Jones, John Paul

Jones, John Paul (1747-1792) Naval Commander: Jones began his naval career in his native land, Scotland, at the age of 12, advancing from apprentice to merchant captain by adulthood. He was accused of murdering a neglectful ship's carpenter and a mutinous crewman. Cleared of the first charge, he fled to American to avoid a trial for the second charge. He took the surname Jones to hide his identity. Congress commissioned him as a first lieutenant on the Alfred once the Revolutionary War began. Later, as captain and commander of the Providence, he captured 16 prizes in a single cruise. Great achievements awaited him in European waters. He took the Ranger into the Irish Sea in 1778, carrying out Congress' order to interdict shipping and raid enemy ports. The following year, his Bonhomme Richard was engaged in an intense naval struggle with the British Serapis. Jones' ship sank but, when he was asked to surrender, he is reported to have said, "I have not yet begun to fight." In this most famous naval battle of the war, Jones was able to sink the enemy ship despite the destruction of his own vessel. Known as a vain, ambitious, and contentious individual, Jones was nevertheless a courageous man. After the war, he served in the Russian Navy, then retired in France. After an extensive search, his remains were discovered and returned to the United States in 1905.