The three-masted frigate USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned ship in the world still afloat. It fought the Muslim Barbary Pirates of North Africa in 1803, sailed against the British in the War of 1812, and caught slave traders off the coast of Africa in the 1850's. The U.S.S. Constitution was saved from being broken into scrape by a poem titled "Old Ironsides," written by Oliver Wendell Holmes. "Her deck, once red with heroes' blood, Where knelt the vanquished foe, When winds were hurrying o'er the flood
, And waves were white below..." Holmes' son, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was born MARCH 8
, 1841. A graduate of Harvard, he fought in the Civil War, edited the American Law Review and was a Harvard Law professor before becoming Chief Justice of Massachusetts' Supreme Court. In 1902, Theodore Roosevelt appointed Holmes to the U.S. Supreme Court. Known as "The Great Dissenter" for of his unconventional opinions, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., served over 30 years, to a more advanced age than any other Justice. He replied to a reporter, on his 90th birthday, MARCH 8, 1931: "Young man, the secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered I was not God."