|John Paul Jones
Most Famous Naval Hero of the American
John Paul Jones is the most famous American
naval hero of the Revolutionary War. Few men
have led such a tumultuous, swashbuckling life
at sea. He was given special honor citations by
the U.S. Congress and Louis XVI of France.
■ John Paul
Jones was born July 6, 1747, in
Kircudbrightshire, Scotland. He was the son of a
landscape gardener. As a boy of 12, he sailed
for Virginia where he visited his brother.
■ When the
company he sailed with went broke, he took other
jobs and soon moved up to first mate to master
to captain. When he killed the ringleader of a
mutinous crew on a voyage to Tobago, he decided
to stay out of reach of the British Admiralty.
So he dropped out of sight for two years,
emerging with the name John Paul Jones.
■ He joined
the fledgling U.S. Navy and was soon tormenting
British shipping with hit and run raids from
Nova Scotia to the Bermudas. He extended his
forays to the British Isles and landed with his
men on the English coast and near his birthplace
in Scotland. ■
Commanding the Ben Homme Richard, Jones
intercepted a British convoy guarded by the
HMS Serapis. In the bloodiest and perhaps
best known naval engagement of the war—nearly
600 were killed or wounded—Jones lost his ship
but boarded and captured the Serapis.
■ After the
war, he joined the Russian Navy as a rear
admiral and fought the Turks. He returned to
France embittered by Russian and U.S. naval
politics. His health failed, and he died July
18, 1792. He was buried in France in an unmarked
More than a century later, his body was returned
to the U.S. and buried in a special crypt in the
chapel at Annapolis.
Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546