Sons of the American Revolution
John Paul Jones
Arbigland is in the parish of Kirkbean on the west coast of Scotland. It is on the north shore of the Firth of Solway which divides Scotland from
England opening into the Irish Sea. This Presbyterian parish was name for St. Beanus, the missionary who first evangelized the Picts of the area.
John Paul, Sr. and his wife Jean MacDuff lived on the estate of Mr. William Craik known as Arbigland. John Sr. was the gardener which was essentially the landscape architect for the estate. There were seven children: William who went to Virginia, Elizabeth, Janet, Mary Ann, John, and two who died as infants. Janet married William Taylor and was the heir of her brother's estate. The Taylors had a daughter Janette who never married, and a son William, who had a son William Paul Taylor; he was appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy but died in that rank, 14 Dec 1836. Mary Ann was married twice, first to a Mr. Robert Young, and afterwards to Mr. Mark Lowden. Their son, John Lowden, born in 1786, moved to Charleston, SC. where he and his wife died in 1837 and are buried in St. Michael's churchyard.
John Paul was born on July 6, 1747. His birthdate had been accepted as correct for many years, but in 1947 in preparation for the celebration of the bicentennial of his birth at the Naval Academy, it was decided to try to authenticate it. He does not mention his birthdate specifically in any of his numerous letters. In a letter written in 1 779 he stated that "America has been the country of my fond election from the age of 13 when I first saw it." Since it is known that he sailed on the Friendship in 1 760 the year 1 747 is proven. There was also found a reference made by his niece, Janette Taylor that he was only 45 years and 12 days old when he died. Since his death was on July 18, 1792 this proved the July 6, 1 747 birthdate. The proof was announced in a news release by Admiral Holloway, Superintendent, USNA in early 1947.
Another important event in John Paul's life was when he became a Mason in 1770 at the St. Bernard Lodge at Kirkcudbright. The original petition is here at the Academy Museum. Masonry was no doubt instrumental in shaping his destiny through the friends and acquaintances he made.
During the summer of 1831, the birthplace was visited by LT. Alexander B. Pinkham, USN. He found it in a state of disrepair and contributed 25 gold sovereigns to have it restored.
In 1953, 122 years later, a plaque was dedicated at the small whitewashed stone cottage at Arbigland which reads: Commodore John Paul Jones, Illustrious Naval Hero of the American Revolution, born here July 6, 1 747. This tablet was placed in his memory by The Naval Historical Foundation and The Army and Navy Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, both of Washington, D.C.
This was the beginning of a fund raising drive to restore the birthplace. In the fall of 1988 the Naval Historical Foundation completed its active efforts toward the restoration having raised $51,600. The John Paul Jones Chapter contributed $100 in February 1986 and received a letter of thanks from Admiral Holloway.
In early 1980 our former JPJ chapter and state president Dr. Charles Williams and wife Margaret wrote to the historic trust enquiring about having a gavel made from wood from the birthplace. The answer was received that the current gardener who was a wood worker would make one from an old ash growing near the cottage. Thanks to the efforts of Charlie and Margaret we have that gavel, marked with appropriate silver plates, for the use of our chapter.
His lieutenant's commission was the earliest granted by Congress on December 7th, 1775 and there are two well recorded events in connection with the flag. He recalls the event of the raising of the Grand Union Flag in a letter to the President of the Continental Congress by writing, "I hoisted with my own Hand the Flag of Freedom the First time that it was displayed on board the Alfred on the Delaware." He again became a part to a first for the American flag, when it received the first salute of nine guns aboard the Ranger by the French Squadron at Quiberon Bay off the coast of France on February 14, 1778.
His battles were won not by his ships, but by his genius. He employed the feeble vessels given him or which he himself procured, he sailed forth boldly to strike the enemies of his country's liberty wherever he could find them. He captured some sixty vessels from the foremost of naval powers, made four bold descents upon the land, seized large quantities of arms and military stores, destroyed more than a million dollars' worth of property on the sea, and took hundreds of prisoners whose capture was used to force an exchange and release of his countrymen.
The Bon Homme Richard vs HMS Serapis
23 September 1779
His most famous exploit performed on September 23rd 1779 was the capture of HMS Serapis. In plain sight of the English coast, he flung to the breeze the gallant ensign of the United States, and, with Britons as witnesses of his daring, fought, victoriously, a battle which has always been spoken of as the most obstinate and sanguinary combat that ever occurred between single ships. The action may well be pronounced one of the most terrible on record, from its unusual duration for a naval battle, from the ferocity which the combatants displayed, and from the proximity of the two vessels, the muzzles of the ships' batteries almost reaching into each other's port-holes.
This action, which gave the most distinguishing renown to Jones' brilliant career, and which so early gave prestige to American prowess on the ocean, is that which occurred on the 23rd of September, 1 779. It was about noon, and a fleet of over forty sail appeared off Flamborough Head, on the coast of Yorkshire. The sails in sight were a fleet of English merchantmen, under convoy of the ships-of-war HMS Serapis and HMS Scarborough. Jones' ship the Bon Homme Richard and his small fleet set every stitch of canvas, but did not come into fighting position until about seven o'clock in the evening.
The Pallas, engaged the Scarborough, and took her after an hour's action, while the Bon Homme Richard engaged the Serapis. The British colors were struck at half past ten o'clock. However, so terribly was the Bon Homme Richard cut to pieces, that she soon sank after Jones and his crew transferred aboard the Serapis. It was at this battle that his famous, but not proven saying '1 have not yet begun to fight" was made.
Commodore Pearson surrendered his sword to his really weaker foe and in going through the formalities of this scene, Pearson said, "It is painful to deliver up my sword to a man who has fought with a halter around his neck."
"Sir," replied Jones, good humoredly, as he handed back the weapon, you have fought like a hero, and I make no doubt but your sovereign will reward you in the most ample manner."
True enough, the gallant Pearson soon received from King George the dignity of knighthood as an acknowledgment of his bravery in this unparalleled battle. Hearing of the honor, Jones is said to have dryly remarked, "Well, he deserved it; and should I have the good fortune to meet with him again, I will make a lord of him!"
The early life of John Paul Jones is not very well documented. His official life begins with his first cruise in 1760 when he was 13-years old. He was indentured to Mr. John Younger for seven-years to learn the mariner's profession, and sailed aboard the Friendship for Barbados and Virginia where he would be able to see his older brother William who was living and tailoring in Fredericksburg.
There is little doubt that the life on this sea coast produced a strong calling for John. He would have seen time and again the arrival of tobacco ships from Virginia at the Port of Dumfries. He would have also been aware of the smuggling taking place in the little creeks. He would also have heard how the minister's son, John Campbell, had risen to admiral in his Majesty's navy.
John was also influenced by the Rev. James Hogg, then minister of Kirkbean. Since the school was inseparable from the church John Paul would have here laid the foundations of that education which enabled him to grow in the years to come. The schoolmaster who must have been one of the strongest formative influences in John Paul's life was John Lindsay, appointed in 1746. Subjects taught were the three R's, French, Latin, and navigation.
Two other men from Kirkbean had roles to play in the Revolutionary War. What influence either may have had on John Paul would be speculative.
William Craik, the Laird of Arbigland, had an illegitimate son, born before his marriage to Elizabeth Stewart. James Craik became a physician and left for America and became a friend and physician of George Washington. Washington appointed him to organize the medical services of the Continental Army, and he was attending Washington at his death. John Paul would have been too young to have any recollection of Dr. James Craik, but the knowledge that he had gone to America may have had some influence on his own dreams of adventure. James Craik died in 1814.
The Craiks also had a son Adam who was a childhood friend of John Paul. There is little doubt that William Craik would have had considerable influence in getting John the apprenticeship with John Younger on the Friendship.
Another fact of history which would have had considerable influence on John Paul's view of liberty and the English would have been the terrible Scottish defeat at the Battle of Culloden which occurred in 1746, one year before he was born.
John Paul, Senior died in 1767 and his brother William died in 1773. He never saw his mother or sisters again after 1771. He had a tombstone erected for his father which states: In Memory of John Paul Senior who died at Arbigland the 24th of October 1767, Universally Esteemed, Erected by John Paul Junior.
Congress afterwards thanked him by resolution for "his bold and successful enterprises." Congress also voted him the gold medal, a replica of which can be seen in the crypt at the Naval Academy Chapel, to commemorate his victory over the SERAPIS, and awarded him the privilege of the floor of both Houses; he received a similar favor from the Constitutional Convention; the people of this and other lands organized public demonstrations in his honor; France knighted him, and King Louis XVI presented him with the gold sword which may also be seen in the crypt.
There are two other items to be mentioned: How John Paul became John Paul Jones is not clear. It is believed by some that in order to hide his identity after killing a mutineer in Tobago that he added Jones to his name. Nearly two years of his life are unaccounted for after that incident. The Willie Jones family of North Carolina claim that he had stayed with them during some of that time and adopted their name. The second is that after our Revolutionary War Thomas Jefferson arranged for Jones to go to Russia to aid Catherine the Great in her war with the Turks in the Black Sea. She made him an Admiral, and he was instrumental in defeating the Turks. He was not well received by Prince Potemkin and other Russian Admirals and returned to Paris where he died alone in his apartment a few years later on July 1 8th 1792.
It was at the Third National Congress of the Sons of the American Revolution in 1892 that General Horace Porter of New York was elected President General. General Porter was graduated from West Point in 1 860 and served under General Grant during the Civil War rising to Brigadier General. He then served as private secretary for President Grant and became Ambassador to France in 1897 under President McKinley. It was during his tenure in France that General Porter became interested in locating the burial site for John Paul Jones and JPJ returning the naval hero to the United States. Beginning in 1 899 with various
clues, some old city maps, and the aid of the French Government, the search for the now obliterated and built over Protestant cemetery was begun. After six years and searching through 800 feet of tunnels, dug under five buildings, General Porter announced that he had found the remains on February 9, 1905.
President Theodore Roosevelt sent four cruisers as an honor squadron to bring home the long-lost hero. Final ceremonies were conducted in Paris on July 6, 1905, his 158th birthday. The U.S.S. Brooklyn carried the coffin to Annapolis where it was placed in a brick vault close to where the bandstand in front of the chapel now stands. A year later, on April 24, 1906, 95-years ago, on the anniversary of Jones' capture of HMS Drake, memorial services were held in Dahlgren Hall at the then new Naval Academy.
At these ceremonies Ambassador Porter stated that, "It was deemed well to bring back his body, in the belief that it would bring back his memory. Time has shed a clearer light upon his acts; distance has brought him into the proper focus to be viewed. A tree is best measured when it is down. His honored remains will be laid to rest in this historic spot in a mausoleum befitting his fame, but his true sepulcher will be the hearts of his countrymen. He was a lesson to his contemporaries; he will ever be an inspiration to his successors." His remains were finally moved to Bancroft Hall and remained there until additional funding became available from Congress for his remains to be placed in the newly completed crypt in the Naval Academy Chapel on January 26, 1913.
Everybody works but John Paul Jones!
He lies around all day,
Body pickled in alcohol
On a permanent jag, they say.
Middies stand around him
Doing honor to his bones;
Everybody works in 'Crabtown"
But John Paul Jones
About John Paul Jones