Tuesday, May 6, 2008

John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones: Revolutionary Naval War Hero
Legend holds he famously declared, "Surrender? I have not yet begun to fight!"
when ordered to strike his colors by Capt. Richard Pearson of the HMS
Serapis.


Born in Scotland in 1747, John Paul Jones began his maritime career as a 13-year old under the name John Paul aboard the Friendship. He sailed between the British Isles, their Caribbean colonies, and the American colonies, occasionally disembarking in Virginia to visit his brother in Fredricksburg. He rapidly made a name for himself as a worthy and capable seaman. However, in 1770, as captain of the ship John, John Paul flogged a sailor to death in an incident that was considered excessive and cruel. His reputation was irreparably damaged, but he managed to be hired as captain of the Betsy for 18 months. Unfortunately, he killed another sailor with a sword in a dispute over wages and it appeared as though Paul's career was over. He escaped to Virginia, where he took over the duties of his now-deceased brother's estate and added Jones to his last name.

In 1775, he found himself in favorable conditions to re-enter the maritime professions. The newly formed Continental Congress was preparing to raise up a naval and marine force and Jones, based on the recommendation of Richard Henry Lee (great uncle of Robert E. Lee) was tapped as the man to lead the Continental Navy. As such, he is considered the father of the United States Navy. Jones sailed his warships admirably and was hailed for his skill and tenacity, however, he eventually became frustrated by his superiors' lack of strategy and appreciation for his skills. While he remained with the Navy, he didn't advance in rank and in 1782, lacking further employment opportunities, but possessing an impressive though colorful and controversial, naval resume, left the United States and entered into service for Empress Catherine II of Russia. He served in the Russian Navy until 1788.

Detail on the monument shows Jones raising the American Flag

In his final years, he settled in France, where he died in 1792 at the young age of 45. He was buried in Paris, but in 1905 his grave was exhumed and Jones was ceremonially returned to the United States aboard the USS Brooklyn under the escort of three U.S. cruisers and met in U.S. coastal waters by seven U.S. battleships. In 1913, he was re-interred in a bronze and marble sarcophagus and now lies in the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 3/08

3 comments:

iBlowfish said...

I must tell you, that your blog is the most informative about DC. I enjoy to read your post today too. Well done.

Ming the Merciless said...

Interesting history lesson. :-)

I'm curious how long it would have taken to cross the Atlantic Ocean back then. It must take weeks, if not months.

D.C. Confidential said...

iBlowfish: Thank you! I wanted this to be more than just pictures, so your compliment really affirms that I made the right choice with the format for this blog!

Ming: Good question. My guess would be a few weeks as well. I'll see if I can find information about that and will post a comment here with the answer.