Biography of John Paul Jones
Celebrated American Biographies





JOHN PAUL JONES, though a native of Scotland, was one of America's most noted fighters during the Revolutionary war. He was born July 6, 1747. His father was a gardener, but the young man soon became interested in a seafaring life and at the age of twelve he was apprenticed to a sea captain engaged in the American trade. His first voyage landed him in Virginia, where he had a brother who had settled there several years prior. The failure of the captain released young Jones from his apprenticeship bonds, and he was engaged as third mate of a vessel engaged in the slave trade. He abandoned this trade after a few years, from his own sense of disgrace. He took passage from Jamaica for Scotland in 1768, and on the voyage both the captain and the mate died and he was compelled to take command of the vessel for the reminder of the voyage. He soon after became master of the vessel, He returned to Virginia about 1773 to settle up the estate of his brother, and at this time added the name "Jones," having previously been known as John Paul. He settled down in Virginia, but when the war broke out in 1775 he offered his services to congress and was appointed senior lieutenant of the flagship "Alfred," on which he hoisted the American flag with his own hands, the first vessel that had ever carried a flag of the new nation. He was afterward appointed to the command of the "Alfred," and later of the "Providence," in each of which vessels he did good service, as also in the "Ranger," to the command of which he was later appointed. The fight that made him famous, however, was that in which he captured the "Serapis," off the coast of Scotland. He was then in command of the "Bon Homme Richard," which had been fitted out for him by the French government arid named by Jones in honor of Benjamin Franklin, or "Good Man Richard," Franklin being author of the publication knowh as "Poor Richard's Almanac." The fight between the "Richard" and the "Serapis" lasted three hours, all of which time the vessels were at close range, and most of the time in actual contact. Jones' vessel was on fire several times, and early in the engagement two of his guns bursted, rendering the battery useless. Also an envious officer of the Alliance, one of Jones' own fleet, opened fire upon the "Richard" at a critical time, completely disabling the vessel. Jones continued the fight, in spite of counsels to surrender, and after dark the "Serapis" struck her colors, and was hastily boarded by Jones and his crew, while the "Richard" sank, bows first, after the wounded had been taken on board the "Serapis." Most of the other vessels of the fleet of which the "Serapis" was convoy, surrendered, and were taken with the "Serapis to France, where Jones was received with greatest honors, and the kirig presented him with an elegant sword and the cross of the Order of Military Merit. Congress gave him a vote of thanks and made him commander of a new ship, the "America," but the vessel was afterward given to France and Jones never saw active sea service again. He came to America again, in 1787, after the close of the war, and was voted a gold medal by congress. He went to Russia and was appointed rear admiral and rendered service of value against the Turks, but on account of personal enmity of the favorites of the emperor he was retired on a pension. Failing to collect this, he returned to France, where he died, July 18, 1792.


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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