"Moral courage inspired by reverence for
When young John Paul Jones sailed to America at the age of 12, he took with him his Scottish Lowlander independence and his Highlander fighting spirit. These qualities served him well, and he would become "father of the U.S. Navy.”
Born John Paul in Kirkbean, Kirkcudbright county, Jones became master of the merchantman John at the age of 21. The Scot’s early career is spotted by a couple of deaths aboard his ships. While in command of the John, he punished a carpenter with the cat-o’-nine-tails. The carpenter later died of malaria, and Jones was forced to clear himself of wrongdoing in the affair. However, it was only a few years later that Jones, now on a different ship, murdered a mutineer who attacked him. The ship was in Tobago in the West Indies at the time, and admiralty court was not in session, so Jones fled until he could stand trial. It was at this time that he assumed the name Jones.
During his 20 months of anonymity, Jones met shipowner Joseph Hewes, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was subsequently commissioned as the first lieutenant on the frigate Alfred, and then as captain of the sloop of war, Providence.
In 1778, as captain of the Ranger, Jones received the first salute given to the new American flag by a foreign warship. That spring, he returned home to terrorize coastal Scotland and England. He captured the Drake, the first victory of a Continental vessel over a British warship.
The following year, as commander of the Bonhomme Richard, Jones encountered two British ships of war, the Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough:. Despite the obvious superior firepower of the other two ships, Jones challenged them:
"An initial attempt to board the British frigate and win by sheer desperate fighting failed. In a second effort, he managed to lock the two ships togther. The Serapis was beaing in one of the Richard’s sides and blowing out the other. Most of the guns of the American ship were broken and silenced. The Richard with its dry old timbers was afire again and again, and the water in the hold rose ominously. A gunner, crediting a report that Jones had been killed, called to offer surrender of the Richard, and Pearson [captain of the Serapis] loudly responded, "Do you ask for quarter?” Jones then made his memorable reply, emphasizing it by hurling his two pistols at the head of the gunner: "I have not yet begun to fight!”
The battle continued for more than three hours, until the Serapis surrendered and Jones and his crew boarded the ship in time to see it sink, colors still flying.
Upon his return home, Congress honored Jones, and awarded him a rear admiralty. When the American Revolution was over, he served in the Russian Navy, without denouncing his American citizenship.
Political problems plagued Jones’ career, and he eventually retired to France, where he became ill and died on July 18, 1792. Jones rested in an unmarked Paris grave until his remains were moved to the chapel of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1905.
Source: Lincoln Lorenz, Author of "John Paul Jones”
Thursday, December 26th, 2019
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