until that time maintained a separate postal system

USS Constellation

The USS Constellation was constructed as a Sloop of War in 1853. There is still some controversy over whether the USS Constellation is the original frigate built in 1797 and extensively rebuilt and restored in 1853 or constructed as a completely new ship from the keel up. Two books have been published representing both sides of the argument and are for sale on the USS Constellation Website.

Construction was begun on the Constellation in 1853 at the Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia and she was launched in 1854. She was 186 feet in length overall with a beam of 42 feet, a draft of 19.3 feet and a total displacement of 1,278 tons. She could carry a complement of 227 officers and enlisted men. As originally configured, she carried sixteen 8-inch shell guns, two 10-inch shell guns,  four 32-pound cannon, and two 12-pound cannon. In 1862 the two 10-inch guns were replaced with a 30-pound and a 20-pound Parrott Rifle. Constellation was the last ship built by the United States Navy that was solely dependent on sails and wind.

Constellation's initial tour of duty was for three years in the Mediterranean Sea, after which she was decommissioned and laid up for repair. Her next tour of duty was off the west coast of Africa as the flagship of a squadron whose mission was to interdict and capture vessels engaged in the slave trade. After another upkeep and repair, Constellation was reassigned to the Mediterranean. She returned home in 1864 and was decommissioned in 1865. She spent the next four years as a receiving ship in Norfolk and Philadelphia.

In 1869 Constellation underwent refit and conversion once again and from 1871 to 1894, she served as a practice ship for the midshipmen at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. During this period she also took part in several special assignments including; the Paris Exposition of 1878, famine relief to Ireland in 1880 and the Columbian Exposition of 1892. She became a stationary training ship at Newport, Rhode Island in 1894

Constellation was recommissioned in 1940 and served as the flagship of the Atlantic fleet and Battleship Division Five from 1941 to 1943.
SEE: 1942 Registered Mail - CINCLANTFLT to Commandant Eleventh Naval District 

In 1954, Constellation was decommissioned for the final time at the Boston Naval Yard and in 1955 she was towed to Baltimore for restoration as a museum. Today the ship is moored at Pier 1 on East Pratt Street in Baltimore, Maryland. The Constellation Museum has an excellent and fact filled Website online with a lot more information concerning the Constellation than I could do justice to in this short article. Please give them a visit.

During the period when this letter was sent, Constellation was serving as a practice ship for the Midshipmen at Annapolis, Maryland. The summer of 1871 was the first practice cruise undertaken by the ship.

NOTE: During the time that Constellation served as a stationary training ship in Newport, Rhode Island, many of the locals used her onboard mail facility to obtain special cancellations on postcards.
SEE: 1913 Postcard with USS Constellation Cancel 


Sullivan Dorr Ames was born on July 16, 1840 in Providence, Rhode Island to Samuel and Mary Dorr Ames. He married Mary Townsend Bullock on February 21, 1870 and they had two children; Mary Dorr Ames born at Annapolis on January 16, 1871 and Sullivan Dorr Ames, Jr. born in Providence on January 5, 1878. Sullivan D. Ames died on November 22, 1880.

The letter above was most likely sent by Commander Ames' wife, who was probably staying with her family in Providence during the commander's deployment.

The 1860 census for Annapolis, Maryland lists an S. D. Ames as having been born in Rhode Island in 1840 and lists his occupation as midshipman. The curator of the Constellation Museum informs me that after the Civil War many officers saw their career paths greatly accelerated, especially those with wartime experience. Sullivan Ames was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in less than eleven years, (1860 Midshipman - 1871 Lieutenant Commander). The Commanding Officer of USS Constellation during the 1871 Midshipmen Cruise was Captain Samuel P. Carter.

Sullivan Dorr Ames was named for his maternal grandfather. His mother, Mary Throop Dorr (Ames) was the sister of Thomas Wilson Dorr (Dorr Rebellion)
Dorr Rebellion Station Special Event Cover  for further history of Thomas Dorr.


Joseph Dorr - 1st Generation born in England in 1600
Died in Date given 1700 (most likely in error) - Roxbury, MA

Edward Dorr - 2nd Generation born 1648 in England 
Died February 9, 1733 in Roxbury, MA

Ebenezer Dorr (Sr.) - 3rd Generation born January 25, 1687 in Roxbury, MA
Died February 25, 1760 in Roxbury, MA

Ebenezer Dorr (Jr.) - 4th Generation born February 2, 1712 in Roxbury, MA
 Died August 8, 1783 in Roxbury, MA

Sullivan Dorr  - 5th Generation born October 20, 1778 in Roxbury, MA
Died March 3, 1858 in Providence, RI

Thomas Wilson Dorr born November 5, 1805 - Providence, RI; died December 27, 1854 - Providence, RI
Mary Throop Dorr born October 16, 1811 - Providence, RI; died February 14, 1869 - Providence, RI

Allen Dorr
Ann Allen Dorr
Sullivan Dorr
Candice Crawford Dorr
Henry Crawford Dorr

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