History has many definitions. The one I prefer is the story of events. Generally a written record of important events and their causes.
When writing of “heroes,” the good is shared, rarely the bad. Sad because other than Jesus Christ, the perfect man exists not. We all have pimples.
I wrote the story of John Paul Jones nine years ago. Unquestionably, a hero. Died young at 45. He had his pimples! Enough for a man twice his age. Few are aware of his missteps, however. Our heroes are represented untainted.
I wrote the good and bad, tainted and untainted, re John Paul Jones. Though young in years at the time of his death, his story long. Nine years ago, I wrote only one blog a week. I broke Jones’ life into two separate blogs shared one week apart. I reshare them with you today. The story of a hero cannot be repeated enough. Especially, the whole story.
JOHN PAUL JONES
Part 1, July 13, 2014
John Paul Jones was a man. A man’s man.
America recognizes Jones as the father of the U.S. Navy. During the Revolution, the Navy was known as the Continental Navy. His exploits and leadership in the War exhibited traditions of courage and professionalism which to this day are proudly maintained by the U.S. Navy.
In his first command against the British fleet, he captured 16 British vessels. His greatest victory was as Captain of the Bonhomme Richard in 1779.
His ship and crew were in bad shape. The British commander recognized it. He offered Jones the opportunity to surrender. The term was struck. He was asked…..Have you struck? Jones’ famous response…..I have not yet begun to fight. Three hours later the British commander surrendered.
U.S. Naval tradition perpetuates the following statement which reflects his fighting manner.
I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast for I intend to go in harm’s way.
Jones died in Paris in 1792 at the age of 45. His body was subsequently returned to the United States aboard the USS Brooklyn accompanied by three cruisers.
As the Brooklyn approached U.S. shores, seven battleships went out to greet and accompany Jones to shore.
Today, his body lies in a bronze and marble sarcophagus in the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel at Annapolis.
Recall Marc Anthony’s words to the people of Rome following Caesar’s assassination.
The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.
It was not that way with John Paul Jones. His “good” has lived after him. Very few are aware of his other nature. I wish to share that unknown with you.
However, it is lengthy and much too long to be concluded here. There will be a Part 2 to the Jones story. It will be published next week.
Let me leave you with the thought that John Paul Jones and World War II Generals Douglas MacArthur and George Patton were of the same ilk, cut from the same bolt of cloth. Each a supreme egomaniac. Each dashing, courageous, lacking in tact, arrogant, publicity seeking, personally flawed, and brilliant. Each with a conspicuous desire for glory.
The comparison an inkling of Part 2.
Part 2, July 18, 2014
In last week’s Part 1, I shared that which is popularly known regarding one of America’s greatest naval heroes, John Paul Jones. This week, Part 2 introduces the less well known John Paul Jones.
John Paul Jones was born John Paul in 1747 in Scotland. Jones would not become his last name for many years. He went to sea as an apprentice when 13.
Several years later, he served as a crew member on three slave ships to Africa and back. His services were well paid. However, he came to hate trafficking in human cargo and stopped after the third trip.
His first command was the brig John. He initially served as second mate. After the Captain and first mate died from fever, he assumed command.
On a voyage to the West Indies in 1770, he flogged one of his sailors for disciplinary reasons. The sailor died a few weeks after the flogging. The discipline was considered as unnecessarily cruel by authorities and Jones was arrested. He was imprisoned and then released on bail. Fearful of an adverse result at trial, he jumped bail and left the place of trial.
Another incident involving a crew member occurred in 1773. The place, the island of Tobago. Certain of his crew mutinied. It was over advance pay. In the fight which ensued, Jones killed one of the sailors with his sword. Again his fear of not getting a fair trial came into play. He escaped to Fredericksburg, Virginia.
He changed his name. From John Paul to John Paul Jones to avoid capture and return to Tobago for trial.
His bother had died earlier while residing there. Jones’ reasons for picking Fredericksburg as his destination were twofold. There was a need to settle his brothers affairs. Additionally, Jones had a great dislike for Great Britain whom he believed had mistreated the Scottish people.
When war between the Colonies and Great Britain broke out, he volunteered his service in the new Continental Navy. He was awarded a lieutenant’s rank. His naval talent was soon recognized and he was elevated to Captain and received his first command. The sloop Providence.
He distinguished himself in that command by capturing 16 British vessels on his first cruise.
Jones accomplished a previously thought not possible act. He attacked the Town of Westhaven on the west coast of England. Actually landed his men and himself on land.
Invaded the Town. Little damage was done. However he gave the British concern that a Colonial ship could actually invade England.
Jones was a proud egotistical man. He knew better than others. He was of the opinion his record proved it. He found it difficult to get along with his superiors, those in authority.
He feuded with Commodore Hopkins. His boss, in effect. Jones publicly complained that Hopkins was hindering his advancement and talking down his campaign plans. Hopkins retaliated by giving Jones command of a smaller ship and sending him off to France.
Paris was the perfect place for Jones. He enjoyed partying and frolicking with the ladies. He became immediate and best friends with Benjamin Franklin.
Paris was their play pen. Jones was extremely proud that he and Franklin became members of a Masonic Lodge at the same time while in Paris.
In 1779, Jones took command of the Bonhomme Richard where he won his greatest battle and spoke words which resound to this day…..I have not yet begun to fight.
At all times while in the service of the Continental Navy, Jones had trouble not only with his superiors but also with his officers and men. His officers and crew felt Jones fought for his own glory and nothing more. He took them in harm’s way for his personal benefit.
On the first trip with the Bonhomme Richard, Jones commanded a seven ship squadron. Five Naval ships and two privateers. Rank insubordination occurred.
Two captains took their ships and left the squadron before battle.
One year after Bonhomme Richard’s glorious victory, the King of France honored Jones with the title Chevalier. France loved Jones! It was the biggest recognition it could give him.
In 1787, the Continental Congress was to give Jones a medal for his valor and brilliant services. He rankled many by insisting that the award include the title Chevalier prior to his name.
Interestingly while France and the United States were honoring Jones, Great Britain viewed him as nothing more than a common pirate.
After the war, the Continental Navy was disbanded. Over Jones’ objection. Congress felt it did not have sufficient monies to maintain a navy.
A Captain with out a ship. A warrior without a war. Somehow he and Catherine the Great of Russia got together. She was also known as Catherine II.
Russia was at war with Turkey. Russia was in need of a stronger and apparently better naval leader. Catherine said she wanted…..One more bulldog for the Black Sea. Jones was her bulldog.
In his acceptance, Jones wrote Catherine that he hoped his efforts on behalf of Russia would bring him great fame. He wrote her he loved glory and was perhaps too attached to honors.
Jones was designated a Rear Admiral and beat the hell out of the Turks.
Jones became a Russian hero. He did not enjoy the position too long. He had made enemies. Certain Russian elite disliked him. The reason simple. He again was the braggart, the man who could get things done. Glory and credit were not shared by him with anyone.
Intrigue came into play. Russian intrigue. Two Russian princes who were not fond of Jones had him recalled to St. Petersburg. They maliciously assaulted his private character.
Jones was accused of sexual assault with a 12 year old girl. He was charged with rape. He was arrested.
Jones’ mouth got him into deeper trouble. He admitted he had often “frolicked with the girl” for a small cash payment. He denied however taking her virginity.
Fortunately, he had one friend in Russia. The French Count de Segur who convinced authorities that Jones had been falsely accused.
Jones departed Russia a bitter man.
Jones died in a third floor Paris apartment in 1792. He was 45 years old.
His burial procession was small. Nowhere near what a man of his distinction/accomplishments might be entitled to. A small group of servants and friends walked with his coffin four miles to his place of burial. St. Louis Cemetery. The place of repose of the French royal family. A place of dignity and respect.
Not for long however. Four years later came the French Revolution. Louis lost his head and the cemetery its dignity. The beautiful cemetery became a place for the disposal of dead animals and gamblers who had bet on animal fights. The bodies were merely thrown on the ground.
Years later in 1905, the United States desired the return of the body of their revered Naval hero. His body was difficult to locate and identify.
After scientific investigation, his body was located. Jones was then returned with appropriate glory to the United States. His home since, the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.