John Paul Jones

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John Paul Jones bigraphy, stories - Naval hero of the American Revolution

John Paul Jones : biography

July 6, 1747 – July 18, 1792

John Paul Jones (July 6, 1747 – July 18, 1792) was a Scottish sailor and the United States’s first well-known naval fighter in the American Revolution. Although he made enemies among America’s political elites, his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to this day. As such he is sometimes referred to as the "Father of the United States Navy" (an epithet he shares with John Barry). He later served in the Imperial Russian Navy.

During his engagement with HMS Serapis, Jones uttered, according to the later recollection of his first lieutenant, the legendary reply to a taunt about surrender from the British captain: "I have not yet begun to fight!"

Career

United States

Sources struggle with this period of Jones’s life, especially the specifics of his family situation, making it difficult to historically pinpoint Jones’s exact motivations for emigrating to America. Whether his plans for the plantation were not developing as expected, or if he was inspired by a revolutionary spirit, is unknown.

What is clearly known is that Jones left for Philadelphia shortly after settling in North America to volunteer his services to the newly founded Continental Navy, precursor of the United States Navy. During this time, around 1775, the Navy and Marines were being formally established, and suitable ship’s officers and captains were in great demand. Were it not for the endorsement of Richard Henry Lee who knew of his abilities, Jones’s potential would likely have gone unrecognized. With help from influential members of the Continental Congress, however, Jones was to be appointed as a 1st Lieutenant of the newly converted 24-gun frigate Alfred in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775. (1999) John Paul Jones: A Sailor’s Biography. Naval Institute Press,ISBN 1-55750-410-5, p. 52

Revolutionary War command

Early command

Jones sailed from the Delaware River in February 1776 aboard Alfred on the Continental Navy’s maiden cruise. It was aboard this vessel that Jones took the honor of hoisting the first U.S. ensign over a naval vessel. Jones actually raised the Grand Union Flag, not the later and more familiar Flag of the United States. The fleet, which had been expected to cruise along the coast, was ordered instead by Commodore Esek Hopkins to sail for The Bahamas, where Nassau was raided for its military supplies. On the fleet’s return voyage it had an unsuccessful encounter with a British packet ship. Jones was then assigned command of the sloop Providence. Congress had recently ordered the construction of thirteen frigates for the American Navy, one of which was to be commanded by Jones. In exchange for this prestigious command, Jones accepted his commission aboard the smaller Providence. During this six week voyage, Jones captured sixteen prizes and inflicted significant damage along the coast of Nova Scotia. Jones’s next command came as a result of Commodore Hopkins’s orders to liberate hundreds of American prisoners forced to labor in coal mines in Nova Scotia and also to raid British shipping. On November 1, 1776, Jones set sail in command of Alfred to carry out this mission. Although winter conditions prevented the freeing of the prisoners, the mission did result in the capture of the Mellish, a vessel carrying a vital supply of winter clothing intended for General John Burgoyne’s troops in Canada.

Command of Ranger

Despite his successes at sea, upon arrival in Boston on December 16, 1776, Jones’s disagreements with those in authority reached a new level. While at the port, he began feuding with Commodore Hopkins, who Jones believed was hindering his advancement and talking down his campaign plans. As a result of this and other frustrations, Jones was assigned the smaller command, the newly constructed USS Ranger, on June 14, 1777 (the same day the new Stars and Stripes flag was adopted).