Jones was born in Scotland 6 July 1742 as John Paul and went to sea at age 13 in the merchant service. By 21, he was commanding ships sailing between the West Indies and the British Isles. After killing a man in what might have been a "fair fight" he adopted the name Jones and took up residence in Virginia.
Joining the Continental Navy at the start of the American Revolution, he conducted successful raids on his home country of Scotland on the ship Ranger and captured HMS Drake after a short battle. In 1779, Jones fought his most famous battle from the deck of USS Bonhomme Richard, a frigate, against a more heavily armed HMS Serapis off the northeast coast of Scotland. It was during this fight when he responded to the call from the British captain about surrendering that he gave his oft-quoted answer: "I have not yet begun to fight!" He subsequently went on to defeat the British ship even though his own was sinking, took the deck of Serapis, and continued his cruise of destruction.
|Jones salutes his sinking ship Bonhiomme Richard from Serapis|
Following the Revolution, Jones become a mercenary, fighting the Turks for Empress Catherine II of Russia - he was named an admiral in that service - and then retired to Paris.
He was buried there, but when the graveyard was given over to a car park, his grave site was lost until 1905 when the American Ambassador, General Horace Potter, discovered it. President Teddy Roosevelt organized the recovery and transfer to a crypt under the chapel at the United States Naval Academy. Great pomp and a naval coterie of ships escorted the body. When the tomb is open to the public for viewing, there is a Marine guard stationed there.
|close up of the tomb|
|the crypt under the chapel|
Jones, along with Commodore John Barry, is thought of as the Father of the American Navy. In reality, while those two naval officers were the early heroes of the navy, the real father of the navy would have to be John Adams at whose insistence, the navy was founded. But John Paul Jones is certainly the more romantic figure!
Until next time, friends,