“I have not yet begun to fight”
John Paul was born in Arbigland Scotland in 1747. Today is the 265 anniversary of his birth.
At 13 he started his seaman’s apprenticeship. After a brief stint on Slave Ships — which he quit calling it an “abominable trade” — and time as a Master Supercargo (the officer in charge of buying and selling the cargo of a ship), Paul became a captain at 21. He worked the trans Atlantic routes to the Caribbean and Virginia and amassed a small fortune in the merchant marine business by 1773, but his hot temper got him into trouble more than once. And when he killed a mutineer in the West Indies he had to flee to Virginia. It was then that he changed his name to John Paul Jones.
War with England was brewing and John Paul Jones offered his services on the sea. With the endorsement of Richard Henry Lee, Jones was commissioned as a First Lieutenant into the vast Continental Navy (they only had six vessels) on December 7th, 1775. As his ship, the Alfred set sail from the Delaware River on its maiden cruise he hosted the Grand Union Flag, (the first national flag of the United States,) it was the first time a US ensign was flown over a naval vessel. He next took command of the sloop Providence. He captured 16 prizes along the coast of Nova Scotia. Although he argued with Naval authorities, his reputation grew, he was given command of the USS Ranger and set sail for France. There he befriended American diplomats in Paris John Adams, Arthur Lee, and especially Benjamin Franklin (he named one of his boat the Bonhomme Richard in honor of Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac.) When the Bonhomme Richard was in dire straights in the Battle of Flamborough Head with the frigate Serapis he was offered the chance to surrender. Jones, of course answered that he had not yet begun to fight. He lost the Richard, but went on to capture the larger frigate. Jones later earned the moniker “Father of the American Navy.”
After the American Revolutionary War Thomas Jefferson (who was then the American Ambassador to France) recommended him for service in Catherine II’s Russian Navy. John Paul Jones then became Kontradmiral check Pavel Ivanovich Jones and served with Potemkin in the Black Sea campaign.
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