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Located just east of the Patomic Rivers, the John Paul Jones Memorial was created in 1912 and dedicated by President William Taft in order to celebrate the life and accomplishments of the American Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones. Created by would renouwned sculptur Charles H. Neihous the statue stands at ten feet with a massive marble pillar serving at its background. John Paul Jones and his crew of the Bonhomme Richard warship participated in various escapades to include a daring battle against the British Navy in 1779 which was won by narrow margin. His efforts and accomplishments have cemented him as the father of the American Navy and his famous phrase "I have not yet begun to fight" is instilled in the history of America.

  • Photo of the John Paul Jones Memorial
  • Photo of the John Paul Jones Memorial
  • Photo of the John Paul Jones Memorial
  • Photo of the John Paul Jones Memorial

John Paul Jones was born in Scotland in 1747. He began sailing by the age of 13 as a British merchant marine and eventually became the master of a ship by 1769 (Naval). He spent several years of his life as a part of the crew involved with slave trade while improving his sailing skills. In 1773 he killed the leader of a mutinous crew in self defense and then fled to America with belief he would not be held to a free trial (Blythe). During the peak of tensions between America and England during the Revolutionary War he was commisioned into Continental Navy in 1775 as Lieutenant. Over the next several years John Paul Jones commanded three different ships and had many successful endeavors against the British Navy which led to his appointment by congress as the commander of a frigate (Appointment letter).

John Paul Jones rose in the Ranks of the Continental Navy very quickly and his positive results had given his leadership the utmost confidence in his capabilities. On September 23, 1779 he aboard his flagship war vessle Bonhomme Richard was maneuvering to intercept a British convoy of 41 ships that he had known were traveling from the West Indies (Navy). The ships came into view off of the coast of England however, they were being escorted by two British warships Serapis and Countess of Scarborough (Blythe). Shortly after coming into view these ships were engaged in a battle that would change the United Stated Navy forever.

The battle lasted three hours between the two Continental Navy ships Bonhomme Richard and Pallas against the Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough. Several hours of maneuvering led to the Rohomme Richard ramming the Serapis and tying the ships together followed by several hours of point blank cannon fire (Blythe). The British Captain, after seeing the Bonhomme Richard was certainly sinking, asked if Jones was ready to surrender. John Paul Jones responded with the now famous phrase "we have not yet begun to fight" (Navy). A few large explosions stemmed the tide and the crew of the Bonhomme Richard boarded the Serapis under British surrender and Jones transferred his flag to the Serapis which was later recognized by French ships passing by as the first time the US flag was recognized by a foreign government (Lorenz). An archived newspaper called The Day Book from the Library of Congress displayed an article from 1912 discussing this battle as the first where the American flag was raised (Day Book).

This battle demonstrated to England that the Continental Navy was not one to be taken lightly. John Paul Jones recounted his battle to Benjamin Franklin via letters that provided valuable insights for historians (Ben Franklin). Not often the most traditional man John Paul Jones constantly produced results beneficial for the Revolutionary War and his accolades can be revisited at the Naval History and Heritage Command (Chron). John Paul Jones was a master sailor who provided a much needed boost to an early America and has provided a structure and mindset for all who have come after.

John Paul Jones died on 18 July 1972 in an apartment in Paris France. From the day of his death to the year 1899 his remains remained in Saint Louis cemetary he was buried in while the city itself eventually covered the gravesite with roads and buildings. In 1899 President Theodore Roosevelt allocated $35,000 to find and return the remains of John Paul Jones to the United States (Recovery). After six years of searching the Ambassador to France, Horace Porter, discovered the remains and was still able to recognize the face of John Paul Jones. After the appropriate funds were gathered by US Congress, Jones was reloacted to Dahlgren Hall of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland. John Paul Jones body was placed in a crypt under the academy on January 26, 1913 just one year after the John Paul Jones Memorial was comissioned in Washington D.C (Roosevelt).

Barry, John, and Martin I. J. Griffin. "JOHN PAUL JONES AND JOHN BARRY." The American Catholic Historical Researches, New Series, 1, no. 4 (1905): 343-58. Accessed May 8, 2020.

Blythe, Bob. “The American Revolution.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Accessed April 19, 2020.

Coleman, David. “Commodore John Paul Jones Memorial.” Washington DC Photo Guide, January 16, 2020.

“Histories of the National Mall: John Paul Jones Memorial.” Omeka RSS. Roy Rosenzweig. Accessed April 19, 2020.

“John Paul Jones Chron.” Naval History and Heritage Command. Accessed April 19, 2020.

“John Paul Jones.” Naval History and Heritage Command. Accessed April 19, 2020.

Lorenz, Lincoln. John Paul Jones: Fighter for Freedom and Glory. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2014.

“NH 115402 Appointment of John Paul Jones as Commander of a Frigate, 1779.” Naval History and Heritage Command. Accessed April 19, 2020.

“Recovery of Remains of Patriot John Paul Jones.” American Revolution. The Order of the Founders and Patriots of America. Accessed May 5, 2020.

“Teddy Roosevelt Buries John Paul Jones - Again.” New England Historical Society, April 6, 2020.

The Day Book. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.), 04 Oct. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

“To Benjamin Franklin from John Paul Jones, 3 October 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives, [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 30, July 1 through October 31, 1779, ed. Barbara B. Oberg. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993, pp. 443–462.]

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