| Builders of Our Country: Book II|
|by Gertrude van Duyn Southworth|
| A lively account of American history told through 31 biographies, beginning with Patrick Henry at the start of the Revolution and ending with Andrew Carnegie at the close of the 19th century. The biographies are so chosen as to acquaint the reader with the chief personages and events in our national life, by including many vivid pictures of each. Ages 10-12 |
JOHN PAUL JONES
FROM SCOTLAND TO AMERICA
 FAR away from the American colonies, near the western
shore of Scotland, lived a gardener, John Paul. His
youngest son, John Paul, Jr., left his Scotland home, came
to America, and later was the first man to raise an American
flag over an American war ship. Let us see how it
all came about.
John Paul's eldest son was called William. While
William was still a mere boy, a wealthy Virginia planter,
named William Jones, had come to Scotland to visit, and
had taken a great fancy to young William Paul. Having
no chiidren of his own, Mr. Jones offered to adopt this boy
and take him to Virginia to live. The offer was accepted;
William Paul became William Paul Jones and left Scotland for America.
All this had happened before John Paul, Jr., was born.
But though he had never seen this brother, the fact that
he dwelt in America set the sturdy lad to dreaming of that
All his life, John Paul, Jr., had lived by the sea. He
was naturally strong, daring, and plucky; and he quickly
learned to handle a boat. Often, when the little fellow
should have been in school, he was sent to sea in a fishing
yawl to do his part toward providing for the family. His
great ambition was to gain his father's permission to sail
 on some vessel bound for America. He was only twelve
years old when good fortune and his own scorn of danger
won for him his heart's desire.
One summer afternoon, in 1759, an ugly squall made
sailing difficult. When the wind was at its worst, a small
fishing boat was seen beating its way toward the harbor of John Paul's
home village. The villagers watched
anxiously. Among those
gathered on the shore
were the gardener,
John Paul, and a
Younger, who had
come to the village
to look for sailors.
The little boat was
having a rough time.
Mr. Younger did not
think it could reach
the harbor. But, bit
by bit, it made headway against the squall,
until at last the watchers could see those on
board. There were
only a boy and a man.
The boy was steering and handling the sails, while the
man was merely trimming the boat according to the boy's
By this time, John Paul had recognized the boat. He
no longer seemed alarmed, but turning to Mr. Younger
Said, "That is my boy, John. He will fetch her in. This
 isn't much of a squall for him." And so it proved. The
little boat came safely to shore, and her twelve-year-old
commander was presented to Mr. Younger. The merchant
congratulated the youthful seaman and offered him the
position of master's apprentice on a fine new ship about to
sail to Virginia and the West Indies.
In the face of such an opportunity the father could
hardly refuse his consent. Arrangements were quicky
made, and a few days later the young John Paul sailed
from Whitehaven on the good brig Friendship.
FROM A PRINT MADE IN ENGLAND DURING THE LIFETIME OF PAUL JONES.
It was nearly five weeks later when the Friendship
came to anchor in the Rappahannock River, not far from
the wharf of William Jones. While the ship lay in the
river, John Paul paid his longed-for visit to his brother
William and William's adopted father.
John, too, quickly found his way into the heart of
William Jones, who wanted to adopt him also.
However, the boy's love of the sea kept him from accepting;
and when the Friendship headed for the West Indies, he
was on board. The next spring the ship returned to
Whitehaven, and John Paul's first voyage was at an end.
Other voyages followed. Time and again during the
next twelve years he crossed the Atlantic; and gradually
he rose from shipmaster's apprentice to captain, with an
interest in the profits of the voyage.
In April, 1773, he once more went to see his brother.
He found William at the very point of death, and this
death made a great difference in Captain Paul's future.
Soon after John Paul's first visit to Virginia, William
Jones had died. He had left his estates to his adopted
son, William Paul Jones. But he had added that, if
William were to die without an heir, the plantation was to
go to John Paul on the one condition that he, too, should
take the name of Jones.
 In obedience to this condition, John Paul became John
Paul Jones. As the Virginia plantation was now his own,
he sent his ship to England in charge of the first mate
and settled down to take his brother's place. And so
it was that this Scotch laddie came to be an American
citizen, fitted and ready to serve in America's first naval
IN AMERICA'S NAVY
DURING his first two years in Virginia, John Paul
Jones led a care-free life, dividing his time between
studying and dispensing the open-hearted hospitality of colonial
This brought him to the year 1775, and the beginning
of the war between England and her American colonies.
When fighting began, John Paul Jones offered his services,
to Congress, and later in the year he was appointed
senior lieutenant on the Alfred. The Alfred was the
flagship of the pioneer squadron of our American navy. And
a weak little squadron it was, compared with the proud
English ships which threatened our coast.
Early in 1776 the American fleet put to sea and headed
for the Bahama Islands. After capturing two English
vessels on the way, it reached Nassau, took the governor
prisoner, and seized nearly a hundred cannon, besides
large quantities of military supplies.
Later in this same year, John Paul Jones was appointed
to the command of the Providence, with which he captured
sixteen English ships, and had many narrow and daring
In 1777, Captain Jones concluded that America's best
course was to send a ship, or a number of ships, to cruise
along the British coast. So earnestly and persistently
 did he urge this plan that he convinced Congress of its
wisdom. And as commander of the Ranger, a new sloop
which had just been launched, he set out for foreign
His first errand was to deliver to Benjamin Franklin
in France certain despatches from Congress, telling the
good tidings of Burgoyne's surrender. You remember
that Franklin had gone to France to secure her sympathy
and aid; and we have seen how these tidings stirred the
 French and led to the signing of their alliance with the
young American nation.
PAUL JONES WITH BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AT THE FRENCH COURT.
When the spring of 1778 came, Jones left France and
steered the Ranger to prowl about the coast of England.
His audacity was past belief. Slipping into the harbor
of Whitehaven, he surprised the forts, spiked the guns,
and attempted to burn the shipping.
The English were alarmed, and sent out their sloop:
of war, the Drake, to capture this intruder. The well
armed Drake and the Ranger met in the Irish Sea.
"What ship is that?" queried the Drake.
"The American Continental ship Ranger. Come on,
we are waiting for you," answered Jones.
At almost the same instant the two vessels opened
fire. For an hour and four minutes broadside followed
broadside. Then, the Drake, almost a wreck, struck her
colors and followed her victor to France.
From France the Ranger was sent home to America,
while Captain Jones remained to command a promised
larger ship. For weeks and months he waited before this
promise was fulfilled. In fact, it was the summer of 1779,
when he at last sailed away from France with a squadron
of four vessels besides his flagship, the Bon Homme Richard.
This name, the French equivalent for "Poor Richard,"
John Paul Jones gave his ship in honor of Dr. Franklin.
The squadron spent a month or more capturing vessel
after vessel and spreading consternation all along England's
coast. By the latter part of September, Jones had sailed
around the north of Scotland and was coming down the
east of England. On the 23d, he spied a British fleet off
Flamborough Head and immediately gave chase. It
proved to be merchant vessels under the protection of
two war ships, the Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough.
Seeing that they were pursued, the merchant vessels
 spread full sail and escaped, leaving the field to the two
English men-of-war, the Bon Homme Richard, and three
of the American squadron. One of these three was soon
busy forcing the Countess of Scarborough to surrender;
another was too small to be of much account; while the
captain of the third, by disobeying orders, did far more
harm than good. Thus the Serapis was left for
the Bon Homme Richard.
It was past seven o'clock when the two ships came
within hailing distance. Both commanders knew that
the encounter meant a battle to the finish. Little time
was wasted in useless signals. The roar of cannon from
each ship said all that was necessary.
With the first volley, two of the Bon Homme Richard's
guns burst, killing several men and damaging the ship.
This lessened her power, but did not check the battle.
In the soft light of the rising moon, the two ships
drifted nearer and nearer together. And all the while
cannon answered cannon, and ball after ball tore through
the rigging, or crashed its way through the decks. Once,
for a moment, the British commander lost sight of the
"Have you struck your colors?" he shouted.
"I have not yet begun to fight," doggedly answered
But the Bon Homme Richard was old, and the battle
was telling on her. She could not hold out indefinitely.
At last the ships came close. Jones determined to keep
them so, and seizing heavy ropes he lashed the two together.
Up into the rigging climbed the best shots in his crew
and, firing down on the enemy's deck, quickly picked off
every man who showed himself. Hand grenades were
thrown into the portholes of the Serapis, and before long
one was dropped through the hatchway. In an instant
 there was a terrific explosion. The hatch was blown open,
and flame and smoke poured out. The grenade had struck
in the midst of a line of cartridges and had fired them all.
This was the beginning of the end. And when John
Paul Jones ordered a party of his men to board the Serapis,
the English commander, seeing them swarm forward
unopposed, lowered his flag with his own hands.
It was now past ten o'clock. After the English
commander had surrendered his sword to Jones, the ships were
separated, and they drifted apart.
The condition of the Bon Homme Richard can hardly
be imagined. Her dead and wounded lay stretched
out on her decks.
Water was pouring
through many shot
holes, and flames
were threatening to
destroy what little
the battle had left.
The vessel was a
all hands aboard
the Serapis and left
his ship to her fate.
With her torn and
tattered flag still
flying, she slowly
filled and sank from sight, while John Paul Jones sailed
away in the conquered Serapis.
Great was the effect of his victory throughout all
Europe. The King of France, the King of Denmark and
the Empress of Russia each conferred honors upon him.
Congress also gave him a vote of thanks, appointed him to
 the command of a new and splendid ship, and presented
him with a gold medal in recognition of his inestimable
services to our infant navy.
THE MEDAL PRESENTED TO PAUL JONES BY CONGRESS.
After the American Revolution, John Paul Jones
entered the service of Russia with the rank of Rear
Later he went to Paris, and there he died in 1792.
His body was carefully embalmed and was put into a
leaden coffin and quietly buried in a cemetery on the out
skirts of the city. As the city grew, the property was
sold to a building contractor; the cemetery was effaced;
houses were built over it; and the grave of America's
first naval hero was lost sight of.
His fame fared better. Although at the time of his
death the American people allowed the body of John Paul
Jones to be buried without pomp or honor, they have
never forgotten the immense debt they owe him. And at
last, after more than a hundred years, the nation he so
loyally served has paid his memory well-deserved tribute.
In 1899 General Horace Porter, our American
Ambassador to France, undertook to find the remains of John
Paul Jones. Through old letters and records he succeeded
in locating the discarded cemetery, and the city authorities
gave him permission to search the ground. This work
was begun in 1905; and in a little under two months, the
leaden coffin which held the body of Paul Jones was dis
covered. So perfectly had the body been preserved that
the features of the hero could be unmistakably identified
with those of his portrait on the Congressional medal.
Then the United States sent a squadron to France to
bring the body to Annapolis, the home of America's Naval
Academy. And here the remains of John Paul Jones now
lie in the crypt of a new chapel erected in his honor by the
land of his adoption.
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