John Paul Jones

 Father of the American Navy - Masonic FDC

John Paul Jones (1747-1792)  Father of the American Navy.  His original name was John Paul.  Born July 6, 1747 in Kirkbean, Scotland.  He went to sea at the age of 12, and at 19 was first mate of a slaver, and captain of a merchantman three years later.  Ill fortune struck, however, when a man, flogged on his ship, died and another was killed in a mutiny.  Hostile witnesses at the inquiry made it rough for him and he next appeared at his brother's home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, having added the alias of "Jones" to his name.  He had been made a member of St. Bernards Lodge No. 122 (now St. Cuthbert No. 41) of Kirkcudbright, Scotland, November 27, 1770.  At the outbreak of the American Revolution he obtained a commission in the Continental Navy as a lieutenant.  It is said that fraternal connections obtained it for him.  He soon became a captain, and acted as commodore of a fleet of privateers through which he established a reputation.  Taking the war into European waters, he went to France, and, through Franklin's influence, obtained a vessel named the Bonhomme Richard which first flew the new American ensign in foreign waters.  Two days after the first fight with the British Serapis (where he is supposed to have uttered the words "I've just begun to fight!"), his ship sank and he made his way back to Paris.  While here, he became associated with the Lodge of Nine Sisters, and there are several references to his membership in the Lodge records.  He was also a visitor to St. Thomas Lodge in Paris.  The Lodge of Nine Sisters had a bust of Jones made by Houdon, the measurements of which were used to identify Jones's body when the remains were removed more than 100 years later.  Returning to Philadelphia in 1781, he was named to command the America, a man-of-war then building.  Through "defects of taste and character," he was not allowed to take the vessel to sea.  He again returned to Paris, and finally in 1787, Congress voted him a medal--the only one awarded to a naval hero in the Revolution.  After declining service with Denmark, he accepted an appointment as rear admiral in the navy of Empress Catherine of Russia, then at war against the Turks.  He was victor in the engagements on the Black Sea, but lost those in the palace corridors.  He returned to Paris in 1790, and died of dropsy, July 18, 1792.  He was buried in the Protestant cemetery of Paris and his gravesite was forgotten until 1905, when it was rediscovered and the remains were born in solemn procession through the streets of Paris prior to shipment to America.  They were later interred at Annapolis, Maryland.

 

         

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