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Thread: John Paul Jones

  1. #1

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    John Paul Jones



    Two days after Independence Day is the birth date of the Scotsman known as "Father of the American Navy". John Paul Jones was arguable not the true "father" of the US Navy - he joined only as second-in-command of one of the USN's first ships in December 1775. The Navy's originators were arguably the members of the Rhode Island assembly who passed a motion in August 1775 calling "for building at the Continental expense a fleet of sufficient force, for the protection of these colonies, and for employing them in such a manner and places as will most effectively annoy our enemies..."

    Why then was his body repatriated in 1905 to the US, with full military honours, and why is his tomb still guarded today by cadets from the US Naval Academy?

    The answer of course is that what he did during the War for Independence was so audacious that his character has imprinted itself on the USN's consciousness - like Nelson did later for the Royal Navy. Unlike in the UK though, the USN retains a special place in the national consciousness. It is the armed service which first declared American independence directly to Europe and continues to define American might abroad.

    That declaration of independence was thanks to the personal willpower and daring of John Paul Jones who by now a commander, took his ship, USS Ranger across the Atlantic to strike Great Britain in its home waters. Leaving America in November 1777 for a base in France, Ranger raided Whitehaven and the Solway Firth, with his first war cruise culminating in the capture of HMS Drake in April 1778.

    Greater was to come though. On 23 September 1779, this time in command of the 42-gun USS Bonhomme Richard, off Flamborough Head on the east coast of England, he uttered the immortal words "I have not yet begun to fight" when asked by the captain of the 50-gun HMS Serapis if he had surrendered, as the Bonhomme Richard began to sink and his subordinates decided to lower the American flag. Taking charge and rousing the crew in a do-or-die response he turned around the course of battle which ended with the surrender of the Serapis.

    John Paul Jones' naval campaign in British home waters did not win the military contest in the way that Trafalgar in 1805 demarcated the Napoleonic War. But it did define the birth of a nation and showed to the Old World, on their doorstep, that America was ready and willing to fight for its future.

    For that reason he has entered US mythology, it is no mistake that the names of the two ships with which he won glory, have been reused to pass some of that honour onto later ships embodying American might abroad.

    As a Scot, John Paul Jones was able to look beyond narrow sectarian interest and see the greater principles of freedom and self-rule at stake. He gave his best years to America for that cause. Those bonds created across the Atlantic in the 1770’s still count today, and will count even more if Scotland follows America in 2014.

    Alastair

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  3. #2
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    Re: John Paul Jones

    I used to watch a program on TV, which was filmed in Scotland. It has been a few years ago now. It had an older, somewhat chubby, Scot, dressed in a kilt, as the host, & sometimes a dark-haired, luscious girl, often dressed in her own kilt. Also there was a professor, I want to say he was teaching at U. of Glasgow? Seems that I remember that there's a gravestone there for John Paul Jones, in a churchyard. Now cannot remember the actual town, but must have been where he was born. I was quite impressed. Joan

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    Re: John Paul Jones

    I have not yet found any reference to 'a gravestone there for John Paul Jones', but will keep searching.

    Now found a link which is just below.
    http://www.kirkbeanheritagesociety.org.uk/

    I did not know that he died if France.... here is a little of the information regarding his burial and exhumation.

    [quote starts]
    Posthumous return to America

    In 1905, Jones's remains were identified by U.S. Ambassador to France Gen. Horace Porter, who had searched for six years to track down the body using faulty copies of Jones's burial record. Thanks to the kind donation of a French admirer, Pierrot Francois Simmoneau, who had donated over 460 francs, Jones's body was preserved in alcohol and interred in a lead coffin "in the event that should the United States decide to claim his remains, they might more easily be identified." Porter knew what to look for in his search. With the aid of an old map of Paris, Porter's team, which included anthropologist Louis Capitan, identified the site of the former St. Louis Cemetery for Alien Protestants. Sounding probes were used to search for lead coffins and five coffins were ultimately exhumed. The third, unearthed on April 7, 1905, was later identified by a meticulous post-mortem examination by Doctors Capitan and Georges Papillault as being that of Jones. The autopsy confirmed the original listing of cause of death.
    [Quote ends]

    Here is the link for the above.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Pa...ears_and_death

    Ranald
    Last edited by Ranald; 8th July 2012 at 14:12. Reason: added link

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    Re: John Paul Jones

    We do have a book about him on the site at http://www.electricscotland.com/history/jpjndx.htm

    Alastair

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    Re: John Paul Jones

    Alastair, I tried 3 separate Google searches, and went through about 5 pages on each, but none showed ES?

    The first search was prior to your message, and the other two after I had used your link.

    Strange.

    Ranald
    Last edited by Ranald; 9th July 2012 at 15:04.

  9. #6

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    Re: John Paul Jones

    Google has changed their method of indexing pages. It seems that they no longer rank static pages as highly as they did previously. And of course being a history site almost all my pages are static.

    In many ways I feel there is room for a new search engine where the focus is on quality of information. While doing research using Google it's by no means the first time that I've found the best information some 20 pages deep and not many people will go that far.

    Alastair

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