USS Constitution was one of six Heavy Frigates commissioned by the United States Congress in 1794 to protect American shipping against Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean. These frigates were designed to outmatch the frigates of any other nation while remaining nimble enough to slip away from larger ships-of-the-line.
These six frigates (Chesapeake, Constitution, President, United States, Congress, and Constellation. Chesapeake, Constitution, President and United States) were armed with 44 guns, normally a mix of long 24-pounders and 32-pound carronades. Across their service life, these ships would often end up over gunned, carrying upwards of 50 guns into battle.
Revolutionary construction techniques gave the six frigates much thicker hull planking than their British or French equivalents, allowing them to soak up a tremendous amount of punishment. It also allowed them to carry a much heavier armament relative to their size, as seen by the arrays of 24 and 32-pounders carried on the 44 gun vessels.