John Paul Jones

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John Paul Jones : biography

July 6, 1747 – July 18, 1792

Shortly after 7 p.m. the Battle of Flamborough Head began. The Serapis engaged the Bonhomme Richard, and soon afterwards, the Alliance fired, from a considerable distance, at the Countess. Quickly recognizing that he could not win a battle of big guns, and with the wind dying, Jones made every effort to lock Richard and Serapis together (his famous quotation, "I have not yet begun to fight!" was uttered in reply to a cheerful British taunt during an odd stalemate in this phase of the battle), finally succeeding after about an hour, following which his deck guns and his Marine marksmen in the rigging began clearing the British decks. Alliance sailed past and fired a broadside, doing at least as much damage to the Richard as to the Serapis. Meanwhile, the Countess of Scarborough had enticed the Pallas downwind of the main battle, beginning a separate engagement. When Alliance approached this contest, about an hour after it had begun, the badly damaged Countess surrendered.

With Bonhomme Richard burning and sinking, it seems that her ensign was shot away; when one of the officers, apparently believing his captain to be dead, shouted a surrender, the British commander asked, seriously this time, if they had struck their colours. Jones later remembered saying something like "I am determined to make you strike", but the words allegedly heard by crew-members and reported in newspapers a few days later were more like: "I may sink, but I’ll be damned if I strike."

An attempt by the British to board Bonhomme Richard was thwarted, and a grenade caused the explosion of a large quantity of gunpowder on Serapis lower gun-deck. Alliance then returned to the main battle, firing two broadsides. Again, these did at least as much damage to Richard as to Serapis, but the tactic worked to the extent that, unable to move, and with Alliance keeping well out of the line of his own great guns, Captain Pearson of Serapis accepted that prolonging the battle could achieve nothing, so he surrendered. Most of Bonhomme Richard’s crew immediately transferred to other vessels, and after a day and a half of frantic repair efforts, it was decided that the ship could not be saved, so it was allowed to sink, and Jones took command of Serapis for the trip to neutral (but American-sympathizing) Holland.

In the following year, the King of France honored him with the title "Chevalier". Jones accepted the honor, and desired the title to be used thereafter: when the Continental Congress in 1787 resolved that a medal of gold be struck in commemoration of his "valor and brilliant services" it was to be presented to "Chevalier John Paul Jones". He also received from Louis a decoration of "l’Institution du Mérite Militaire" and a sword. By contrast, in Britain at this time, he was usually denigrated as a pirate.

Russian service

In June 1782, Jones was appointed to command the 74-gun America, but his command fell through when Congress decided to give the America to the French as replacement for the wrecked Le Magnifique. As a result, he was given assignment in Europe in 1783 to collect prize money due his former hands. At length, this too expired and Jones was left without prospects for active employment, leading him on April 23, 1787 to enter into the service of the Empress Catherine II of Russia, who placed great confidence in Jones, saying: "He will get to Constantinople." He was granted name as a French subject Павел де Жовес (Pavel de Zhoves, Paul de Joves).Kravtsevych-Rozhnetsky, V. . Ukrayinska Pravda. March 30, 2011.

Jones avowed his intention, however, to preserve the condition of an American citizen and officer. As a rear admiral aboard the 24-gun flagship Vladimir, he took part in the naval campaign in the Liman (an arm of the Black Sea, into which flow the Southern Bug and Dnieper rivers) against the Turks. Jones successfully repulsed Ottoman forces from the area, but the jealous intrigues of Russian officer Prince Grigory Alexandrovich Potëmkin and his cohort Prince Charles of Nassau-Siegen caused him to be recalled to St. Petersburg for the pretended purpose of being transferred to a command in the North Sea. Here he was compelled to remain in idleness, while rival officers plotted against him and even maliciously assailed his private character through accusations of sexual misconduct. In April 1789 Jones was arrested and accused of raping a 12 year old girl named Katerina Goltzwart.http://books.google.com/books?id=Hi44whI49akC&pg=PA459&lpg=PA459&dq=John+Paul+Jones+rape&source=bl&ots=W1meeNT2dQ&sig=0Es9k1tsYJfwwGae3yXXjCQC7oc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vbT7T_PgOujg2QXax6DvBg&ved=0CGIQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=John%20Paul%20Jones%20rape&f=false But the Count de Segur, the French representative at the Russian court (and also Jones’ last friend in the capital), conducted his own personal investigation into the matter and was able to convince Potëmkin that the girl had not been raped and that Jones had been accused by Prince de Nassau-Siegen for his own purposes;http://for.lib.kherson.ua/en-jones.htm however, Jones admitted to prosecutors that he had "often frolicked" with the girl "for a small cash payment," only denying that he had deprived her of her virginity.Charles King, Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011; ISBN 0393070840), p. 47. Even so, in that period he was able to author his Narrative of the Campaign of the Liman.