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Title: Commodore Paul Jones
Author: Brady, Cyrus Townsend
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Front Cover]


[Illustration: Frontispiece
Paul Jones]







_All rights reserved._

Printed in the United States of America



In preparing this work I began, I admit, with an ardent admiration for
John Paul Jones, born of long study of his career. I have endeavored,
however, so far as possible, to lay aside my preconceived opinions and
predisposition in his favor, and I have conscientiously gone over the
immense mass of material bearing upon him, _de novo_, in an attempt to
be absolutely and strictly impartial. Perhaps I have not altogether
succeeded, but if it be found that I have erred in Jones' favor, I
shall be glad that I have followed the impulses of affection rather
than those of depreciation. I have not, I trust, been blind to the
faults in the character of the great sailor, nor to the mistakes he
committed, nor to the wrongdoings in his career to which I have called
attention; but, in spite of these things, which I have most
reluctantly recorded, I am happy that renewed investigation, careful
study, and much thought have only endeared him the more to me. I lay
down the pen with a higher respect, with a more affectionate regard,
with a greater admiration for him than ever.

In Miss Seawell's fine phrase, "It may be said of him as of the great
Condé: 'This man was born a captain.'" His place among the great sea
kings as a strategist, a tactician, and a fighter is now unquestioned
by the most calumnious of his defamers; but the wound he inflicted
upon British pride still rankles after the lapse of more than a
century, and his professional status and personal character are still
bitterly aspersed. So doth prejudice blind the eyes of truth. I have
devoted some space to the old charge that he was a pirate, which was
renewed recently in an article in the London Academy, one of the
leading journals of England, and I trust that the reader will find
that I have finally disposed of that absurd statement, and the other
slanders concerning him, in these pages. And I have tried to be fair
to the enemy as well.

Wherever it has been possible, without clogging the narrative or
letting it assume the form of a mere collection of letters, Paul the
sailor, like Paul the Apostle, hath been permitted to speak for
himself. Contrary to some of his biographers, I have made it a rule to
accept Jones' own statements unless they were controverted by adequate
evidence. It is proper to call attention to the fact that the intent
of the series, of which this is one, which deals primarily with the
subjects of the different volumes as great commanders, naturally
emphasizes their public exploits rather than their private life. This
will account for a lack of amplification in certain directions, and
for the omission of details of certain periods of his life which, were
the circumstances other than they are, would probably be treated of at
greater length. However, it is believed that enough appears in the
pages to complete the picture and exhibit the man.

There is a great amount of matter available for the study of his life,
in the shape of lives, essays, sketches, and general histories, and
contemporary memoirs, and an immense mass of manuscript reports and
correspondence, and Jones himself left several interesting accounts of
his career and services, which are of great value to his biographers.
I have freely used all sources of information to which I could gain
access, and they have not been few. It will be only justice, however,
if I acknowledge that among the authorities consulted I have found the
excellent life by Commodore Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, U. S. N.,
published in 1841, the most useful. Mackenzie was an officer and
seaman of wide experience and fine talents, whose life covered the
period of our naval development succeeding the War of 1812, and his
comments from a sailor's point of view are instructive and invaluable.
His work is marred by an unfortunate bias against Jones, which appears
in several instances; in a desire to be accurate and just he has gone
to a censurable extreme. Two other books have been most helpful: the
life by John Henry Sherburne, sometime Register of the United States
Navy, published in 1825, with its valuable collection of reports of
participants in different actions, and statements and official
documents not otherwise preserved; and the life compiled from the
manuscript furnished by Miss Janette Taylor, a niece of the great
commodore, published in 1830. I may also add that I have found Captain
Mahan's admirable papers upon the subject, in Scribner's Magazine, of
great value. Indeed, there are facts, observations, and deductions in
these articles which appear nowhere else, so sure is the touch of a
genius for historical accuracy and investigation like his. Among other
essayists, Miss Molly Elliott Seawell, whose facile pen has done so
much to exploit our early naval heroes, has written a notable and
interesting paper which appeared in the Century Magazine; while
Professor John Knox Laughton, the English naval expert, in his
celebrated but scandalous and utterly unjustifiable attack, gives us a
modern British estimate of the commodore. I shall pay my respects to
his contribution later. No extended life has been published for fifty

My thanks are due to General Horace Porter and the Honorable
Charlemagne Tower, LL.D., ambassadors of the United States to France
and Russia respectively, for investigations in answers to inquiries,
and for suggestions; to Dr. Talcott Williams, of Philadelphia, for
valuable suggestions as to sources of possible information; to the
Rev. Dr. William Elliot Griffis, of Ithaca, New York, for much
interesting matter connected with the Baron van der Capellen, for
unpublished manuscript notes on North Holland, the Helder, and the
Texel, and for the rare copy of the old Dutch song, "Hir komt Pauwel
Jones aan," which appears in the appendix; to Lieutenant-General O. V.
Stubendorff, Chief of the Topographical Section of the Imperial
Russian General Staff, and to Major-General E. Sarantchof, of the
Russian army, for maps, reports, and other data concerning the
campaign on the Dnieper-Liman, not accessible in any American books;
to Mr. Charles T. Harbeck, of New York, for generous permission to
make use of rare books and pamphlets relating to Paul Jones in his
valuable collection of Americana; to Messrs. W. M. Cumming and Junius
Davis, of Wilmington, N. C., and Mrs. A. I. Robertson, of Columbia,
S. C., for information concerning the assumption of the name of Jones
by John Paul, not hitherto published in book form; to Mr. E. G.
McCollin and the Misses Mabel S. Meredith, Edith Lanigan, and Bertha
T. Rivailles for much important work in translation; and to Miss
Isabel Paris for invaluable assistance in transcribing the manuscript.

Lest any of the above should be involved in possible criticisms which
may be made of the book, I beg to close this preface with the
assurance that for everything which follows I alone am responsible.

Philadelphia, Pa., _July, 1900_.





Of the three great captains whose magnificent fighting has added such
glorious chapters to the history of our naval campaigns, but one,
George Dewey, the last of them all, is purely an American by birth and
generations of ancestors. Farragut, the greatest of the three, was but
one remove from a Spaniard. John Paul Jones, first of the group in
point of time and not inferior to the others in quality and
achievement, was a Scotsman. Only the limitation in means necessitated
by the narrow circumstances of his adopted country during his lifetime
prevented his surpassing them all. He remains to this day a unique
character among the mighty men who trod the deck and sailed the
ocean--a strange personality not surpassed by any in the long line of
sea fighters from Themistocles to Sampson. In spite of, nay, because
of his achievements, he was among the most calumniated of men. What
follows is an attempt to tell his story and to do him justice.

Near the close of the fifth decade of the eighteenth century, George I
reigned in England, by the grace of God and because he had succeeded
in putting down the rebellion of 1745; Frederick the Great was
tenaciously clutching the fair province of Silesia which Maria
Theresa, with equal resolution but with faint prospect of success, was
endeavoring to retain; Louis XV (the well beloved!) was exploiting the
privileges and opportunities of a king with Madame de Pompadour and
the _Parc aux Cerfs_; and the long war of the Austrian succession was
just drawing to a close, when there was born on July 6, 1747, to a
Scots peasant, named John Paul, and to Jean MacDuff, his wife, a son,
the fifth child of a large family.[1]

The youngster was duly christened John Paul, Junior, after his sire.
He is the hero of this history. He first saw the light on the estate
of Arbigland, in the parish of Kirkbean, in the county of
Kirkcudbright, a province once called the Royal Stewartry of
Kirkcudbright (pronounced "Kircoobree"), because it had been governed
formerly by a steward or deputy, appointed by the crown, of which the
county had been an appanage.

The father of the subject of this memoir filled the modest situation
of a master gardener, a precursor of the modern and scientific
landscape gardener, or engineer, in a small scale, in the employ of a
Scots bonnet laird named Craik. His remote family--peasants, yeomen
always--had come from the ancient lands of the Thanes of Fife, whence
his grandfather had removed to Leith, where he kept a mail garden or
wayside inn--in short, a tavern. It is to the credit of Master John
Paul, Senior--evidently a most honest and capable man in that humble
station in life into which it had pleased God to call him--that he
forsook the tavern and clung to the garden. When he had finished his
apprenticeship as gardener he removed to Arbigland, where he married
Jean MacDuff, the daughter of a sturdy yeoman farmer of the
neighboring parish of New Abbey, whose family had been established in
their present location from time immemorial.

The marriage was blessed with seven children, the two youngest sons
dying in infancy. The first was a boy named William; the next three
were girls, named Elizabeth, Janet, and Mary Ann; and the fifth and
last, considering the death of the infants, the boy named John, after
his father. _En passant_, there must have been something favorable to
the development of latent possibilities in gardeners' sons in that
corner of Scotland, for in the neighboring county of Ayr, a few years
later was born of similar bucolic stock the son of another tiller of
the soil, known to fame as Robbie Burns!

The cottage in which young Paul made his first appearance was a little
stone building in a verdant glade in a thriving wood hard by the north
shore of the Solway. In front of the cottage whose whitewashed walls
were in full view of the ships which entered the Firth there was a
patch of greensward. The country of that section of bonnie Scotland in
which is the parish of Arbigland is rugged and broken. To the east and
to the west, huge, craggy mountains shut in a thickly wooded plateau,
diversified by clear, rapid streams abounding in fish. The fastnesses
in the hills even then were covered with romantic ruins of decayed
strongholds of feudal times, reminiscent of the days of the Black
Douglasses and their men. The coast line, unusually stern and bold, is
broken by many precipitous inlets, narrow and deep. At the foot of the
cliffs at low tide broad stretches of sand are exposed to view, and
the rapid rise of the tide makes these shelving beaches dangerous
places upon which to linger. The water deepens abruptly beyond the
beaches, and vessels under favorable circumstances are enabled to
approach near the shore.

Amid such scenes as these the childhood of young Paul was passed. Like
every thrifty Scots boy of the period, he had plenty of work to do in
assisting his mother and father. The life of a Scots peasant of that
time was one of hard and incessant toil; his recreations were few, his
food meager, his opportunities limited, and the luxuries absent. Young
John Paul ate his porridge and did his work like the rest. It would
probably now be considered a sad and narrow life, which the stern and
rigid austerity of the prevailing form of Calvinism did nothing to
lighten. That gloomy religion, however, did produce men.

It was the parish school which shaped and molded the minds of the
growing Scots, and it was the Kirk which shaped and directed the
schools, and the one was not more thorough than the other. I doubt if
anywhere on earth at that day was the standard of education among the
common people higher and more universally reached than in Scotland.
During the short school year Paul was sent religiously to the nearest
parish school, where he was well grounded in the rudiments of solid
learning with the thoroughness which made these little schools famous.
No demands of labor were allowed to interfere with the claims of
education. On Sunday he was religiously and regularly marched to the
kirk to be duly inducted into the mysteries of the catechism, and
thoroughly indoctrinated with the theory of predestination and its
rigorous concomitants.

Of him, as of other boys, it is veraciously stated that he conceived a
great fondness for the sea, and it is related that all his plays were
of ships and sailors--a thing easily understood when it is remembered
that his most impressionable hours were spent in sight and sound of
the great deep, and that the white sails of ships upon the horizon
were quite as familiar a picture to his youthful vision as the
tree-clad hills and valleys of his native land. It is evident
that he had no fancy for the garden. A man of action he, from his
bib-and-tucker days. His chroniclers have loved to call attention to
the fact that even as a lad he manifested the spirit of one born to
rule, for in the sports and games it was his will which dominated his
little group of comrades--and the Scotsman, even when he is a child,
is not easily dominated, be it remembered. His was a healthy, vigorous

His desire for the sea must have been stronger than the evanescent
feeling which finds a place sooner or later in the life of most boys,
for in 1759, with the full consent of his parents, he crossed the
Solway to Whitehaven, the principal port of the Firth, where he was
regularly bound apprentice to a merchant named Younger, who was
engaged in the American trade. He was immediately sent to sea on the
ship Friendship, Captain Benson, and at the tender age of twelve years
he made his first voyage to the new land toward whose freedom and
independence he was afterward destined to contribute so much. The
destination of the ship happened to be the Rappahannock River. As it
fortunately turned out, his elder brother, William, had some years
before migrated to Virginia, where he had married and settled at
Fredericksburg, and by his industry and thrift finally amassed a
modest fortune. Young Paul at once conceived a great liking for
America which never faltered; long afterward he stated that he had
been devoted to it from his youth.

The ship duties in port not being arduous, the young apprentice,
through the influence of his brother, was permitted to spend the
period of the vessel's stay in America on shore under the roof of his
kinsman. There he continued his studies with that zeal for knowledge
which was one of his distinguishing characteristics, and which never
left him in after life; for it is to be noted that he was always a
student; indeed, had he not been so, his subsequent career would have
been impossible. It was largely that habit of application, early
acquired, that enabled him to advance himself beyond his original
station. He especially applied himself to the science of navigation,
the intricacies of which he speedily mastered, so that he became
subsequently one of the most expert navigators that sailed the sea.

His natural inclination for the sea stood him in good stead, and he
finally acquired a complete knowledge of the details of his trying
profession. Upon the failure of Mr. Younger, who surrendered the
indentures of young Paul to him as the only thing he could do for him
in his present circumstances, he was sufficiently capable to receive
an appointment as third mate on the slaver King George, of Whitehaven.
A few years after, in 1766, being then but nineteen years of age, he
was appointed to the most responsible position of chief mate of the
slaver Two Friends, a brigantine of Jamaica. The contrast between the
old and the new _régime_ is brought vividly before us when we learn
that to-day a cadet midshipman--the lowest naval rank at present--of
the same age has still a year of schooling to undergo before he can
even undertake the two years' probationary cruise at sea required
before he can be commissioned in the lowest grade.

Slave trading was a popular and common vocation in that day, not
reprehended as it would be at present. Gentlemen of substance and
station did not scruple to engage in it, either as providing money and
receiving profit, or as actually participating as master or supercargo
of ships in the traffic. It is interesting to note that young Paul, as
he grew in years and acquired character, became intensely dissatisfied
with slaving. The sense of the cruelties, iniquities, and injustice of
the trade developed in him with coming manhood, and gradually took
such possession of him that, as was stated by his relatives and
himself, he finally resolved to withdraw from it.

This determination, scarcely to be expected from one of his birth and
circumstances, was greatly to his credit. The business itself was a
most stirring and lucrative one, and for a young man to have attained
the rank he enjoyed so early in life was evidence that he need have no
fear but that the future would bring him further advancement and
corresponding pecuniary reward. In this decision he was certainly in
advance of his time as well; but that love of liberty which had been
bred in him by the free air of the bold hills of his native land, and
which afterward became the master passion of his life, for which he
drew his sword, was undoubtedly heightened and intensified by this
close personal touch with the horrors of involuntary servitude.

In the year 1768, therefore, giving up his position on the Two
Friends, he sailed as a passenger in the brigantine John, bound for
Kirkcudbright. It happened that the captain and mate of the vessel
both died of fever during the voyage, and at the request of the crew
Paul assumed command and brought the vessel safely to her port.
Currie, Beck & Co., the owners of the John, were so pleased with this
exploit that they appointed young Paul master and supercargo of the
vessel, in which he made two voyages to the West Indies. He was a
captain, therefore, and a merchant at the age of twenty-one. The
owners of the John dissolved partnership on the completion of his
second voyage, and disposed of the ship, giving Paul the following
honorable certificate upon his discharge from their employ:

"These do certify to whom it may concern, that the bearer, Captain
John Paul, was two voyages master of a vessel called the John, in our
employ in the West India trade, during which time he approved himself
every way qualified both as a navigator and supercargo; but as our
present firm is dissolved, the vessel was sold, and of course he is
out of our employ, all accounts between him and the owners being
amicably adjusted. Certified at Kirkcudbright this 1st April, 1771.

   "Currie, Beck & Co."

One incident in his West Indian service is worthy of mention, because
it afterward crept out in a very ugly manner. On the second voyage of
the John the carpenter, a man named Mungo Maxwell, formerly of
Kirkcudbright, who had been mutinous, was severely flogged by the
order of Paul. Maxwell was discharged at the island of Tobago. He
immediately caused Paul to be summoned before the judge of the
vice-admiralty court for assault. The judge, after hearing the
testimony and statement of Captain Paul, dismissed the complaint as
frivolous. Maxwell subsequently entered on a Barcelona packet, and in
a voyage of the latter ship from Tobago to Antigua died of a fever.
Out of this was built up a calumny to the effect that Maxwell had been
so badly punished by Paul that he died from his injuries. When Paul
was in the Russian service years afterward the slander was enhanced by
the statement that Maxwell was his nephew. There was nothing whatever
in the charge.

After his retirement from the command of the John he engaged in local
trading with the Isle of Man. It has been charged that he was a
smuggler during this period; but he specifically and vehemently denied
the allegation, and it is certain that the first entry of goods
shipped from England to the Isle of Man, after it was annexed to the
crown, stands in his name on the custom-house books of the town of
Douglas. Soon after this he commanded a ship, the Betsy, of London, in
the West India trade, in which he engaged in mercantile speculations
on his own account at Tobago and Grenada, until the year 1773, when he
went to Virginia again to take charge of the affairs of his brother
William, who had died intestate, leaving neither wife nor children.

Very little is known of his life from this period until his entry into
the public service of the United States. From remarks in his journal
and correspondence, it is evident, in spite of his brother's property,
to which he was heir, and some other property and money which he had
amassed by trading, which was invested in the island of Tobago, West
Indies, that he continued for some time in very straitened
circumstances. He speaks of having lived for nearly two years on the
small sum of fifty pounds. It is probable that his poverty was due to
his inability to realize upon his brother's estate, and the difficulty
of getting a return of his West Indian investments, on account of the
unsettled political conditions, though they were of considerable
value. During this period, however, he took that step which has been a
puzzle to so many of his biographers, and which he never explained in
any of his correspondence that remains. He came to America under the
name of John Paul; he reappeared after this period of obscurity under
the name of John Paul Jones.

It is claimed by the descendants of the Jones family of North Carolina
that while in Fredericksburg the young mariner made the acquaintance
of the celebrated Willie (pronounced Wylie) Jones, one of the leading
attorneys and politicians of North Carolina. Jones and his brother
Allen were people of great prominence and influence in that province.
It was Jones' influence, by the way, which in later years postponed
the ratification of the proposed Constitution of the United States by
North Carolina. Willie Jones seems to have attended to the legal side
of Paul's claims to his deceased brother's estate, and a warm
friendship sprang up between the two young men, so dissimilar in birth
and breeding, which, it is alleged, ended in an invitation to young
Paul to visit Jones and his brother on their plantations.

The lonely, friendless little Scotsman gratefully accepted the
invitation--the society of gentle people always delighted him; he ever
loved to mingle with great folk throughout his life--and passed a long
period at "The Grove," in Northampton County, the residence of Willie,
and at "Mount Gallant," in Halifax County, the home of Allen. While
there, he was thrown much in the society of the wife of Willie Jones,
a lady noted and remembered for her graces of mind and person, and
who, by the way, made the famous answer to Tarleton's sneer--wholly
unfounded, of course--at the gallant Colonel William A. Washington for
his supposed illiteracy. Morgan and Washington had defeated Tarleton
decisively at the Cowpens, and in the course of the action Washington
and Tarleton had met in personal encounter. Washington had severely
wounded Tarleton in the hand. The Englishman had only escaped capture
by prompt flight and the speed of his horse. "Washington," said the
sneering partisan to Mrs. Jones, "why, I hear he can't even write his
name!" "No?" said the lady quietly and interrogatively, letting her
eyes fall on a livid scar across Tarleton's hand, "Well, he can make
his mark, at any rate."

The Jones brothers were men of culture and refinement. They were Eton
boys, and had completed their education by travel and observation in
Europe. That they should have become so attached to the young sailor
as to have made him their guest for long periods, and cherished the
highest regard for him subsequently, is an evidence of the character
and quality of the man. Probably for the first time in his life Paul
was introduced to the society of refined and cultivated people. A new
horizon opened before him, and he breathed, as it were, another
atmosphere. Life for him assumed a different complexion. Always an
interesting personality, with his habits of thought, assiduous study,
coupled with the responsibilities of command, he needed but a little
contact with gentle people and polite society to add to his character
those graces of manner which are the final crown of the gentleman, and
which the best of his contemporaries have borne testimony he did not
lack. The impression made upon him by the privilege of this
association was of the deepest, and he gave to his new friends, and to
Mrs. Jones especially, a warm-hearted affection and devotion amounting
to veneration.

It is not improbable, also, that in the society in which he found
himself--and it must be remembered that North Carolina was no less
fervidly patriotic, no less desirous of independence, than
Massachusetts: it was at Mecklenburg that the first declaration took
place--the intense love of personal liberty and independence in his
character which had made him abandon the slave trade was further
developed, and that during this period he finally determined to become
a resident of the new land; a resolution that made him cast his lot
with the other colonists when the inevitable rupture came about.

It is stated that in view of this determination on his part to begin
life anew in this country, and as a mark of the affection and
gratitude he entertained for the family of his benefactors, he assumed
the name of Jones. It was a habit in some secluded parts of Scotland
and in Wales to take the father's Christian name as a surname also,
and this may have been in his mind at the time. He did not assume the
name of Jones, however, out of any disregard for his family or from
any desire to disguise himself from them, for, although he last saw
them in 1771, he ever continued in correspondence with them, and found
means, whatever his circumstances, to make them frequent remittances
of money during his busy life. To them he left all his property at his
death. It is certain, therefore, that for no reason for which he had
cause to be ashamed did he affix the name of Jones to his birth name,
and it may be stated that whatever name he took he honored. Henceforth
in this volume he will be known by the name which he made so

One other incident of this period is noteworthy. During his visit to
North Carolina he was introduced by the Jones brothers to Joseph
Hewes, of Edenton, one of the delegates from North Carolina to the
first and second Provincial Congresses, and a signer of the great
Declaration of Independence. In Congress Hewes was a prominent member
of the Committee on Naval Affairs, upon which devolved the work of
beginning and carrying on the navy of the Revolution. When the war
broke out Paul Jones was still living in Virginia. But when steps were
taken to organize a navy for the revolted colonies, attracted by the
opportunities presented in that field of service in which he was a
master, and glad of the chance for maintaining a cause so congenial to
his habit of life and thought, he formally tendered his services to
his adopted country. The influence of Willie Jones and Hewes was
secured, and on the 7th of December, 1775, Jones was appointed a
lieutenant in the new Continental navy.

_Additional note on the assumption of the name of Jones_.
Mr. Augustus C. Buell, in his exhaustive and valuable study of Paul
Jones, published since this book was written, states that the name was
assumed by him in testamentary succession to his brother, who had
added the name of Jones at the instance of a wealthy planter named
William Jones, who had adopted him. Mr. Buell's authority rests on
tradition and the statements made by Mr. Louden, a great-grandnephew
of the commodore (since dead), and of the sometime owner of the Jones
plantation. On the other hand, in addition to the letters quoted in
the Appendix, I have received many others from different sources,
tending to confirm the version given by me. Among them is one from a
Fredericksburg antiquarian, who claims that William Paul never bore
the name of Jones in Fredericksburg. General Cadwallader Jones (who
died in 1899, aged eighty-six), in a privately published biography,
also states explicitly that he heard the story from Mrs. Willie Jones
herself. Mr. Buell, in a recent letter to me, calls attention to the
fact--and it is significant--that absolutely no reference to the North
Carolina claim appears in any extant letter of the commodore, and
claims that Hewes and Jones were acquainted before John Paul settled
in America. As the official records have all been destroyed, the
matter of the name will probably never be absolutely determined.


The honor of initiative in the origin of the American navy belongs to
Rhode Island, a doughty little State which, for its area, possesses
more miles of seaboard than any other. On Tuesday, October 3, 1775,
the delegates from Rhode Island introduced in the Continental Congress
a resolution which had been passed by the General Assembly of the
province on August 26th of the same year, in which, among other
things, the said delegates were instructed to "use their whole
influence, at the ensuing Congress, for building, at the Continental
expense, a fleet of sufficient force for the protection of these
colonies, and for employing them in such manner and places as will
most effectually annoy our enemies, and contribute to the common
defense of these colonies."

Consideration of the resolution was twice postponed, but it was
finally discussed on the 7th of October and referred to a committee.
On the 13th of October the committee reported, and Congress so far
accepted the Rhode Island suggestion that the following resolution was

"_Resolved_, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns
and a proportionate number of swivels with eighty men, be fitted with
all possible dispatch for a cruise of three months, and that the
commander be instructed to cruise eastward for intercepting such
transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for
our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall
direct." Another vessel was also ordered fitted out for the same

Messrs. Deane, Langden, and Gadsden were appointed a committee to
carry out the instructions embodied in the resolution. When the
committee submitted a report, on the 30th of October, it was further
resolved "that the second vessel ordered to be fitted out on the 13th
inst. be of such size as to carry fourteen guns and a proportionate
number of swivels and men." Two other vessels were also ordered to be
put into service, one to carry not more than twenty and the other not
more than thirty-six guns, "for the protection and defense of the
United Colonies, as the Congress shall direct."

This may be considered as the real and actual beginning of the
American navy. There had been numerous naval encounters between
vessels of war of the enemy and private armed vessels acting under the
authority of the various colonies; and Washington himself, with the
approval of the Congress, which passed some explicit resolutions on
the subject on October 5th, had made use of the individual colonial
naval forces, and had issued commissions to competent men empowering
them to cruise and intercept the transports and other vessels laden
with powder and supplies for the enemy, but no formal action looking
to the creation of a regular naval force had been taken heretofore.

Congress had long clung to the hope of reconciliation with the mother
country, and had been exceedingly loath to take the radical step
involved in the establishment of a navy, for in the mind of the
Anglo-Saxon, who always claimed supremacy on the sea, a navy is
primarily for offense. To constitute a navy for defense alone is to
invite defeat. Aggression and initiative are of the essence of success
in war on the sea. Now, in the peculiar condition in which the United
Colonies found themselves, a naval force could be used for no other
purpose than offense. The capacity of any navy which the colonies
could hope to create, for defensive warfare, would be so slender as to
be not worth the outlay, and the creation of a navy to prey upon the
enemy's commerce and to take such of his armed vessels as could be
overcome would controvert the fiction that we were simply resisting
oppression. It would be making war in the most unmistakable way.

It is a singular thing that men have been willing to do, or condone
the doing of, things on land which they have hesitated to do or
condone on the sea. The universal diffusion of such sentiments is seen
in the absurdly illogical contention on the part of the British
Government subsequently, that, although a soldier on land was a rebel,
he could be treated as a belligerent; while a man who stood in exactly
the same relation to the King of England whose field of action
happened to be the sea was of necessity a pirate.

At any rate, by the acts of Congress enumerated, a navy was assembled,
and the plan of Rhode Island was adopted. It was Rhode Island, by the
way, which, by preamble and resolution, sundered its allegiance to
Great Britain just two months to a day before the Declaration of
Independence. To the naval committee already constituted, Stephen
Hopkins, Richard Henry Lee, John Adams, and Joseph Hewes were soon
added. The committee at once undertook the work of carrying out the
instructions they had received. On the 5th of November they selected
for the command of the proposed navy Esek Hopkins, of Rhode Island, a
brother of the famous Stephen Hopkins who was a member of the
committee and one of the most influential members of the Congress.
Other officers were commissioned from time to time as selections were
made, and commissions and orders were issued to them by the committee,
subject, of course, to the ratification or other action by the
Congress. Paul Jones' commission as a lieutenant, as has been stated,
was dated the 7th of December, 1775.

Esek Hopkins, who was born in 1718, was therefore fifty-seven years of
age. He had been a master mariner for thirty years. He was a man of
condition and substance who had traded in his own ships in all the
then visited parts of the globe. As a commander of privateers and
letters of marque he was not without experience in arms. He had been
created a brigadier general of the Rhode Island militia on the
threatened outbreak of hostilities, a position he resigned to take
command of the navy. On the 22d of December Congress confirmed the
nomination of Hopkins as commander-in-chief, and regularly appointed
the following officers:

   Dudley Saltonstall,
   Abraham Whipple,
   Nicholas Biddle,
   John Burroughs Hopkins.

First Lieutenants:
   John Paul Jones,
   Rhodes Arnold,
   ---- Stansbury,
   Hoysted Hacker,
   Jonathan Pitcher.

Second Lieutenants:
   Benjamin Seabury,
   Joseph Olney,
   Elisha Warner,
   Thomas Weaver,
   ---- McDougall.

Third Lieutenants:
   John Fanning,
   Ezekiel Burroughs,
   Daniel Vaughan.

These were, therefore, the forerunners of that long line of
distinguished naval officers who have borne the honorable commission
of the United States.

In addition to the regular course pursued, other action bearing upon
the subject of naval affairs was had. On Saturday, November, 25th,
Congress, enraged by the burning of Falmouth, adopted radical
resolutions, looking toward the capture and confiscation of armed
British vessels and transports, directing the issuance of commissions
to the captains of cruisers and privateers, and creating admiralty
courts and prescribing a scheme for distributing prize money. On
November 28th resolutions prescribing "Regulations for the Government
of the Navy of the United Colonies" were adopted, the first appearance
of that significant phrase in the records, by the way.

On December 5th the seizure of merchant vessels engaging in trade
between the Tories of Virginia and the West Indies under the
inspiration of Lord Dunmore, was ordered. On December 11th a special
committee to devise ways and means for "furnishing these colonies with
a naval armament" was appointed. Two days later the report of the
committee was adopted, and thirteen ships were ordered built, five of
thirty-two, five of twenty-eight, and three of twenty-four guns. They
were to be constructed one in New Hampshire, two in Massachusetts, one
in Connecticut, two in Rhode Island, two in New York, four in
Pennsylvania, and one in Maryland; the maximum cost of each of them
was sixty-six thousand six hundred and sixty-six dollars and sixty-six
and two thirds cents. They had a fine idea of accuracy in the
construction corps of that day.

But, while Congress had been therefore preparing to build the navy,
the regular marine committee had not been idle. By strenuous effort
the committee assembled a squadron. A merchant vessel called the Black
Prince, which had lately arrived from London under the command of John
Barry (afterward a famous American commodore), was purchased and
renamed the Alfred, after King Alfred the Great, who is commonly
believed to be the founder of the British navy. She was a small,
stanch trading vessel, very heavily timbered, and with unusually stout
scantlings for a ship of her class, although of course not equal to a
properly constructed ship of war. The committee armed her with twenty
9-pounders on the main deck, and four smaller guns, possibly 6- or
4-pounders, on the forecastle and poop, and she was placed under the
command of Captain Dudley Saltonstall. Jones, whose name stood first
on the list of first lieutenants, was appointed her executive officer.
Hopkins selected her for his flagship. Jones had been offered the
command of one of the smaller vessels of the squadron, but elected to
fill his present station, as presenting more opportunities for
acquiring information and seeing service. His experience in armed
vessels had been limited; he knew but little of the requirements of a
man-of-war, and deemed he could best fit himself for that higher
command to which he aspired and determined to deserve by beginning his
service under older and more experienced officers--a wise decision.

The next important vessel was another converted merchantman,
originally called the Sally, now named the Columbus, after the great
discoverer. She was a full-rigged ship of slightly less force and
armament than the Alfred, commanded by Captain Abraham Whipple,
already distinguished in a privateering way. In addition to these
there were two brigs called the Andrea Doria and the Cabot, commanded
by Captains Nicholas Biddle and John Burroughs Hopkins, a son of the
commander-in-chief. The Andrea Doria and Cabot carried fourteen
4-pounders each.

Hopkins arrived at Philadelphia in December, 1775, in the brig Katy,
of the Rhode Island navy, which was at once taken into the Continental
service and renamed the Providence, after the commander's native town.
She carried twelve light guns, 4-pounders. There were also secured a
ten-gun schooner called the Hornet, and the Wasp and Fly, two
eight-gun schooners or tenders, one of which Jones had refused. The
work of outfitting these ships as generously as the meager resources
of the colonies permitted had been carried on assiduously before the
arrival of the commander-in-chief, whose first duty, when he reached
Philadelphia, was formally to assume the command.

This assumption of command entailed the putting of the ships in
commission by publicly reading the orders appointing the commodore,
and assigning him to command, and hoisting and saluting the flags. The
officers previously appointed had been proceeding somewhat
irregularly, doubtless, by going on with their preparations prior to
this important ceremony. At any rate, in the latter part of December,
1775, or the early part of January, 1776--the date not being clear,
the authorities not only differing, but in no single case venturing
upon a definite statement--all things having been made ready,
Commodore Hopkins with his staff officers entered the commodore's
barge, lying at the foot of Walnut Street, and was rowed to the
flagship. The wharves and houses facing the river were crowded with
spectators to witness so momentous a ceremony as the commissioning of
the first American fleet.

It has been recorded that it was a bright, cold, clear winter morning.
The barge picked its way among the floating ice cakes of the Delaware,
and finally reached the Alfred. The commodore mounted the side,
followed by his staff, and was received with due honors in the gangway
by the captain and his officers in such full dress as they could
muster. The crew and the marines were drawn up in orderly ranks in the
waist and on the quarter deck. After the reading of the commodore's
commission and the orders assigning him to the command of the fleet,
Captain Dudley Saltonstall nodded his head to John Paul Jones, his
executive officer. The young Scotsman, with, I imagine, a heart
beating rarely, stepped forward and received from the veteran
quartermaster the end of the halliards, to which, in the shape of a
neatly rolled-up ball, was bent a handsome yellow silk flag, bearing
the representation of a rattlesnake about to strike (and perhaps a
pine tree also), with the significant legend "Don't tread on me." With
his own hands the young lieutenant hauled the rolled-up ensign to the
masthead, and then, with a slight twitch, he broke the stops and there
blew out in the morning breeze, before the eyes of the commodore, his
officers, the men of the ships, and the delighted spectators on shore,
the first flag that ever flew from a regularly commissioned war ship
of the United Colonies. The grand union flag, a red and white striped
ensign with the English cross in the canton, was also hoisted. The
flags were saluted by the booming of cannon from the batteries of the
ships, and with cheers from the officers and men of the squadron and
the people on the shore, and thus the transaction was completed, and
the navy of the United States began to be.

The ships were slight in force, their equipments meager and deficient,
and of inferior quality at best. The men had but little experience in
naval warfare, and their officers scarcely much more. There were men
of undoubted courage and capacity among them, however, and several to
whom the profession of arms was not entirely new. At least two of
them, Jones and Biddle, were to become forever famous for their
fighting. Compared with the huge and splendid navy of England, the
whole force was an unconsidered trifle, but it was a beginning, and
not a bad one at that, as the mother country was to find out. The
outfitting of the squadron was by no means complete, and, though the
commodore with the others labored hard, the work proceeded slowly and
with many hindrances and delays; it was never properly done. Then the
ships were ice-bound in Delaware Bay, and it was not until nearly two
months had elapsed that they were able to get to sea.

The principal difficulty in the rebellious colonies, from the
standpoint of military affairs, was the scarcity of powder. There were
guns in respectable numbers, but without powder they were necessarily
useless. The powder mills of the colonies were few and far between,
and their output was inadequate to meet the demand. It is now well
known that although Washington maintained a bold front when he
invested the British army in Boston, at times his magazines did not
contain more than a round or two of powder for each of his guns. His
position was a magnificent specimen of what in modern colloquialism
would have been called a "bluff." There was, of course, but little
powder to spare for the improvised men-of-war, and most of what they
had was borrowed from the colony of Pennsylvania. To get powder was
the chief end of military men then.

On February 17, 1776, the little squadron cleared the capes of the
Delaware, and before nightfall had disappeared from view beneath the
southeast horizon. It appears that the orders were for Hopkins to sail
along the coast toward the south, disperse Dunmore's squadron, which
was marauding in Virginia, pick up English coasting vessels, and
capture scattered English ships cruising between Pennsylvania and
Georgia to break up the colonial coasting trade and capture colonial
merchantmen. But it also appears from letters of the Marine Committee
that another object of the expedition was the seizure of large stores
of powder and munitions of warfare which had been allowed to
accumulate at New Providence, in the Bahama group, and that Hopkins
sailed with much discretion as to his undertaking and the means of
carrying it out. The Bahama project was maintained as a profound
secret between the naval committee and its commodore, the matter not
being discussed in Congress even.

With that end in view the commander-in-chief, by orders published to
the fleet before its departure, appointed the island of Abaco, one of
the most northerly of the Bahama group, as a rendezvous for his
vessels in case they became separated by the usual vicissitudes of the
sea. The scattered ships were directed to make an anchorage off the
southern part of the island, and wait at least fourteen days for the
other vessels to join them before cruising on their own account in
such directions as in the judgment of their respective commanders
would most annoy, harass, and damage the enemy.

Shortly after leaving the capes the squadron ran into a severe
easterly gale off Hatteras, then, as now, one of the most dangerous
points on the whole Atlantic seaboard. The ships beat up against it,
and all succeeded in weathering the cape and escaping the dreaded
perils of the lee shore. If lack of training prevented the officers
from claiming to be naval experts, there were prime seamen among them
at any rate. When the gale abated Hopkins cruised along the coast for
a short time, meeting nothing of importance in the way of a ship.
Rightly concluding that the fierce winter weather would have induced
the enemy's vessels to seek shelter in the nearest harbors, and his
cruise in that direction, if further continued, would be profitless,
he squared away for the Bahamas, to carry out the second and secret
part of his instructions.

It was for a long time alleged that he took this action on his own
account, and one of the charges against him in the popular mind was
disobedience of orders in so doing; but he was undoubtedly within his
orders in the course which he took, and it is equally certain that the
enterprise upon which he was about to engage was one in which more
immediate profit would accrue to the colonies than in any other. He
should be held not only guiltless in the matter, but awarded praise
for his decision. On the 1st of March the squadron, with the exception
of the Hornet and the Fly, which had parted company in the gale,
reached the island of Abaco, about forty miles to the northward of New

No part of the western hemisphere had been longer known than the
Bahamas. Upon one of them Columbus landed. The principal island among
them, not on account of its size, which was insignificant, but because
it possessed a commodious and land-locked harbor, is the island of New
Providence. No island in the great archipelago which forms the
northeastern border of the Caribbean had enjoyed a more eventful
history. From time immemorial it had been the haunt of the buccaneer
and the pirate. From it had sailed many expeditions to ravage the
Spanish Main. It had been captured and recaptured by the successive
nationalities which had striven for domination in the Caribbean, and
in their brutal rapacity had made a hell of every verdant tropic
island which lifted itself in the gorgeous beauty peculiar to those
latitudes, above the deep blue of that lambent sea. It had come
finally and definitely under the English crown, and a civilized
government had been established by the notorious Woodes Rogers, who
was himself a sort of Jonathan Wild of the sea, but one remove--and
that not a great one--from the gentry whose nests he broke up and
whose ravages he had put down. It had been taken since then by the
Spaniards, but had been restored to the British.

The town of Nassau, which lies upon the northern face of the island,
is situated upon the side of a hill which slopes gently down toward
the water. The harbor, which is sufficiently deep to accommodate
vessels drawing not more than twelve feet, is formed by a long island
which lies opposite the town. There are two entrances to the harbor,
only one of which was practicable for large ships, though both were
open for small vessels. At the ends of the harbor, commanding each
entrance, two forts had been erected: Fort Montague on the east and
Fort Nassau on the west. Through culpable negligence, in spite of the
quantity of military stores it contained, there was not a single
regular soldier on the island at that time, and no preparations for
defense had been made.

It was proposed to make the descent upon the western end of the island
and then march up and take the town in the rear. Paul Jones, however,
in the council which was held on the Alfred before the debarkation,
pointed out the greater distance which the men would have to march in
that case, the alarm which would be given by the passage of the ships,
and advised that a landing be effected upon the eastern end of the
island, whence the attack could be more speedily delivered, and, as
the ships would not be compelled to advance, no previous alarm would
be given. Hopkins demurred to this plan on the ground that no safe
anchorage for the ships was afforded off the eastern end. The Alfred
had taken two pilots from some coasting vessels which had been
captured, and from them it was learned that about ten miles away was a
small key which would afford the larger vessels safe anchorage. As
Hopkins hesitated to trust the pilots, Jones, at the peril of his
commission, offered in conjunction with them to bring the ships up
himself. His suggestions were agreed to, his offer accepted, and when
the vicinity of the key was reached he took his station on the
fore-topmast crosstrees of the Alfred. He had sailed in the West
Indian waters many times, and was familiar with the look of the sea
and the indications near the shore. With the assistance of the pilots,
after a somewhat exciting passage, he succeeded in bringing all the
ships to a safe anchorage. That he was willing to take the risk, and,
having done so, successfully carry out the difficult undertaking,
gives a foretaste of his bold and decisive character, and of his
technical skill as well.

Preparations for attack were quickly made. Commodore Hopkins, having
impressed some local schooners, loaded them with two hundred and fifty
marines from the squadron, under the command of Captain Samuel
Nichols, the ranking officer of the corps, and fifty seamen under the
command of Lieutenant Thomas Weaver of the Cabot, and on March 2d the
transports with this attacking force were dispatched to New
Providence.[3] They were convoyed by the Providence and the Wasp, and
a landing was effected under the cover of these two ships of war.
Unfortunately, however, some of the other larger vessels got under way
at the same time, and their appearance alarmed the town.

It never seems to have occurred to any one but Jones that the west
exit from the harbor should be guarded by stationing two of the
smaller vessels off the channel to close it while the rest of the
squadron took care of the eastern end. It seems probable from his
correspondence that he ventured upon the suggestion, for he
specifically referred in condemnatory terms to the failure to do so.
At any rate, if he did suggest it, and from his known capacity it is
extremely likely that the obvious precaution would have occurred to
him, his suggestion was disregarded, and the western pass from the
harbor was left open--a fatal mistake.

The point where the expedition landed without opposition was some four
and a half miles from Fort Montague. It was a bright Sunday morning
when the first American naval brigade took up its march under Captain
Nichols' orders. The men advanced steadily, and, though they were met
by a discharge of cannon from Fort Montague, they captured the works
by assault without loss, the militia garrison flying precipitately
before the American advance. The marines behaved with great spirit on
this occasion, as they have ever done. Instead of promptly moving down
upon the other fort, however, they contented themselves during that
day with their bloodless achievement, and not until the next morning
did they advance to complete the capture of the place.

The inhabitants of the island were in a state of panic, and when the
marines and sailors marched up to attack Fort Nassau they found it
empty of any garrison except Governor Brown, who opened the gates and
formally surrendered it to the Americans. During the confusion of the
night Brown seems to have preserved his presence of mind, and rightly
divining that the powder would be the most precious of all the
munitions of warfare in his charge, he had caused a schooner which lay
in the harbor to be loaded with one hundred and fifty barrels, the
limit of its capacity, and before daybreak she set sail and made good
her escape through the unguarded western passage. A dreadful
misfortune that, which would not have occurred had Jones been in

[Illustration: Map of attack on New Providence in the Bahamas.]

However, a large quantity of munitions of war of great value to the
struggling colonies fell into the hands of Hopkins' men, including
eighty-eight cannon, ranging in size from 9- to 36-pounders, fifteen
large mortars, over eleven thousand round shot, and twenty precious
casks of powder. The Americans behaved with great credit in this
conquest. None of the inhabitants of the island were harmed, nor was
their property touched. It was a noble commentary on some of the
British forays along our own coast. Hopkins impressed a sloop,
promising to pay for its use and return it when he was through with
it, which promise was faithfully kept, and the sloop was loaded with
the stores, etc., which had been captured.

His own ships were also heavily laden with these military stores, the
Alfred in particular being so overweighted that it was almost
impossible to fight her main-deck guns, so near were they to the
waterline, except in the most favorable circumstances of wind and

Taking Governor Brown, who was afterward exchanged for General Lord
Stirling, and one or two other officials of importance as hostages on
board his fleet, Hopkins set sail for home on the 17th of March. He
had done his work expeditiously and well, but through want of
precaution which had been suggested by Jones, he had failed in part
when his success might have been complete. Still, he was bringing
supplies of great value, and his handsome achievement was an
auspicious beginning of naval operations. The squadron pursued its way
toward the United Colonies without any adventures or happenings worthy
of chronicle until the 4th of April, when off the east end of Long
Island they captured the schooner Hawk, carrying six small guns. On
the 5th of April the bomb vessel Bolton, eight guns, forty-eight men,
filled with stores of arms and powder, was captured without loss.

On the 6th, shortly after midnight, the night being dark, the wind
gentle, the sea smooth, and the ships very much scattered, swashing
along close-hauled on the starboard tack between Block Island and the
Rhode Island coast, they made out a large ship, under easy sail,
coming down the wind toward the squadron. It was the British sloop of
war Glasgow, twenty guns and one hundred and fifty men, commanded by
Captain Tyringham Howe. She was accompanied by a small tender,
subsequently captured. The nearest ships of the American squadron
luffed up to have a closer look at the stranger, the men being sent to
quarters in preparation for any emergency. By half after two in the
morning the brig Cabot had come within a short distance of her. The
stranger now hauled her wind, and Captain John Burroughs Hopkins, the
son of the commodore, immediately hailed her. Upon ascertaining who
and what she was he promptly poured in a broadside from his small
guns, which was at once returned by the formidable battery of the
Glasgow. The unequal conflict was kept up with great spirit for a few
moments, but the Cabot alone was no match for the heavy English
corvette, and after a loss of four killed and several wounded,
including the captain severely, the Cabot, greatly damaged in hull and
rigging, fell away, and her place was taken by the Alfred, still an
unequal match for the English vessel, but more nearly approaching her
size and capacity.

The Andrea Doria now got within range and joined in the battle. For
some three hours in the night the ships sailed side by side, hotly
engaged. After a time the Columbus, Captain Whipple, which had been
farthest to leeward, succeeded in crossing the stern of the Glasgow,
and raked her as she was passing. The aim of the Americans was poor,
and instead of smashing her stern in and doing the damage which might
have been anticipated, the shot flew high and, beyond cutting the
Englishman up aloft, did no appreciable damage. The Providence, which
was very badly handled, managed to get in long range on the lee
quarter of the Glasgow and opened an occasional and ineffective fire
upon her. But the bulk of the fighting on the part of the Americans
was done by the Alfred.

Captain Howe maneuvered and fought his vessel with the greatest skill.
During the course of the action a lucky shot from the Glasgow carried
away the wheel ropes of the Alfred, and before the relieving tackles
could be manned and the damage repaired the American frigate broached
to and was severely raked several times before she could be got under
command. At daybreak Captain Howe, who had fought a most gallant fight
against overwhelming odds, perceived the hopelessness of continuing
the combat, and, having easily obtained a commanding lead on the
pursuing Americans, put his helm up and ran away before the wind for

Hopkins followed him for a short distance, keeping up a fire from his
bow-chasers, but his deep-laden merchant vessels were no match in
speed for the swift-sailing English sloop of war, and, as with every
moment his little squadron with its precious cargo was drawing nearer
the English ships stationed at Newport, some of which had already
heard the firing and were preparing to get under way, Hopkins hauled
his wind, tacked and beat up for New London, where he arrived on the
8th of April with his entire squadron and the prizes they had taken,
with the exception of the Hawk, recaptured.

The loss on the Glasgow was one man killed and three wounded; on the
American squadron, ten killed and fourteen wounded, the loss being
confined mainly to the Alfred and the Cabot, the Columbus having but
one man wounded. During this action Paul Jones was stationed in
command of the main battery of the Alfred. He had nothing whatever to
do with the maneuvers of the ships, and was in no way responsible for
the escape of the Glasgow and the failure of the American force to
capture her.

The action did not reflect credit on the American arms. The Glasgow,
being a regular cruiser and of much heavier armament than any of the
American ships, was more than a match for any of them singly, though
taken together, if the personnel of the American squadron had been
equal to, or if it even approximated, that of the British ship, the
latter would have been captured without difficulty. The gun practice
of the Americans was very poor, which is not surprising. With the
exception of a very few of the officers, none of the Americans had
ever been in action, and they knew little about the fine art of
hitting a mark, especially at night. They had had no exercise in
target practice and but little in concerted fleet evolution. There
seems to have been no lack of courage except in the case of the
captain of the Providence, who was court-martialed for incapacity and
cowardice, and dismissed from the service. Hopkins' judgment in
withdrawing from the pursuit for the reasons stated can not be
questioned, neither can he be justly charged with the radical
deficiency of the squadron, though he was made to suffer for it.

While the Glasgow escaped, she did not get off scot free. She was
badly cut up in the hull, had ten shot through her mainmast, fifty-two
through her mizzen staysail, one hundred and ten through her mainsail,
and eighty-eight through her foresail. Her royal yards were carried
away, many of her spars badly wounded, and her rigging cut to pieces.
This catalogue tells the story. The Americans in their excitement and
inexperience had fired high, and their shot had gone over their mark.
The British defense had been a most gallant one, and the first attack
between the ships of the two navies had been a decided triumph for the

Paul Jones' conduct in the main battery of the Alfred had been
entirely satisfactory to his superior officers. He, with the other
officers of that ship, was commended, and subsequent events showed
that he still held the confidence of the commodore.


The British fleet having left Newport in the interim, on the 24th of
April, 1776, the American squadron got under way from New London for
Providence, Rhode Island. The ships were in bad condition; sickness
had broken out among their crews, and no less than two hundred and two
men out of a total of perhaps eight hundred and fifty--at best an
insufficient complement--were left ill at New London. Their places
were in a measure supplied by one hundred and seventy soldiers, lent
to the squadron by General Washington, who had happened to pass
through New London, _en route_ to New York, on the day after Hopkins'
arrival. There was a pleasant interview between the two commanders,
and it was then that Jones caught his first glimpse of the great

The voyage to New London was made without incident, except that the
unfortunate Alfred grounded off Fisher's Island, and had to lighten
ship before she could be floated. This delayed her passage so that she
did not arrive at Newport until the 28th of April. The health of the
squadron was not appreciably bettered by the change, for over one
hundred additional men fell ill. Many of the seamen had been enlisted
for the cruise only, and they now received their discharge, so that
the crews of the already undermanned ships were so depleted from these
causes that it would be impossible for them to put to sea. Washington,
who was hard pressed for men, and had troubles of his own, demanded
the immediate return to New York of the soldiers he had lent to the
fleet. The captain of the Providence being under orders for a
court-martial for his conduct, on the 10th of May Hopkins appointed
John Paul Jones to the command of the Providence.

The appointment is an evidence of the esteem in which Jones was held
by his commanding officer, and is a testimony to the confidence which
was felt in his ability and skill; for he alone, out of all the
officers in the squadron, was chosen for important sea service at this
time. Having no blank commissions by him, Hopkins made out the new
commission on the back of Jones' original commission as first
lieutenant. It is a matter of interest to note that he was the first
officer promoted to command rank from a lieutenancy in the American
navy. His first orders directed him to take Washington's borrowed men
to New York. After spending a brief time in hurriedly overhauling the
brig and preparing her for the voyage, Jones set sail for New York,
which he reached on the 18th of May, after thirty-six hours. Having
returned the men, Jones remained at New York in accordance with his
orders until he could enlist a crew, which he presently succeeded in
doing. Thereafter, under supplemental orders, he ran over to New
London, took on board such of the men left there who were sufficiently
recovered to be able to resume their duties, and came back and
reported with them to the commander-in-chief at Providence. He had
performed his duties, routine though they were, expeditiously and

He now received instructions thoroughly to overhaul and fit the
Providence for active cruising. She was hove down, had her bottom
scraped, and was entirely refitted and provisioned under Jones's
skillful and practical direction. Her crew was exercised constantly at
small arms and great guns, and every effort made to put her in
first-class condition. In spite of the limited means at hand, she
became a model little war vessel. On June 10th a sloop of war
belonging to the enemy appeared off the bay, and in obedience to a
signal from the commodore Jones made sail to engage. Before he caught
sight of the vessel she sought safety in flight. On the 13th of June
the Providence was ordered to Newburyport, Massachusetts, to convoy a
number of merchant vessels loaded with coal for Philadelphia. Before
entering upon this important duty, however, Jones was directed to
accompany the tender Fly, loaded with cannon, toward New York, and,
after seeing her safely into the Sound, convoy some merchant vessels
from Stonington to Newport.

There were a number of the enemy's war vessels cruising in these
frequented waters, and the carrying out of Jones' simple orders was by
no means an easy task; but by address and skill, and that careful
watchfulness which even then formed a part of his character, he
succeeded in executing all his duties without losing a single vessel
under his charge. He had one or two exciting encounters with English
war ships, the details of which are unfortunately not preserved. In
one instance, by boldly interposing the Providence between the British
frigate Cerberus and a colonial brigantine loaded with military stores
from Hispaniola, he diverted the attention of the frigate to his own
vessel, and drew her away from the pursuit of the helpless
merchantman, which thereby effected her escape. Then the Providence, a
swift little brig admirably handled, easily succeeded in shaking off
her pursuer, although she had allowed the frigate to come within
gunshot range. The brigantine whose escape Jones had thus assured was
purchased into the naval service and renamed the Hampden.

The coal fleet had assembled at Boston instead of Newburyport, and in
pursuance of his original orders Jones brought them safely to the
capes of the Delaware on the 1st of August. The run to Philadelphia
was soon made, and Hopkins' appointment, under which he was acting,
was ratified by the Congress, and the commission of captain was given
him, dated the 8th of August, 1776.

Hitherto Jones, like all the others engaged in the war, had been a
subject of England, a colonist in rebellion against the crown. By the
Declaration of Independence he had become a citizen of the United
States engaged in maintaining the independence and securing the
liberty of his adopted country. The change was most agreeable to him.
It added a dignity and value to his commission which could not fail to
be acceptable to a man of his temperament. It was pleasant to him also
to have the confidence of his commander-in-chief, which had been shown
in the appointment to the command of the Providence, justified by the
government in the commission which had been issued to him.

Jones had made choice of his course of action in the struggle between
kingdom and colony deliberately, not carried away by any enthusiasm of
the moment, but moved by the most generous sentiments of liberty and
independence. He had much at stake, and he was embarked in that
particular profession fraught with peculiar dangers not incident to
the life of a soldier. It must have been, therefore, with the greatest
satisfaction that he perceived opportunities opening before him in
that cause to which he had devoted himself, and in that service of
which he was a master. A foreigner with but scant acquaintance and
little influence in America, he had to make his way by sheer merit.
The value of what has been subsequently called "a political pull" with
the Congress was as well known then as it is now, and nearly as much
used, too. He practically had none. Nevertheless, his foot was already
upon that ladder upon which he intended to mount to the highest round
eventually. He was not destined to realize his ambition, however,
without a heartbreaking struggle against uncalled-for restraint, and a
continued protest against active injustice which tried his very soul.

It was first proposed by the Marine Committee that he return to New
England and assume command of the Hampden, but he wisely preferred to
remain in the Providence for the time being. He thoroughly knew the
ship and the crew, over which he had gained that ascendency he always
enjoyed with those who sailed under his command. Not so much by
mistaken kindness or indulgence did he win the devotion of his
men--for he was ever a stern and severe, though by no means a
merciless, disciplinarian--but because of his undoubted courage,
brilliant seamanship, splendid audacity, and uniform success. There is
an attraction about these qualities which is exercised perhaps more
powerfully upon seamen than upon any other class. The profession of a
sailor is one in which immediate decision, address, resource, and
courage are more in evidence than in any other. The seaman in an
emergency has but little time for reflection, and in the hour of
peril, when the demand is made upon him, he must choose the right
course instantly--as it were by instinct.

With large discretion in his orders, which were practically to cruise
at pleasure and destroy the enemy's commerce, the Providence left the
Delaware on the 21st of August. In the first week of the cruise she
captured the brigs Sea Nymph, Favorite, and Britannia; the first two
laden with rum, sugar, etc., and the last a whaler. These rich prizes
were all manned and sent in.

On the morning of the 1st of September, being in the latitude of the
Bermudas, five vessels were sighted to leeward. The sea was moderately
smooth, with a fresh breeze blowing at the time, and the Providence
immediately ran off toward the strangers to investigate. It appeared
to the observers on Jones' brig that the largest was an East Indiaman
and the others ordinary merchant vessels. They were in error, however,
in their conclusions, for a nearer approach disclosed the fact that
the supposed East Indiaman was a frigate of twenty-eight guns, called
the Solebay. Jones immediately hauled his wind and clapped on sail.
The frigate, which had endeavored to conceal her force with the hope
of enticing the Providence under her guns, at once made sail in
pursuit. The Providence was a smart goer, and so was the Solebay. The
two vessels settled down for a long chase. On the wind it became
painfully evident that the frigate had the heels of the brig. With
burning anxiety Jones and his officers saw the latter gradually
closing with them. Shot from her bow-chasers, as she came within
range, rushed through the air at the little American sloop of war,
which now hoisted her colors and returned the fire. Seeing this, the
Solebay set an American ensign, and fired one or two guns to leeward
in token of amity, but Jones was not to be taken in by any transparent
ruse of this character. He held on, grimly determined. As the Solebay
drew nearer she ceased firing, confident in her ability to capture the
chase, for which, indeed, there appeared no escape.

An ordinary seaman, even though a brave man, would probably have given
up the game in his mind, though his devotion to duty would have
compelled him to continue the fight until actually overhauled, but
Jones had no idea of being captured then. Already a plan of escape had
developed in his fertile brain. Communicating his intentions to his
officers, he completed his preparations, and only awaited the
favorable moment for action. The Solebay had crept up to within one
hundred yards of the lee quarter of the Providence. If the frigate
yawed and delivered a broadside the brig would be sunk or crippled and
captured. Now was the time, if ever, to put his plan in operation. If
the maneuver failed, it would be all up with the Americans. As usual,
Jones boldly staked all on the issue of the moment. As a preliminary
the helm had been put slightly a-weather, and the brig allowed to
fall off to leeward a little, so bringing the Solebay almost dead
astern--if anything, a little to windward. In anticipation of close
action, as Jones had imagined, the English captain had loaded his guns
with grape shot, which, of course, would only be effective at short
range. Should the Englishman get the Providence under his broadside, a
well-aimed discharge of grape would clear her decks and enable him to
capture the handsome brig without appreciably damaging her.

From his knowledge of the qualities of the Providence, Jones felt sure
that going free--that is, with the wind aft, or on the quarter--he
could run away from his pursuer. The men, of course, had been sent to
their stations long since. The six 4-pounders, which constituted the
lee battery, were quietly manned, the guns being double-shotted with
grape and solid shot. The studding sails--light sails calculated to
give a great increase in the spread of canvas to augment the speed of
the ship in a light breeze, which could be used to advantage going
free and in moderate winds--were brought out and prepared for
immediate use. Everything having been made ready, and the men
cautioned to pay strict attention to orders, and to execute them with
the greatest promptitude and celerity, Jones suddenly put his helm
hard up.

The handy Providence spun around on her heel like a top, and in a
trice was standing boldly across the forefoot of the onrushing English
frigate. When she lay squarely athwart the bows of the Solebay Jones
gave the order to fire, and the little battery of 4-pounders barked
out its gallant salute and poured its solid shot and grape into the
eyes of the frigate. In the confusion of the moment, owing to the
suddenness of the unexpected maneuver, and the raking he had received,
the English captain lost his head. Before he could realize what had
happened, the Providence, partially concealed by the smoke from her
own guns, had drawn past him, and, covered with great wide-reaching
clouds of light canvas by the nimble fingers of her anxious crew, was
ripping through the water at a great rate at a right angle to her
former direction.

When the Solebay, rapidly forging ahead, crossed the stern of the
saucy American a few moments after, she delivered a broadside, which
at that range, as the guns were loaded with grape shot, did little
damage to the brig and harmed no one. The distance was too great and
the guns were badly aimed. By the time the Solebay had emulated the
maneuvers of the Providence and had run off, the latter had gained so
great a lead that her escape was practically effected. The English
frigate proved to be unable to outfoot the American brig on this
course, and after firing upward of a hundred shot at her the Solebay
gave over the pursuit. This escape has ever been counted one of the
most daring and subtle pieces of seamanship and skill among the many
with which the records of the American navy abound. As subsequent
events proved, the failure to capture Jones was most unfortunate on
the part of the English.

Jones now shaped his course for the Banks of Newfoundland, to break up
the fishing industry and let the British know that ravaging the coast,
which they had begun, was a game at which two could play. On the 16th
and 17th of the month he ran into a heavy gale, so severe in character
that he was forced to strike his guns into the hold on account of the
rolling of the brig. The gale abated on the 19th, and on the 20th of
September, the day being pleasant, the Providence was hove to and the
men were preparing to enjoy a day of rest and amusement, fishing for
cod, when in the morning two sail appeared to windward. As Jones was
preparing to beat up and investigate them, they saved him that trouble
by changing their course and running down toward him. They proved to
be a merchant ship and a British frigate, the Milford, 32.

Jones kept the Providence under easy canvas until he learned the force
of the enemy, and then made all sail to escape. Finding that he was
very much faster than his pursuer, he amused himself during one whole
day by ranging ahead and then checking his speed until the frigate
would get almost within range, when he would run off again and repeat
the performance. It was naturally most tantalizing to the officers of
the Milford, and they vented their wrath in futile broadsides whenever
there appeared the least possibility of reaching the Providence. After
causing the enemy to expend a large quantity of powder and shot,
having tired of the game, Jones contemptuously discharged a musket at
them and sailed away.

On the 21st of September he appeared off the island of Canso, one of
the principal fishing depots of the Grand Banks. He sent his boat in
that night to gain information, and on the 22d he anchored in the
harbor. There were three fishing schooners there, one of which he
burned, one he scuttled, and the third, called the Ebenezer, he loaded
with the fish taken from the two he had destroyed, and manned as a
prize. After replenishing his wood and water, on the 23d he sailed up
to Isle Madame, having learned that the fishing fleet was lying there
dismantled for the winter. Beating to and fro with the Providence off
the island, on that same evening he sent an expedition of twenty-five
men in a shallop which he had captured at Canso, accompanied by a
fully manned boat from the Providence. Both crews were heavily armed.
The expedition captured the fishing fleet of nine vessels without
loss. The crews of most of them, numbering some three hundred men,
were ashore at the time, and the vessels were dismantled. Jones
promised that if the men ashore would help to refit the vessels he
desired to take with him as prizes, he would leave them a sufficient
number of boats to enable them to regain their homes. By his ready
address he actually persuaded them to comply with his request, and the
unfortunate Englishmen labored assiduously to get the ships ready for

On the 25th of September their preparations were completed, but a
violent autumn gale blew up, and their situation became one of great
peril. The Providence, anchored in Great St. Peter Channel, rode it
out with two anchors down to a long scope of cable. The ship Alexander
and the schooner Sea Flower, which were heavily laden with valuable
plunder, had also reached the same channel. The Alexander succeeded in
making an anchorage under a point of rocks which sheltered her, and
enabled her to sustain the shock of the gale unharmed. The Sea Flower
was driven on the lee shore, and, being hopelessly wrecked, was
scuttled and fired the next day. The Ebenezer, loaded with fish from
Canso, was also wrecked. The gale had abated about noon, when, after
burning the ship Adventure, dismantled and in ballast, and leaving a
brig and two small schooners to enable the English seamen to reach
home, the Providence, accompanied by the Alexander and the brigs
Kingston Packet and Success, got under way for home. On the 27th the
Providence, in spite of the fact that she was now very short-handed on
account of the several prizes she had manned, chased two armed
transports apparently bound in for Quebec, which managed to make good
their escape. The little squadron resumed its course, and arrived
safely at Rhode Island without further mishap on the 7th of October.

On this remarkable cruise Jones had captured sixteen vessels, eight of
which he manned and sent in as prizes, destroying five of the
remainder, and generously leaving three for the unfortunate fishermen
to reach their homes. He had carried out his orders to sink, burn,
destroy, and capture with characteristic thoroughness, but without
needless cruelty and oppression. He burned no dwelling houses, and
turned no non-combatants out of their homes in the middle of winter,
as Mowatt had done at Falmouth. He had entirely broken up the fishery
at Canso, had escaped by the exercise of the highest seamanship from
one British frigate, and had led another a merry dance in impotent
pursuit. Property belonging to the enemy had been destroyed to the
value of perhaps a million of dollars in round numbers, not to speak
of the effect upon their pride by the bold cruising of the little brig
of twelve 4-pound guns and seventy men.


When his countrymen heard the story of this daring and successful
cruise, Jones immediately became the most famous officer of the new
navy. The _éclat_ he had gained by his brilliant voyage at once raised
him from a more or less obscure position, and gave him a great
reputation in the eyes of his countrymen, a reputation he did not
thereafter lose. But Jones was not a man to live upon a reputation. He
had scarcely arrived at Providence before he busied himself with plans
for another undertaking. He had learned from prisoners taken on his
last cruise that there were a number of American prisoners, at various
places, who were undergoing hard labor in the coal mines of Cape
Breton Island, and he conceived the bold design of freeing them if

We are here introduced to one striking characteristic, not the least
noble among many, of this great man. The appeal of the prisoner always
profoundly touched his heart. The freedom of his nature, his own
passionate love for liberty and independence, the heritage of his
Scotch hills perhaps, ever made him anxious and solicitous about those
who languished in captivity. It was but the working out of that spirit
which compelled him to relinquish his participation in the lucrative
slave trade. In all his public actions, he kept before him as one of
his principal objects the release of such of his countrymen as were
undergoing the horrors of British prisons.

[Illustration: Map showing the cruise of the first American squadron,
and of the Providence and the Alfred.]

The suggested enterprise found favor in the mind of Commodore Hopkins,
who forthwith assigned Jones to the command of a squadron comprising
the Alfred, the Providence, and the brigantine Hampden. Jones hoisted
his flag on board the Alfred and hastened his preparations for
departure. He found the greatest difficulty in manning his little
squadron, and finally, in despair of getting a sufficient crew to man
them all, he determined to set sail with the Alfred and the Hampden
only, the latter vessel being commanded by Captain Hoysted Hacker. He
received his orders on the 22d of October, and on the 27th the two
vessels got under way from Providence. The wind was blowing fresh at
the time, and Hacker, who seems to have been an indifferent sailor,
ran the Hampden on a ledge of rock, where she was so badly wrecked as
to be unseaworthy. Jones put back to his anchorage, and, having
transferred the crew of the Hampden to the Providence, set sail on the
2d of November.

Both vessels were very short-handed. The Alfred, whose proper
complement was about three hundred, which had sailed from Philadelphia
with two hundred and thirty-five, now could muster no more than one
hundred and fifty all told. The two vessels were short of water,
provisions, munitions, and everything else that goes to make up a ship
of war. Jones made up for all this deficiency by his own personality.

On the evening of the first day out the two vessels anchored in
Tarpauling Cove, near Nantucket. There they found a Rhode Island
privateer at anchor. In accordance with the orders of the commodore,
Jones searched her for deserters, and from her took four men on board
the Alfred. He was afterward sued in the sum of ten thousand pounds
for this action, but, though the commodore, as he stated, abandoned
him in his defense, nothing came of the suit.

On the 3d of November, by skillful and successful maneuvering, the two
ships passed through the heavy British fleet off Block Island, and
squared away for the old cruising ground on the Grand Banks. In
addition to the release of the prisoners there was another object in
the cruise. A squadron of merchant vessels loaded with coal for the
British army in New York was about to leave Louisburg under convoy.
Jones determined to intercept them if possible.

On the 13th, off Cape Canso again, the Alfred encountered the British
armed transport Mellish, of ten guns, having on board one hundred and
fifty soldiers. After a trifling resistance she was captured. She was
loaded with arms, munitions of war, military supplies, and ten
thousand suits of winter clothing, destined for Sir Guy Carleton's
army in Canada. She was the most valuable prize which had yet fallen
into the hands of the Americans. The warm clothing, especially, would
be a godsend to the ragged, naked army of Washington. Of so much
importance was this prize that Jones determined not to lose sight of
her, and to convoy her into the harbor himself. Putting a prize crew
on board, he gave instructions that she was to be scuttled if there
appeared any danger of her recapture.

About this time two other vessels were captured, one of which was a
large fishing vessel, from which he was able to replenish his meager
store of provisions. On the 14th of November a severe gale blew up
from the northwest, accompanied by a violent snowstorm. Captain Hacker
bore away to the southward before the storm and parted company during
the night, returning incontinently to Newport. The weather continued
execrable. Amid blinding snowstorms and fierce winter gales the Alfred
and her prizes beat up along the desolate iron-bound shore. Jones
again entered the harbor of Canso, and, finding a large English
transport laden with provisions for the army aground on a shoal near
the mouth of the harbor, sent a boat party which set her on fire.
Seeing an immense warehouse filled with oil and material for whale and
cod fisheries, the boats made a sudden dash for the shore, and,
applying a torch to the building, it was soon consumed.

Beating off the shore, still accompanied by his prizes, he continued
up the coast of Cape Breton toward Louisburg, looking for the coal
fleet. It was his good fortune to run across it in a dense fog. It
consisted of a number of vessels under the convoy of the frigate
Flora, a ship which would have made short work of him if she could
have run across him. Favored by the impenetrable fog, with great
address and hardihood Jones succeeded in capturing no less than three
of the convoy, and escaped unnoticed with his prizes.

Two days afterward he came across a heavily armed British privateer
from Liverpool, which he took after a slight resistance. But now, when
he attempted to make Louisburg to carry out his design of levying on
the place and releasing the prisoners, he found that the harbor was
closed by masses of ice, and that it was impossible to effect a
landing. Indeed, his ships were in a perilous condition already. He
had manned no less than six prizes, which had reduced his short crew
almost to a prohibitive degree. On board the Alfred he had over one
hundred and fifty prisoners, a number greatly in excess of his own
men; his water casks were nearly empty, and his provisions were
exhausted. He had six prizes with him, one of exceptional value.
Nothing could be gained by lingering on the coast, and he decided,
therefore, to return.

The little squadron, under convoy of the Alfred and the armed
privateer, which he had manned and placed under the command of
Lieutenant Saunders, made its way toward the south in the fierce
winter weather. Off St. George's Bank they again encountered the
Milford. It was late in the afternoon when her topsails rose above the
horizon. The wind was blowing fresh from the northwest; the Alfred and
her prizes were on the starboard tack, the enemy was to windward. From
his previous experience Jones was able fairly to estimate the speed of
the Milford. A careful examination convinced him that it would be
impossible for the latter to close with his ships before nightfall. He
therefore placed the Alfred and the privateer between the English
frigate lasking down upon them and the rest of his ships, and
continued his course. He then signaled the prizes, with the exception
of the privateer, that they should disregard any orders or signals
which he might give in the night, and hold on as they were.

The prizes were slow sailers, and, as the slowest necessarily set the
pace for the whole squadron, the Milford gradually overhauled them. At
the close of the short winter day, when the night fell and the
darkness rendered sight of the pursued impossible, Jones showed a set
of lantern signals, and, hanging a top light on the Alfred, right
where it would be seen by the Englishmen, at midnight, followed by the
privateer, he changed his course directly away from the prizes. The
Milford promptly altered her course and pursued the light. The prizes,
in obedience to their orders, held on as they were. At daybreak the
prizes were nowhere to be seen, and the Milford was booming along
after the privateer and the Alfred.

To run was no part of Paul Jones' desires, and he determined to make a
closer inspection of the Milford, with a view to engaging if a
possibility of capturing her presented itself; so he bore up and
headed for the oncoming British frigate. The privateer did the same. A
nearer view, however, developed the strength of the enemy, and
convinced him that it would be madness to attempt to engage with the
Alfred and the privateer in the condition he then was, so he hauled
aboard his port tacks once more, and, signaling to the privateer,
stood off again. For some reason--Jones imagined that it was caused by
a mistaken idea of the strength of the Milford--Saunders signaled to
Jones that the Milford was of inferior force, and disregarding his
orders foolishly ran down under her lee from a position of perfect
safety, and was captured without a blow. The lack of proper
subordination in the nascent navy of the United States brought about
many disasters, and this was one of them. Jones characterized this as
an act of folly; it is difficult to dismiss it thus mildly. I would
fain do no man an injustice, but if a man wanted to be a traitor that
is the way he would act. Jones' own account of this adventure, which
follows, is of deep interest:

"This led the Milford entirely out of the way of the prizes, and
particularly the clothing ship, Mellish, for they were all out of
sight in the morning. I had now to get out of the difficulty in the
best way I could. In the morning we again tacked, and as the Milford
did not make much appearance I was unwilling to quit her without a
certainty of her superior force. She was out of shot, on the lee
quarter, and as I could only see her bow, I ordered the letter of
marque, Lieutenant Saunders, that held a much better wind than the
Alfred, to drop slowly astern, until he could discover by a view of
the enemy's side whether she was of superior or inferior force, and to
make a signal accordingly. On seeing Mr. Saunders drop astern, the
Milford wore suddenly and crowded sail toward the northeast. This
raised in me such doubts as determined me to wear also, and give
chase. Mr. Saunders steered by the wind, while the Milford went
lasking, and the Alfred followed her with a pressed sail, so that Mr.
Saunders was soon almost hull down to windward. At last the Milford
tacked again, but I did not tack the Alfred till I had the enemy's
side fairly open, and could plainly see her force. I then tacked about
ten o'clock. The Alfred being too light to be steered by the wind, I
bore away two points, while the Milford steered close by the wind, to
gain the Alfred's wake; and by that means he dropped astern,
notwithstanding his superior sailing. The weather, too, which became
exceedingly squally, enabled me to outdo the Milford by carrying more
sail. I began to be under no apprehension from the enemy's
superiority, for there was every appearance of a severe gale, which
really took place in the night. To my great surprise, however, Mr.
Saunders, toward four o'clock, bore down on the Milford, made the
signal of her inferior force, ran under her lee, and was taken!"

With the exception of one small vessel, which was recaptured, the
prizes all arrived safely, the precious Mellish finally reaching the
harbor of Dartmouth. The Alfred dropped anchor at Boston, December 15,
1776. The news of the captured clothing reached Washington and
gladdened his heart--and the hearts of his troops as well--on the eve
of the battle of Trenton.

The reward for this brilliant and successful cruise, the splendid
results of which had been brought about by the most meager means, was
an order relieving him of the command of the Alfred and assigning him
to the Providence again. When he arrived at Philadelphia the next
spring he found that by an act of Congress, on the 10th of October,
1776, which had created a number of captains in the navy, he, who had
been first on the list of lieutenants, and therefore the sixth ranking
sea officer, was now made the eighteenth captain. He was passed over
by men who had no claim whatever to superiority on the score of their
service to the Commonwealth, which had been inconsiderable or nothing
at all. Indeed, there was no man in the country who by merit or
achievement was entitled to precede him, except possibly Nicholas

If the friendless Scotsman had commanded more influence, more
political prestige, so that he might have been rewarded for his
auspicious services by placing him at the head of the navy, I venture
to believe that some glorious chapters in our marine history would
have been written.


The period between the termination of his last cruise and his
assignment to his next important command was employed by Jones in
vigorous and proper protests against the arbitrary action of Congress,
which had deprived him of that position on the navy list which was his
just due, were either merit, date of commission, or quality of service
considered. To the ordinary citizen the question may appear of little
interest, but to the professional soldier or sailor it is of the first
importance. Indeed, it is impossible to conceive of properly
maintaining an army or navy without regular promotion, definitive
station, and adequate reward of merit. To feel that rank is temporary
and position is at the will of unreasonable and irresponsible
direction is to undermine service.

The same injustice drove John Stark, of New Hampshire, to resign the
service with the pithy observation that an officer who could not
protect his own rights was unfit to be trusted with those of his
country. It did not prevent his winning the fight at Bennington,
though. The same treatment caused Daniel Morgan to seek that
retirement from which he was only drawn forth by his country's peril
to win the Battle of the Cowpens. And, lastly, it was the same
treatment which, in part at least, made Arnold a traitor. Then, as
ever, Congress was continually meddling with matters of purely
military administration, to the very great detriment of the service.

Jones has been censured as a jealous stickler for rank, a quibbler
about petty distinctions in trying times. Such criticisms proceed from
ignorance. If there were nothing else, rank means opportunity. The
range of prospective enterprises is greater the higher the rank. The
little Scotsman was properly tenacious of his prerogatives--we could
not admire him if he were not so--and naturally exasperated by the
arbitrary course of Congress, against which he protested with
all the vehemence of his passionate, fiery, and--it must be
confessed--somewhat irritable nature. On this subject he thus wrote to
the Marine Board at Philadelphia:

"I am now to inform you that by a letter from Commodore Hopkins, dated
on board the Warren, January 14, 1777, which came to my hands a day or
two ago, I am superseded in the command of the Alfred, in favour of
Captain Hinman, and ordered back to the sloop in Providence River.
Whether this order doth or doth not supersede also your orders to me
of the 10th ult. you can best determine; however, as I undertook the
late expedition at his (Commodore Hopkins') request, from a principle
of humanity, I mean not now to make a difficulty about trifles,
especially when the good of the service is to be consulted. As I am
unconscious of any neglect of duty or misconduct, since my appointment
at the first as eldest lieutenant of the navy, I can not suppose that
you have intended to set me aside in favour of any man who did not at
that time bear a captain's commission, unless, indeed, that man, by
exerting his superior abilities, hath rendered or can render more
important services to America. Those who stepped forth at the first,
in ships altogether unfit for war, were generally considered as
frantic rather than wise men, for it must be remembered that almost
everything then made against them. And although the success in the
affair with the Glasgow was not equal to what it might have been, yet
the blame ought not to be general. The principal or principals in
command alone are culpable, and the other officers, while they stand
unimpeached, have their full merit. There were, it is true, divers
persons, from misrepresentation, put into commission at the beginning,
without fit qualification, and perhaps the number may have been
increased by later appointments; but it follows not that the gentleman
or man of merit should be neglected or overlooked on their account.
None other than a gentleman, as well as a seaman both in theory and
practice, is qualified to support the character of a commission
officer in the navy; nor is any man fit to command a ship of war who
is not also capable of communicating his ideas on paper, in language
that becomes his rank. If this be admitted, the foregoing operations
will be sufficiently clear; but if further proof is required it can
easily be produced.

"When I entered into the service I was not actuated by motives of
self-interest. I stepped forth as a free citizen of the world, in
defense of the violated rights of mankind, and not in search of
riches, whereof, I thank God, I inherit a sufficiency; but I should
prove my degeneracy were I not in the highest degree tenacious of my
rank and seniority. As a gentleman I can yield this point up only to
persons of superior abilities and superior merit, and under such
persons it would be my highest ambition to learn. As this is the first
time of my having expressed the least anxiety on my own account, I
must entreat your patience until I account to you for the reason which
hath given me this freedom of sentiment. It seems that Captain
Hinman's commission is No. 1, and that, in consequence, he who was at
first my junior officer by eight, _hath expressed himself as my senior
officer_ in a manner which doth himself no honour, and which doth me
signal injury. There are also in the navy persons who have not shown
me fair play after the service I have rendered them. I have even been
blamed for the civilities which I have shown to my prisoners, at the
request of one of whom I herein inclose an appeal, which I must beg
leave to lay before Congress. Could you see the appellant's
accomplished lady, and the innocents their children, arguments in
their behalf would be unnecessary. As the base-minded only are capable
of inconsistencies, you will not blame my free soul, which can never
stoop where I can not also esteem. Could I, which I never can, bear to
be superseded, I should indeed deserve your contempt and total
neglect. I am therefore to entreat you to employ me in the most
enterprising and active service, accountable to your honourable board
only for my conduct, and connected as much as possible with gentlemen
and men of good sense."

The letter does credit to his head and heart alike. Matter and manner
are both admirable. In it he is at his best, and one paragraph shows
that the generous sympathy he ever felt for a prisoner could even be
extended to the enemies of his country, so that as far as he
personally was concerned they should suffer no needless hardship in
captivity. Considered as the production of a man whose life from
boyhood had been mainly spent upon the sea in trading ships and
slavers, with their limited opportunities for polite learning, and an
entire absence of that refined society without which education rarely
rises to the point of culture, the form and substance of Jones'
letters are surprising. Of this and of most of the letters hereafter
to be quoted only words of approbation may be used. A just yet modest
appreciation of his own dignity, a proper and resolute determination
to maintain it, a total failure to truckle to great men, an absence of
sycophancy and hypocrisy, a clear insight into the requirements of a
gentleman and an effortless rising to his own high standard without
unpleasant self-assertion, are found in his correspondence.
Considering the humble source from which he sprang, his words, written
and spoken, equally with his deeds, indicate his rare qualities.

It is probable that no disposition existed in Congress to do him an
injustice--quite the reverse, in fact; but the claims of the
representatives of the several States, which were insistently put
forth in behalf of local individuals aspiring to naval station from
the various colonies in which the different ships were building, were
too strong to be disregarded. The central administration was at no
time sufficiently firm for a really strong government, and
conciliation and temporization were necessary. It was only by the very
highest quality of tact that greater difficulties were overcome, and
that more glaring acts of injustice were not perpetrated. So sensible
were the authorities of Jones' conduct, so valuable had been his
services on his last two cruises, that while they were unable at that
time, in spite of his protests, to restore him to his proper place in
the list, as a concession to his ability and merit orders were given
him assigning him to the command of the squadron consisting of the
Alfred, Columbus, Cabot, Hampden, and Providence, to operate against

This was virtually creating him commander-in-chief of the naval
forces, for outside the ships mentioned there were but few others
worthy of consideration. Natural jealousy had, however, arisen in the
mind of Hopkins, the commander-in-chief, at being thus superseded and
ignored through one of his own subordinates by Congress, with which
his relations had become so strained that he affected to disbelieve
the validity of the order assigning Jones to this duty, and, refusing
to comply therewith, retained the ships under his command. The matter
thereupon fell through.

Finding all efforts to secure the squadron and carry out these orders
fruitless, Jones journeyed to Philadelphia for the purpose of
emphatically placing before the Marine Committee his grievances. There
a further shock awaited him.

"My conduct hitherto," he writes on this subject in the memorial
addressed to Congress from the Texel years after, "was so much
approved of by Congress that on the 5th of February, 1777, I was
appointed, with unlimited orders, to command a little squadron of the
Alfred, Columbus, Cabot, Hampden, and sloop Providence. Various
important services were pointed out, but I was left at free liberty to
make my election. That service, however, did not take place; for the
commodore, who had three of the squadron blocked in at Providence,
affected to disbelieve my appointment, and would not at last give me
the necessary assistance. Finding that he trifled with my applications
as well as the orders of Congress, I undertook a journey from Boston
to Philadelphia, in order to explain matters to Congress in person. I
took this step also because Captain Hinman had succeeded me in the
command of the Alfred, and, of course, the service could not suffer
through my absence. I arrived at Philadelphia in the beginning of
April. But what was my surprise to find that, by a new line of navy
rank, which had taken place on the 10th day of October, 1776, all the
officers that had stepped forth at the beginning were superseded! I
was myself superseded by thirteen men, not one of whom did (and
perhaps some of them durst not) take the sea against the British flag
at the first; for several of them who were then applied to refused to
venture, and none of them has since been very happy in proving their
superior abilities. Among these thirteen there are individuals who can
neither pretend to parts nor education, and with whom, as a private
gentleman, I would disdain to associate.

"I leave your excellency and the Congress to judge how this must
affect a man of honour and sensibility.

"I was told by President Hancock that what gave me so much pain had
been the effect of a multiplicity of business. He acknowledged the
injustice of that regulation, said it should make but a nominal and
temporary difference, and that in the meantime I might assure myself
that no navy officer stood higher in the opinion of Congress than

The complete news of his displacement and supersession in rank does
not appear to have reached him before this. His efforts to secure the
restoration of his rank proving useless, he applied for immediate sea
duty. The next attempt on the part of the Marine Committee to gratify
Jones's wish for active service, and avail themselves of his ability
at the same time, took the shape of a resolution of Congress
authorizing him to choose the best of three ships which it was
proposed to purchase in Boston, which he was to command until some
better provision could be made for him. He was ordered to that point
to fit out the ship. During this period of harassing anxiety he gave
great attention to formulating plans and making suggestions looking to
a more effective organization of the new naval establishment.

To Robert Morris, chairman of the committee, on different occasions,
he communicated his views on this important subject in a series of
valuable letters, of which the following are pertinent extracts:

"As the regulations of the navy are of the utmost consequence, you
will not think me presumptuous, if, with the utmost diffidence, I
venture to communicate to you such hints as, in my judgment, will
promote its honor and good government. I could heartily wish that
every commissioned officer were to be previously examined; for, to my
certain knowledge, there are persons who have already crept into
commission without abilities or fit qualifications; I am myself far
from desiring to be excused. From experience in ours, as well as from
my former intimacy with many officers of note in the British navy, I
am convinced that the parity of rank between sea and land or marine
officers is of more consequence to the harmony of the sea service than
has generally been imagined... I propose not our enemies as an example
for our general imitation; yet, as their navy is the best regulated of
any in the world, we must, in some degree, imitate them, and aim at
such further improvement as may one day make ours vie with and exceed

With regard to the difficulty of recruiting seamen, some of whom,
finding the merchant service or coasting trade was broken up, had
entered the army at the beginning of the war, while many more had
engaged in privateering--a much more profitable vocation than the
regular service--he says:

"It is to the least degree distressing to contemplate the state and
establishment of our navy. The common class of mankind are actuated by
no nobler principle than that of self-interest; this, and this alone,
determines all adventurers in privateers--the owners, as well as those
whom they employ. And while this is the case, unless the private
emolument of individuals in our navy is made superior to that in
privateers, it can never become respectable, it will never become
formidable. And without a respectable navy--alas! America. In the
present critical situation of affairs human wisdom can suggest no more
than one infallible expedient: enlist the seamen during pleasure, and
give them all the prizes. What is the paltry emolument of two thirds
of prizes to the finances of this vast continent? If so poor a
resource is essential to its independence, in sober sadness we are
involved in a woeful predicament, and our ruin is fast approaching.
The situation of America is new in the annals of mankind; her affairs
cry haste, and speed must answer them. Trifles, therefore, ought to be
wholly disregarded, as being, in the old vulgar proverb, penny wise
and pound foolish. If our enemies, with the best establishment and
most formidable navy in the universe, have found it expedient to
assign all prizes to the captors, how much more is such policy
essential to our infant fleet! But I need use no arguments to convince
you of the necessity of making the emoluments of our navy equal, if
not superior, to theirs. We have had proof that a navy may be
officered on almost any terms, but we are not so sure that these
officers are equal to their commissions; nor will the Congress ever
obtain such certainty until they in their wisdom see proper to appoint
a board of admiralty competent to determine impartially the respective
merits and abilities of their officers, and to superintend, regulate,
and point out all the motions and operations of the navy."

In another letter to Robert Morris he writes:

"There are no officers more immediately wanted in the marine
department than commissioners of dockyards, to superintend the
building and outfits of all ships of war; with power to appoint
deputies, to provide, and have in constant readiness, sufficient
quantities of provisions, stores, and slops, so that the small number
of ships we have may be constantly employed, and not continue idle, as
they do at present. Besides all the advantages that would arise from
such appointments, the saving which would accrue to the continent is
worth attending to. Had such men been appointed at the first, the new
ships might have been at sea long ago. The difficulty now lies in
finding men who are deserving, and who are fitly qualified for an
office of such importance."

We are surprised at the clear insight of this untrained, inexperienced
Scotsman, whom, by the way, I shall hereafter call an American. Most
of his recommendations have long since been adopted in our own navy
and other navies of the world. His conclusions are the results of his
long and thorough professional study, his habits of application, his
power of comprehension and faculty of clear and explicit statement.
His observations would do credit to the most trained observer with
large experience back of his observation.

Another curious letter to a former friend on the island of Tobago,
written at this time, which deals with certain investments in property
with balances due him from his various trading ventures, contains the
following statement:

"As I hope my dear mother is still alive, I must inform you that I
wish my property in Tobago, or in England, after paying my just debts,
to be applied for her support. Your own feelings, my dear sir, make it
unnecessary for me to use arguments to prevail with you on this tender
point. Any remittances which you may be enabled to make, through the
hands of my good friend Captain John Plainer, of Cork, will be
faithfully put into her hands; she hath several orphan grandchildren
to provide for."

All of which plainly indicates that, though a citizen of another
country and the bearer of another name, he still retained those
natural feelings of affection which his enemies would fain persuade us
were not in his being.

While waiting at Boston for the purchase of the ships referred to, he
was selected by Congress to command a heavy ship of war, a frigate to
be called the Indien, then building at Amsterdam, which undoubtedly
would be the most formidable vessel in the American service. This
would be not only a just tribute to his merit, but would also solve
the difficulty about relative rank, for he would be the highest
ranking officer in Continental waters, and there could be no conflict
of authority. He was directed to proceed at once to Europe to take
command of this ship. The Marine Committee sent the following letter,
addressed to the commissioners of the United States in Europe, to Paul
Jones, for him to present to them on his arrival in France:

"Philadelphia, _May 9, 1777_.

"Honourable Gentlemen: This letter is intended to be delivered to you
by John Paul Jones, Esquire, an active and brave commander in our
navy, who has already performed signal services in vessels of little
force; and, in reward for his zeal, we have directed him to go on
board the Amphitrite, a French ship of twenty guns, that brought in a
valuable cargo of stores from Messrs. Hortalez & Co.,[4] and with her
to repair to France. He takes with him his commission, and some
officers and men, so that we hope he will, under that sanction, make
some good prizes with the Amphitrite; but our design of sending him
is, with the approbation of Congress, that you may purchase one of
those fine frigates that Mr. Deane writes us you can get, and invest
him with the command thereof as soon as possible. We hope you may not
delay this business one moment, but purchase, in such port or place in
Europe as it can be done with most convenience and dispatch, a fine,
fast-sailing frigate, or larger ship. Direct Captain Jones where he
must repair to, and he will take with him his officers and men toward
manning her. You will assign him some good house or agent, to supply
him with everything necessary to get the ship speedily and well
equipped and manned; somebody that will bestir himself vigorously in
the business, and never quit it until it is accomplished.

"If you have any plan or service to be performed in Europe by such a
ship, that you think will be more for the interest and honour of the
States than sending her out directly, Captain Jones is instructed to
obey your orders; and, to save repetition, let him lay before you the
instructions we have given him, and furnish you with a copy thereof.
You can then judge what will be necessary for you to direct him in;
and whatever you do will be approved, as it will undoubtedly tend to
promote the public service of this country.

"You see by this step how much dependence Congress places in your
advices; and you must make it a point not to disappoint Captain Jones'
wishes and expectations on this occasion."

At the same time the committee sent the following letter to Jones

"Philadelphia, _May 9, 1777_.

"Sir: Congress have thought proper to authorize the Secret Committee
to employ you on a voyage in the Amphitrite, from Portsmouth to
Carolina and France, where it is expected you will be provided with a
fine frigate; and as your present commission is for the command of a
particular ship, we now send you a new one, whereby you are appointed
a captain in our navy, and of course may command any ship in the
service to which you are particularly ordered. You are to obey the
orders of the Secret Committee, and we are, sir, etc."

The Amphitrite, which was to carry out Jones and the other officers
and seamen to man the proposed frigate, was an armed merchantman. The
French commander of the Amphitrite, however, made great difficulty
with regard to surrendering his command to Jones, and even to
receiving him and his men on board the ship, and through his
persistent and vehement objections this promising arrangement likewise
fell through. Jones continued his importunities for a command,
however, his desire being then, as always, for active service.
Finally, by the following resolutions passed by Congress on the 14th
of June, he was appointed to the sloop of war Ranger, then nearing
completion at Portsmouth, New Hampshire:

"_Resolved_, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen
stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars,
white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

"_Resolved_, That Captain Paul Jones be appointed to command the ship

"_Resolved_, That William Whipple, Esquire, member of Congress and of
the Marine Committee, John Langdon, Esquire, Continental agent, and
the said John Paul Jones be authorized to appoint lieutenants and
other commissioned and warrant officers necessary for the said ship;
and that blank commissions and warrants be sent them, to be filled up
with the names of the persons they appoint, returns whereof to be made
to the navy board in the Eastern Department."

At last, having received something tangible, he hastened to Portsmouth
as soon as his orders were delivered to him, and assumed the command.
It is claimed, perhaps with justice, that his hand was the first to
hoist the new flag of the Republic, the Stars and Stripes, to the
masthead of a war ship, as it had been the first to hoist the first
flag of any sort at the masthead of the Alfred, not quite two years
before. The date of this striking event is not known.

It is interesting to note the conjunction of Jones with the flag in
this resolution; an association justified by his past, and to be
further justified by his future, conduct, and by the curious
relationship in which he was brought to the colors of the United
States by his opportune action upon various occasions. The name of no
other man is so associated with our flag as is his.


In spite of the most assiduous effort on the part of Jones, he was
unable to get the Ranger ready for sea before October, and the
following extract from another letter to the Marine Committee shows
the difficulties under which he labored, and the inadequate equipment
and outfit with which he finally sailed.

"With all my industry I could not get the single suit of sails
completed until the 20th current. Since that time the winds and
weather have laid me under the necessity of continuing in port. At
this time it blows a very heavy gale from the northeast. The ship with
difficulty rides it out, with yards and topmasts struck, and whole
cables ahead. When it clears up I expect the wind from the northwest,
and shall not fail to embrace it, although I have not a spare sail nor
materials to make one. Some of those I have are made of hissings.[5] I
never before had so disagreeable service to perform as that which I
have now accomplished, and of which another will claim the credit as
well as the profit. However, in doing my utmost, I am sensible that I
have done no more than my duty."

The instructions under which Jones sailed for Europe are outlined in
the following orders from the Marine Committee:

"As soon as these instructions get to hand you are to make immediate
application to the proper persons to get your vessel victualed and
fitted for sea with all expedition. When this is done you are to
proceed on a voyage to some convenient port in France; on your arrival
there, apply to the agent, if any, in or near said port, for such
supplies as you may stand in need of. You are at the same time to give
immediate notice, by letter, to the Honourable Benjamin Franklin,
Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee, Esquires, or any of them at Paris, of
your arrival, requesting their instructions as to your further
destination, which instructions you are to obey as far as it shall be
in your power.

"You are to take particular notice that while on the coast of France,
or in a French port, you are, as much as you conveniently can, to keep
your guns covered and concealed, and to make as little warlike
appearance as possible."

In the original plan the ship was heavily over-armed, being pierced
for twenty-six guns. Considering her size and slight construction,
Jones exercised his usual good judgment by refusing to take more than
eighteen guns, the ordinary complement for a ship of her class. These
were 6-pounders manufactured in the United States and ill
proportioned, being several calibres short in the length of the
barrel, according to a statement of the captain--a most serious
defect. To all these disabilities was added an inefficient and
insubordinate first lieutenant named Simpson, who probably had been
appointed to this responsible position on account of the considerable
family influence which was back of him. He was related to the Hancocks
among others. The crew was a fair one, but was spoiled eventually by
the example of Simpson and other officers. On the first of November,
1777, the imperfectly provided Ranger took her departure from
Portsmouth bound for Europe. Her captain laments the fact that she had
but thirty gallons of rum aboard for the men to drink, a serious
defect in those grog-serving days. Before sailing, Jones made large
advances from his private funds to the men, the Government being
already in his debt to the amount of fifteen hundred pounds, for
previous advances to the men of the Alfred and the Providence. None of
these advances were repaid until years after. These facts are
evidence, by the way, that he had finally realized considerable sums
of money from his brother's estate, for he had no other financial
resource save his West Indian investments, which were worth nothing to
him at this time.

Wickes, Johnston, and Cunningham, in the Reprisal, Lexington,
Surprise, and Revenge, insignificant vessels of inferior force, had by
their brilliant and successful cruising in the English Channel
demonstrated the possibility of operations against British commerce in
that supposedly safe quarter of the ocean. Paul Jones was now to
undertake, upon a larger scale, similar operations with much more
astounding results.

On the way over, two prizes, both brigantines, laden with wine and
fruit, were captured. Nearing the other side, the Ranger fell in with
ten sail of merchantmen from the Mediterranean, under convoy of the
line of battle ship Invincible, 74. Jones made strenuous efforts to
cut out one of the convoy, but they clung so closely to the line of
battle ship that he found it impossible to bring about his design,
though he remained in sight of the convoy during one whole day. Had
the Ranger been swifter or handier, he might have effected something,
but she was very crank and slow as well.

On the 2d of December the sloop of war dropped anchor in the harbor of
Nantes. Jones sent his letters and instructions to the commissioners,
and had the pleasure of confirming to them the news of the surrender
of Burgoyne and his army, which was probably the most important factor
in bringing about the subsequent alliance between America and France.
While awaiting a reply to his letters he busied himself in repairing
the defects and weaknesses of his ship so far as his limited means
permitted. Her trim was altered, ballast restowed, and a large
quantity of lead taken on board; the lower masts were shortened
several feet, and every other change which his skill and experience
dictated was made on the ship. The results greatly conduced to her
efficiency. It may be stated here that Jones was a thorough and
accomplished seaman, and no man was capable of getting more out of a
ship than he. From a slow, crank, unwieldy vessel he developed the
sloop of war into a handy, amenable ship, and very much increased her

In January, 1778, in obedience to instructions from the commissioners,
he visited them in Paris and explained to them in detail his proposed
plan of action. Alone among the naval commanders of his day does he
appear to have appreciated that commerce destroying can be best
carried on and the enemy most injured by concentrated attacks by
mobile and efficient force upon large bodies of shipping in harbors
and home ports, rather than by sporadic cruising in more or less
frequented seas. He had come across with the hope of taking command of
the fine frigate Indien, then building in Holland, and then, with the
Ranger and such other ships as might be procured, carrying out his
ideas by a series of bold descents upon the English coasts. But while
the ministers of the King of France were hesitating, or perhaps better
perfecting their plans preparatory to announcing an alliance offensive
and defensive with this country, it was deemed of the utmost
importance that no occasion should be given the British which would
enable them unduly to hasten the course of events. The suspicion of
the British Government was aroused with respect to the Indien,
however, and it was thought best, under the circumstances, to pretend
that she was being made for the Government of France, with which
England was then nominally at peace. In any event, work upon her had
been so delayed that she was very far from completion, and would not
have been available for months.

Thus was Jones deprived of the enjoyment of this command, to his great
personal regret, to the disarrangement of his plans, and to the
detriment of the cause he was so gallantly to support. There was no
other ship nor were any smaller vessels then available for him, and he
was therefore of necessity continued in the command of the Ranger.

This in itself was annoying, and produced a sequence of events of a
most unfortunate character. Lieutenant Simpson had been promised the
command of the Ranger when Jones took over the Indien, and the failure
to keep this promise entailed by the circumstances mentioned,
embittered Simpson to such a degree that his efficiency--never of the
first order--was greatly impaired, and so long as he remained under
the command of Jones he was a smoldering brand of discontent and

On the 10th of January Jones, who had rejoined his ship, wrote at
great length to Silas Deane, one of the commissioners, suggesting a
plan whereby, in case the proposed alliance between France and the
rebellious colonies were consummated, a magnificent blow might be
struck against England, and the cause of the Revolution thereby
greatly furthered. He urged that Admiral D'Estaing should be
dispatched with a great fleet to pen up and capture Lord Howe, then
operating in the Delaware with an inferior fleet. There is no doubt
that this conception was essentially sound, and if he himself could
have been intrusted with the carrying out of the plan the results
would have been most happy; but, in order to effect anything, in peace
or war, prompt action is as necessary as careful planning and wise

When the French did finally adopt the plan they found that their
dilatory proceedings, their failure to take immediate advantage of
past preparation, and their substitution of Toulon for Brest as a
naval point of departure, doomed the enterprise to failure. Lord Howe,
hearing of the attempt, and realizing his precarious and indefensive
position in the Delaware, made haste to return to his old anchorage in
New York. When D'Estaing, urged by Washington, arrived off the harbor,
he was deterred from attacking Lord Howe's inferior force by the
representations of the pilots, who stated that there was not enough
water on the bar for the greater ships of the line. While, therefore,
Jones' suggestion came to nothing, it is interesting and instructive
to contemplate this project of his fertile brain. Another enterprise
proposed by him involved an expedition to take the island of St.
Helena, and with it as a base of attack attempt the capture of the
numerous Indiamen which either stopped at Jamestown or passed near the
island. This too was unheeded.

While these matters were under consideration, the Ranger sailed from
Nantes to Quiberon Bay early in February, 1778, having under convoy
several American trading ships which were desirous of joining a great
fleet of merchant vessels assembling at that point. These vessels were
to be convoyed past Cape Finisterre on their way across the Atlantic
by a heavy French squadron of five line of battle ships and several
frigates and sloops under the command of La Motte Piquet.

On the 13th of February the Ranger hove to off the bay. The wind was
blowing furiously, as it frequently does on the rocky confines of that
bold shore, off which a few years before the great Lord Hawke had
signally defeated Conflans; but, instead of running to an anchorage
immediately, Jones sent a boat ashore, and through the American
resident agent communicated to the French commander his intention of
entering the bay the next day and saluting him; asking, as was
customary, that the salute be returned. The French admiral courteously
replied that he would return four guns less than the number he
received, his instructions being to that effect, and in accordance
with the custom of his navy when an interchange of sea courtesies took
place between the fleets of France and those of a republic. This was
not satisfactory to the doughty American, and he addressed the
following letter to the American agent for the French commander:

"_February 14, 1778_.

"Dear Sir: I am extremely sorry to give you fresh trouble, but I think
the admiral's answer of yesterday requires an explanation. The haughty
English return gun for gun to foreign officers of equal rank, and two
less only to captains by flag officers. It is true, my command at
present is not important, yet, as the senior American officer at
present in Europe, it is my duty to claim an equal return of respect
to the flag of the United States that would be shown to any other flag

"I therefore take the liberty of inclosing an appointment, perhaps as
respectable as any which the French admiral can produce; besides
which, I have others in my possession.

"If, however, he persists in refusing to return an equal salute, I
will accept of two guns less, as I have not the rank of admiral.

"It is my opinion that he would return four less to a privateer or a
merchant ship; therefore, as I have been honoured oftener than once
with a chief command of ships of war, I can not in honour accept of
the same terms of respect.

"You will singularly oblige me by waiting upon the admiral; and I
ardently hope you will succeed in the application, else I shall be
under a necessity of departing without coming into the bay.

"I have the honour to be, etc.

"To William Carmichael, Esq.

"N. B.--Though thirteen guns is your greatest salute in America, yet
if the French admiral should prefer a greater number he has his choice
_on conditions_."

A great stickler for his rights and for all the prerogatives of his
station was John Paul Jones. In this instance he was maintaining the
dignity of the United States by insisting upon a proper recognition of
his command.

However, having learned afterward that the contention of the French
admiral was correct, Jones determined to accept the indicated return,
realizing with his usual keenness that the gist of the matter lay in
receiving any salute rather than in the number of guns which it
comprised; so the Ranger got under way late in the evening of the
14th, and beat in toward the harbor. It was almost dark when she drew
abreast the great French flagship. Backing his main-topsail, the
6-pounders on the main deck of the Ranger barked out their salute of
thirteen guns, which was promptly returned by the French commander
with nine heavy guns from the battle ship.

It was the first time the Stars and Stripes had been saluted on the
high seas. It was, in fact, the first official recognition of the
existence of this new power by the authorized military representatives
of any civilized nation. A Dutch governor of St. Eustatius, a year
before, had saluted an American ensign--not the Stars and Stripes, of
course--on one of our cruisers, but the act had been disavowed and the
governor promptly recalled for his presumption.

As this little transaction between Paul Jones and La Motte Piquet had
occurred so late at night, the American sent word to the Frenchman
that he proposed to sail through his line in broad daylight on the
morrow, with the brig Independence, a privateer temporarily attached
to his command, and salute him in the open light of day. With great
good humor and complaisance, La Motte Piquet again expressed his
intention of responding. Accordingly, the next morning, Jones repaired
on board the Independence, which had been lying to during the night
outside of signal distance, and, having made everything as smart and
as shipshape as possible on the little vessel, with the newest and
brightest of American ensigns flying from every masthead, the little
brig sailed past the towering walls of the great ships of the line,
saluting and receiving their reply. There were no doubts in any one's
mind as to the reality of the salute to the flag after that!

It must have been a proud moment for the man who had hoisted the
pine-tree flag for the first time on the Alfred; for the man who had
been the first officer of the American navy to receive promotion; for
the man who had first flung the Stars and Stripes to the breeze from
the masthead of a ship; for the man who, in his little vessel,
trifling and inconsiderable as she was, was yet about to maintain the
honor of that flag with unexampled heroism in the home waters and in
the presence of the proudest, most splendid, and most efficient navy
of the world. That 15th of February, that bright, cold, clear winter
morning, is one of the memorable anniversaries in the history of our

Writing to the Marine Committee on the 22d of February, 1778, he says:

"I am happy in having it in my power to congratulate you on my having
seen the American flag for the first time recognized in the fullest
and completest manner by the flag of France. I was off their bay the
13th instant, and sent my boat in the next day, to know if the admiral
would return my salute. He answered that he would return to me, as the
senior American Continental officer in Europe, the same salute which
he was authorized by his court to return to an admiral of Holland, or
any other republic, which was four guns less than the salute given. I
hesitated at this, for I demanded gun for gun. Therefore I anchored in
the entrance of the bay, at a distance from the French fleet; but,
after a very particular inquiry on the 14th, finding that he had
really told the truth, I was induced to accept of his offer, the more
so as it was, in fact, an acknowledgment of American independence. The
wind being contrary and blowing hard, it was after sunset before the
Ranger got near enough to salute La Motte Piquet with thirteen guns,
which he returned with nine. However, to put the matter beyond a
doubt, I did not suffer the Independence to salute till next morning,
when I sent the admiral word that I would sail through his fleet in
the brig, and would salute him in open day. He was exceedingly
pleased, and he returned the compliment also with nine guns."

The much-talked-of treaty of alliance between France and the United
States had been secretly signed six days before, but neither of the
participants of this interchange of sea courtesies was then aware of
this fact. Having discharged his duties by placing the merchant ships
he had convoyed under La Motte Piquet's command, Jones left Quiberon
Bay and went to Brest, where there was assembled a great French fleet
under the famous Comte D'Orvilliers. Jones had the pleasure of again
receiving, by the courtesy of that gallant officer, a reply to the
Ranger's salute from the great guns of the flagship La Bretagne.

The Frenchman, whose acquaintance Jones promptly made, was much
attracted by his daring and ingenuous personality, and, having been
advised of the disappointment caused by the loss of the Indien, he
offered to procure him a commission as a captain in the French navy
and assign him to a heavy frigate instead of the petty sloop of war at
present under his command--an unprecedented honor. Had Jones been the
mere soldier of fortune which his enemies have endeavored to maintain
he was, this brilliant offer would have met with a ready acceptance.
The French marine, through the strenuous efforts of the king and his
ministers, was then in a most flourishing condition. The terrific
defeats at the close of the century and the beginning of the next were
still in the womb of events and had not been brought forth, and the
prospects of its success were exceedingly brilliant. With the backing
of D'Orvilliers and his own capacity, speedy promotion and advancement
might easily be predicted for the American. He refused decisively to
accept the flattering offer, and remained with the Ranger.

On the 10th of April, having done what he could to put the ship in
efficient trim, he sailed from Brest under the following orders:

"Paris, _January 16, 1778_.

"Sir: As it is not in our power to procure you such a ship as you
expected, we advise you, after equipping the Ranger in the best manner
for the cruise you propose, that you proceed with her in the manner
you shall judge best for distressing the enemies of the United States,
by sea or otherwise, consistent with the laws of war and the terms of
your commission." (Directions here follow for sending prizes taken on
the coasts of France and Spain into Bilboa or Corogne, unless the
danger was too great, in which case they were to be sent to L'Orient
or Bordeaux.) "If you make an attempt on the coast of Great Britain we
advise you not to return immediately into the ports of France, unless
forced by stress of weather or the pursuit of the enemy; and in such
case you can make the proper representation to the officers of the
port, and acquaint us with your situation. We rely on your ability, as
well as your zeal, to serve the United States, and therefore do not
give you particular instructions as to your operations. We must
caution you against giving any cause of complaint to the subjects of
France or Spain, or of other neutral powers, and recommend it to you
to show them every proper mark of respect and real civility which may
be in your power."

These orders had been dated and issued to him some months before, but
were not modified or revoked in the interim. He was given an
opportunity to carry out so much of his proposed plan for attacking
the English coast as was possible with his single ship.


The first few days of the cruise were uneventful. On the 14th of
April, 1778, between the Scilly Isles and Cape Clear, the Ranger
captured a brig bound for Ireland loaded with flaxseed. As the prize
and her cargo were not worth sending in, the vessel was burned at sea.
On the 17th, off St. George's Channel, they overhauled a large ship,
the Lord Chatham, loaded with porter _en route_ from London to Dublin.
The ship and cargo being of great value--one likes to think how the
porter must have appealed to the seamen, who, it is quite likely, were
permitted to regale themselves to a limited extent from the cargo--she
was manned and sent back to Brest as a prize. After this capture Jones
proceeded up the Irish Channel, heading to the northeast, and on the
18th, finding himself off the northern extremity of the Isle of Man,
and in line with Whitehaven, he attempted to carry out a preconceived
project of destroying the shipping in the port; being determined, as
he says, by one great burning of ships to put an end to the burnings
and ravagings and maraudings of the British upon the undefended coasts
of North America.

The wind was blowing from the east, and he beat up against it toward
the town, where he hoped to find a large number of ships in the
harbor. The adverse wind delayed him, however, and it was not until
ten o'clock at night that the Ranger reached a point from which it was
practicable to dispatch the boats. Preparations were hastily made, and
the boats were called away and manned by volunteers. The boats were
already in the water when the wind suddenly shifted and blew hard on
shore, so that the Ranger was forced to beat out to sea promptly to
avoid taking ground on the shoals under her lee. The expedition,
therefore, for that time, was abandoned, the boats were swung up to
the davits, and the Ranger filled away again.

The next morning, off the Mull of Galloway, they captured a schooner
loaded with barley and sunk her. Learning from some prisoners that ten
or twelve large ships, under the protection of a small tender, were
anchored in Lochvyau, Scotland, Jones ran for that harbor, intending
to destroy them, but the variable weather, as before, interfered with
his plans, and a sudden squall drove the Ranger into the open once
more and saved the ships. He captured and sunk a small Irish fishing
sloop, making prisoners of the fishermen, that same afternoon. The
sloop was of no value to Jones, and he would have let her go had it
not been that he feared the alarm would be given. He treated the
fishermen kindly, however, and, as we shall see, in the end they
suffered no loss from his action.

On the 20th he captured a sloop loaded with grain, and on the 21st,
off Carrickfergus, he took another small fishing boat. Learning from
the fishermen that the British man-of-war Drake, twenty guns and a
hundred and fifty men, was lying at anchor in Belfast Lough, he
promptly determined upon a bold scheme to effect her capture. Beating
to and fro off the mouth of the Lough until the evening, as soon as it
was dark he ran for the harbor, proposing to lay his vessel athwart
the hawse of the Drake, lying unsuspiciously at anchor, drop his own
anchor over the cable of the English sloop of war, and capture her by

Every preparation was made to carry out this brilliant _coup de main_.
The crew were mustered at quarters, armed for boarding with pike or
cutlass and pistol, the best shots were told off to sweep the decks of
the Drake with small-arm fire, guns were loaded and primed, and so on.
It was blowing heavily as the Ranger under reduced canvas dashed
gallantly into the harbor. With masterly seamanship Jones brought her
to in exactly the right position, and gave the order to let go the
anchor. His orders were not obeyed, through the negligence of a
drunken boatswain, it was said, and the anchor was not dropped until
the Ranger had drifted down past the lee quarter of the Drake, when
she brought up. The position of the American was now one of extreme
peril. The Ranger lay under the broadside of the Drake, subjected to
her fire and unable to make reply.

The watch kept on the British ship, however, must have been very
careless. In the darkness of the night, too, the guns of the Ranger
being run in, it is probable that if they observed her they took her
for a clumsy merchantman. Enjoining perfect silence on the part of his
crew, with the greatest coolness Jones took the necessary steps to
extricate the vessel from her dangerous position. The cable was cut,
sail made, and under a heavy press of canvas the Ranger beat out of
the harbor, barely clearing the entrance, and only escaping wreck by
the consummate ability of her captain.

The plan was brilliantly conceived, and would have been successful but
for the mischance, or delay, in dropping the anchor. The crew
originally was only a fair one, as has been stated, and, owing to the
fact that their wages had not been paid, they were in a more or less
mutinous state by this time. Jones was covetous of glory only. A less
mercenary man never lived. To fight and conquer was his aim, but in
this he radically differed from the ideas of his officers and men.
Where he wrote honor and fame they saw plunder and prize money, and it
was sometimes difficult to get them to obey orders and properly to
work the ship.

After leaving Belfast the Ranger ratched over to the southern coast of
Scotland to ride out the sudden and furious gale under the lee of the
land. The wind had abated by the morning of the 22d, and the sun rose
bright and clear, discovering from the of the Ranger a beautiful
prospect of the three kingdoms covered with snow as far as the eye
could see. The wind now set fair for Whitehaven, and Jones squared
away for that port to carry out his previous project. The breeze fell
during the day, however, and it was not until midnight that the boats
were called away.

The expedition comprised two boats, carrying thirty-one officers and
men, all volunteers, Jones himself being in command of one boat, while
Lieutenant Wallingford, one of the best officers of the ship, had the
other. Simpson and the second lieutenant both pleaded indisposition
and fatigue as excuse for not going on the expedition. The tide was
ebbing, and it was not until nearly dawn, after a long, hard pull,
that the two boats reached the harbor, which was divided into two
parts at that time by a long stone pier. There were from seventy to
one hundred ships on the north side of the pier, and about twice as
many on the south side, ranging in size from two hundred to four
hundred tons. As the tide was out, the ships were all aground, lying
high and dry upon the beach, and in close touch with each other.
Directing Wallingford to set fire to the ships on the north side of
the pier, Jones and his party landed and advanced toward the fort
which protected the harbor.

The weather was raw and cold, the fort was old and dilapidated, and
manned by a few men. The sentry, ignorant of the presence of any foe,
never dreaming of an enemy within a thousand miles of him, had calmly
retired to the sentry box. Probably he was asleep. The little party
approached the walls without being detected. Climbing upon the
shoulder of one of his men, Jones sprang over the rampart, where he
was followed by the rest of the party. The feeble garrison was
captured without striking a blow. The guns were hastily spiked.
Ordering the prisoners to be marched down to the wharf, and throwing
out a few sentries, Jones, attended by a single midshipman, then made
his way to the other fort or battery, a distance of about half a mile.
Finding it untenanted, he spiked the few guns mounted there and
returned to the landing place.

To his very great surprise and disappointment, no evidence of a
conflagration was apparent. When he reached the wharf he was met by
Wallingford, who explained his failure to fire the shipping by
claiming that his lights had gone out. It was before the days of
lucifer matches, and the party had carried candles in lanterns with
which to kindle the fires. Wallingford excused himself by a remark
which does more credit to his heart than to his head, to the effect
that he could not see that anything was to be gained by burning poor
people's property. Inasmuch as he was sent on the expedition to obey
orders and not to philosophize, his statement gives the key to the
disposition among the officers and crew. Whether his hesitation was
dictated by charity to others or lack of possible profit to the
officers and men it is not necessary to inquire particularly now, for
Wallingford redeemed himself nobly later in the cruise. A hasty
inspection revealed the fact that the candles had also burned out, or
had been extinguished through carelessness, in Jones' own boat.

It was now broad daylight, and considerations of safety indicated an
immediate return to the ship; but Jones was not willing to abandon his
brilliantly conceived, carefully prepared, and coolly undertaken
enterprise without some measure of success. Re-posting his sentries,
therefore, he dispatched messengers who broke into a neighboring
dwelling house and procured a light in the shape of a torch or glowing
ember. With his own hand Jones kindled a fire on one of the largest
ships in the midst of the huddle of vessels on the beach. In order to
insure a thorough conflagration, a hasty search through the other
vessels was made, and a barrel of tar was found which was poured upon
the flames now burning fiercely.

One of the boat party, named David Freeman, happened to be an
Englishman. In the confusion attendant upon these various maneuvers he
made off, and, escaping observation, sought shelter in the town, which
he quickly alarmed. The inhabitants came swarming out of their houses
in the gray of the morning and hastened toward the wharf. Seeing that
the fire on the ship was at last blazing furiously, and realizing that
nothing more could be effected, Jones ordered his men to their boats.
Then, in order that the fire already kindled might have sufficient
time to develop, the undaunted captain stood alone on the wharf,
pistol in hand, confronting the ever-increasing crowd. Impelled by
pressure from behind, those in front finally made a movement toward
him. He gave no ground whatever. Pointing his weapons at the front
rank, he sternly bade them retire, which they did with precipitation.
I should think so. Having remained a sufficient time, as he thought,
he calmly entered the boat and was rowed to the Ranger.

Some of the inhabitants promptly made a dash for the burning ship, and
succeeded by hard work in confining the fire to that one vessel.
Others released the prisoners which Jones left bound on the wharf,
taking, as he said, only two or three for a sample. The soldiers ran
to the fort and managed to draw the hastily applied spikes from two or
three of the guns, which they loaded and fired after the retreating
boats. Answering the harmless fusillade with a few derisive musket
shots, Jones returned to the Ranger; having had, he says, the pleasure
of neither inflicting nor receiving any loss in killed or wounded.

The desertion and treachery of David Freeman undoubtedly saved the
shipping. The enterprise was well conceived and carried out with the
utmost coolness. Had the orders of Captain Jones been obeyed, the
shipping would have been completely destroyed. As it was, the descent
created the greatest consternation in England. No enemy had landed on
those shores for generations, and the expedition by Jones was like
slapping the face of the king on his throne. A burning wave of
indignation swept over England, as the news was carried from town to
town, from hall to hall, and from hamlet to hamlet. It was all very
well to burn property in America, but the matter had a different
aspect entirely when the burning took place in England. A universal
demand arose for the capture of this audacious seaman, who was called
many hard names by the infuriated British.

From Whitehaven the Ranger ran over to St. Mary's Isle, a beautifully
wooded promontory at the mouth of the River Dee, which was the seat of
the Earl of Selkirk. In furtherance of his usual desire to ameliorate
the wretched condition of the Americans in British prisons, Jones
determined to seize the earl. He cherished the hope that by securing
the person of a peer of the realm, who could be either held as a
hostage or exchanged for some prominent American captive, he could
thus effect a recognition of the principle of exchange, which the
British had refused to consider. It was a wild hope, to be sure, but
not without a certain plausibility.

Two boat crews under the command of Lieutenants Simpson and Hall, with
himself in charge of the expedition, landed on the shore. Before
moving toward the hall, Jones learned that the earl was not at home.
He proposed, therefore, to return to the ship, but the mutinous men
demurred fiercely to this suggestion, and demanded that they be
permitted to enjoy the opportunity for plunder presented. The
situation was a precarious one, and Jones finally agreed, although
very reluctantly, that they should demand the family silver from the
Countess of Selkirk, who was at home. He did this with the full
intention of purchasing the silver on his own account when the prizes
were disposed of, and returning it to the earl. A party of the men,
therefore, with Simpson and Hall, went up to the house, leaving Jones
pacing to and fro near the shore under the oaks and chestnuts of the
estate. By Jones' orders the seamen did not enter the house. Simpson
and Hall were ushered into the presence of the Lady Selkirk, made
their demand upon her ladyship, received the silver, which the butler
gathered up for them, and retired without molesting or harming any of
the inmates or endeavoring to appropriate anything except what was
given them. The men drank her ladyship's health in good Scots whisky,
which was served them by the countess' orders. The party then embarked
on the Ranger.

One of his biographers has said that the whole transaction was an
evidence of the singular ability of Jones in creating difficulties
which it afterward required greater labor to overcome; but the
criticism is unfair. The only way in which he could satisfy the
demands of his men and maintain even that precarious authority which
the peculiar constitution of the crew and the character of his
officers enabled him to have, was by permitting them to take something
of value which could be turned into prize money. He could buy it from
the prize court, or from the prize master, as well as any other man,
and after it became his own property he could return it to its proper
owners at his pleasure.

It was a perfectly legitimate transaction on his part, and he could
only obviate the necessity by taking the proposed value of the silver
out of his own pocket and handing it to his men, a proceeding which
would have been subversive of the last remains of discipline, and
therefore could not be considered for a moment. It would establish a
precedent which could not be carried out in the future unless he were
willing to abrogate his right of command; if he began that way he
would have to buy their acquiescence to every command--bribe them to
obey orders; so he said nothing whatever to them about his intentions
with regard to the plate at present.

Standing away from St. Mary's Isle on the morning of the 24th, the
Ranger came in sight once more of Carrickfergus. By this time her
presence on the Irish coast had become well known, and expresses had
been sent to the Drake with information of the propinquity of the
enemy. In the afternoon the Ranger appeared in the offing easily
visible from the Drake. The commander of the Drake, Captain George
Burdon, with singular stupidity, sent a lieutenant and a boat off
toward the Ranger to investigate and report what she was, meanwhile
getting his ship under way and clearing for action. The boat foolishly
came alongside the Ranger and was captured. As Burdon weighed anchor
he was joined by Lieutenant William Dobbs, engaged on recruiting duty
in the vicinity, and a band of volunteers ranging in number, according
to different reports, from ten to forty.

The regular complement of the Drake was one hundred and fifty officers
and men. This re-enforcement raised her crew to between one hundred
and sixty and one hundred and ninety. It was developed at the
court-martial, which was held upon the survivors some months after for
the loss of the ship, that the Drake was poorly prepared for action;
that she was short of commissioned and warrant officers and skilled
men; that her powder charges were bad, matches poor, cartridges
unfilled, and that her guns were badly mounted, so that they were
easily "overset," and so on. In short, the whole catalogue of usual
excuses for failure is given. It is true that although the Drake
carried two more guns than the Ranger, they were of smaller caliber,
being 4-pounders. Still, the two ships were well matched, and
preparedness for action has always been considered a test of naval
ability as much as capacity in maneuvering and courage in the actual

The wind was now blowing toward the shore, and the Drake made but slow
progress in ratching toward the sea. While the Ranger awaited her, the
guns were run in and the English flag hoisted on the approach of the
Drake's boat, and the character of the American disguised as much as
possible. I presume that, save for her armament, she looked more like
a merchant vessel than anything else, and, as Jones skillfully kept
the sloop end on to the cutter, the British suspected, or at least
discovered, nothing. Indeed, so well was the deception carried out
that the Drake's officer actually boarded the Ranger and was made
prisoner with his crew before he discovered her quality.

Meanwhile things were almost in a state of mutiny. Jones states in his
journal that he was in peril of his life from his recalcitrant crew,
who, under the leadership of Simpson, were apparently appalled at the
prospect of encountering a regular man-of-war, and therefore
manifested a great unwillingness to fight. Plunder without danger was
the end of their ambition. However, after the capture of the Drake's
boat, by putting a bold front on the situation, Jones succeeded in
restoring comparative order and getting his men to their quarters. His
power of persuasive and inspiring speech never stood him in better
stead than on this occasion, and he actually seems to have succeeded
in infusing some of his own spirit into the refractory men.

It was late in the evening before the Drake neared the Ranger. Jones
had stood out to sea to draw his pursuer far away from the land to
prevent his escape in case of defeat, and now awaited his advance. The
Drake was accompanied by several pleasure yachts filled with people
who were desirous of seeing the English victory, which was almost
universally attendant upon single ship actions in which the British
navy participated; but, not liking the look of things in this
instance, they one by one dropped astern and returned to the land.

Between five and six o'clock, having come within easy distance, an
officer of the Drake sprang on the rail and hailed, demanding to know
the name of the stranger. Jones, still keeping the stern of his ship
toward the bow of the enemy, seized the trumpet and replied:

"This is the American Continental ship Ranger. We are waiting for you.
The sun is scarce an hour high. It is time to begin. Come on!"

While he was amusing the English captain with this rather lengthy
rejoinder for the purpose of gaining time, the Stars and Stripes
supplanted the red ensign of England, the helm of the Ranger, which
was to windward of her antagonist, was suddenly put up, and by smart
handling, in the twinkling of an eye she was rushed across the bow of
the Drake, which was severely raked by a prompt broadside at short
range. As Jones shifted his helm so as not to lose the weather gauge,
the advantage of the first hard blow was clearly with the Americans.
The English captain, after an attempt to cross her stern, which was
frustrated by Jones' promptness, ran off by the side of the Ranger,
and the combat resolved itself into a fair and square yardarm to
yardarm fight, which was continued with the most determined
persistence on both sides. The two ships under the gentle breeze
sailed side by side, gradually nearing, and poured a furious fire upon
each other. The lack of preparedness on the English ship was
manifested in the slowness and inaccuracy of her gun practice. That of
the Ranger, however, was very effective. An hour and five minutes
after the first broadside the enemy called for quarter and hauled down
the flag. The Drake was a wreck. Her fore and main topsail yards were
cut adrift and lying on the caps; the fore topgallant yard and the
spanker gaff were hanging up and down their respective masts; two
ensigns had been shot away, and another one was hanging over the
quarter galley and dragging in the water. The jib was dragging under
her forefoot; her sails and rigging were entirely cut to pieces, most
of the yards wounded, and her hull very much shattered. Many of her
guns were dismounted, and she had lost, according to the statement of
the Americans, forty-two[6] men in killed and wounded (or about twenty
per cent of her force!), including her captain, who had been struck in
the head by a musket ball at the close of the action, about a minute
before the ship surrendered; the gallant first lieutenant, Dobbs, who
had bravely volunteered for service, was so severely wounded that he
survived the action only two days. Captain Burdon was still living
when Jones boarded the prize, but died a few moments after. The
Americans lost two killed, among them being poor Wallingford, whose
death has somewhat redeemed him from his failure to obey orders in the
raid on Whitehaven. There were six wounded on the Ranger, including
the gunner and a midshipman who lost his arm; one of the wounded
subsequently died.

The action was a sharp and brilliant one. Jones had maneuvered and
fought his ship with his usual skill and courage, and had given fair
evidence of what might be expected from him with a better vessel and
better men under his command. The English captain had been
outmaneuvered when he permitted the American to rake him, and he had
been outfought in the action. Unpreparedness was the cause of the
failure of the Drake to make a better showing in the fight. This lack
must be laid at the captain's door. It is the business of a captain to
see that things are ready. The deficiencies in the Drake's equipment
were counterbalanced by equal deficiencies on the part of the Ranger.
The apparent preponderance of the latter's gun power was, in fact,
minimized by the shortening of her guns, of which Jones had previously
complained. It is probable that the Drake had a better crew, and such
officers as she had were probably better than those under Jones, with
a few exceptions. It is always the custom of the defeated party to
make excuses, and always will be; but the ships were as nearly matched
in offensive qualities as two vessels in different navies are ever
likely to be, and the difference between them, which determined the
issue of the conflict, was purely a question of the personal equation.
It was always hard to find anything to counterbalance Jones for the
other side of the equality sign. Burdon was not the man.

The English captain was a brave but very stupid or very confident man.
Jones was more than a match for him at best, and when the mistakes of
Burdon are considered the comparison is painful. The English knew that
the Ranger was on the coast; the Drake had picked up her anchor (it
was, of course, recaptured), and an alert mind would have connected
the recovered anchor with the attempt of the night of the 20th. The
suspicious actions of the stranger--and there must have been some
indication in her maneuvers and appearance at least to inspire
caution--the failure of the boat crew either to return or to make any
signal, should have made the English captain pause and consider the
situation. But with the usual "uncircumspect gallantry" of his kind he
charged down, bull-like, on his enemy, was promptly raked, hammered to
pieces, killed, and his ship surrendered. He proved his courage in
battle--which no one would question, bravery being usual and to be
expected--and he died in the attempt to atone for his rashness; but
professionally he was a failure, and his demise was fortunate for his
reputation and future career. His death probably prevented some very
inconvenient questions being asked him.

Jones treated his prisoners with a kindness and consideration the more
remarkable from the fact that the contrary was the custom with the
British toward American captives. During the night and the whole of
the next day, the weather being moderate, the two ships were hove to
while the Drake was refitted as well as their resources permitted.
Late the next afternoon a large brigantine, actuated by an unfortunate
curiosity, ran down so near the two ships that she was brought to by a
shot from the Drake and taken possession of. Having repaired damages
and put the Drake in as good trim as possible, Jones first determined
to return to Brest by the South Channel, the way he had come, but the
variable wind shifted and came strongly, and he decided to run
northward before it and pass around the west coast of Ireland. In
spite of his previous insubordination Simpson was placed in command of
the Drake.

Before they left these waters, however, something still remained to be
done. On the evening of the 25th the two ships sailed once more for
Belfast Lough. There Jones hove the Ranger to, and, having given the
poor Irish fishermen, whom he had captured on the 21st and held, one
of the Drake's boats, and having charitably bestowed upon them all the
guineas which he had left in his private purse (not many, I suppose)
to remunerate them for the loss they had sustained, he sent them
ashore. They took with them one of the Drake's sails, which would
attest the truth of their story of what had happened. The grateful
Irishmen were delighted and touched by such unusual treatment, and
they signalized their gratitude to their generous and kindhearted
captor by giving Jones three cheers from the boat as they passed the
Ranger's quarter. The Americans then bore away to the northwestward.

The voyage around the coast of Ireland was uneventful. Lieutenant
Dobbs, of the Drake, died on the cruise, and he and Captain Burdon
were buried at sea with all possible honors, Jones himself reading the
usual Church service. The cruise was continued without incident until
the morning of the 5th of May, when the Ranger being off Ushant, and
having the Drake in tow, Jones cut the towline and bore away in chase
of a sail which had been sighted. Simpson, instead of continuing
toward Brest, as he had been directed, hauled off to the south, so
that when Jones had overtaken the chase and found her a neutral, the
Drake was almost entirely out of sight to the southward.

The Ranger chased her and made various signals, to which no attention
was paid. Simpson changed his course aimlessly several times. During
the whole of the day the same eccentric maneuvers on the part of the
Drake continued. To Jones' great annoyance, the inexplicable actions
of the prize prevented him from chasing several large vessels which he
saw standing into the Channel, among which he would probably have made
many valuable captures. He was forced to abandon any attempt to take
them and follow the Drake, which he only overhauled late in the
evening. By Jones' orders Lieutenant Elijah Hall immediately replaced
Simpson in command of the Drake, and the latter was placed under
arrest. On the 8th of May both vessels arrived safely at Brest, from
which point Jones promptly dispatched the following remarkable letter
to the Countess of Selkirk:

"Ranger, Brest, _May 8, 1778_.
"_The Right Hon. the Countess of Selkirk_.

"Madam: It can not be too much lamented that, in the profession of
arms, the officer of fine feelings and real sensibility should be
under the necessity of winking at any action of persons under his
command which his heart can not approve; but the reflection is doubly
severe when he finds himself obliged, in appearance, to countenance
such actions by his authority. This hard case was mine, when, on the
23d of April last, I landed on St. Mary's Isle. Knowing Lord Selkirk's
interest with his king, and esteeming as I do his private character, I
wished to make him the happy instrument of alleviating the horrors of
hopeless captivity, when the brave are overpowered and made prisoners
of war. It was perhaps fortunate for you, madam, that he was from
home, for it was my intention to have taken him on board the Ranger
and detained him until, through, his means, a general and fair
exchange of prisoners, as well in Europe as in America, had been

"When I was informed, by some men whom I met at landing that his
lordship was absent, I walked back to my boat, determined to leave the
island. By the way, however, some officers who were with me could not
forbear expressing their discontent, observing that in America no
delicacy was shown by the English, who took away all sorts of movable
property, setting fire not only to towns and to the houses of the
rich, without distinction, but not even sparing the wretched hamlets
and milch cows of the poor and helpless, at the approach of an
inclement winter. That party had been with me the same morning at
Whitehaven; some complaisance, therefore, was their due. I had but a
moment to think how I might gratify them, and at the same time do your
ladyship the least injury. I charged the officers to permit none of
the seamen to enter the house, or to hurt anything about it; to treat
you, madam, with the utmost respect; to accept of the plate which was
offered, and to come away without making a search or demanding
anything else. I am induced to believe that I was punctually obeyed,
since I am informed that the plate which they brought away is far
short of the quantity expressed in the inventory which accompanied it.
I have gratified my men, and when the plate is sold I shall become the
purchaser, and will gratify my own feelings by restoring it to you by
such conveyance as you shall please to direct.

"Had the earl been on board the Ranger the following evening he would
have seen the awful pomp and dreadful carnage of a sea engagement,
both affording ample subject for the pencil, as well as melancholy
reflection for the contemplative mind. Humanity starts back from such
scenes of horror, and can not sufficiently execrate the vile promoters
of this detestable war.

   "'For they, 'twas they unsheathed the ruthless blade,
     And Heaven shall ask the havoc it has made.'

"The British ship of war Drake, mounting twenty guns, with more than
her full complement of officers and men, was our opponent. The ships
met, and the advantage was disputed with great fortitude on each side
for an hour and four minutes, when the gallant commander of the Drake
fell, and victory declared in favor of the Ranger. The amiable
lieutenant lay mortally wounded, besides near forty of the inferior
officers and crew killed and wounded--a melancholy demonstration of
the uncertainty of human prospects and of the sad reverses of fortune
which an hour can produce. I buried them in a spacious grave, with the
honors due to the memory of the brave.

"Though I have drawn my sword in the present generous struggle for the
rights of men, yet I am not in arms as an American, nor am I in
pursuit of riches. My fortune is liberal enough, having no wife and
family, and having lived long enough to know that riches can not
secure happiness. I profess myself a citizen of the world, totally
unfettered by the little mean distinctions of climates or of country,
which diminish the benevolence of the heart and set bounds to
philanthropy. Before this war was begun, I had, at an early time in
life, withdrawn from sea service in favor of 'calm contemplation and
poetic ease.' I have sacrificed not only my favorite scheme of life,
but the softer affections of the heart, and my prospects of domestic
happiness, and I am ready to sacrifice my life also with cheerfulness,
if that forfeiture could restore peace among mankind.

"As the feelings of your gentle bosom can not but be congenial with
mine, let me entreat you, madam, to use your persuasive art with your
husband, to endeavour to stop this cruel and destructive war, in which
Britain can never succeed. Heaven can never countenance the barbarous
and unmanly practice of the Britons in America, which savages would
blush at, and which, if not discontinued, will soon be retaliated on
Britain by a justly enraged people. Should you fail in this, and I am
persuaded you will attempt it (and who can resist the power of such an
advocate?), your endeavour to effect a general exchange of prisoners
will be an act of humanity, which will afford you golden feelings on
your deathbed.

"I hope this cruel contest will soon be closed; but, should it
continue, I wage no war with the fair. I acknowledge their force, and
bend before it with submission. Let not, therefore, the amiable
Countess of Selkirk regard me as an enemy; I am ambitious of her
esteem and friendship, and would do anything, consistent with my duty,
to merit it. The honor of a line from your hand, in answer to this,
will lay me under a singular obligation, and if I can render you any
acceptable service in France or elsewhere I hope you see into my
character so far as to command me, without the least grain of reserve.
I wish to know the exact behaviour of my people, as I am determined to
punish them if they have exceeded their liberty.

"I have the honor to be, with much esteem and with profound respect,
madam, etc.,

"John Paul Jones."

The shrewd Franklin says of this extraordinary document: "It is a
gallant letter, which must give her ladyship a high and just opinion
of your generosity and nobleness of mind." But I seem to read a gentle
laugh in the tactful words of the old philosopher. I like this epistle
less than any of Jones' letters I have read, but it certainly does not
merit the severe censures which have been passed upon it. No one would
write such a letter to-day, certainly, but things were different then,
and we need not too closely criticise the form and style of the
document in view of its honest purpose and good intent.

As might have been expected, the Countess of Selkirk made no reply to
this singular communication. To anticipate the course of events, and
obviate the necessity of further discussion of this incident, it may
be stated that more than a year after its capture Jones obtained
possession of the plate through the prize court by strenuous effort,
and by paying for it at an exorbitant valuation. The state of warfare
then existing between France and England prevented the delivery of the
silver for several years, though Jones made earnest efforts to get it
into the hands of the Selkirks whenever apparent opportunity
presented. It was not, however, until 1784, after peace had been
declared, that the plate was restored to its original owners. It is
stated that it was received by them in exactly the same condition as
when it had been taken, even to the tea leaves which were still in the
teapot! The receipt of the silver is thus acknowledged in a letter
from Lord Selkirk:

"London, _August 4, 1789_.
"_Monsieur le Chevalier Paul Jones, à Paris_.

"Sir: I received the letter you wrote to me at the time you sent off
my plate, in order for restoring it. Had I known where to direct a
letter to you at the time it arrived in Scotland I would then have
wrote to you; but, not knowing it, nor finding that any of my
acquaintance at Edinburgh knew it, I was obliged to delay writing till
I came here, when, by means of a gentleman connected with America, I
was told M. le Grand was your banker at Paris, and would take proper
care of a letter for you; therefore, I inclose this to him.

"Notwithstanding all the precautions you took for the easy and
uninterrupted conveyance of the plate, yet it met with considerable
delays: first at Calais, next at Dover, then at London; however, it at
last arrived at Dumfries, and I dare say quite safe, though as yet I
have not seen it, being then at Edinburgh.

"I intended to have put an article in the newspapers about your having
returned it; but before I was informed of its being arrived, some of
your friends, I suppose, had put it in the Dumfries newspaper, whence
it was immediately copied into the Edinburgh papers, and thence into
the London ones. Since that time I have mentioned it to many people of
fashion; and, on all occasions, sir, both now and formerly, I have
done you the justice to tell that you made an offer of returning the
plate very soon after your return to Brest; and, although you yourself
was not at my house, but remained at the shore with your boat, that
yet you had your officers and men in such extraordinary good
discipline that your having given them the strictest orders to behave
well, to do no injury of any kind, to make no search, but only to
bring off what plate was given them; that in reality they did exactly
as ordered, and that not one man offered to stir from his post on the
outside of the house, nor entered the doors, nor said an uncivil word;
that the two officers stayed not a quarter of an hour in the parlour
and butler's pantry, while the butler got the plate together, behaved
politely, and asked for nothing but the plate, and instantly marched
their men off in regular order; and that both officers and men behaved
in all respects so well that it would have done credit to the best
disciplined troops whatever.

"Some of the English newspapers at that time having put in confused
accounts of your expedition to Whitehaven and Scotland, I ordered a
proper one of what had happened in Scotland to be put in the London
newspapers, by a gentleman who was then at my house, by which the good
conduct and civil behaviour of your officers and men was done justice
to, and attributed to your order, and the good discipline you
maintained over your people.

"I am, sir, your most humble servant,


It is a handsome acknowledgment, but I note with great pleasure the
sailor writes better than the peer!


The Ranger and her prizes arrived at Brest at a propitious time, both
for the fortunes of Jones and for those of his adopted country as
well. The secret treaty of alliance between the confederated colonies
and France had been signed on February 6th. The plenipotentiaries from
the United States had been publicly received at Versailles on March
23d. On the same day the French ambassador left England, and the
English ambassador, Lord Stormont, left France. The fleet of D'Estaing
put to sea from Toulon a fortnight later. In two weeks the English
fleet followed to American waters. The attempt was made on the part of
the French to execute the brilliant strategic plan which Jones had
devised, although, of course, the delay had rendered the effort

The successful cruise of the Ranger, the rich captures she had made,
the daring enterprises she had undertaken, the boldness and audacity
of her commander in venturing with a little vessel of such trifling
force into the very midst of the three kingdoms, and the brilliancy of
his capture of a war vessel of nominally superior, and at least really
equal, force, in a fair and open yardarm to yardarm fight, a thing to
which the French navy was not accustomed, awakened the greatest
admiration, and Paul Jones found himself in that most congenial of
positions to him--and to almost any other man--of being the observed
of all. On this expedition, his first real opportunity, he had
demonstrated that he possessed an ability to plan, and a courage to
carry out his conceptions, which put him in the front rank of the sea
officers of his day. With one single vessel, laboring under every
disadvantage conceivable, he had done what no European power or
combination of powers had been able to accomplish in centuries, with
all their resources at command. He had terrorized the whole English
seaboard, and filled the United Kingdom with uneasiness and unrest.

The gallant men who had gone before him and accomplished so much with
the Reprisal, the Revenge, and the others, had a worthy successor and
superior in this little Scots-American, who, as a citizen of the
world, in love with humanity, drew his sword for the cause of freedom.
The French admired him, the English hated him. The American prisoners
immediately felt the effect of his captures by the general
amelioration of their unhappy condition, and Franklin at last realized
that he had a man at hand upon whom he could depend to further his
bold designs. When the news reached America, it was received with
great joy, and the Naval Committee and the Congress generally knew
they had made no mistake in sending Jones to Europe. The young navy
looked to him with hope. His exploits were detailed and amplified in
the cafés and on the boulevards of Paris, and were related with
approbation even within the sacred confines of the court. He was the
hero of the hour.

But there is a homely maxim exemplified by frequent experience that
"Fine words butter no parsnips." It was true in this instance
undoubtedly, and Jones learned that there was no necessary connection
between glory and bread and butter. He was unable to procure actually
necessary supplies for his crew. All the vessels of the Continental
navy went to sea undermanned, ill-provided, and inadequately
provisioned, and the ship's purser, as a rule, had no money. The
seamen had not received their wages--no money at all, in fact, except
that which Jones himself had advanced out of his own pocket. With the
sanction of the Marine Committee he had made himself responsible for
the regular payment of the wages of the men. His pocket was now empty,
the last guineas having been given to the Irish fishermen
aforementioned. His own resources were always drawn upon freely for
the good of the service and his men; now they were entirely exhausted.
His provisions had been consumed, he did not know where to get any
more. In addition to his own people he had several prizes and over two
hundred prisoners who had to be cared for, and who were a healthy and
hungry lot.

When he arrived in France he had been authorized to draw upon the
commissioners to the extent of twelve thousand livres, with the
caution not to avail himself of the permission unless it were
imperatively necessary. With great prudence, and by the exercise of
rigid economy, he had avoided any inroad on the depleted and overtaxed
fund of the commissioners. Something, however, had to be done in this
instance, and without securing another authority, for which, indeed,
time was wanting, so pressing were his needs, he made drafts upon the
commissioners in the sum of twenty-four thousand livres, about five
thousand dollars.

Meanwhile he subsisted his crew and prisoners through the generosity
of the French naval authorities at Brest, which he secured by the
pledge of his own private personal credit. The draft was dishonored.
Certainly the commissioners were embarrassed almost beyond endurance
by the demands upon them from every side, but this was a matter to
which they should have given attention if it were humanly possible,
for they were the only resource that Jones had. His condition was
simply desperate. He knew not what to do nor where to turn. The
following extract of a letter to the commissioners on the 27th of May
exhibits his painful position:

"Could I suppose that my letters of the 9th and 16th current (the
first advising you of my arrival and giving reference to the events of
my expedition; the last advising you of my draft in favour of Monsieur
Bersolle, for twenty-four thousand livres, and assigning reasons for
the demand) had not made due appearance, I would hereafter, as I do
now, inclose copies. Three posts have already arrived here from Paris
since Comte d'Orvilliers showed me the answer which he received from
the minister, to the letter which inclosed mine to you. Yet you remain
silent. M. Bersolle has this moment informed me of the fate of my
bills; the more extraordinary as I have not yet made use of your
letter of credit of the 10th of January last, whereby I then seemed
entitled to call for half the amount of my last draft, and I did not
expect to be thought extravagant when, on the 16th current, I doubled
that demand. Could this indignity be kept secret I should disregard
it; and, though it is already public in Brest and in the fleet, as it
affects only my private credit I will not complain. I can not,
however, be silent when I find the public credit involved in the same
disgrace. I conceive this might have been prevented. To make me
completely wretched, Monsieur Bersolle has now told me that he now
stops his hand, not only of the necessary articles to refit the ship,
but also of the _daily provisions_. I know not where to find
to-morrow's dinner for the great number of mouths that depend on me
for food. Are then the Continental ships of war to depend on the sale
of their prizes for a daily dinner for their men? 'Publish it not in

"My officers, as well as men, want clothes, and the prizes are
precluded from being sold before farther orders arrive from the
minister. I will ask you, gentlemen, if I have deserved all this.
Whoever calls himself an American ought to be protected here. I am
unwilling to think that you have intentionally involved me in this
dilemma, at a time when I ought to expect some enjoyment.

"Therefore I have, as formerly, the honour to be, with due esteem and
respect, gentlemen, yours, etc."

How he managed under such circumstances he relates in a journal which
he prepared in later years for submission to the King of France.

"Yet during that time, by his [Jones'] personal credit with Comte
D'Orvilliers, the Duc de Chartres, and the Intendant of Brest, he fed
his people and prisoners, cured his wounded, and refitted both the
Ranger and the Drake for sea."

He could, of course, have relieved himself of some of his burden by
turning over his prisoners to France, but, as that country was still
nominally neutral, the people he had captured would have been set
free at the demand of England. As long as he held possession of them
it was possible that the circumstance would force an exchange for
Americans--a thing the commissioners had been bent upon since their
arrival in Europe. The English Government had long since sanctioned
and carried out the exchange of soldiers, but for arbitrary and
inadequate reasons seamen stood upon a different footing apparently.
When Franklin previously wrote Lord Stormont, the British ambassador,
offering to exchange one hundred men captured by the Reprisal for an
equal number of American seamen held in English prisons, no answer was
made to his letter; a second letter brought forth the following curt

"The king's ambassador receives no applications from rebels, unless
they come to implore his Majesty's mercy."

To this insulting and inexplicable message the following apt and
dignified reply was made:

"In answer to a letter which concerns some of the material interests
of humanity, and of the two nations, Great Britain and the United
States of America, now at war, we received the inclosed indecent
paper, as coming from your lordship, which we return for your
lordship's more mature consideration."

Of course, the ostensible reason for refusing this exchange was that
the captured seamen were traitors, and as such had no belligerent
rights, yet how they differed from soldiers it is impossible to see.
Indeed, the English authorities went so far as to call them pirates,
and they could not have treated them worse--short of hanging them--if
they had actually merited the opprobrious title. The real reason,
however, lay in the hope that the Americans, having no place in France
in which to confine their prisoners, would be compelled to set them
free. This hope was frequently justified, and it was not until March,
1779, that the persistent determination of Franklin brought about a
complete general recognition of the principle of exchange for which he
had so valiantly contended, although he had been partially successful
on particular occasions before that time. Jones knew the situation
perfectly, and so with his usual grim determination he held on to his
precious prisoners.

The prize agents were dilatory and incompetent. The seamen, lacking
food, clothes, salary, and prize money, were naturally mutinous and
discontented. But Jones repressed the crews, hurried up the sales, and
managed at last to weather all his troubles.

The malcontent Simpson was a constant incentive to discord and mutiny,
and he was finally removed to a French guardship, called the Admiral,
where he was well treated and allowed the freedom of the deck. While
there, he behaved in such a contumacious manner that D'Orvilliers, the
French commander, sent him to the prison of the port. All his expenses
during this interval were paid by Jones himself; indeed, when he did
not pay personally, nobody did. There was nothing sordid or avaricious
in Jones' character. He was greedy for glory and fame and reputation,
but he cared nothing whatever for money. To dismiss a tiresome
subject, Jones, with extraordinary complaisance, finally accepted
Simpson's apologies and released him on his parole not to serve in the
navy until he had been regularly tried by a court-martial. He even
went further than this. He offered to relinquish the command of the
Ranger to him in order that he might take her back to the United
States and there take his trial.

While these efforts were pending, the commissioners, misunderstanding
their tentative character, restored Simpson to the command of the
Ranger, unconditionally, much to Jones' disgust. He was quite willing
to relinquish the command of his little ship, because the King of
France had requested the commissioners to allow France to avail
herself of the services of Jones in a naval expedition which was
projected. But that such contumacy and lack of subordination as had
been exhibited by Simpson should go unpunished, and that he should
receive the absolute command of the ship as a reward for his action,
and should be allowed to return home without even an investigation,
was not only harmful to the service, but an apparent reflection upon
himself--though, of course, nothing was further from the
commissioners' thoughts, as they specifically declared. In the end
Jones acquiesced in the situation, and the matter was dropped. Simpson
was never employed in the service after he returned home.

The famous action between the Arethusa and the Belle Poule, on June
17th, having made it clear to every observer that war between France
and England was inevitable, though the formal declaration was not
issued until the following September, the first enterprise which it
was desired Jones should undertake under the auspices of France was
proposed to him by Franklin as follows:

"The Jersey privateers," he says, "do us a great deal of mischief by
intercepting our supplies. It has been mentioned to me that your small
vessel, commanded by so brave an officer, might render great service
by following them where greater ships dare not venture their bottoms;
or, being accompanied and supported by some frigates from Brest, at a
proper distance, might draw them out and then take them. I wish you to
consider of this, as it comes from _high authority_."

It was not a particularly brilliant prospect; all the hard work and
dangerous labor was to be performed by Jones, and the glory was to be
reaped by the French frigates; but, with a noble disinterestedness in
his desire to serve his country, he at once expressed his perfect
willingness to co-operate. Before anything came of it, however,
Franklin offered him the command of the Indien, in the following


"Dear Sir: I have the pleasure of informing you that it is proposed to
give you the command of the great ship we have built at Amsterdam. By
what you wrote to us formerly, I have ventured to say in your behalf,
that this proposition would be agreeable to you. You will immediately
let me know your resolution; which, that you may be more clear in
taking, I must inform you of some circumstances. She is at present the
property of the king; but, as there is no war yet declared, you will
have the commission and flag of the States, and act under their orders
and laws. The Prince de Nassau will make the cruise with you. She is
to be brought here under cover as a French merchantman, to be equipped
and manned in France. We hope to exchange your prisoners for as many
American sailors; but, if that fails, you have your present crew to be
made up here with other nations and French. The other commissioners
are not acquainted with this proposition as yet, and you see by the
nature of it that it is necessary to be kept a secret till we have got
the vessel here, for fear of difficulties in Holland, and
interception; you will therefore direct your answer to me alone. It
being desired that the affair rest between you and me, perhaps it may
be best for you to take a trip up here to concert matters, if in
general you approve the idea.

"I was much pleased with reading your journal, which we received

This is the first mention of the Prince of Nassau-Siegen, who will
appear prominently hereafter, and be described in his proper place.
Jones was naturally delighted with the flattering prospects, and at
once wrote to the prince, acquainting him of the pleasure he
anticipated in having him associated with him. A few days later
Franklin wrote Jones again as follows:

"Passy, _June 10, 1778_.

"Dear Sir: I received yours of 1st instant, with the papers inclosed,
which I have shown to the other commissioners, but have not yet had
their opinion of them; only I know that they had before (in
consideration of the disposition and uneasiness of your people)
expressed an inclination to order your ship directly back to America.
You will judge from what follows whether it will not be advisable for
you to propose their sending her back with her people, and under some
other command. In consequence of the high opinion the Minister of the
Marine has of your conduct and bravery, it is now settled (observe,
that it is to be a secret between us, I being expressly enjoined not
to communicate it to any other person), that you are to have the
frigate from Holland, which actually belongs to Government, and will
be furnished with as many good French seamen as you shall require. But
you are to act under Congress commission. As you may be likely to have
a number of Americans, and your own are homesick, it is proposed to
give you as many as you can engage out of two hundred prisoners, which
the ministry of Britain have at length agreed to give us in exchange
for those you have in your hands. They propose to make the exchange at
Calais, where they are to bring the Americans. Nothing is wanting to
this but a list of yours, containing their names and rank; immediately
on the receipt of which an equal number are to be prepared, and sent
in a ship to that port, where yours are to meet them.

"If by this means you can get a good new crew, I think it would be
best that you are quite free of the old, for a mixture might introduce
the infection of that sickness you complain of. But this may be left
to your own discretion. Perhaps we shall join you with the Providence,
Captain Whipple, a new Continental ship of thirty guns, which, in
coming out of the river of Providence, gave the two frigates that were
posted to intercept her each of them so heavy a dose of her 18- and
12-pounders that they had not the courage or were not able to pursue
her. It seems to be desired that you will step up to Versailles (where
one will meet you), in order to such a settlement of matters and plans
with those who have the direction as can not well be done by letter. I
wish it may be convenient to you to do it immediately.

"The project of giving you the command of this ship pleases me the
more as it is a probable opening to the higher preferment you so
justly merit."

In obedience to this request Jones went privately to Versailles, where
he spent some time in consultation with the commissioners and the
French ministry discussing the exchange of prisoners, and proposed
several plans of attack by which his services could be utilized. These
plans well indicate the fertility of imagination, the resourceful
genius, and the daring hardihood of the man. One of them was for
making another descent upon Whitehaven, another was to attack the Bank
of Ayr and destroy or ransom that town; another was to burn the
shipping on the Clyde. Expeditions on the coast of Ireland were
suggested. London might be distressed, he thought, by cutting off the
supplies of coal from Newcastle; but the most feasible projects were
the capture or destruction of the West Indian or Baltic fleets of
merchantmen or the Hudson Bay ships.

The Minister of Marine, M. de Sartine, lent an attentive ear to all of
the plans which were proposed, and Jones returned to Brest with high
hopes that he should be soon employed in an expedition to carry out
one or the other of these plans with adequate means to do it well. It
is quite likely that the minister was as earnest and honest in his
intentions as the king in his desire to make use of Jones, but the
formal declaration of war rendered it possible to prosecute the
enterprises which had been suggested by Jones, if it were thought
expedient to attempt them, under the French flag and with French
officers. As France had only intended to use him under the cover of
the American flag to harass England before war was declared, and as
that could now be done openly under her own flag, they did not see the
same necessity for his services as before.

The matter of finding employment for him was further complicated by
the fact that since a state of actual war existed the ministry was
besieged with applications from numbers of French officers for
command, and the ships which had been proposed for Jones were
naturally appropriated to the French themselves. Even if a command
could have been found for the American, there would have been a
natural disinclination, so great as to be nearly prohibitive of
success, on the part of the French officers to serving under a
foreigner. Time brought him nothing but disappointment, and the high
hopes he had cherished gradually waned.

Always a persistent and voluminous letter writer, in his desperation
he overwhelmed everybody with correspondence. Inaction was killing to
him. Not to be employed was like death itself to a man of his
intensely energetic temperament. His pride would not permit him to
return to the United States and seek a command when he had
specifically announced, in a letter to Congress by the returning
Ranger, that the King of France asked that he might make use of his
services, and therefore no command in America need be reserved for
him; and yet he now found himself a hanger on the outskirts of a court
and a ministry which had no further use for him.

The delicate situation of the commissioners, who had been themselves
scarcely more than on sufferance, did not permit them, in the
interests of expediency and diplomacy, to insist as strongly as they
would have liked to do, that the king and the ministry should keep
their engagement with Jones, which was, of course, an engagement with
them and with the United States. Diplomacy and persuasion were the
only weapons at their command. They certainly made good use of them.
Franklin, pending something else, procured the minister's order that
Jones should be received on the great French fleet of D'Orvilliers,
which was about to put to sea to engage the English fleet under
Keppel. He was very desirous of availing himself of this invitation,
which he himself sought, for it would give him an opportunity he could
not otherwise hope to enjoy, of perfecting himself in naval tactics
and the fine art of maneuvering and governing a great fleet. He never
allowed anything to interfere--so far as he was able to prevent
it--with his advancement in professional study. The permission,
however, to D'Orvilliers' great regret, arrived too late, for the
fleet sailed without him. The French admiral seems to have appreciated
the American captain, and to have highly esteemed him. It is stated
that the delay in transmitting the permission was intentional, and was
due to the jealousy of the French naval service.

Jones was exasperated by all these happenings almost to the breaking
point. In one letter he says: "I think of going to L'Orient, being
heartily sick of Brest." I should think he would be! As days passed
without bringing him any nearer to the fruition of his hope, he became
more modest in his demands and propositions. One significant phrase
culled from one of his letters well indicates the bold, dashing
character of the man: "I do not wish to have command of any ship that
does not sail fast, _for I intend to go in harm's way_."[7] In the
sentence which follows this statement, we get another touch of that
entire consciousness of his own ability and high quality which, though
warranted, it were better, perhaps, for his reputation if it were not
so evident in his writing: "I know, I believe, that this is no other
person's intention. Therefore, buy a frigate that sails fast and is
sufficiently large to carry twenty-six or twenty-eight guns on one

His state of mind may well be understood from this citation: "I have,
to show my gratitude to France, lost so much time, and with it such
opportunities as I can not regain. I have almost killed myself with

Chafing, fretting, writing letters, the time dragged on. At last he
addressed to the Minister of Marine, M. de Sartine, this emphatic
protest and statement which he calls, and justly, an explicit letter.
It is certainly sufficiently definite and clear, and shows that rank
and position did not deter him from a free and somewhat sarcastic
expression of his grievances and wrongs:

"Brest, _September 13, 1778_.

"Honoured Sir: When his excellency Doctor Franklin informed me that
you had condescended to think me worthy of your notice, I took such
pleasure in reflecting on the happy alliance between France and
America that I was really flattered, and entertained the most grateful
sense of the honour which you proposed for me, as well as the favour
which the king proposed for America, by putting so fine a ship as the
Indien under my command, and under its flag, with unlimited orders.

"In obedience to your desire, I came to Versailles, and was taught to
believe that my intended ship was in deep water, and ready for sea;
but when the Prince [de Nassau] returned I received from him a
different account; I was told that the Indien could not be got afloat
within a shorter period than three months at the approaching equinox.

"To employ this interval usefully, I first offered to go from Brest
with Count D'Orvilliers as a volunteer, which you thought fit to
reject. I had then the satisfaction to find that you approved in
general of a variety of hints for private enterprises which I had
drawn up for your consideration, and I was flattered with assurances
from Messieurs de Chaumont and Baudouin that three of the finest
frigates in France, with two tenders and a number of troops, would be
immediately put under my command; and that I should have unlimited
orders, and be at free liberty to pursue such of my own projects as I
thought proper. But this plan fell to nothing in the moment when I was
taught to think that nothing was wanting but the king's signature.

"Another much inferior armament from L'Orient was proposed to be put
under my command, which was by no means equal to the services that
were expected from it; for speed and force, though both requisite,
were both wanting. Happily for me, this also failed, and I was thereby
saved from a dreadful prospect of ruin and dishonour.

"I had so entire a reliance that you would desire nothing of me
inconsistent with my honour and rank, that the moment you required me
to come down here, in order to proceed round to St. Malo, though I had
received no written orders, and neither knew your intention respecting
my destination or command, I obeyed with such haste, that although my
curiosity led me to look at the armament at L'Orient, yet I was but
three days from Passy till I reached Brest. Here, too, I drew a blank;
but when I saw the Lively it was no disappointment, as that ship, both
in sailing and equipment, is far inferior to the Ranger.

"My only disappointment here was my being precluded from embarking in
pursuit of marine knowledge with Count D'Orvilliers, who did not sail
till seven days after my return. He is my friend, and expressed his
wishes for my company; I accompanied him out of the road when the
fleet sailed, and he always lamented that neither himself nor any
person in authority in Brest had received from you any order that
mentioned my name. I am astonished therefore to be informed that you
attribute my not being in the fleet to my stay at L'Orient.

"I am not a mere adventurer of fortune. Stimulated by principles of
reason and philanthropy, I laid aside my enjoyments in private life,
and embarked under the flag of America when it was first displayed. In
that line my desire of fame is infinite, and I must not now so far
forget my own honour, and what I owe to my friends and America, as to
remain inactive.

"My rank knows no superior in the American marine. I have long since
been appointed to command an expedition with five of its ships, and I
can receive orders from no junior or inferior officer whatever.

"I have been here in the most tormenting suspense for more than a
month since my return; and, agreeable to your desire, as mentioned to
me by Monsieur Chaumont, a lieutenant has been appointed, and is with
me, who speaks the French as well as the English. Circular letters
have been written, and sent the 8th of last month from the English
admiralty, because they expected me to pay another visit with four
ships. Therefore I trust that, if the Indien is not to be got out, you
will not, at the approaching season, substitute a force that is not at
least equal both in strength and sailing to any of the enemy's
cruising ships.

"I do not wish to interfere with the harmony of the French marine;
but, if I am still thought worthy of your attention, I shall hope for
a separate command, with liberal orders. If, on the contrary, you
should now have no further occasion for my services, the only favour I
can ask is that you will bestow on me the Alert, with a few seamen,
and permit me to return, and carry with me your good opinion in that
small vessel, before the winter, to America."

His intense, burning desire for action, however, did not permit him to
degrade, as he thought, his Government and station by accepting the
command of a privateer which was tendered to him. In the command of a
speedy, smart privateer there is no limit to the plundering he might
have done and the treasure he might have gained, if that had been what
he wished. Many naval officers before and since his time have done
this and thought it not derogatory to their dignity. It is therefore
to Jones' credit that he was very jealous in this and many other
instances on the point of honor of serving in no ship, under no flag,
and with no commission save that of the United States. We shall see
this spirit again and again. The citizen of the world was beginning to
feel that the world as his country was hardly adequate to his needs;
in theory it was a very pretty proposition, but in practice it was
necessary to form and maintain a more definite and particular
relationship. As a final effort to better his condition and secure
that opportunity for which he thirsted, he prepared the following
letter to the king:

"Brest, _October 19, 1778_.

"Sire: After my return to Brest in the American ship of war the
Ranger, from the Irish Channel, his excellency Doctor Franklin
informed me by letter, dated June the 1st, that M. de Sartine, having
a high opinion of my conduct and bravery, had determined, with your
Majesty's consent and approbation, to give me the command of the ship
of war the Indien, which was built at Amsterdam for America, but
afterward, for political reasons, made the property of France.

"I was to act with unlimited orders under the commission and flag of
America; and the Prince de Nassau proposed to accompany me on the

"I was deeply penetrated with the sense of the honour done me by this
generous proposition, as well as of the favour your Majesty intended
thereby to confer on America. And I accepted the offer with the
greater pleasure as the Congress had sent me to Europe in the Ranger
to command the Indien before the ownership of that vessel was changed.

"The minister desired to see me at Versailles to settle future plans
of operation, and I attended him for that purpose. I was told that the
Indien was at the Texel completely armed and fitted for sea; but the
Prince de Nassau was sent express to Holland, and returned with a very
different account. The ship was at Amsterdam, and could not be got
afloat or armed before the September equinox. The American
plenipotentiaries proposed that I should return to America; and, as I
have repeatedly been appointed to the chief command of an American
squadron to execute secret enterprises, it was not doubted but that
Congress would again show me a preference. M. de Sartine, however,
thought proper to prevent my departure, by writing to the
plenipotentiaries (without my knowledge), requesting that I might be
permitted to remain in Europe, and that the Ranger might be sent back
to America under another commander, he having special services which
he wished me to execute. This request they readily granted, and I was
flattered by the prospect of being enabled to testify, by my services,
my gratitude to your Majesty, as the first prince who has so
generously acknowledged our independence.

"There was an interval of more than three months before the Indien
could be gotten afloat. To employ that period usefully, when your
Majesty's fleet was ordered to sail from Brest, I proposed to the
minister to embark in it as a volunteer, in pursuit of marine
knowledge. He objected to this, at the same time approved of a variety
of hints for private enterprises, which I had drawn up for his
consideration. Two gentlemen were appointed to settle with me the
plans that were to be adopted, who gave me the assurance that three of
the best frigates in France, with two tenders, and a number of troops,
should be immediately put under my command, to pursue such of my own
projects as I thought proper; but this fell to nothing, when I
believed that your Majesty's signature only was wanting.

"Another armament, composed of cutters and small vessels, at L'Orient,
was proposed to be put under my command, to alarm the coasts of
England and check the Jersey privateers; but happily for me this also
failed, and I was saved from ruin and dishonour, as I now find that
all the vessels sailed slow, and their united force is very
insignificant. The minister then thought fit that I should return to
Brest to command the Lively, and join some frigates on an expedition
from St. Malo to the North Sea. I returned in haste for that purpose,
and found that the Lively had been bestowed at Brest before the
minister had mentioned that ship to me at Versailles. This was,
however, another fortunate disappointment, as the Lively proves, both
in sailing and equipment, much inferior to the Ranger; but, more
especially, if it be true, as I have since understood, that the
minister intended to give the chief command of an expedition to a
lieutenant, which would have occasioned a very disagreeable
misunderstanding; for, as an officer of the first rank in the American
marine, who has ever been honoured with the favour and friendship of
Congress, I can receive orders from no inferior officer whatever. My
plan was the destruction of the English Baltic fleet, of great
consequence to the enemy's marine, and then only protected by a single
frigate. I would have held myself responsible for its success had I
commanded the expedition.

"M. de Sartine afterward sent orders to Count D'Orvilliers to receive
me on board the fleet agreeably to my former proposal; but the order
did not arrive until after the departure of the fleet the last time
from Brest, nor was I made acquainted with the circumstance before the
fleet returned here.

"Thus have I been chained down to shameful inactivity for nearly five
months. I have lost the best season of the year, and such
opportunities of serving my country and acquiring honour as I can not
again expect this war; and, to my infinite mortification, having no
command, I am considered everywhere an officer cast off and in
disgrace for secret reasons.

"I have written respectful letters to the minister, none of which he
has condescended to answer; I have written to the Prince de Nassau
with as little effect; and I do not understand that any apology has
been made to the great and venerable Dr. Franklin, whom the minister
has made the instrument of bringing me into such unmerited trouble.

"Having written to Congress to reserve no command for me in America,
my sensibility is the more affected by this unworthy situation in the
sight of your Majesty's fleet. I, however, make no remark on the
treatment I have received.

"Although I wish not to become my own panegyrist, I must beg your
Majesty's permission to observe that I am not an adventurer in search
of fortune, of which, thank God, I have a sufficiency.

"When the American banner was first displayed I drew my sword in
support of the violated dignity and rights of human nature; and both
honour and duty prompt me steadfastly to continue the righteous
pursuit, and to sacrifice to it not only my own private enjoyments,
but even life, if necessary. I must acknowledge that the generous
praise which I have received from Congress and others exceeds the
merit of my past services, therefore I the more ardently wish for
future opportunities of testifying my gratitude by my activity.

"As your Majesty, by espousing the cause of America, hath become the
protector of the rights of human nature, I am persuaded that you will
not disregard my situation, nor suffer me to remain any longer in this
unsupportable disgrace.

"I am, with perfect gratitude and profound respect, Sire, your
Majesty's very obliged, very obedient, and very humble servant,

"J. Paul Jones."

This letter, at once dignified, forceful, respectful, and modest, was
inclosed to Dr. Franklin with the request that it should be delivered
to the king. The deference paid to Franklin's opinion, the eager
desire to please him, the respect in which he held him, is not the
least pleasing feature of Jones' character, by the way. The letter in
question was withheld by Franklin with Jones' knowledge and
acquiescence, and the king, it is probable, never saw it. There was,
in fact, no necessity for its delivery, for the appeals, prayers, and
importunities had at last evoked a response. The minister, worn out by
the persistence of Jones, determined, since none of the French naval
vessels were available, to buy him a ship and assemble a squadron and
send him forth.

The inquiry naturally arises why the French Government should care to
go to the trouble and expense of doing this. Before the war was
declared their action was understandable, but afterward the then
operating cause disappeared. Yet there was another reason aside from
the fact that M. de Sartine was willing to keep his promise if he
could, and that was this:

It was not the custom to harry, plunder, and ravage the seacoasts in
the wars between France and England. Military or naval forces were the
sole objects of attack, and by a specific though unwritten law of
custom, the efforts of the rival combatants were confined to ships of
war, fortifications, and armies, and, of course, to merchant vessels
belonging to the enemy. The peaceful seashore towns were generally let
alone unless the inhabitants in exposed localities provoked
retaliation by aggression--a thing they usually took good care not to
do. To introduce the practice would be unfortunate and nothing would
be gained, by France especially. The King of France, however, was more
than willing to have the coasts of his neighbor ravaged, if no
retaliation on his own unprotected shores were provoked thereby. No
convention of any sort, expressed or understood, existed between Great
Britain and the United States which would prevent such action on the
part of the Americans. Great Britain was making a bloody ravaging
warfare on the coasts of North America, and, never dreaming of
reprisal, paid no attention whatever to this law of war, save when it
suited her to do so, on our seaboard. Franklin and the commissioners
wisely realized that the only way to stop this merciless and brutal
burning and plundering was to let the enemy experience the thing
himself. They were therefore in entire accord with the desire of the
French king. To produce the result he would furnish the squadron, they
the flag. It was a charming arrangement from the king's point of view.
Consequently the reason for the encouragement given Jones is apparent,
and the determination of the minister is therefore explained and

Jones received word early in November through the commissioners, with
a solemn assurance from De Sartine, that a suitable ship would be
purchased for him at the expense of France and a squadron assembled
under his supreme command. Let those who would reproach Jones for his
part in this plan remember that (as in his previous cruise) he only
carried out the orders of Franklin. There was no sentimental nonsense
about the old Quaker. He knew what was the best remedy for the
deplorable conditions in America, and he grimly prepared to apply it.
He had no illusions in the premises at all; it was a pure matter of
business, and with sound policy he so treated it. Jones' appeals, be
it understood, were only for a ship or ships and an opportunity to get
into action with the enemy. His orders were outside of his control.
All he had to do as a naval officer was to carry them out to the best
of his ability when he received them. Therefore a censure of Jones is
a censure of Franklin.

It was first designed to employ Jones and his proposed squadron for a
descent upon Liverpool, for which purpose five hundred men from
Fitzmaurice's Irish regiment were to be taken on the ships. Pending
the assembling of the squadron, and while Jones was busily engaged in
seeking for a proper vessel for himself in various French ports,
Lafayette arrived from America, and sought the command of the land
forces of the proposed expedition. His desire was a notable tribute to
the sailor, by the way. The change was most agreeable to Jones, to
whom, of course, the reputation and abilities of Lafayette were well
known, and who would naturally prefer association with such a
distinguished man in the undertaking, but, as usual, there were delays
on the part of the minister.

Jones traveled about from port to port, looking at different ships
which it was proposed to purchase for him. The minister offered him
the Duc de Broglie, a large new ship lying at Nantes, capable of
mounting sixty-four guns. He inspected her, and would have taken her
gladly, but he felt utterly unable properly to man such a large ship,
and he was reluctantly compelled to dismiss her from consideration.
There was also at Nantes a smaller ship, the Ariel, of twenty guns,
which had been captured from the English, which he was willing to
accept if nothing better turned up. Another vessel that he looked at
was a great old-fashioned merchant ship, lying dismantled at L'Orient,
which had been some fourteen years in the India trade, and was very
much out of repair. She was called the Duc de Duras. Jones thought she
might do in default of anything else, and he so informed the minister.

However, in spite of the promises that had been made and reiterated to
him, and the determination which had been arrived at, nothing was
done. His visits of inspection were fruitless, his propositions were
disregarded as before. Furthermore, the plan to send Lafayette with
him fell through because France was at that time projecting a grand
descent in force upon England, and Lafayette was designated to command
a regiment in the proposed undertaking. Like other similar projects,
the plan was never put in operation. Though France did enter the
Channel with sixty-six French and Spanish ships of the line, she did
not accomplish as much with this great armada as Paul Jones did with
the little squadron he finally was enabled to assemble.

Meanwhile he was at his wits' end. The year had nearly passed and
nothing had been done. He had been put off with promises until he was
desperate. Chance, it is stated, threw in his way one day, as he sat
idle at Nantes, gloomily ruminating on the prospect, or lack of it,
and almost making up his mind to go back to the United States in the
first vessel that offered and seek such opportunity for service as
might arise there, a copy of Franklin's famous book of maxims, called
Poor Richard's Almanac. As the harassed little captain sat listlessly
turning its pages, his eyes fell upon this significant aphorism:

"If a man wishes to have any business faithfully and expeditiously
performed, let him go on it himself; otherwise he may send."

The truth of the saying inspired him to one final effort before he
abandoned European waters. He went to Versailles in November, 1778,
for one last visit, and there settled the matter. His determination
and persistence at last, as it had many times before, brought him
success. De Sartine directed the purchase of the Duras, which Jones,
from his love for Franklin and the circumstance just related, with the
consent of the minister, renamed the Bon Homme Richard, that being the
French equivalent for Poor Richard, or Good Man Richard, which was the
caption of the almanac.

De Sartine appointed as the agent and commissary of the king for the
purchase and refitting of the Duras and the other vessels of the
squadron, and for the disposal of any prizes which might be taken, in
short, as his representative with entire liberty of action, Monsieur
le Ray de Chaumont. This gentleman, belonging, of course, to the
nobility of the country, was a man of considerable influence at the
court, where he had held the responsible dual position of Grand Master
of the Forests and Waters of the King. Since the arrival of the
American commissioners he had shown his devotion to the cause of
liberty and to them personally by many and conspicuous acts of

It was his private residence at Passy that Franklin made his
headquarters during his long tenure of office. De Chaumont had offered
him the use of this house, and with generous and splendid hospitality
had refused to accept of any remuneration by way of rental. Realizing
the pressing necessity of the struggling colonists for every dollar
they could scrape together, he positively declined to impair their
limited resources by any charge whatsoever. Franklin endeavored to
change his decision, and when John Adams replaced Deane he made the
same effort, but the generous Frenchman refused to recede from his
determination. He also placed his private purse at the disposal of
Franklin, and in every way showed himself a worthy and disinterested
friend of America.

He was one of those romantic Frenchmen who espoused the cause of the
rights of man under the influence of the new philosophy of Rousseau
and Voltaire; somewhat, it would seem, from motives similar to those
proclaimed by Jones himself. He had nothing to gain by his action and
much to lose should the effort of the colonists result in failure. He
was a man of affairs and possessed an ample fortune. To anticipate
events, it may be stated that he spent it all in the cause to which he
had devoted himself, and eventually became bankrupt. He was not a
military man; still less was he aware of the exigencies and demands of
the naval service. For the present, however, he did his work
efficiently and well.

The Duras was purchased immediately, as were two other merchant
vessels, the Pallas and the Vengeance, all at the cost of the
royal treasury. To these were added the Cerf, a king's cutter, a
well-appointed and efficient vessel, and the United States ship
Alliance, a new and very handsome frigate built at Salisbury,
Massachusetts, in 1778, which had arrived in Europe with Lafayette as
a passenger. Jones had specifically asked that the American frigate
should be assigned to his squadron--a most unfortunate request, as it
afterward turned out.

The Duras was an East Indiaman of obsolete type; a large,
old-fashioned ship with a very high poop and topgallant forecastle.
She had made, during many years of service, a number of round voyages
to the East Indies. While stoutly built for a merchant ship, as
compared to a man-of-war of her size she was of light and
unsubstantial frame. In the absence of particular information I
suppose her to have been of something under eight hundred tons burden.
Neglect had allowed her to fall into such a bad condition that her
efficiency as a proposed war vessel was further impaired by her
inability to stand the necessary repairs.

Jones, however, surveyed her and determined to make her do. Indeed,
there was no choice; it was that or nothing. He hoped to effect
something with her which would warrant him in demanding a better ship;
so, with a sigh of regret for the Indien, he set to work upon her,
doing his best to make her efficient. By his orders she was pierced
for twenty-eight guns on her main deck and six on the poop and
forecastle. In order to further increase her force, Jones, after much
deliberation, resorted to the hazardous experiment of cutting six
ports in the gun room, on the deck below the gun deck, close to the
water line; so close, in fact, that, with anything like a sea on, to
open the ports would be to invite destruction by foundering.[8] Only
under exceptionally favorable circumstances, therefore, could these
guns be used. At best the gun-room battery could only be fought in the
calmest weather and smoothest water. In this dangerous place he
mounted six old and condemned 18-pounders, which were all that he
could obtain from the French arsenals. On the main deck fourteen
12-pounders and fourteen 9-pounders were mounted.[9] Two 9-pounders
were placed aft on the quarter-deck, two in each gangway, and two on
the forecastle. All the guns were old and worn out; many of them had
been condemned by the French Government as unfit for use. The six guns
on the lower deck were mounted three on a side, but a sufficient
number of ports had been cut to admit of shifting the guns and working
the whole battery on either side. New guns had been ordered cast for
the Richard at the French gun foundries; but the usual delays
compelled Jones to take what he could, and finally sail with these old
makeshifts. The guns intended for the Bon Homme Richard arrived after
she had gone.

The Alliance was a frigate-built ship of thirty-two guns, 9- and
6-pounders, manned by two hundred and fifty men, and commanded by
Pierre Landais. Landais was an ex-officer of the French navy, who had
been dismissed for insubordination and incapacity. Ignorant of these
facts, knowing only that he had been a navy officer, and wishing to
please their royal ally, and perhaps pay a delicate compliment also to
Lafayette, who was a passenger upon the ship on her first cruise, the
marine commissioners had appointed him to the command of this fine and
handsome little frigate. The Alliance was one of the fastest ships of
her day; indeed, she may be regarded as the precursor of that long
line of splendid frigates and sloops of war which have been the pride
of American shipbuilders and the admiration of foreign navies.
Properly re-armed and refitted, under the command of stout old John
Barry she did splendid service on several occasions later in the war.
Her swiftness and mobility, it was believed, would add greatly to the
usefulness of Jones' squadron.

The Pallas was a fairly efficient merchant ship, frigate built,
carrying thirty 6-pounders, commanded by Captain de Cottineau de
Kloguene. The Vengeance was a twelve-gun brig of little force, and the
Cerf a sixteen-gun cutter, under the command of Captains Ricot and de
Varage respectively.

After many difficulties and disheartening delays, chiefly overcome by
Jones' invincible determination and persistence, the squadron was at
last made ready for use. The first duty assigned to the daring
commodore was a cruise for the driving of the enemy's ships out of the
Bay of Biscay, and convoying merchant ships bound from port to port
along the coast. It was not a particularly congenial duty, but he
entered upon it zealously and without complaint.

The squadron sailed on the 19th of June, 1779. During the night of the
20th the Alliance ran foul of the Richard, and as a result of the
collision the mizzenmast of the Alliance was carried away, while the
Richard lost her head, cutwater, jib boom, etc. The blame for the
accident mainly rested on Landais, who, it was afterward developed,
had behaved disgracefully on this occasion, showing such a lack of
presence of mind and seamanly aptitude, coupled with such timidity and
shrinking from duty, that, when the accident occurred, he not only
gave no orders, but basely ran below to load his pistols, leaving the
ship to be extricated from her critical situation by the junior
officers. Perhaps he was afraid that the infuriated Jones would attack
him for the mishandling of his ship. Jones, who had been below when
the accident occurred, immediately assumed charge of the Richard, and
by prompt action averted a more serious disaster. To do Landais
justice, however, the officer of the watch on the Richard also must
have been culpable, for he was subsequently court-martialed and broken
for his lack of conduct on this occasion.

Refusing to return to port, and patching up the two ships as well as
possible from their present resources, Jones performed the duties
assigned to him, driving the enemy's ships out of those waters and
safely delivering his convoy. On the return voyage, Captain de Varage,
of the Cerf, had a spirited encounter with a heavily armed privateer
of greater force than his own, which lasted for an hour and ten
minutes and resulted in the privateer striking her flag. Before he
could take possession, however, other ships of the enemy appeared, and
he was forced to abandon his prize. The Richard chased several sail,
two of which were thought to be frigates, and the officers and men
manifested every disposition to get into action; but the ships sighted
were all able to run away from the cumbrous and slow-sailing American

On the last day of June the squadron put into L'Orient again to repair
damages. During the cruise it is interesting to note that Jones
dispatched thirty pounds, in the shape of a draft, through a friend in
Dublin, to Scotland for the use of his family. He frequently made them
remittances from his scanty supplies of money, and, in fact, he never
forgot them, however busy with great undertakings he may have been.

Instructions were received at L'Orient from Franklin intended to
govern the future movements of the squadron. They had, of course, been
prepared after consultation with De Sartine. Jones was directed to
cruise off the west coast of Ireland to intercept the West Indian
ships and then to proceed to the northward, passing the Orkneys, and
range down the coast of Scotland and endeavor to capture the Baltic
fleet--which, by the way, had been one of his original projects. After
carrying out these orders he was instructed to proceed to the Texel
about August 15th, where he would find further directions awaiting
him. Prizes were to be sent to Dunkirk or Ostend in France, or Bergen
in Norway, consigned to such agents as De Chaumont should designate.

Jones was very much disappointed, naturally, with the Richard, and in
acknowledging the receipt of these instructions he made a last effort
to get the Indien. It was intimated that such might be the result of
his cruise when he arrived at the Texel, if it were successful, but
that no change could be made in his orders at present. Franklin
refused to attempt to have them modified by consulting with the
ministry, and, in a way gentle but sufficiently decided, he directed
Jones to finish repairing the ships with all speed and proceed to
carry out the orders he had received. The commodore, swallowing his
disappointment and dissatisfaction with a rather ill grace, it must be
confessed, hastened to get his ships in shape for the proposed

During the cruise in the Bay of Biscay a mutinous spirit had broken
out among the English seamen, with whom in part Jones had been forced
to man his ship in default of other men, which had become sufficiently
developed to result in an organized conspiracy to take the Richard.
The plot was discovered and the ringleaders were put in irons. When
the Richard arrived at L'Orient, these men, two quartermasters, were
court-martialed; but, instead of being sentenced to death, as they
deserved, they were severely flogged with the cat-o'-nine-tails.
Jones, who, if he erred, leaned to the side of mercy, seems to have
been greatly relieved at this termination of the affair. At this time
the lieutenant of the Richard, who had been in charge of the watch
during the collision, was also court-martialed and dismissed the

These several unfortunate happenings had given De Sartine a very low
idea of the efficiency and value of the Bon Homme Richard and the
squadron, which galled Jones extremely. Indeed, I imagine De Sartine
looked upon Jones in the light of a nuisance more than anything else.
The repairs progressed very slowly, and it was not until August that
the ships were ready to proceed. Meanwhile an event of the greatest
importance had occurred in the arrival of a cartel at Nantes with one
hundred and nineteen exchanged American prisoners. Many of them
entered on the Richard, and Jones was thus enabled to weed out a large
proportion of the mutinous and disorderly element in his crew. The
fine qualities of some of these new recruits enabled him to replace
many of his petty officers--invaluable adjuncts to an efficient
crew--with experienced seamen who could be depended upon, not merely
as sailors, but as men who, fresh from the horrors and brutalities of
English prisons, were more than ready to fight against the red flag
wherever it was planted. They leavened the whole mass.

The re-enforcement was of the greatest value; but Jones' good fortune
did not end here, for before he sailed again he was joined by a young
American naval officer of the highest capacity and courage, named
Richard Dale, who had been captured in the Lexington and held a
prisoner in England. He had effected a most daring and romantic escape
from the Mill Prison by the assistance of an unknown woman, whose name
and the circumstances of their acquaintance remained a mystery; Dale
absolutely refused to divulge them to the day of his death.

Jones found in him a congenial spirit and an able subordinate. He
promptly appointed him first lieutenant of the Richard, and between
the two men there speedily developed a friendship as lasting as it was
unaffected and disinterested. Next to Jones himself, in the early
records, stands the name of this young man, then scarcely twenty-three
years of age. Aside from the great commodore, it was he who
contributed more to the subsequent success of the Richard than any
other man. At the request of De Sartine, Jones also received on the
Richard a battalion of royal marines, who were all French of course,
and who had been augmented until they numbered one hundred and
thirty-seven officers and men, under Lieutenant-Colonel de Chamillard
de Warville. It was supposed by the minister that they could at least
keep order on the ship! The time limited to the expiration of the
cruise was extended to the end of the month of September.

The total complement of the Richard, therefore, according to Jones'
statement, was about three hundred and eighty officers, men, and boys,
including the one hundred and thirty-seven marines. A roll of officers
and men is given by Sherburne in his Life of Jones.

On this list, which purports to contain the names of those who were on
board on the date of the battle with the Serapis, are enumerated the
names of but two hundred and twenty-seven officers and men. It omits
the name of de Chamillard and another colonel of infantry, de Weibert,
who were actually on board, and gives no names of the French marines.
Adding the two hundred and twenty-seven to the one hundred and
thirty-seven, we get three hundred and sixty-four, which is as near as
we can come to Jones' figures. There may have been others whose names
were added later on, but at any rate it is safe to take Jones'
statement as practically correct.

Assuming that the known factors fairly represented the whole crew, we
find that among the officers twenty-four were Americans, two were
Frenchmen, and six British, including Jones and two surgeon's mates.
Among the seamen fifty-five were American born, sixteen Irish,
sixty-one British, twenty-eight Portuguese, twenty who are not
described, of whom seven were probably Portuguese, and fifteen of
other nationalities, including, according to Cooper, some
Malays--possibly Filipinos learning thus early to fight for freedom
under, not against, the Stars and Stripes! Thus, scarcely more than
one fifth of the complement were native Americans. The marines, of
course, were efficiently organized and commanded, and were of the
usual character of the men in the French service. The rest of the
crew, with the exception of the Americans, who were filling the posts
of petty officers, were a hard-bitten, reckless crowd of adventurers,
mercenaries, bravos, and what not, whom only a man like Jones could
control and successfully direct. Under his iron hand they developed
into as ready a crew as ever fought a ship, and in our estimation of
his subsequent success the fact must not be lost sight of that he made
out of such a motley assemblage so efficient an organization. The
officers were fairly capable, though none of them reached the standard
of Dale, and at least one of them left the cruise with a serious cloud
upon his reputation.

Perhaps two thirds of the crew of the Alliance were English seamen who
had been recruited from the men of the line of battle ship Somerset,
which had been wrecked in America, and a large number of her crew
captured. They enlisted on the Alliance in the hope of capturing her
and making their escape, thus avoiding a sojourn in American prisons.
On the way to France, owing to the presence of these men on the ship,
a conspiracy had developed, the successful termination of which was
only prevented by the resolution and courage of Lafayette and the
passengers with the regular officers of the ship. There were but a
small number of Americans on the Alliance, owing to the fact that she
was commanded by a Frenchman, under whom Americans generally refused
to sail. The officers, with few exceptions, were poor in quality. Her
crew had been somewhat improved before the squadron sailed, by the
enlistment of some of the prisoners from the cartel, but it was still
far from being an efficient body of men, and under such a captain as
Landais there was no hope of it ever becoming so.

The officers and crew of the Pallas, Vengeance, and Cerf were French
_in toto_, the officers all holding French commissions. The squadron
was entirely at the charges of the French Government, although each of
the officers sailed with a supplementary American commission issued by
Franklin and his _confrères_, and all the vessels were under the
American flag.

De Chaumont had been indefatigable in fitting out the ships as best he
could, and personally he had done everything in his power to further
the success of the enterprise. If his labors had ceased there, the
results would have been better; but, probably under the direction of
the minister, and influenced by the natural reluctance of the French
officers and men to serve under the command of an officer of another
country, de Chaumont prepared a concordat, which he suppressed until
just before the time of sailing, when it was exhibited to Jones and
the other captains and their signatures demanded. By the terms of this
singular document the officers and men and the several vessels of the
squadron, instead of being under the absolute charge of Jones himself,
as is the case with every properly organized expedition, were formed
into a species of alliance offensive and defensive; and while, of
course, the headship was necessarily under Jones while he lived, he
was so hampered and restricted by the various articles of the
agreement as to feel himself scarcely more than first among his
equals. He was left with full responsibility for success, but so shorn
of power and ability to compel obedience to his orders as to render it
necessary for him to resort to persuasion to effect his end. Any
ordinary commander would have withdrawn at the last moment, but Jones
was determined upon effecting something; so, with great reluctance and
unavailing protests, he signed the concordat, and the ill-assorted
squadron proceeded on its way.[10]

Surely never before was such an expedition for warlike purposes put
forth upon the narrow seas! It is difficult to see what result any
sane man could have legitimately expected from it. That it
accomplished anything was due to Jones himself--commodore by virtue of
a paper agreement, just as binding and effective as any of the several
signers wished it to be! The world had long known him as a man
remarkable for audacity in conception, boldness in planning, hardihood
in carrying out, and downright courage in the supreme moment. As a
seaman and a fighter he had few equals and no masters. But the cruise
developed that he possessed other qualities of leadership which are
sometimes lost sight of in this brilliant galaxy, qualities which his
previous experience had not led us to expect him to exhibit. He was
shown to be considerate, tactful, forbearing, persuasive, holding
himself under strong restraint. Naturally of a passionate, impetuous,
uncontrollable nature, that he exhibited these qualities speaks well
for the man. He had learned to control his feelings in the bitter
school of procrastination, evasion, and disappointment of the past


All things being as ready as it was possible to make them, on the 14th
of August, 1779, amid the booming of cannon and the waving of flags,
the expedition set sail. Very pretty it must have looked, dropping
down the roads, as sail after sail was set on the broad yardarms
extending above the little commander on the poop deck of the Indiaman,
resolutely putting his difficulties and trials behind him, and glad to
be at last at sea and headed for the enemy. And yet he might well have
borne a heavy heart! Only a man of Jones' caliber could have faced the
possibilities with a particle of equanimity. By any rule of chance or
on any ground of probability the expedition was doomed to failure,
capture, or destruction. But the personality of Jones, his serene and
soon-to-be-justified confidence in himself, discounted chance and
overthrew probability. I have noticed it is ever the man with the
fewest resources and poorest backing who accomplishes most in the
world's battles. The man who has things made easy for him usually
"takes it easy," and accomplishes the easy thing or nothing.

The squadron was accompanied by two heavily armed privateers, the
Monsieur and the Granvelle, raising the number of vessels to seven.
The masters of the privateers did not sign the concordat, but they
entered into voluntary association with the others and agreed to abide
by the orders of Jones--an agreement they broke without hesitation in
the face of the first prize, which was captured on the 18th of August.
The prize was a full-rigged ship, called the Verwagting, mounting
fourteen guns and loaded with brandy. The vessel, a Dutch ship, had
been captured by the English, and was therefore a lawful prize to the
squadron. The captain of the Monsieur, which was the boarding vessel,
plundered the prize of several valuable articles for his own benefit,
manned her, and attempted to dispatch her to Ostend. Jones, however,
overhauled her, replaced the prize crew by some of his own men, and
sent her in under his own orders. The Monsieur and her offended
captain thereupon promptly deserted the squadron in the night.

On the 21st, off the southwest coast of Ireland, they captured a brig,
the Mayflower, loaded with butter, which was also manned and sent in.
On the 23d they rounded Cape Clear, the extreme southwestern point of
Ireland. The day being calm, Jones manned his boats and sent them
inshore to capture a brigantine. The ship, not having steerage way,
began to drift in toward the dangerous shore after the departure of
the boats, and it became necessary to haul her head offshore, for
which purpose the captain's barge was sent ahead with a towline. As
the shades of evening descended, the crew of the barge, who were
apparently English, took advantage of the absence of the other boats
and the opportunity presented, to cut the towline and desert. As they
made for the shore, Mr. Cutting Lunt, third lieutenant, with four
marines, jumped into a small boat remaining, and chased the fugitives
without orders; but, pursuing them too far from the ship, a fog came
down which caused him to lose his bearings, and prevented him from
joining the Richard that night.

The crew of a commodore's barge, like the crew of a captain's gig, is
usually made up of picked men, and the character of the Richard's crew
is well indicated by this desertion. The other boats luckily managed
to rejoin the Richard, after succeeding in cutting out the brigantine.
The ships beat to and fro off the coast until the next day, when the
captains assembled on the Richard. Landais behaved outrageously on
this occasion. He reproached Jones in the most abusive manner, as if
the desertion of the barge and the loss of the two boats was due to
negligence on his part. One can imagine with what grim silence the
irate little American listened to the absurd tirade, and in what
strong control he held himself to keep from arresting Landais where he
stood. It gives us a vivid picture of the situation of the fleet to
find that Jones was actually compelled to consult with his captains
and obtain the consent of de Varage before he could order the Cerf to
reconnoiter the coast, if possible to find the two boats and their

Thus, as Commodore Mackenzie, himself a naval officer, grimly remarks:

"Before giving orders of indispensable necessity, as a superior
officer, we find him taking the advice of one captain and obtaining
the consent and approbation of another."

But we may be sure that it was only dire necessity that required such
a course of action. Evidently the situation was not to the liking of
the commodore, but it was one that he could not remedy.

As the Cerf approached the shore to reconnoiter, she hoisted the
English colors to disguise her nationality, and was seen by Mr. Lunt,
who had evidently overtaken the deserters. Mistaking her character, he
pulled in toward the shore to escape the fancied danger, and was
easily captured by the English with the two boats and their crews. By
this unfortunate mishap the Richard lost two of her boats, containing
an officer and twenty-two men. The Cerf, losing sight of the squadron
in the evening, turned tail and went back to France, instead of
proceeding to the first of the various rendezvous which had been
agreed upon. The Granvelle, having made a prize on her own account,
took advantage of her entirely independent position and the fact that
she was far away from the Richard to disregard signals and make off
with her capture. This reduced the squadron to the Richard, Alliance,
Pallas, and Vengeance. It was Jones' desire to cruise to and fro off
the harbor of Limerick to intercept the West Indian ships, which, to
the number of eight or ten, were daily expected. These vessels, richly
laden, were of great value, and their capture could have easily been
effected, but Landais protested vehemently against remaining in any
one spot. Among other things, the Frenchman was undoubtedly a coward,
and, of course, by remaining steadily in one place opportunities for
being overhauled were greatly increased. Jones finally succumbed to
Landais' entreaties and protestations, which were backed up by those
of Captains Cottineau and Ricot.

Of course, it is impossible to say how far his authority would have
lasted had he peremptorily refused to accede to their demands, as
paper concordats are not very binding ties; but he might perhaps have
made a more determined effort to induce them to carry out his plans
and remain with him. To leave the position he had chosen, which
presented such opportunities, was undoubtedly an error in judgment,
and Jones tacitly admits it in the following words, written long

"Nothing prevented me from pursuing my design but the reproach that
would have been cast upon my character as a man of prudence.[11] It
would have been said: 'Was he not forewarned by Captain Cottineau and

The excuse is as bad as, if not worse than, the decision. But this is
almost the only evidence of weakness and irresolution which appears in
Jones' conduct in all the emergencies in which he was thrown. It is
impossible to justify this action, but, in view of the circumstances,
which we can only imagine and hardly adequately comprehend, we need
not censure him too greatly for his indecision. In fact, the decision
itself was a mistake which the ablest of men might naturally make. The
weakness lay in the excuse which he himself offers, and which it pains
one to read. In this connection the noble comment of Captain Mahan is

"The subordination of public enterprises to considerations of personal
consequences, even to reputation, is a declension from the noblest in
a public man. Not life only, but personal credit, is to be fairly
risked for the attainment of public ends."

It can not be said that Jones was altogether disinterested in his
actions. The mere common, vulgar, mercenary motives were absent from
his undertakings, but it must be admitted that he never lost sight of
the results, not only to his country and its success, but to his own
reputation as well. If Jones had proceeded in his intention, and
Landais had finally deserted him, the results would have been very
much better for the cruise--always provided that the Pallas at least
remained with the Richard. We shall see later on that all the ships
deserted him on one occasion.

On the 26th of August a heavy gale blew up from the southwest, and
Jones scudded before it to the northward along the Irish coast.
Landais deliberately changed the course of the Alliance in the
darkness, and, the tiller of the Pallas having been carried away
during the night, Jones found himself alone with the Vengeance the
next morning. The gale having abated, these two remaining vessels
continued their course in a leisurely manner along the Irish coast. On
the 31st the Alliance hove in sight, followed by a valuable West
Indiaman called the Betsy, mounting twenty-two guns, which she had
captured--a sample of what might have resulted if the squadron had
stayed off Limerick.

The Pallas having also joined company again, on the 1st of September
the Richard brought to the Union, a government armed ship of
twenty-two guns, bound for Halifax with valuable naval stores. Before
boats were called away and the prize taken possession of, with
unparalleled insolence Landais sent a messenger to Jones asking
whether the Alliance should man the prize, in which case he should
allow no man from the Richard to board her! With incredible
complaisance the long-suffering Jones allowed Landais to man this
capture also, while he himself received the prisoners on the Richard.
These two vessels, in violation of Jones' explicit orders, were sent
in to Bergen, Norway, where they were promptly released by the Danish
Government and returned to England on the demand of the British
minister. Their value was estimated at forty thousand pounds sterling.
The unwarranted return of the vessels was the foundation of a claim
for indemnity against Denmark, of which we shall hear later. On the
day of the capture Landais disregarded another specific signal from
the flagship to chase; instead of doing which, he wore ship and headed
directly opposite the direction in which he should have gone. The next
morning he again disregarded a signal to come within hail of the
Richard, on which occasion he did not even set an answering pennant.

On September 3d and 4th the squadron captured a brig and two sloops
off the Shetland Islands. On the evening of this day Jones summoned
the captains to the flagship. Landais refused to go, and when de
Cottineau tried to persuade him to do so he became violently abusive,
and declared that the matters at issue between the commodore and
himself were so grave that they could only be settled by a personal
meeting on shore, at which one or the other should forfeit his life.
Fortunately for the peace of mind of the commodore, whose patience had
reached the breaking point, the Alliance immediately after parted
company, and did not rejoin the command until the 23d of September. If
Landais had stayed away altogether, or succeeded in getting himself
lost or captured, it would have been a great advantage to the country.

Another gale blew up on the 5th, and heavy weather continued for
several days. The little squadron of three vessels labored along
through the heavy seas to the northward, passed the dangerous Orkneys,
doubled the wild Hebrides, rounded the northern extremity of Scotland,
and on the evening of the 13th approached the east coast near the
Cheviot Hills. On the 14th they arrived off the Firth of Forth, where
they were lucky enough to capture one ship and one brigantine loaded
with coal. From them they learned that the naval force in the harbor
of Leith was inconsiderable, consisting of one twenty-gun sloop of war
and three or four cutters. Jones immediately conceived the idea of
destroying this force, holding the town under his batteries, landing a
force of marines, and exacting a heavy ransom under threat of

[Illustration: Map showing the cruises of the Ranger and the Bon Homme
Richard, and the dash of the Alliance from the Texel.]

Although weakened in force by the desertion of the ships, by the
number of prizes he had manned, and the large number of prisoners on
board the Richard, he still hoped, as he says, to teach English
cruisers the value of humanity on the other side of the water, and by
this bold attack to demonstrate the vulnerability of their own coasts.
He also counted upon this diversion in the north to call attention
from the expected grand invasion in the south of England by the French
and Spanish fleets. The wind was favorable for his design, but
unfortunately the Pallas and the Vengeance, which had lagged as usual,
were some distance in the offing. Jones therefore ran back to meet
them in order to advise them of his plan and concert measures for the
attack. He found that the French had but little stomach for the
enterprise; they positively refused to join him in the undertaking, a
decision which, by the terms of the concordat, they had a right to
make. After a night spent in fruitless argument between the three
captains--think of it, arguments in the place of orders!--Jones
appealed to their cupidity, probably the last thing that would have
moved him. By painting the possibilities of plunder he wrung a
reluctant consent from these two gentlemen, and proceeded rapidly to
develop the plan.

As usual, not being able to embrace the opportunity when it was
presented, a change in the wind rendered it impossible for the
present. The design and opportunity were too good, however, to be
lost, and the squadron beat to and fro off the harbor, waiting for a
shift of wind to make practicable the effort. On the 15th they
captured another collier, a schooner, the master of which, named
Andrew Robertson, was bribed by the promised return of his vessel to
pilot them into the harbor of Leith. Robertson, a dastardly traitor,
promised to do so, and saved his collier thereby. On the morning of
the 16th an amusing little incident occurred off the coast of Fife.
The ships were, of course, sailing under English colors, and one of
the seaboard gentry, taking them for English ships in pursuit of Paul
Jones, who was believed to be on the coast, sent a shore boat off to
the Richard asking the gift of some powder and shot with which to
defend himself in case he received a visit from the dreaded pirate.
Jones, who was much amused by the situation, made a courteous reply to
the petition, and sent a barrel of powder, expressing his regret that
he had no suitable shot. He detained one of the boatmen, however, as a
pilot for one of the other ships. During the interim the following
proclamation was prepared for issuance when the town had been
captured. The document is somewhat diffuse in its wording, but the
purport of it is unmistakable:

"The Honorable J. Paul Jones, Commander-in-chief of the American
Squadron, now in Europe, to the Worshipful Provost of Leith, or, in
his absence, to the Chief Magistrate, who is now actually present, and
in authority there.

"Sir: The British marine force that has been stationed here for the
protection of your city and commerce, being now taken by the American
arms under my command, I have the honour to send you this summons by
my officer, Lieutenant-Colonel de Chamillard, who commands the
vanguard of my troops. I do not wish to distress the poor inhabitants;
my intention is only to demand your contribution toward the
reimbursement which Britain owes to the much-injured citizens of the
United States; for savages would blush at the unmanly violation and
rapacity that have marked the tracks of British tyranny in America,
from which neither virgin innocence nor helpless age has been a plea
of protection or pity.

"Leith and its port now lie at our mercy; and, did not our humanity
stay the hand of just retaliation, I should, without advertisement,
lay it in ashes. Before I proceed to that stern duty as an officer, my
duty as a man induces me to propose to you, by means of a reasonable
ransom, to prevent such a scene of horror and distress. For this
reason I have authorized Lieutenant-Colonel de Chamillard to conclude
and agree with you on the terms of ransom, allowing you exactly half
an hour's reflection before you finally accept or reject the terms
which he shall propose. If you accept the terms offered within the
time limited, you may rest assured that no further debarkation of
troops will be made, but the re-embarkation of the vanguard will
immediately follow, and the property of the citizens shall remain

On the afternoon of the 16th, the squadron was sighted from Edinburgh
Castle, slowly running in toward the Firth. The country had now been
fully alarmed. It is related that the audacity and boldness of this
cruise and his previous successes had caused Jones to be regarded
with a terror far beyond that which his force justified, and which
well-nigh paralyzed resistance. Arms were hastily distributed,
however, to the various guilds, and batteries were improvised at
Leith. On the 17th, the Richard, putting about, ran down to within a
mile of the town of Kirkaldy. As it appeared to the inhabitants that
she was about to descend upon their coast, they were filled with
consternation. There is a story told that the minister of the place, a
quaint oddity named Shirra, who was remarkable for his eccentricities,
joined his people congregated on the beach, surveying the approaching
ship in terrified apprehension, and there made the following prayer:

"Now, deer Lord, dinna ye think it a shame for ye to send this vile
piret to rob our folk o' Kirkaldy? for ye ken they're puir enow
already, and hae naething to spaire. The wa the ween blaws, he'll be
here in a jiffie, and wha kens what he may do? He's nae too guid for
onything. Meickle's the mischief he has dune already. He'll burn thir
hooses, tak their very claes and tirl them to the sark; and wae's me!
wha kens but the bluidy villain might take their lives! The puir
weemen are maist frightened out o' their wits, and the bairns skirling
after them. I canna thol't it! I canna thol't it! I hae been lang a
faithfu' servant to ye, Laird; but gin ye dinna turn the ween about,
and blaw the scoundrel out of our gate, I'll na staur a fit, but will
just sit here till the tide comes. Sae tak yere will o't."

This extraordinary petition has probably lost nothing by being handed
down. At any rate, just as that moment, a squall which had been
brewing broke violently over the ship, and Jones was compelled to bear
up and run before it. The honest people of Kirkaldy always attributed
their relief to the direct interposition of Providence as the result
of the prayer of their minister. He accepted the honors for his Lord
and himself by remarking, whenever the subject was mentioned to him,
that he had prayed but the Lord had sent the wind!

It is an interesting tale, but its effect is somewhat marred when we
consider that Jones had no intention of ever landing at Kirkaldy or of
doing the town any harm. He was after bigger game, and in his official
account he states that he finally succeeded in getting nearly within
gunshot distance of Leith, and had made every preparation to land
there, when a gale which had been threatening blew so strongly
offshore that, after making a desperate attempt to reach an anchorage
and wait until it blew itself out, he was obliged to run before it and
get to sea. When the gale abated in the evening he was far from the
port, which had now become thoroughly alarmed. Heavy batteries were
thrown up and troops concentrated for its protection, so that he
concluded to abandon the attempt. His conception had been bold and
brilliant, and his success would have been commensurate if, when the
opportunity had presented itself, he had been seconded by men on the
other ships with but a tithe of his own resolution.

The squadron continued its cruise to the southward and captured
several coasting brigs, schooners, and sloops, mostly laden with coal
and lumber. Baffled in the Forth, Jones next determined upon a similar
project in the Tyne or the Humber, and on the 19th of the month
endeavored to enlist the support of his captains for a descent on
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as it was one of his favorite ideas to cut off
the London coal supply by destroying the shipping there; but
Cottineau, of the Pallas, refused to consent. The ships had been on
the coast now for nearly a week, and there was no telling when a
pursuing English squadron would make its appearance. Cottineau told de
Chamillard that unless Jones left the coast the next day the Richard
would be abandoned by the two remaining ships. Jones, therefore,
swallowing his disappointment as best he might, made sail for the
Humber and the important shipping town of Hull.

It was growing late in September, and the time set for the return to
the Texel was approaching. As a matter of fact, however, though Jones
remained on the coast cruising up and down and capturing everything he
came in sight of, in spite of his anxiety Cottineau did not actually
desert his commodore. Cottineau was the best of the French officers.
Without the contagion of the others he might have shown himself a
faithful subordinate at all times. Having learned the English private
signals from a captured vessel, Jones, leaving the Pallas, boldly
sailed into the mouth of the Humber, just as a heavy convoy under the
protection of a frigate and a small sloop of war was getting under way
to come out of it. Though he set the English flag and the private
signals in the hope of decoying the whole force out to sea and under
his guns, to his great disappointment the ships, including the war
vessels, put back into the harbor. The Richard thereupon turned to the
northward and slowly sailed along the coast, followed by the

Early in the morning of September 23d, while it was yet dark, the
Richard chased two ships, which the daylight revealed to be the Pallas
and the long-missing Alliance, which at last rejoined. The wind was
blowing fresh from the southwest, and the two ships under easy canvas
slowly rolled along toward Flamborough Head. Late in the morning the
Richard discovered a large brigantine inshore and to windward. Jones
immediately gave chase to her, when the brigantine changed her course
and headed for Bridlington Bay, where she came to anchor.

Bridlington Bay lies just south of Flamborough Head, which is a bold
promontory bearing a lighthouse and jutting far out into the North
Sea. Vessels from the north bound for Hull or London generally pass
close to the shore at that point, in order to make as little of a
detour as possible. For this reason Jones had selected it as a
particularly good cruising ground. Sheltered from observation from one
side or the other, he waited for opportunities, naturally abundant, to
pounce upon unsuspecting merchant ships. The Baltic fleet had not yet
appeared off the coast, though it was about due. Unless warned of his
presence, it would inevitably pass the bold headland and afford
brilliant opportunity for attack. If his unruly consorts would only
remain with him a little longer something might yet be effected. To go
back now would be to confess to a partial failure, and Jones was
determined to continue the cruise even alone, until he had
demonstrated his fitness for higher things. Fate had his opportunity
ready for him, and he made good use of it.


About noon on the 23d of September, 1779, the lookouts on the Richard
became aware of the sails of a large ship which suddenly shot into
view around the headland. Before any action could be taken the first
vessel was followed by a second, a third, and others to the number of
six, all close hauled on the starboard tack, evidently intent upon
weathering the point. The English flags fluttering from their gaff
ends proclaimed a nationality, of which, indeed, there could be no
doubt. The course of the Richard was instantly changed. Dispatching a
boat under the command of Lieutenant Henry Lunt to capture the
brigantine, Jones, in high anticipation, headed the Richard for the
strangers, at the same time signaling the Alliance, the Pallas, and
the Vengeance to form line ahead on his ship--that is, get into the
wake of the Richard and follow in single file. The Alliance seems to
have been ahead and to windward of the Richard, the Pallas to windward
and abreast, and the Vengeance in the rear of the flagship.

It had not yet been developed whether the six ships, which, even as
they gazed upon them, were followed by others until forty sail were
counted, were vessels of war or a merchant fleet under convoy; but
with characteristic audacity Jones determined to approach them
sufficiently near to settle the question. He had expressed his
intention of going in harm's way, and for that purpose had asked a
swift ship. He could hardly have had a slower, more unwieldy,
unmanageable vessel under him than the Richard, but the fact had not
altered his intention in the slightest degree, so the course of the
Richard was laid for the ships sighted.

Captain Landais, however, was not actuated by the same motives as his
commander. He paid no attention, as usual, to the signal, but instead
ran off to the Pallas, to whose commander he communicated in a measure
some of his own indecision. In the hearing of the crews of both
vessels Landais called out to his fellow captain that if the fleet in
view were convoyed by a vessel of more than fifty guns they would have
nothing to do but run away, well knowing that in such a case the
Pallas, being the slowest sailer of the lot--slower even than the
Richard--would inevitably be taken. Therefore, with his two other
large vessels beating to and fro in a state of frightened uncertainty,
Jones with the Richard bore down alone upon the enemy. The Vengeance
remained far enough in the rear of the Richard to be safe out of
harm's way, and may be dismissed from our further consideration, as
she took no part whatever in the subsequent events.

Closer scrutiny had satisfied the American that the vessels in sight
were the longed-for Baltic merchant fleet which was convoyed by two
vessels of war, one of which appeared to be a small ship of the line
or a heavy frigate. In spite, therefore, of the suspicious maneuvers
of his consorts, Jones flung out a signal for a general chase, crossed
his light yards and swept toward the enemy. Meanwhile all was
consternation in the English fleet off the headland. A shore boat
which had been noticed pulling hard toward the English convoying
frigate now dashed alongside, and a man ascended to her deck.
Immediately thereafter signals were broken out at the masthead of the
frigate, attention being called to them by a gun fired to windward.
All the ships but one responded by tacking or wearing in different
directions in great apparent confusion, but all finally headed for the
harbor of Scarborough, where, under the guns of the castle, they hoped
to find a secure refuge. As they put about they let fly their
topgallant sheets and fired guns to spread the alarm.

Meanwhile the English ship, which proved to be the frigate Serapis,
also tacked and headed westward, taking a position between her convoy
and the approaching ships. Some distance to leeward of the frigate,
and farther out to sea, to the eastward, a smaller war vessel, in
obedience to orders, also assumed a similar position, and both waited
for the advancing foe. Early that morning Richard Pearson, the captain
of the Serapis, had been informed that Paul Jones was off the coast,
and he had been instructed to look out for him. The information had
been at once communicated to the convoy, to which cautionary orders
had been given, which had been in the main disregarded, as was the
invariable custom with convoys. The shore boat which the men on the
Richard had just observed speaking the Serapis contained the bailiff
of Scarborough Castle, who confirmed the previous rumors and
undoubtedly pointed out the approaching ships as Jones' squadron.

Pearson, as we have seen, had signaled his convoy, and the latter, now
apprised of their danger beyond all reasonable doubt by the sight of
the approaching ships, had at last obeyed his orders. Then he had
cleverly placed his two ships between the oncoming American squadron
to cover the retreat of his charges and to prevent the enemy from
swooping down upon them. His position was not only proper and
seamanlike, but it was in effect a bold challenge to his approaching
antagonist--a challenge he had no wish to disregard, which he eagerly
welcomed, in fact. In obedience to Jones' signal for a general chase,
the Richard and the Pallas were headed for their two enemies. As they
drew nearer the Pallas changed her course in accordance with Jones'
directions, and headed for the smaller English ship, the Countess of
Scarborough, a twenty-four gun, 6-pounder sloop of war, by no means an
equal match for the Pallas. The Vengeance followed at a safe distance
in the rear of the commodore, while Landais disregarded all signals
and pursued an erratic course of his own devising. Sometimes it
appeared that he was about to follow the Richard, sometimes the
Pallas, sometimes the flying merchantmen attracted his attention. It
was evident that the one thing he would not do would be to fight.

In utter disgust, Jones withdrew his attention from him and
concentrated his mind upon the task before him. He was about to engage
with his worn-out old hulk, filled with condemned guns, a splendid
English frigate of the first class. A comparison of force is
interesting. Counting the main battery of the Richard as composed of
twelves and the spar-deck guns as nines, and including the six
18-pounders in the gun room as being all fought on one side, we get a
total of forty guns throwing three hundred and three pounds of shot to
the broadside; this is the extreme estimate. Counting one half of the
main battery as 9-pounders, we get two hundred and eighty-two pounds
to the broadside, and, considering the 18-pounders as being fought
only three on a side, we reduce the weight of the broadside to two
hundred and twenty-eight pounds. As it happened, as we shall see, the
18-pounders were abandoned after the first fire, so that the effective
weight of broadside during the action amounted to either one hundred
and ninety-five or one hundred and seventy-four pounds, depending on
the composition of the main battery. Even the maximum amount is small
enough by comparison.

The crew of the Richard had been reduced to about three hundred
officers and men, as near as can be ascertained. The desertion of the
barge, the loss of the boat under Cutting Lunt off the Irish coast,
the various details by which the several prizes had been manned, and
the absence of the boat sent that morning under the charge of Henry
Lunt, which had not, and did not come back until after the action, had
reduced the original number to these figures. A most serious feature
of the situation was the lack of capable sea officers. There were so
few of the latter on board the Richard originally that the absence of
the two mentioned seriously hampered her work. Dale himself was a
host. Those that remained, who, with the exception of the purser,
sailing master, and the officers of the French contingent, were young
and inexperienced, mostly midshipmen--boys, in fact--made up for their
deficiencies by their zeal and courage. The officers of the French
contingent proved themselves to be men of a high class, who could be
depended upon in desperate emergencies.

The Serapis was a brand-new, double-banked frigate, of about eight
hundred tons burden--that is, she carried guns on two covered and one
uncovered decks. This was an unusual arrangement, not subsequently
considered advantageous or desirable, but it certainly enabled her to
present a formidable battery within a rather short length; her
shortness, it was believed, would greatly enhance her handiness and
mobility, qualities highly desirable in a war vessel, especially in
the narrow seas. On the lower or main deck twenty 18-pounders were
mounted; on the gun deck proper, twenty 9-pounders; and on the spar
deck, ten 6-pounders, making a total of fifty guns, twenty-five in
broadside, throwing three hundred pounds' weight of shot at each
discharge as against the Richard's one hundred and seventy-four. She
was manned by about three hundred trained and disciplined English
seamen, forming a homogeneous, efficient crew, and well they proved
their quality. Richard Pearson, her captain, was a brave, competent,
and successful officer, who had enjoyed a distinguished career,
winning his rank by gallant and daring enterprises; no ordinary man,
indeed, but one from whom much was to be expected.

In making this comparison between the two ships it must not be
forgotten that while the difference in the number of guns--ten--was
not great, yet in their caliber and the consequent weight of broadside
the Richard was completely outclassed. Then, too, the penetrative
power of an 18-pound gun is vastly greater than that of a 12-pound
gun, a thing well understood by naval men, though scarcely appearing
of much moment on paper. Indeed, it was a maxim that a 12-pound
frigate could not successfully engage an 18-pounder, or an 18-pound
frigate cope with a 24-pound ship.[12]

In addition to this vast preponderance in actual fighting force, there
was another great advantage to the Serapis in the original composition
of her crew as compared with the heterogeneous crowd which Jones had
been compelled to hammer into shape. Worthily, indeed, did both bodies
of men demonstrate their courage and show the effect of their
training. There was a further superiority in the English ship in that
she was built for warlike purposes, and was not a converted and
hastily adapted merchant vessel. She was of much heavier construction,
with more massive frames, stouter sides, and heavier scantling. The
last advantage Pearson's ship possessed was in her superior mobility
and speed. She should have been able to choose and maintain her
distance, so that with her longer and heavier guns she could batter
the Richard to pieces at pleasure, herself being immune from the
latter's feebler attack.

In but one consideration was the Richard superior to the Serapis, and
that was in the personality of the man behind the men behind the guns!
Pearson was a very gallant officer. There was no blemish upon his
record, no question as to his capacity. In personal bravery he was not
inferior to any one. As a seaman he worthily upheld the high
reputation of the great navy to which he belonged; but as a man, as a
personality, he was not to be mentioned in the same breath with Jones.

This is no discredit to that particular Englishman, for the same
disadvantageous comparison to Jones would have to be made in the case
of almost any other man that sailed the sea. There was about the
little American such Homeric audacity, such cool-headed heroism, such
unbreakable determination, such unshakable resolution, that so long as
he lived it was impossible to conquer him. They might knock mast after
mast out of the Richard; they might silence gun after gun in her
batteries; man after man might be killed upon her decks; they might
smash the ship to pieces and sink her beneath his feet, but there was
no power on earth which could compel him to strike her flag.

Jones was the very incarnation of the indomitable _Ego_: a soul that
laughed at odds, that despised opposition, that knew but one thing
after the battle was joined--to strike and strike hard, until
opposition was battered down or the soul of the striker had fled. In
action he would be master--or dead. But his fighting was no baresark
fury; no blind, wild rage of struggle; no ungovernable lust for
battle; it was the apotheosis of cool-blooded calculation. He fought
with his head as well as with his heart, and he knew perfectly well
what he was about all the time. Pearson was highly trained matter of
first-rate composition; Jones was mind, and his superiority over
matter was inevitable. The hot-tempered spirit of the man which
involved him in so many difficulties, which made him quarrelsome,
contrary, and captious, gave place to a coolness and calmness as great
as his courage in the presence of danger, in the moment of action. By
his skill, his ability, his address, his persistence, his staying
power, his hardihood, Jones deserved that victory which his
determination absolutely wrested from overwhelming odds, disaster, and
defeat. The chief players in the grim game, therefore, were but ill
matched, and not all the superiority in the pawns upon the chessboard
could overcome the fearful odds under which the unconscious Pearson
labored. We pity Pearson; in Jones' hands he was as helpless as
Pontius Pilate.

The crew of the Richard, having had supper and grog, had long since
gone to their stations to the music of the same grim call of the beat
to quarters which had rolled upon the decks of every warship of every
nation which had joined battle for perhaps two hundred years. Jones
was a great believer in drill and gun practice. His experience on his
first cruise in the Alfred, if nothing else, had taught him that, and
upon this ill-found ship with its motley crew probably a more thorough
regimen of control and discipline existed than could be found in any
other ship afloat. Frequent target practice was had, too, and the
result proved the value of the exercise. Had this not been the case
the approaching battle might have had a different termination.

The great guns had been cast loose and provided; having been run in
and loaded, they were run out and a turn taken with the training
tackles to hold them steady. The magazines had been opened, and the
gunner and his mates stationed inside the wetted woolen screen, which
minimized the danger of fire, to hand out charges of powder to the
lads called powder boys, or powder "monkeys," who, with their canvas
carrying boxes, were clustered about the hatches. The gun captains saw
that the guns were properly primed, and they looked carefully after
the slow matches used to discharge the pieces, keeping them lighted
and freely burning. In the iron racks provided were laid rows of round
shot, with here and there a stand of grape. Arm chests were opened and
cutlasses and pistols distributed, and the racks filled with boarding
pikes. Many of the officers discarded their hats and put on round
steel boarding caps with dropped cheek pieces. Swords were buckled on
and the priming of pistols carefully looked to. The men in many cases
stripped off their shirts and jackets, laid aside caps and shoes, and
slipped into their stations half naked, with only a pair of trousers
and their arms upon them. Division tubs filled with water were placed
conveniently at hand, and the decks were well sanded to prevent them
from becoming slippery with blood when the action began. The pumps
were overhauled and put in good condition, and hose led along the
decks in case of fire. The carpenter and his mates, well provided with
shot plugs to stop up possible holes, were stationed in the more
vulnerable parts of the ship. The boats were wrapped with canvas to
prevent splintering under heavy shot, and heavy nettings triced up
fore and aft as a protection against boarders. Preventer braces were
rove from the more important yardarms, the heavier yards were slung
with chains, and the principal rigging, including the backstays,
stoppered to minimize the danger in case they should be carried away
by shot. Grapnels, strong iron hooks securely fastened to the ends of
stout ropes or slender iron chains, were swung from every yardarm, and
laid along the bulwarks in case it became possible or desirable to
lash the ships together. Everything which would impede the working of
the guns or hinder the fighting of the men was either stowed below or
thrown overboard. Around the masts and at the braces the sail trimmers
were clustered, some of them armed with boarding axes or hatchets,
handy for cutting away wreckage. Aft on the quarter-deck and forward
on the forecastle large bodies of French marines were drawn up, musket
in hand.

The broad, old-fashioned tops of the Richard were filled with seamen
and marines, armed with muskets and having buckets full of small
grenades close at hand. Among these seamen were many of the more agile
and daring among the topmen--who from their stations in making and
taking in sail were designated as "light yardmen"--while the marines
stationed in the tops were selected for their skill as marksmen. The
main body of the crew was distributed at the battery of great guns on
the main deck, which were in charge of Richard Dale and a French
lieutenant colonel of infantry, named de Weibert. In the gloomy
recesses of the gun room, close to the water line, a little group of
men was told off to fight the heavy 18-pounders. Around the hatches
leading to the hold was stationed another body of seamen and marines
with the master at arms, all armed to the teeth, to guard the English
prisoners, whose number is variously stated from two to three hundred.
The relieving tackles to use in steering the ship in case the wheel
was carried away occupied the attention of another group.

Far below the water line in the dark depths of the ship--a bloody
place familiarly known as the cockpit--the surgeon and his mates
unconcernedly spread out the foreboding array of ghastly instruments
and appliances of the rude surgery of the rude period, in anticipation
of the demands certain to be made upon them. At the break of the poop
a veteran quartermaster and several assistants stood grasping the
great wheel of the ship with sturdy fingers. Little groups of men were
congregated on the quarter-deck and forecastle and in the gangways to
man the 9-pounders, which were to play so important a part in the
action. Jones himself, a quiet, composed little figure of slender
proportions, paced steadily to and fro athwart the ship, now eagerly
peering ahead as the shades of night descended, now casting a solemn
glance aloft at the swelling canvas softly rounded out into huge
curves in the gentle breeze. Ever and anon he threw a keen glance back
toward the Alliance. When his gaze fell upon her, the compression of
his lips and the fierceness of his look boded ill for Landais when he
had time to deal with him.

What must have been his thoughts in this momentous hour! One likes to
dwell upon him there and then; so alone and so undaunted on that old
deck in that gray twilight, resolutely proceeding to battle with a
ship which, now that it was in plain view, his practised eye easily
determined surpassed his own in every particular. At such a moment,
when every faculty of his mind naturally would be needed to fight his
own vessel, suggestions of treachery and disobedience and an utter
inability to tell what his cowardly and soon-to-be-proved traitorous
subordinate would do, made his situation indeed unbearable. But he
dismissed all these things from his mind. Confident in the justice of
his cause--in the approval of Heaven for that cause--and full of trust
in his own ability and personality, he put these things out of his
head and swept on. He was a figure to inspire confidence on the deck
of any ship. The men, who had perhaps as vivid an appreciation of
their situation and all its dangers as he had himself, looked to their
captain and took confidence in the quiet poise of the lithe figure at
the break of the poop, balancing itself so easily to the lumbering
roll of the great ship. The young midshipmen, his personal aides,
slightly withdrawn from close contact with him, respected his silence
as he paced to and fro.

Presently another graceful active figure, belonging to the first
lieutenant of the ship, came running from below, walked rapidly along
the deck, sprang up the ladder, and stopped before the little captain,
whom he overtowered to a degree. He saluted gravely, and announced
that the Richard was clear, the men at quarters, and the ship was
ready for action. After a few moments of conversation Jones and Dale
descended to the lower deck and walked through the ship. A hearty word
of appreciation and encouragement here and there, as occasion
suggested, heartened and stimulated the reckless crew, until they had
almost risen to the captain's level. Presently he returned to the deck
alone. A few final directions, one last glance of approval at the
Pallas closing in on the Scarborough, one last regret, one last flush
of indignation as he looked toward the Alliance--a moment, and the
battle would be joined.

It was about seven o'clock in the evening. The harvest moon had long
since risen in the eastern sky, and was flooding the pallid sea with
its glorious radiance. On the western horizon the broad, bright beacon
of Flamborough Head was sending out its bright ray of yellow light
over the trembling water. With a night glass, clusters of people could
be seen upon the shore and upon the ships anchored under the guns of
Scarborough Castle, towering grim and black against the horizon. Ahead
was the white Serapis, calmly confident, lying broadside on, port
shutters triced up, lights streaming from every opening. She lay with
her topsails to the mast, gallantly waiting. Upon her, too, like
preparations for combat had been made. Along her decks the same
beating call to battle had rolled. Men who spake the same language,
who read the same Bible, who but a few years since had loved the same
flag, who had vied with each other in loyalty to a common king, now
made ready to hurl death and destruction at each other. Presently
sharp words of command rang out; there was a sudden bustle on the deck
of the English ship. The braces were manned, the yards swung, and the
Serapis slowly gathered way and gently forged ahead. Then all was
still once more on the serene English ship.

As the Richard drew nearer to the Serapis a deep silence settled over
the American ship. Even over the roughest and rudest among her crew
crept a feeling of awe at the terrible possibilities of the next few
moments. The magnitude of their task as they came nearer became more
apparent. Forced laughter died away; coarse words remained unspoken;
lips foreign to prayer formed words of belated and broken petition.
Thoughts went back to home: to sunny fields and vine-clad cottages in
France; to frontier huts in verdant clearings in America; to rude
houses in seaboard towns where the surf of the western ocean broke in
wild thunder upon the rocky shore. Pictures of wives, of children, of
mothers, of sweethearts, rose before the misted vision. Here and there
a younger man choked down a sob. The rude jests with which men
sometimes strive to disguise emotion fell unnoticed, or were sternly
reprehended by the older and more thoughtful. The fitful conversation
died away, and the silence was broken only by the soft sigh of the
wind through the top hamper, the gentle flap of the lighter sails as
the pitch of the ship threw the canvas back and forth, the soft splash
of the bluff bows through the water, the straining of the timbers, the
creak of the cordage through the blocks. Candle-filled battle lanterns
in long rows throughout the ship shed a dim radiance over the bodies
of the stalwart, half-naked, barefooted men. Here and there a brighter
flash told of moonlight reflected from some gleaming sword.

And the ships drew nearer--nearer. In a moment the dogs of war would
be loose. Presently a sound broke the silence, a hail from the English
ship. A man leaped up on her rail and a cry came faintly up through a
hollowed hand against the gentle breeze:

"What ship is that?"

The Richard had been kept skillfully end on to the Serapis, and the
commander of the latter ship had still some lingering doubts as to her
nationality. Measuring the distance between the two ships, Jones
quickly motioned to the watchful quartermaster beneath him. With eager
hands the men began, spoke by spoke, to shift the helm to starboard.
As the American ship began to swing to port it would be but a moment
before her broadside would be revealed and concealment at an end. That
precious moment, however, Jones would have. He sprang on the taffrail
to starboard, and, catching hold of the backstay, leaned far out and
called loudly:

"I do not understand you."

The Richard was swinging still more now. The English caught a glimpse
of a lighted port forward. From it a huge gun thrust its muzzle out
into the night. Quick and sharp came the hail once more:

"What ship is that? Answer at once or I fire!"

With what breathless silence the two ships listened for the reply!

The helm was hard over now, the quartermasters holding it down with
grim determination, sweat pouring from their foreheads, the ship
swinging broadside in to, and a little forward of, the Englishman.
Bending over toward the quarter-deck, in a clear voice heard
throughout his ship, Jones called out a sharp word of command. Even as
he spoke a line of fire lanced out into the night, followed by the
roar of one of the 12-pounders. It was an answer not to be mistaken.
Immediately the whole broadside of the Richard was let go.
Simultaneously the iron throats on the Serapis belched forth their
rain of hell and destruction, and the great battle was on! It was
perhaps a quarter after seven. Side by side the two ships, covered
with blinding smoke, sailed in the still night, broadside answering
broadside, the roar of the great guns sounding in one horrible
continuous note vibrating over the ocean. The thunderous diapason was
punctuated by the sharp staccato rattle of the small arms.

The Richard, having more way on her, forged slightly ahead of the
Serapis, which had so lately filled away that she had scarcely yet
begun to move. Jones, watchful of his opportunity, swung the head of
his ship in toward the English frigate, hoping to cross her bows and
rake her; but the careful Pearson, presently feeling the wind,
gathered way and with his superior speed easily regained his distance.
The game was being played as he would have it, and the bolts from his
long eighteens were making havoc of the Richard. Jones now determined
to back his topsails, check the speed of his own ship, allow the
Serapis to forge ahead, and then fill away again, and rush the Richard
alongside the English frigate so that he could board and make use of
his preponderant force of soldiery. Accordingly, the way of his
frigate was checked and the Serapis drew slightly ahead, receiving the
fire of the Richard's battery as she passed, and maintaining her own
fire in the smoke and darkness for some moments, until Pearson
discovered that he had passed ahead of the Richard. The way of his
ship was immediately checked. The conflict had been maintained with
incredible fierceness for more than three quarters of an hour.

As soon as Jones had gained sufficient distance, he smartly filled
away again and headed the clumsy Richard at the Serapis; but the slow
old vessel was not equal to the demands of her commander. The Richard
only succeeded in striking the Serapis on the port quarter very far
aft. To have attempted boarding from such a position would have been
madness. There are only two positions from which a ship can be boarded
advantageously. In one case, when two ships are laid side by side, by
massing the crew at some point of the long line of defense
necessitated by the relative position of the vessels, it may be
possible to break through and effect a lodgment on the enemy's deck.
The other case is when the ship desirous of boarding succeeds in
crossing the bows of her enemy so that the latter vessel is subjected
to a raking fire from the battery of the attacking ship, which beats
down opposition and sweeps everything before it, thus affording a
chance for favorable attack. Neither of these opportunities was
presented at this time.

Jones, nevertheless, mustered his boarders on the forecastle at this
moment, heading them himself, but the English appeared in such force
at the point of contact that the attempt was of necessity abandoned.
The two ships hung together a moment, then separated, and, the Serapis
going ahead, the Richard backing off, they formed a line ahead, the
bow of the Richard following the stern of the Serapis. There was not a
single great gun which bore on either ship. The roar of the battle
died away, and even the crackle of the small arms ceased for a space.
At this moment Pearson hailed the Richard. Having been subjected to
the battering of his superior force for so long a time, Pearson
concluded that it was time for the Richard to surrender. He was right
in theory--in practice it was different. His own ship had suffered
severely in the yardarm to yardarm fight, and he realized that the
loss upon the Richard must have been proportionately greater. Even the
most unskilled seaman had learned by this time the difference in the
power of the two vessels. Therefore, taking advantage of the momentary
cessation of the battle, he sprang up on the rail of the Serapis in
the moonlight and called out:

"Have you struck?"

And to this interrogation Paul Jones returned that heroic answer,
which since his day has been the watchword of the American sailor:

"_I have not yet begun to fight!_" he cried with gay audacity.

The ringing tones of his voice carried his answer not only to the ears
of the English captain, but threw it far up into the high tops where
the eager seamen had so busily plied their small arms. The men on the
gun deck heard it with joy. It even penetrated to the gloomy recesses
of the gun room, which had been the scene of such misfortune and
disaster as would have determined the career of any other ship. The
wounded caught the splendid inspiration which was back of the glorious
declaration, and under the influence of it stifled their groans,
forgot their wounds, and strove to fight on. It told the dying that
their lives were not to be given in vain. Nay, those mighty words had
a carrying power which lifted them above the noise of the conflict,
which sent them ringing over the narrow seas, until they reverberated
in the Houses of Parliament on the one side and the Court of
Versailles on the other. They had a force which threw them across the
thousand leagues of ocean until they were heard in every patriot camp,
and repeated from the deck of every American ship, until they became a
part of the common heritage of the nation as eternal as are its
Stripes and Stars! The dauntless phrase of that dauntless man:

"_I have not yet begun to fight!_"

It was no new message. The British had heard it as they tramped again
and again up the bullet-swept slopes of Bunker Hill; Washington rang
it in the ears of the Hessians on the snowy Christmas morning at
Trenton; the hoof beats of Arnold's horse kept time to it in the wild
charge at Saratoga; it cracked with the whip of the old wagoner Morgan
at the Cowpens; the Maryland troops drove it home in the hearts of
their enemies with Greene at Guilford Courthouse, and the drums of
France and England beat it into Cornwallis' ears when the end came at
Yorktown. There, that night in that darkness, in that still moment of
battle, Paul Jones declared the determination of a great people. His
was the expression of an inspiration on the part of a new nation. From
this man came a statement of an unshakable determination at whatever
cost to be free! A new Declaration of Independence, this famous word
of warning to the British king. Give up the contest now, O monarch! A
greater majesty than thine is there!

I imagine a roar of wild exultation quivering from truck to keelson,
a gigantic Homeric laugh rising from the dry throats of the rough men
as yet unharmed on the Richard as they caught the significance of
their captain's reply. "It was a joke, the character of which those
blood-stained ruffians could well appreciate; but the captain was in
no mood for joking. He was serious, and in the simplicity of the
answer lay its greatness. Strike! Not now, nor never! Beaten! The
fighting is but just begun! The preposterous possibility of surrender
can not even be considered. What manner of man this, with whom you
battle in the moonlight, brave Pearson! An unfamiliar kind to you and
to most; such as hath not been before, nor shall be again. Yet all the
world shall see and understand at this time.

"'_I have not yet begun to fight!_'

"Surprising answer! On a ship shattered beyond repair, her best guns
exploded and useless, her crew decimated, ringed about with dead and
dying, the captain had not yet begun to fight! But there was no delay
after the answer, no philosophizing, no heroics. The man of action was
there. He meant business. Every moment when the guns were silent
wasted one."[13]

The Richard was in a dreadful condition, especially below. At the
first fire two of the 18-pounders in the gun room had exploded,
killing most of the officers and men of their crews, blowing out the
side of the ship, shattering the stanchions, blowing up the deck above
them, and inflicting injuries of so serious a character that they
virtually settled the fate of the ship. The other guns there were
immediately abandoned, and the men left alive in the division, who
were not required to guard the prisoners, were sent to the gun deck to
report to Dale and de Weibert. The battery which had been the main
dependence of Jones had proved worse than useless. Indeed, it had done
more harm than had the guns of the Serapis. I know of no action
between two ships in which a similar, or even a less frightful,
happening did not cause the ship suffering it to surrender at once.

The two ships hung in line for a moment, then Jones put his helm hard
a-starboard again and swung off to port, perhaps hoping to rake the
Serapis; but the English captain, anticipating his maneuver, backed
his own topsails, and the two ships passed by each other once more,
the batteries reopening their fire at close range. The combat at once
recommenced with the most heroic determination. Fortunately, however,
the captain of the Serapis miscalculated either the speed at which his
own ship backed or the speed with which the Richard drew ahead, for,
before Pearson filled away again, Jones had drawn so far ahead that by
consummate seamanship and quick, desperate work he managed to swing
the Richard across the path of the Serapis, an astonishing feat for
the slower and more unwieldy American frigate. It was his one
opportunity and he embraced it--one was enough for Jones. Pearson had
just succeeded in checking the stern board of his own ship, and was
going ahead slowly, when the bow of his frigate ran aboard the
starboard quarter of the American, thrusting her jib boom through the
mizzen rigging far across the quarter-deck of the Richard. Pouring a
raking fire upon the English frigate from his starboard battery,
Jones, with his own hand, sprang to lash the two ships together. The
sailing master, Mr. Stacy, leaped to assist him. As the officer strove
to overhaul the gear lying in a tangled mass upon the deck, he broke
into the natural oath of a sailor at the delay.

"Don't swear, Mr. Stacy," Jones is reported to have said quietly,
although he was working with feverish energy to the same end--"in
another moment we may all be in the presence of our Maker--but let us
do our duty."

The lashing was soon passed, and passed well. The American boarders
were called away again, but they could do nothing in the face of the
sharp fire of the English repelling force. Meanwhile, the pressure of
the wind upon the after-sails of the Serapis had broken off her
bowsprit and forced her stern around until she lay broadside to the
American ship. A spare anchor on the Serapis caught in the mizzen
chains of the Richard, and with it and the grapnels which were hastily
flung the two ships were firmly bound together, the bow of one ship by
the stern of the other, heading in different ways, their starboard
sides touching. Pearson at once dropped his port anchor, hoping that,
his ship being anchored and the Richard under way, the American would
drag clear, when his superiority in gun power would enable him to
continue the process of knocking her to pieces at long range; but,
fortunately for the Richard, the wind had gradually decreased until it
was now nearly killed, or so light that it did not prevent the ships
from swinging to the Serapis' anchor with the tidal current then
setting strongly to the northward.

[Illustration: Plan: Showing maneuvers of Bon Homme Richard and
Serapis, September 23, 1779; showing also course and conduct of
Alliance. After a drawing by Captain A. T. Mahan, U. S. N., by
permission of Charles Scribner's Sons.]

It was some time after eight o'clock now, and the battle at once
recommenced with the utmost fury. As the Serapis had not hitherto been
engaged on the starboard side,[14] it was necessary for her men to
blow off the port lids of their own ship at the first discharge of her
battery. They were so close together that the conflict resolved itself
into a hand-to-hand encounter with great guns. As Dale said, the
sponges and rammers had to be extended through the ports of the enemy
in order to serve the guns. Though the American batteries were fought
with the utmost resolution, they were, of course, no match whatever
for those of the English ship, which had two tiers of heavier guns to
oppose to one of the American. Below decks, therefore, the Americans
were at a fearful disadvantage. Above, however, the number of soldiers
and marines, constantly re-enforced by a stream of men sent from below
as their guns were put out of action, gave them a compensating factor,
and by degrees the concentrated fire of the Americans cleared the deck
of the Serapis. The two ships lying side by side, slowly grinding
together in the gentle sea, the yardarms were interlaced and the
American topmen, again outnumbering their English antagonists, ran
along the yards, and a dizzy fight in midair ensued, as the result of
which, after suffering severe loss, the Americans gained possession of
the British maintop. Turning their fire forward and aft, aided by
attacking parties from the fore and crossjack yards, they finally
cleared the English entirely out of the upper works of their ship.
From this lofty point of vantage they poured such a rain of fire
upon the Serapis that Pearson was left practically alone on the
quarter-deck. To a chivalrous admiration for his courage he is said to
owe his immunity. He, too, should have his meed of praise for the
undaunted heroism with which he stood alone on the bullet-swept,
blood-stained planks, maintained his position, and fought his ship.

Now, to go back a little. Shortly after the two ships were lashed
together, the Alliance, apparently having recovered from her
hesitation, came sweeping toward the combatants, and deliberately
poured a broadside into the Richard, which did not a little damage and
killed several men. In spite of all signals, Landais repeated his
treacherous performance, but before the Richard's men could fairly
realize the astonishing situation he sailed away from them and ran
over before the wind toward the Pallas, which had been for some time
hotly engaged with the Countess of Scarborough, where he is said to
have done the same thing.[15] This strange action of the Alliance had
but little effect upon the battle at this time, which was continued
with unremitting fury.

One by one the small guns on the main deck of the Richard were
silenced. The crews were swept away, guns were dismounted, carriages
broken and shattered, and finally the whole side of the Richard from
the mainmast aft was beaten in; so much so, that during the latter
part of the action the shot of the Serapis passed completely through
the Richard, and, meeting no opposition, fell harmlessly into the sea
far on the other side. In the excitement the English never thought of
depressing their guns and tearing the bottom out of the Richard. As it
was, transoms were beaten out, stern frames were cut to pieces, and a
few stanchions alone supported the decks above. Why they did not
collapse and fall into the hull beneath it, with the guns and men on
them, is a mystery. In addition to all this, the ship was on fire
repeatedly, and men were continually called away from their stations
to fight the flames.

Dale and de Weibert had just fired their last shots from the remaining
guns of the main battery which were serviceable when a new
complication was added to the scene. The men guarding the prisoners
had been gradually picked off by the shot of the enemy. The Richard
was leaking rapidly, and when the carpenter sounded the well a little
after nine o'clock, late in the action, he discovered several feet of
water in it. In great alarm he shrieked out that they were sinking.
The few remaining men in the gun room ran for the hatchways. The
master at arms, thinking that all was over, unlocked the hatches and
released the prisoners, crying out at the same time, "On deck,
everybody; the ship is sinking!" The Englishmen in panic terror
scrambled up through the narrow hatchways, and fought desperately with
each other in their wild hurry to reach the deck, where the carpenter
had preceded them, still shouting that the ship was sinking, and now
crying loudly, "Quarter! Quarter!"

As the carpenter ran aft, shouting his message of fear and alarm, he
was followed by some of the forward officers, who, catching the
contagion of his terror, repeated his words. Reaching the poop deck,
the carpenter fumbled in the darkness for the halliards to haul down
the flag, calling out to Jones that all was lost, the ship sinking,
and that he must surrender. Other officers and men joined in the cry.
It was another critical moment. Pearson, hearing the commotion, again
hailed, asking if the Richard had struck. Jones, unable to stop the
outcry of the terrified carpenter, smashed his skull with the butt of
his pistol, and answered the second request of Pearson with, as he
says, a most determined negative. We can imagine it. By his presence
of mind in silencing the carpenter, and a supreme exertion of his
indomitable will power, Jones soon succeeded in checking the incipient
panic on the spar deck. At this period of the fight some accounts say
that Pearson called his boarders from below and attempted to board.
The advance was met by Jones at the head of a few men, pike in hand,
with such firmness that it was not pressed home, and the men returned
to their stations at the guns and resumed the fight.

Meanwhile, Richard Dale, seconded by his midshipmen, with rare and
never-to-be-undervalued presence of mind, had stopped the oncoming
rush of frightened English prisoners, who now greatly outnumbered the
broken crew of the Richard. He sprang among them, beating them down,
driving them back, menacing them with the point of the sword, at the
same time telling them that the English ship was sinking, and that
they were in the same condition, and unless they went to the pumps
immediately all hands would be inevitably lost. The audacity of this
statement was worthy of Jones himself. It was a rare action on the
part of a boy of twenty-three years of age. Such a young man under
present conditions in the United States Navy probably would be filling
the responsible station of a naval cadet afloat![16] Instantly
divining this new peril, the commodore himself sprang to the hatchway
and seconded Dale's effort. Incredible as it seems, the two men
actually forced the panic-stricken, bewildered, and terrified English
prisoners to man the pumps, thus relieving a number of the crew of the
Richard; and the singular spectacle was presented of an American ship
kept afloat by the efforts of Englishmen, and thus enabled to continue
an almost hopeless combat. Dale, with imperturbable audacity, remained
below in command of them.

The Richard was a wreck. She had been fought to a standstill. Her
battery was silenced, her decks were filled with released prisoners,
she was making water fast, she was on fire in two or three places;
numbers of her crew had been killed and wounded, the water had
overflowed the cockpit, and the frightened surgeon had been driven to
the deck, where, in conjunction with some of the French officers, he
counseled surrender.

"What!" cried Paul Jones, smiling at the surgeon, "What, doctor! Would
you have me strike to a drop of water? Help me to get this gun over!"

But the doctor, liking the looks of things on deck even less than
below, ran down the hatchway, and, his station untenable, wandered to
and fro and ministered to the wounded on every side as best he could.
Meanwhile Jones had taken the place of the purser, Mr. Mease,
commanding the upper battery, who had been severely wounded and forced
to leave his station. The commodore was personally directing the fire
of the upper deck guns left serviceable on the Richard, the two
9-pounders on the quarter-deck. With great exertion another gun was
dragged over from the port side, Jones lending a hand with the rest,
and the fire of the three was concentrated upon the mainmast of the

About this time, between half after nine and ten o'clock, a huge black
shadow came darting between the moonlight and the two frigates
grinding against each other. It was the Alliance once more entering
the fray. After running away from the Richard toward the Scarborough
and the Pallas, she hovered about until she found that the former had
capitulated after a gallant defense against the overwhelming
superiority of the French ship. Then Landais headed once more for the
Richard and the Serapis. To reach them, he was forced to make two
tacks. As he approached, a burning anxiety filled the minds of Jones
and the officers who were left on deck with him, as to what Landais
would do. They were soon enlightened.

Sailing across the bow of the Serapis, the Alliance drew past the
stern of the Richard, and when she had reached a position slightly on
the quarter of the latter ship, she poured in a broadside. There could
be no misapprehension on the part of Landais as to which ship he was
firing into. The Richard was a black ship with a high poop, and the
Serapis was painted a creamy white with much lower stern. The moon was
filling the sky with brilliant light. Things were as plain as if it
were daytime. In addition to all this, Jones had caused the private
night signals to be hung upon the port side of the Richard. Shouts and
cries warned the Alliance that she was firing upon her own people.
These were disregarded. It was the opinion of the Americans that the
English had taken the ship and were endeavoring to compass the
destruction of the Richard. They could not otherwise explain the
astonishing action. Sailing slowly along the starboard side of the
Richard, the Alliance poured in another broadside. Then she circled
the bows of the American ship, and from some distance away raked her
with a discharge of grape which killed and wounded many, including
Midshipman Caswell, in charge of the forecastle. It was just before
ten o'clock when this happened. Some of the shot from these several
broadsides may have reached the Serapis and possibly have done some
damage, but the brunt of the severe attack fell upon the Richard. Her
men, in the face of this awful stab in the back from a friend,
naturally flinched from their guns and ran from their stations.

All seemed hopeless; but Jones was still left, and while he was alive
he would fight. He and his officers drove the men back to their guns,
and as the Alliance sailed away, for the time being, they forgot her.
The fight went on!

It is greatly to the credit of the men that under such circumstances
they could be induced to continue the contest. But the men had
actually grown reckless of consequences: filled with the lust of
battle, the brute in them was uppermost. They fought where they stood,
with what they had. When the American guns were silenced, the seamen
struck at their British foes over their silent muzzles with ramrods
and sponges. Some endeavored to subdue the flames which broke out on
every side. Others joined the English prisoners at the pumps. Many ran
to the upper deck to replace the decimated crews of the 9-pounders.
Some seized the muskets of the dead French soldiers and poured in a
small-arm fire. They had grown careless of the fire, indifferent to
the progress of the battle, ignorant of the results of the action.
There was but one spirit among them, one idea possessed them--to fight
and to fight on. Both crews had done their best; both had fought as
men rarely had fought before; the battle was still undecided. The
issue lay between Jones and Pearson. What was it to be?

Things on the Richard were hopeless, but things on the Serapis had not
gone much better. She, too, was on fire--in no less than twelve places
at once. The fearful musketry fire from the quarter-deck and
forecastle of the Richard, and from the tops, had practically cleared
her decks of all but Pearson. By Jones' orders the men in the American
tops had made a free use of their hand grenades. A daring sailor, sent
by Midshipman Fanning from the maintop, ran out upon the main yardarm,
which hung over the after hatch of the Serapis, and began to throw
grenades down the hatchway. On the lower deck of that ship a large
pile of powder cartridges had been allowed to accumulate, for which,
on account of the silencing of a large number of guns, there had been
no demand. With reckless improvidence, in their haste, the powder boys
continued to pile up these unused charges on the deck of the ship
between the batteries. Nobody cautioned them, perhaps nobody noticed
them in the heat of the action. At last a hand grenade struck the
hatch combing, bounded aft, and fell into the midst of the pile of
cartridges. There was a detonating crash, a terrific explosion, which
absolutely silenced the roar of the battle for a moment. The two ships
rolled and rocked from the shock of it. When the smoke cleared away,
the decks were filled with dead and dying. Some twenty-eight men were
killed or desperately wounded by the discharge; many others on the
decks were stunned, blinded, and thrown in every direction by the
concussion. Clothes were ripped from them, and many of them were
severely burned. Lieutenant Stanhope, in charge of that gun division,
his clothing on fire, actually leaped into the sea to get relief from
his agony. Afterward, though frightfully burned, he regained his
station and fought on.

It was this last shock that determined Pearson to surrender. He had
beaten his antagonist a half dozen times, but his antagonist did not
seem to realize it. In the face of such implacable determination his
own nerve gave way. He was surrounded by dead and dying, no human soul
apparently fit for duty on his decks but himself, the roar of his own
guns silenced by this terrific explosion. He had fought through many
desperate battles--never one like this. The other American frigate
might come back. His consort had been captured. His nerve was broken.
He turned and walked aft to the flagstaff raking from the taffrail. To
this staff, with his own hand before the action, he had nailed the
English flag.[17] With the same hand he seized the drooping folds of
bunting, and with a breaking heart tore it from the staff.


"They have struck their flag!" cried Jones, who had witnessed the
action. "Cease firing!" His powerful voice rang through the two
ships with such a note of triumph as has rarely been heard in the
fought-over confines of the narrow seas.

As the little scene transpired above, from the decks beneath them came
the roar of the Serapis' guns. She had resumed her fire. Her men, too,
were of heroic breed! A British ship captain among the English
prisoners, recovering from his panic and noting the desperate
condition of the Richard, had slipped away from the pumps, and,
eluding the observation of Dale and his men, had crawled through the
gaping openings in the sides of the Richard and the Serapis at the
risk of his life--for the first Englishman who saw him moved to cut
him down--and had announced the dreadful plight of the Richard to the
first lieutenant of the Serapis, who had succeeded in rallying his men
and forcing them once more back to the guns.

But the cry of the American was taken up by the men on the different
ships until Dale came bounding up the hatchway, when Jones ordered him
to board the English frigate and take possession. Followed by
Midshipman Mayrant and a party of boarders with drawn swords, Dale
leaped up on the rail of the Richard, seized the end of the main brace
pennant, swung himself to the lower Serapis, and jumped down upon her
quarter-deck. As Mayrant followed he was met by an English seaman
coming from the waist, pike in hand. The sailor, ignorant of or
disbelieving the surrender, thrust violently at Mayrant, inflicting a
serious wound in the thigh before he could be stopped.

Aft upon the lee side of the deck, Pearson was standing alone with
bowed head, leaning against the rail, the flag in one hand, his face
being covered by the other. As the Americans clambered over the rail
he raised his head--his hand fell to the breast of his coat. There was
the look of defeat, the saddest aspect humanity can bear, upon his
face. As Dale approached him, the English first lieutenant, not
believing that the ship had struck, also came bounding from below.

"Have you struck?" cried Dale, stepping before the English captain.

"Yes, sir," was the reply. The anguish of the broken-hearted sailor
was apparent in his face and in his voice.

"Sir, I have orders to send you on board the ship alongside," replied
the American.

"Very good, sir," answered Pearson, reaching for his sword and
dropping the flag. Just at this moment his subordinate interrupted

"Has the enemy struck to you, sir?" he asked.

"No, sir; on the contrary, he has struck to us," interposed Dale. But
the English lieutenant refused to believe him.

"A few more broadsides, sir, and they are ours," he persisted. "Their
prisoners have escaped. They are sinking!"

"The ship has struck, sir," Dale burst out hurriedly, scarcely giving
the miserable Pearson an opportunity of replying, "and you are my
prisoner!" Very properly, however, the English officer would take such
news from no one but his own captain.

"Sir!" he cried in astonishment to Pearson, "have you struck?"

"Yes, sir," at last answered Pearson reluctantly.

There was a deadly little pause.

"I have nothing more to say, sir," replied the officer at last,
turning to go below. As Dale interposed, he added, "If you will permit
me to go below I will silence the firing of the lower deck guns."

"No, sir," answered Dale, "you will accompany your captain on board
our ship at once, by the orders of Commodore Jones. Pass the word to
cease firing. Your ship has surrendered!"

Dale was fearful lest the lieutenant should go below and, refusing to
accept the captain's decision, attempt to resume the conflict. So,
with his usual presence of mind, he sternly insisted upon both
officers proceeding on board the Richard at once. In the face of the
swarming crowd of the Richard's men on the Serapis' quarter-deck they
had, of course, no option but to obey. By the aid of the dangling
ropes they climbed up to the rail of the Indiaman and thence dropped
to the quarter-deck of the American ship. They found themselves in the
presence of a little man in a blue uniform which was rent and torn
from the labors he had undergone during the action. He was hatless,
and his dark face was grimed with the smoke and soil of battle. Blood
spattering from a slight wound upon his forehead was coagulated upon
his cheek. In the lurid illumination of the fire roaring fiercely
forward, which, with the moon's pallid irradiation, threw a ghastly
light over the scene of horror, he looked a hideous spectacle--a
picture of demoniac war. Nothing but the fierce black eyes still
burning with the awful passions of the past few hours and gleaming out
of the darkness, with the exultant light of the present conquest
proclaimed the high humanity of the man. In his hand he held a drawn
sword. As the English officers stepped upon the deck he advanced
toward them and bowed gracefully.

"You are----" began Pearson interrogatively.

"Commodore John Paul Jones, of the American Continental squadron, and
the ship Bon Homme Richard, at your service, gentlemen; and you

"Captain Richard Pearson, of His Britannic Majesty's ship Serapis,"
responded the other, bowing haughtily, as he tendered his sword.

Pearson is reputed to have said on this occasion, "I regret at being
compelled to strike to a man who has fought with a halter around his
neck," or words to that effect. He did not utter the remark at that
time, according to Jones' specific statement made long afterward. The
substance of the statement was used, however, in Pearson's testimony
before a court martial subsequently for the loss of his ship. And the
story probably arose from that circumstance. Jones retained the sword,
which was customary at that period, though different customs obtained

As he received the proffered sword the American replied, with a
magnanimity as great as his valor:

"Sir, you have fought like a hero, and I make no doubt that your
sovereign will reward you in the most ample manner."

His countrymen have ever loved Paul Jones for the chivalrous nobility
of this gracious answer. But he wasted no further time in discussion.
There was too much to be done; not a moment could be lost. It was half
after ten o'clock at night; the battle was over, but their tasks were
not yet completed. Both ships were burning furiously. Their decks were
filled with desperately wounded men, whose agonies demanded immediate
attention. Their screams and groans rose above the sound of the
crackling, roaring flames. With but half a single crew Jones had to
man both ships, put out the fires, force the escaped English prisoners
back into the hold, secure the additional prisoners, and care for the
wounded on the Serapis. From the actions of the Alliance, too, there
was no telling what Landais might take it into his head to do. He had
fired twice upon them; he might do it again, and possibly it might be
necessary for Jones to defend the flagship and her prize from a more
determined attack by Landais than any to which they had yet been

He turned over the command of the Serapis to Dale, sending him, as
usual, a generous contingent for a prize crew, and then, as a
preliminary to further work, the lashings which had held the two
vessels in their death grapple were cut asunder. The Richard slowly
began to draw past her beaten antagonist. Dale immediately filled his
head sail and shifted his helm to wear ship and carry out his orders.
He was much surprised to find that the Serapis lay still and did not
obey the helm. Fearing that the wheel ropes had been shot away, he
sent a quartermaster to examine them, who reported that they were
intact. At this moment the master of the Serapis, coming aft and
observing Dale's surprise, informed him that the English ship was
anchored, which was the first intimation of that fact the Americans
had received. Dale ordered the cable cut, whereupon the ship paid off
and began to shove through the water, which fortunately still
continued calm. As he spoke, he rose from the binnacle upon which he
had been seated, and immediately fell prone to the deck. He discovered
at that moment, by his inability to stand, that he had been severely
wounded in the leg by a splinter, a thing which he had not noticed in
the heat of the action. As he lay upon the deck, Mr. Henry Lunt, the
second lieutenant of the Richard, came on board the Serapis at this
juncture. This officer had been dispatched in the afternoon to pursue
the brigantine, and had caused his boat's crew to lay on their oars at
a safe distance from the two ships during the whole of the desperate
battle, because, as he states, he "thought it not prudent to go
alongside in time of action." Mr. Lunt no doubt lived to regret the
pusillanimous "prudence" of his conduct on this occasion, although, if
that conduct be an index to his character, his services would not be
of great value in the battle. Dale turned over the command of the
Serapis to Lunt, and was assisted on board the Richard.

As the Richard cleared the Serapis, the tottering mainmast of that
ship, which had been subjected to a continual battering from the
9-pounders and which had only been sustained by the interlocking
yards, came crashing down, just above the deck, carrying with it the
mizzen topmast, doing much damage as it fell, and adding an element of
shipwreck to the other evidence of disaster. The frigate was also on
fire, and the flames, unchecked in the confusion of the surrender,
were gaining great headway. Moved by a sense of their common peril and
necessity, the English crew joined with the Americans in clearing away
the wreck and subduing the fire. They did not effect this without a
hard struggle, but they finally succeeded in saving the ship and
following the Richard.

The situation on that ship was precarious in the extreme. She was very
low in the water and leaking like a sieve. She was still on fire in
several places, and the flames were blazing more furiously than ever.
There was not a minute's respite allowed her crew. Having conquered
the English, they turned to fight the fire and water. The prisoners
were forced to continue their exhausting toil at the pumps. Pressing
every man of the crew into service, including the English officers,
except those so badly wounded as to be incapable of anything, Jones
and his men turned their attention to the fire. They had a hard
struggle to get it under control. At one time the flames approached so
near to the magazine that, fearful lest they should be blown up, Jones
caused the powder to be removed and stowed upon the deck preparatory
to throwing it overboard. For some time they despaired of saving the
ship. Toward daybreak, however, they managed to extinguish the flames
and were saved that danger. In the morning a careful inspection of the
ship was made. A fearful situation was revealed. She had been torn to
pieces. It was hardly safe for the officers and men to remain on the
after part of the ship. Everything that supported the upper deck
except a few stanchions had been torn away. Her rotten timbers had
offered no resistance to the Serapis' searching shot. Jones writes:

"With respect to the situation of the Bon Homme Richard, the rudder
was cut entirely off, the stern frame and the transoms were almost
entirely cut away; the timbers, by the lower deck especially, from the
mainmast to the stern, being greatly decayed with age, were mangled
beyond my power of description, and a person must have been an
eyewitness to form a just idea of the tremendous scene of carnage,
wreck, and ruin that everywhere appeared. Humanity can not but recoil
from the prospect of such finished horror, and lament that war should
produce such fatal consequences."

It was evident that nothing less than a miracle could keep her afloat
even in the calmest weather. With a perfectly natural feeling Jones
determined to try it.

A large detail from the Pallas was set to work pumping her out. Every
effort, meanwhile, was made to patch her up so that she could be
brought into the harbor. The efforts were in vain. Owing to the
decayed condition of her timbers, even the poor remnants of her frames
that were left standing aft could not bear the slightest repairing.
She settled lower and lower in the water, until, having been surveyed
by the carpenters and various men of experience, including Captain de
Cottineau, about five o'clock in the evening it was determined to
abandon her. It was time. She threatened to sink at any moment--would
surely have sunk, indeed, if the pumps had stopped. She was filled
with helpless wounded and prisoners. They had to be taken off before
she went down.

During the night everybody worked desperately transferring the wounded
to the other ships, further details of men from the Pallas being told
off to man the frigate and keep her afloat. Such was the haste with
which they worked that they barely succeeded in trans-shipping the
last of the wounded just before daybreak on the 25th. Although the sea
fortunately continued smooth, the poor wounded suffered frightfully
from the rough handling necessitated by the rapid transfer.

The removal of the prisoners from the Richard was now begun;
naturally, these men, expecting the ship to sink at any moment, were
frantic with terror. They had only been kept down by the most rigorous
measures. As day broke, the light revealed to them the nearness of the
approaching end of the ship. They also realized that they greatly
outnumbered the Americans remaining on the Richard. There was a
hurried consultation among them: a quick rush, and they made a
desperate attempt to take the ship. Some endeavored to overpower the
Americans, others ran to the braces and wheel and got the head of the
ship toward the land. A brief struggle ensued. The Americans were all
heavily armed, the English had few weapons, and after two of them had
been shot dead, many wounded, and others thrown overboard, they were
subdued once more and the ship regained. In the confusion some
thirteen of them got possession of a boat and escaped in the gray of
the morning to the shore. By close, quick work during the early
morning all the men alive, prisoners and crew, were embarked in the
boats of the squadron before the Richard finally disappeared.[18] At
ten o'clock in the morning of the 25th she plunged forward and went
down bow foremost. The great battle flag under which she had been
fought, which had been shot away during the action, had been picked up
and reset. It fluttered above her as she slowly sank beneath the

So filled had been the busy hours, and so many had been the demands
made upon him in every direction, that Jones, ever careless of himself
in others' needs, lost all of his personal wardrobe, papers, and other
property. They went down with the ship. From the deck of the Serapis,
Jones, with longing eyes and mingled feelings, watched the great old
Indiaman, which had earned everlasting immortality because for three
brief hours he and his men had battled upon her worn-out decks, sink
beneath the sea. Most of those who had given their lives in defense of
her in the battle lay still and silent upon her decks. There had been
no time to spare to the dead. Like the Vikings of old, they found
their coffin in her riven sides, and sleep to-day in the quiet of the
great deep on the scene of their glory. During the interval after the
action, a jury rig had been improvised on the Serapis, which had not
been severely cut up below by the light guns of the Richard, and was
therefore entirely seaworthy, and the squadron bore away by Jones'
orders for Dunkirk, France.

Before we pass to a consideration of the subsequent movements of the
squadron, a further comparison between the Richard and the Serapis,
with some statement of the losses sustained and the various factors
which were calculated to bring about the end, will be in order, and
will reveal much that is interesting. The accounts of the losses upon
the two ships widely differ. Jones reported for the Richard forty-nine
killed and sixty-seven wounded; total, one hundred and sixteen out of
three hundred; but the number is confessedly incomplete. Pearson, for
the Serapis, reported the same number of killed and sixty-eight
wounded, out of a crew of three hundred and twenty; but it is highly
probable that the loss in both cases was much greater. The records, as
we have seen, were badly kept on the Richard, and most of them were
lost when the ship went down. The books of the Serapis seemed to have
fared equally ill in the confusion. The crews of both ships were
scattered throughout the several ships of the American squadron, and
accurate information was practically unobtainable. Jones, who was in a
better position than Pearson for ascertaining the facts, reports the
loss of the Serapis as over two hundred men, which is probably nearly
correct, and the loss of the Richard was probably not far from one
hundred and fifty men. The Countess of Scarborough lost four killed
and twenty wounded. The loss of the Pallas was slight, and that of the
Alliance and Vengeance nothing.

However this may be, the battle was one of the most sanguinary and
desperate ever fought upon the sea. It was unique in that the beaten
ship, which was finally sunk by the guns of her antagonist, actually
compelled that antagonist to surrender. It was remarkable for the
heroism manifested by both crews. It is invidious, perhaps, to make a
comparison on that score, yet, if the contrast can be legitimately
drawn, the result is decidedly in favor of the Richard's men, for they
had not only the enemy to occupy their attention, but they sustained
and did not succumb to the treacherous attack of the Alliance in the
rear. The men of the Serapis were, of course, disheartened and their
nerves shattered by the explosion which occurred at the close of the
action, but a similar and equally dreadful misfortune had occurred at
the commencement of the engagement on the Richard, in the blowing up
of the two 18-pounders. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred either
of these two terrible incidents would have caused a prompt surrender
of the ship on which they occurred; but the Richard's men rallied from
the former, and it must not be forgotten that the Serapis' men did the
like from the latter, for they had recommenced the fire of their guns
just as Pearson hauled down his flag.

The officers on the two ships appear to have done their whole duty,
and the difference, as I have said, lay in the relative qualities of
the two captains. Jones could not be beaten, Pearson could. When
humanity enters into a conflict with a man like Jones, it must make up
its mind to eventually discontinue the fight or else remove the man.
Fortunately, Jones, though slightly wounded, was not removed;
therefore Pearson had to surrender. Next to Jones, the most unique
personality which was produced by the action was Richard Dale. I do
not refer to his personal courage--he was no braver than Pearson;
neither was Jones, for that matter; in fact, the bravery of all three
was of the highest order--but to his astonishing presence of mind and
resource at that crucial moment which was the third principal incident
of the battle, when the English prisoners were released. The more one
thinks of the prompt, ready way in which he cajoled, commanded, and
coerced these prisoners into manning the pumps so that his own men
could continue the battle, the result of which, if they succeeded
would be to retain the English still as prisoners, the more one
marvels at it. The fame of Dale has been somewhat obscured in the
greater fame of Jones, but he deserves the very highest praise for his
astonishing action. And in every possible public way Jones freely
accorded the greatest credit to him.

There is one other fact in connection with the battle which must be
mentioned. The English have always claimed that the presence of the
Alliance decided Pearson to surrender. In justice, I have no doubt
that it did exercise a moral influence upon the English captain. In
the confusion of the fight, what damage, whether little or great, had
been done to the Serapis by the fire of the Alliance could not be
definitely ascertained. Again, it would never enter the head of an
ordinary commander that the Alliance was deliberately firing into her
consort. So far as can be determined now, no damage worthy of account
had been done to the English ship by the Alliance; but Pearson knew
she was there, and he had a right to believe that she would return at
any time. When she returned, if she should take position on the
starboard side of the Serapis, the unengaged side, he would have to
strike at once.

Something of this sort may have been in his mind, and it would
undoubtedly contribute to decide him to surrender; but, admitting all
this, he should have delayed the formal surrender until the possible
contingency had developed into a reality, until he actually saw the
Alliance alongside of him again. As a matter of fact, he did not
strike until about thirty minutes after the Alliance had fired the
last broadside and sailed away. The American frigate was out of
gunshot when he surrendered, and going farther from him with every

Imagine what Jones would have done under similar circumstances!
Indeed, we do not have to imagine what he would have done, for as it
happened the Alliance had on two occasions fired full upon him, and he
was actually in the dilemma which Pearson imagined he might fall into,
and yet it only re-enforced his already resolute determination to
continue the fight more fiercely than ever. A nice point this: with
Pearson the Alliance was an imaginary danger, with Jones a real one!
While the presence of the Alliance, therefore, explains in a measure
Pearson's surrender, it does not enhance his reputation for dogged
determination. The unheard-of resistance which he had met from the
Richard, the persistence with which the attack was carried on, the
apparently utterly unconquerable nature of his antagonist--of whose
difficulties on the Richard he was not aware, for there was no
evidence of faltering in the battle--the frightful attack he had
received, and his isolation upon the deck filled with dead and dying
men, broke his own power of resistance. There were two things beaten
on that day--the Richard and Pearson; one might almost say three
things: both ships and the captain of one. It is generally admitted,
even by the English, that the result would have been the same if the
Alliance had never appeared on the scene. No, it was a fair and square
stand-up fight, and a fair and square defeat.[20]

The conduct of Landais has presented a problem difficult of solution.
It has been surmised, and upon the warrant of his own statement, that
he would have thought it no harm if the Richard had struck to the
Serapis, and he could have had the glory of recapturing her and then
forcing the surrender of the English frigate; but whether he really
meant by his dastardly conduct to compel this situation from which he
trusted he could reap so much honor, is another story. Most of the
historians have been unable to see anything in his actions but
jealousy and treachery. The most eminent critic, however, who has
treated of the battle[21] has thought his actions arose from an
incapacity, coupled with a timidity amounting to cowardice, which
utterly blinded his judgment; that he was desirous of doing something,
and felt it incumbent upon him to take some part in the action and
that his firing into the Richard was due to incompetency rather than
to anything else. With all deference, it is difficult to agree with
this proposition. The officers of the squadron, in a paper which was
prepared less than a month after the action, bore conclusive testimony
that while it is true that he was an incapable coward, he was, in
addition, either a jealous traitor, or--and this is the only other
supposition which will account for his action--that he was
irresponsible, in short, insane. This is a conclusion to which his own
officers afterward arrived, and which his subsequent career seems to
bear out. At any rate, this is the most charitable explanation of his
conduct which can be adopted. If he had been simply cowardly, he could
have done some service by attacking the unprotected convoy, which was
entirely at his mercy, and among which he could have easily taken some
valuable prizes. It is stated to their credit that some of the
officers of the Alliance remonstrated with Landais, and pointed out to
him that he was attacking the wrong ship, and that some of his men
refused to obey his orders to fire.

There is but one other circumstance to which it is necessary to refer.
All the plans of the battle which are extant, and all the descriptions
which have been made, from Cooper to Maclay and Spears, show that the
Richard passed ahead of the Serapis and was raked; and that the
Serapis then ranged alongside to windward of the American and
presently succeeded in crossing the Richard's bow and raking her a
second time. Richard Dale's account, in Sherburne's Life of Paul
Jones, written some forty-six years after the action, seems to bear
out this idea. Jones himself, whose report is condensed and
unfortunately wanting in detail, says: "Every method was practiced on
both sides to gain an advantage and rake each other, and I must
confess that the enemy's ship, being much more manageable than the Bon
Homme Richard, gained thereby several times an advantageous situation,
in spite of my best endeavors to prevent it." Nathaniel Fanning,
midshipman of the maintop in the action, stated in his narrative,
published in 1806, twenty-seven years later, that the Serapis raked
the Richard several times.

Notwithstanding this weight of apparent testimony, I must agree with
Captain Mahan in his conclusion that the Serapis, until the ships were
lashed together, engaged the Richard with her port battery only, and
that the plan as given above is correct. In the first place, Jones'
statement is too indefinite to base a conclusion upon unless clearly
corroborated by other evidence. Dale, being in the batteries, where he
could hardly see the maneuvers, and writing from memory after a lapse
of many years, may well have been mistaken. Fanning's narrative is
contradicted by the articles which he signed concerning the conduct of
Landais, in October, 1779, in the Texel, so that his earliest
statement is at variance with his final recollection, and Fanning is
not very reliable at best.

However, we might accept the statements of these men as decisive were
it not for the fact that Pearson, whose report is very explicit
indeed, makes no claim whatever to having succeeded in raking the
Richard, though it would be so greatly to his credit if he had done so
that it is hardly probable he would fail to state it. His account of
the battle accords with the plan of the present work. Again, when the
Serapis engaged the Richard in the final grapple, she had to blow off
her starboard port shutters, which were therefore tightly closed. If
she had been engaged to starboard (which would necessarily follow if
she had been on the port side of the Richard at any time), the ports
would have been opened.[22] This is not absolutely conclusive,
because, of course, it would be possible that the ports might have
been closed when the men were shifted to the other battery, but in the
heat of the action such a measure would be so improbable as to be
worthy of little consideration. But the most conclusive testimony to
the fact that the Serapis was not on the port side of the Richard at
any time is found in the charges which were signed by the officers
concerning the conduct of Landais. Article 19 reads: "As the most
dangerous shot which the Bon Homme Richard received under the water
were under the larboard bow and quarter, they must have come from the
Alliance, _for the Serapis was on the other side_."[23]

Captain Mahan well sums it up: "As Landais' honor, if not his life,
was at stake in these charges, it is not to be supposed that six
officers (besides two French marine officers), four of whom were
specially well situated for seeing, would have made this statement if
the Serapis had at any time been in position to fire those shots."

This consideration, therefore, seems to settle the question. Again,
the maneuvers as they have been described in this volume are the
simple and natural evolutions which, under the existing conditions of
wind and weather and the relative positions of the two ships, would
have been in all human probability carried out. The attempt to put the
ships in the different positions of the commonly accepted plans
involves a series of highly complicated and unnecessary evolutions
(scarcely possible, in fact, in the very light breeze), which no
commander would be apt to attempt in the heat of action unless most
serious contingencies rendered them inevitable.


After the sinking of the Richard, Jones turned his attention to the
squadron. Those ships which had been in action were now ready for sea,
so far, at least, as it was possible to make them, and it was
necessary to make a safe port as soon as possible. He had now some
five hundred English prisoners, including Captains Pearson and Piercy
and their officers, in his possession. These equaled all the American
seamen held captive by the English, and, with one of the main objects
of his expedition in view, Jones earnestly desired to make a French
port, in which case his prizes would be secure and he would be able to
effect a proper exchange of prisoners. But the original destination of
the squadron had been the Texel. It is evident that in sending the
squadron into the Zuyder Zee Franklin shrewdly contemplated the
possibility of so compromising Holland by the presence of the ships as
to force a recognition from that important maritime and commercial
power of the belligerency of the United States. This was the real
purport of the orders. There was an ostensible reason, however, in the
presence of a large fleet of merchant vessels in the Texel, which
would be ready for sailing for France in October, and Jones' squadron
could give them a safe convoy.

The events of the cruise had brought about a somewhat different
situation from that contemplated in the original orders, and Jones was
undoubtedly within his rights in determining to enter Dunkirk, the
most available French port; in which event the difficulties which
afterward arose concerning the exchange of prisoners and the
disposition of the prizes would never have presented themselves. In
the latter case, however, the hand of Holland might not have been so
promptly forced, and the recognition accorded this country would
probably have been much longer delayed, although in the end it would
have come. But the balance of advantage lay with Jones' choice of

For a week the ships beat up against contrary winds, endeavoring to
make that port. Their position was most precarious. Sixteen sail,
including several ships of the line, were seeking the audacious
invaders, and they were likely to overhaul them at any time. The
Frenchmen naturally grew nervous over the prospect. Finally, the
captains, who had been remonstrating daily with Jones, refused to obey
his orders any longer; and, the wind continuing unfavorable for
France, they actually deserted the Serapis, running off to leeward in
a mass and heading for the Texel.

The officers of the American squadron were fully aware of the assigned
destination, although the deep reasons for Franklin's subtle policy
had probably not been communicated to them. In view of this
unprecedented situation, which may be traced distinctly to the
concordat, there was nothing left to Jones but to swallow the affront
as best he might, and follow his unruly squadron.

Landais had not yet been deposed from the command of the Alliance,
because it would have probably required force to arrest him on the
deck of his own ship, and an internecine conflict might have been
precipitated in his command. On the 3d of October, having made a quick
run of it, the squadron entered the Texel.

From the mainland of the Dutch Republic, now the Kingdom of the
Netherlands, the state of North Holland thrusts a bold wedge of land
far to the northward, between the foaming surges of the German Ocean
on the one hand, and the tempest-tossed waters of the Zuyder Zee on
the other. Opposite the present mighty fortifications of Helder,
justly considered the Gibraltar of the North, which terminate the
peninsula, lies a deep and splendid channel, bounded on the north side
by the island of Texel, from which the famous passage gets its name.
Through this ocean gateway, from time immemorial, a splendid
procession of gallant ships and hardy men have gone forth to discover
new worlds, to found new countries, to open up new avenues of trade
with distant empires, and to uphold the honor of the Orange flag in
desperate battles on the sea. Through the pass sailed the first great
Christian foreign missionary expedition of modern times, when in 1624
the Dutchmen carried the Gospel to the distant island of Formosa, the

Brederode and the wild beggars of the sea; Tromp, De Ruyter, van
Heemskerk, De Winter, leading their fleets to battles which made their
names famous, had plowed through the deep channel with their lumbering
keels. Of smaller ships from these familiar shores, the little Half
Moon, of Henry Hudson, and the pilgrim-laden Mayflower had taken their
departure. But no bolder officer nor better seaman had ever made the
passage than the little man on the deck of the battered Serapis on
that raw October morning. It is a rather interesting coincidence that
among the prizes of this cruise was one which bore the name of the

As the cables of the ships tore through the hawse pipes when they
dropped anchor, Jones may have imagined that his troubles were over.
As a matter of fact, they had just begun, and his stay in the Texel
was not the least arduous nor the least brilliant period in his life.
His conduct in the trying circumstances in which he found himself was
beyond reproach. The instant that he appeared, Sir Joseph Yorke, the
able and influential Minister of England at The Hague, demanded that
the States-General deliver the Serapis and the Scarborough to him and
compel the return of the English prisoners held by Jones, and that the
American "Pirate" should be ordered to leave the Texel immediately,
which would, of course, result in the certain capture of his ships,
for the English pursuing squadron appeared off the mouth of the
channel almost immediately after Jones' entrance.

Sir Joseph made the point--and it was a pretty one--that by the terms
of past treaties prizes taken by ships whose commanders bore the
commission of no recognized power or sovereign were to be returned to
the English whenever they fell into the hands of Holland. This placed
the States-General in a dilemma. Paul Jones would show no commission
except that of America; indeed, he had no other. In Sir Joseph's mind
the situation was this: The States-General would comply with the terms
of the treaty or it would not. If it did, he would get possession of
the ships and of Jones as well. If it did not, the logic of events
would indicate that the States-General considered the commission which
Paul Jones bore as being valid, in that it was issued by a sovereign
power. This would be in effect a recognition of belligerency. In other
words, the shrewd British diplomatist was endeavoring to force the
hand of the States-General. To determine the position of Holland with
regard to the revolted colonies of Great Britain was a matter of
greater moment than to secure Paul Jones or to receive the two ships,
the loss of which, except so far as it affronted the pride of England,
was of no consequence whatever. The States-General, however,
endeavored to evade the issue and postpone the decision, for, while
their "High Mightinesses" refused to cause the ships to be given up,
they ordered Jones to leave the harbor at once, and they earnestly
disclaimed any intention of recognizing the revolted colonies.

As a matter of fact, since there were two parties in the government of
Holland, and two opinions on the subject, they could come to no more
definite conclusion. Jones was intensely popular with the people, and
the democratic opinion favored the immediate recognition of American
independence, and protested against any arbitrary action toward him
and his ships. The Prince of Orange and the aristocratic party took
the contrary view, and they pressed it upon him as far as they dared.
Realizing the precarious nature of his stay in Holland, Jones
immediately set to work with his usual energy to refit the ships,
especially the Serapis. Dispatching a full account of his cruise and
his expedition to Franklin, he went in person to Amsterdam to
facilitate his desire. A contemporary account states that he was
dressed in an American naval uniform,[24] wearing on his head, instead
of the usual cocked hat, a Scotch bonnet edged with gold lace.

When he appeared in the exchange he received a popular ovation, which
naturally greatly pleased him. However, he modestly strove to escape
the overwhelming demonstrations of admiration and approval with which
he was greeted, by retiring to a coffee room, but he was compelled to
show himself again and again at the window in response to repeated
demands from crowds of people assembled in the street who desired a
sight of him. He was made the hero of song and story, and one of the
ballads of the time, a rude, rollicking, drinking song, very popular
among sailors, which celebrates his exploits, is sung to this day in
the streets of Amsterdam.[25] So delighted were the Dutch with the
humiliation he had inflicted upon their ancient enemy that some of the
principal men of the nation, including the celebrated Baron van der
Capellen, subsequently noted for his friendship for America (evidently
not in harmony with the aristocratic party), entered into a
correspondence with him, which must have been highly flattering to
him, from the expressions of admiration and approval with which every
letter of the baron's abounds. They desired to receive at first hand
an account of his exploits. In response to this request Jones had his
report to Dr. Franklin copied and sent to van der Capellen, together
with other documents illustrative of his career, accompanied by the
following letter:

"On Board the Serapis at the Texel,
               "_October 19, 1779_.

"My Lord: Human nature and America are under a very singular
obligation to you for your patriotism and friendship, and I feel every
grateful sentiment for your generous and polite letter.

"Agreeable to your request I have the honour to inclose a copy of my
letter to his Excellency Doctor Franklin, containing a particular
account of my late expedition on the coasts of Britain and Ireland, by
which you will see that I have already been praised far more than I
have deserved; but I must at the same time beg leave to observe that
by the other papers which I take the liberty to inclose (particularly
the copy of my letter to the Countess of Selkirk, dated the day of my
arrival at Brest from the Irish Sea), I hope you will be convinced
that in the British prints I have been censured unjustly. I was,
indeed, born in Britain, but I do not inherit the degenerate spirit of
that fallen nation, which I at once lament and despise. It is far
beneath me to reply to their hireling invectives. They are strangers
to the inward approbation that greatly animates and rewards the man
who draws his sword only in support of the dignity of freedom.

"_America has been the country of my fond election from the age of
thirteen, when I first saw it_.[26] I had the honour to hoist, with my
own hands, the flag of freedom, the first time that it was displayed
on the Delaware, and I have attended it with veneration ever since on
the Ocean; I see it respected even here, in spite of the pitiful Sir
Joseph, and I ardently wish and hope very soon to exchange a salute
with the flag of this Republick. Let but the two Republicks join
hands, and they will give Peace to the World."

Among the documents transmitted was the famous letter to Lady Selkirk,
of which sententious epistle he evidently remained inordinately proud.
In acknowledging this courtesy van der Capellen wrote as follows:

"The perusal of the letters with which you have favoured me has done
the very same effect upon me that his Excell. Dr. Franklin expected
they would do on the Countess of Selkirk, as you are represented in
some of our Newspapers as a rough, unpolished sailor, not only, but
even as a man of little understanding and no morals and sensibility,
and as I think the 4 papers extremely fit to destroy these malicious
aspersions, I must take the liberty of asking your permission to
publish them in our gazettes. The public will soon make this very just
conclusion that the man honoured by the friendship and intimacy of a
Franklin can not be such as you have been represented.[27] There are
three points on which you will oblige me by giving some elucidation,
1st. whether you have any obligations to Lord Selkirk? 2d. whether
Lady Selkirk has accepted your generous offer? 3d. whether you have a
commission of France besides that of the Congress? 'Tis not a vain
curiosity that incites me to be so importunate; no, sir, the two first
questions are often repeated to me by your enemies, or, at least, by
prejudiced people; and as to the last, a relative of mine, a known
friend of America, has addressed himself to me for information on that
subject, which he will be glad to have before the States of his
province, of which he is a member (but not yet, as I am, expelled the
house), be assembled.

"You will greatly oblige me by sending me as soon as possible such
information as you will think proper to grant.

"You may rely on our discretion; we can keep a secret, too. I am in a
great hurry, with the most perfect esteem ..."

The baron's statement gives us a contemporary opinion--one of entire
approbation, by the way--of the letter to Lady Selkirk, and it shows
us that our great-grandfathers looked at things with different eyes
from ours.

In reply, Jones dispatched the following letter a month later:

"Alliance, Texel, _November 29, 1779_.

"My Lord: Since I had the honour to receive your second esteemed
letter I have unexpectedly had occasion to revisit Amsterdam; and,
having changed ships since my return to the Texel, I have by some
accident or neglect lost or mislaid your letter. I remember, however,
the questions it contained: 1st, whether I ever had any obligation to
Lord Selkirk? 2dly, whether he accepted my offer? and 3dly, whether I
have a French commission? I answer: I have never had any obligation to
Lord Selkirk, except for his good opinion, nor does know me nor mine
except by character. Lord Selkirk wrote me an answer to my letter to
the Countess, but the Ministry detained it in the general post office
in London for a long time, and then returned it to the author, who
afterward wrote to a friend of his (M. Alexander), an acquaintance of
Doctor Franklin's then at Paris, giving him an account of the fate of
his letter to me & desiring him to acquaint his Excellency and myself
that if the plate was restored by Congress or by any public Body he
would accept it, but that he would not think of accepting it from my
private generosity. The plate has, however, been bought, agreeable to
my letter to the Countess, and now lays in France at her disposal. As
to the 3rd article, _I never bore nor acted under any other commission
than what I have received from the Congress of the United States of

"I am much obliged to you, my Lord, for the honour you do me by
proposing to publish the papers I sent you in my last, but it is an
honour which I must decline, because I can not publish my letter to a
lady without asking and obtaining the lady's consent, and because I
have a very modest opinion of my writings, being conscious that they
are not of sufficient value to claim the notice of the public. I
assure you, my Lord, it has given me much concern to see an extract of
my rough journal in print, and that, too, under the disadvantage of a
translation. That mistaken kindness of a friend will make me cautious
how I communicate my papers.

"I have the honour to be, my Lord, with great esteem and respect,

   "Your most obliged,

   "And very humble servant."

The nice delicacy of his conduct in refusing to permit the publication
of a letter to a lady without her consent goes very far toward
redeeming the absurdity of the letter itself. While this interesting
correspondence was going on, events of great moment were transpiring.
In the first place, Captain Pearson was protesting against his
detention as a prisoner in the most vehement way, and otherwise
behaving in a very ill-bred manner. When the commodore offered to
return him his plate, linen, and other property, which had been taken
from the Serapis, he refused to accept it from Jones; but he intimated
that he would receive it from the hand of Captain de Cottineau! Jones
had the magnanimity to overlook this petty quibbling, and returned the
property through the desired channel. Pearson, like Jones, was of
humble origin; but, unlike Jones, he never seems to have risen above
it. On October 19th he addressed the following note to Jones:

"Pallas, Tuesday Evening, _October 19, 1779_.
"_Captain Jones, Serapis_.

"Captain Pearson presents his compliments to Captain Jones, and is
sorry to find himself so little attended to in his present situation
as not to have been favoured with either a _Call_ or a line from
Captain Jones since his return from Amsterdam. Captain P ... is sorry
to say that he can not look upon such behaviour in any other light
than as a breach of that _Civility_, which his Rank, as well as
behaviour on all occasions entitles to, he at the same time wishes to
be informed by Captain Jones whether any _Steps has_ been taken toward
the enlargement or exchange of him, his officers and people, or what
is intended to be done with them. As he can not help thinking it a
very unprecedented circumstance their being _keeped_ here as prisoners
on board of ship, being so long in a neutral port."

He received in return this decided and definite reply:

"Serapis, Wednesday, _October 20, 1779_.
"_Captain Pearson_.

"Sir: As you have not been prevented from corresponding with your
friends, and particularly with the English ambassador at The Hague, I
could not suppose you to be unacquainted with his memorial, of the
8th, to the States-General, and therefore I thought it fruitless to
pursue the negotiation for the exchange of the prisoners of war now in
our hands.

"I wished to avoid any painful altercation with you on that subject; I
was persuaded that you had been in the highest degree sensible that my
behaviour 'toward you had been far from a breach of civility.' This
charge is not, Sir, a civil return for the polite hospitality and
disinterested attentions which you have hitherto experienced.

"I know not what difference of respect is due to 'Rank,' between your
service and ours; I suppose, however, the difference must be thought
_very great_ in England, since I am informed that Captain Cunningham,
of equal denomination, and who bears a senior rank in the service of
America, than yours in the service of England, is now confined at
Plymouth _in a dungeon, and in fetters_.

"Humanity, which hath hitherto superseded the plea of retaliation in
American breasts, has induced me (notwithstanding the procedure of Sir
Joseph Yorke) to seek after permission to land the dangerously
wounded, as well prisoners as Americans, to be supported and cured at
the expense of our Continent. The permission of the Government has
been obtained, but the magistrates continue to make objections. I
shall not discontinue my application. I am ready to adopt any means
that you may propose for their preservation and recovery, and in the
meantime we shall continue to treat them with the utmost care and
attention, equally, as you know, to the treatment of our people of the
same rank.

"As it is possible that you have not yet seen the memorial of your
ambassador to the States-General, I enclose a paper which contains a
copy, and I believe he has since written what, in the opinion of good
men, will do still less honour to his pen.

"I can not conclude without informing you that unless Captain
Cunningham is immediately better treated in England, I expect orders
in consequence from His Excellency Dr. Franklin; therefore, I beseech
you, Sir, to interfere."

The States-General having refused to consent to the restoration of the
ships and the surrender of the prisoners, Paul Jones went to The Hague
for the purpose of pleading his own cause; and there, through the
representations of the French ambassador, the Duc de la Vauguyon,
received permission from their High Mightinesses to land the more
dangerously wounded among his prisoners and crew as well, numbering
over one hundred, in order that he might better care for them and
establish them in more comfortable quarters than the crowded ships

From motives of humanity, in view of the condition of the prisoners,
Sir Joseph Yorke acquiesced in this arrangement. It was first proposed
that Jones should land them and establish a hospital at Helder; but
the magistrates of that town objecting to the proposition, a fort on
the Texel was assigned to him, of which the entire charge was
committed to him. Colonel de Weibert, with a sufficient force to
garrison the works, was placed in command of the fort.

Meanwhile, the charges against Landais, having been formulated and
signed, were dispatched to Franklin, who, with the consent of the
French Government, ordered him to resign the command of the Alliance
and repair immediately to Paris. Before he left the Texel the erratic
Frenchman compelled Captain de Cottineau to accord him the honor of a
duel. As Landais was an expert swordsman, he succeeded in severely
wounding his less skillful but far more worthy antagonist. Elated by
this exploit, the mad Frenchman sent Jones a challenge also. In reply
to Landais' note, the commodore, Marius-like, promptly dispatched men
to arrest him; but Landais got wind of the attempt and hastened to
escape, taking up his departure for Paris. During the stay in the
Texel Jones succeeded in effecting the exchange of Captain Pearson for
Captain Gustavus Cunningham, whom he had at last the pleasure of
receiving upon his own ship.[29] Meanwhile, with true British
persistence, Sir Joseph kept at the States-General, and it in turn
pressed upon Jones, who imperturbably passed the matter on to the
French ambassador and Dr. Franklin.

On the 12th of November, to relieve a situation which had become
well-nigh insupportable, the French Government, with the consent of
Franklin, directed that the command of the Serapis should be given to
Captain de Cottineau, and that all the other vessels, except the
Alliance, to which the French had no claim, should hoist the French
flag, and that the Americans should be sent on board the Alliance,
which should be turned over to Paul Jones. To his everlasting regret,
Jones had to obey the heartbreaking order, and in one moment found
himself deprived of his command and his prizes taken from him. It was
a crushing blow, but he had no option save to bear it as best he
could. The exchange was effected at night, and the next morning, when
the Dutch admiral sent his flag captain on board the Serapis to
attempt his usual bullying, he was surprised to see the French flag
flying from her gaff end, and to be informed that she was now the
property of France, as were all the other ships except the Alliance.
Proceedings at once, therefore, fell to the ground as regarded all the
ships but the American frigate. There was no possible reason for
giving up the ships of the French king to the British Government, so
Sir Joseph Yorke necessarily, although with a very bad grace, dropped
the matter, and a short time after the French ships and the prizes
sailed with the merchant fleet under a strong Dutch convoy for France,
where they all arrived safely. Yorke persisted, however, in attempting
to secure the person of Jones, it is gravely alleged, through the
efforts of private individuals, kidnappers or bravos. At any rate, he
redoubled his representations regarding the Alliance, and his efforts
to force the departure of the ship that she might fall into the hands
of the waiting English.

The Serapis had been thoroughly overhauled and refitted, and the other
ships, with the exception of the Alliance, were in good shape. By his
unsailorly antics and foolish arrangements Landais had almost
destroyed the qualities of that noble frigate. She was in a dreadful
condition. Thirteen Dutch men-of-war, all of them two-deckers, or line
of battle ships, had assembled in the Texel to enforce the orders of
the States-General, which, on the 17th of November, by a specific
resolution directed the Admiralty Board at Amsterdam to command Jones
to let no opportunity escape to put to sea, as the approach of winter
might make his departure inconvenient or impossible if he delayed
longer. Vice-Admiral Rhynst, who had succeeded Captain Rimersina (like
van der Capellen, another friend of the United States) in the command
of the Dutch fleet, was peremptorily ordered to permit no delay which
was not unavoidable in the carrying out of these orders. He was
instructed and empowered to use force if necessary. Outside the harbor
there was a constantly increasing number of English ships, so that
Jones found himself "between the devil and the deep sea." He was not
to be intimidated, however, and he absolutely refused to go out at all
until he was ready, sending Admiral Rhynst a rather boastful letter to
the effect that he could not engage more than three times his force
with any hope of success, but were the odds any less he should go out
at once. M. Dumas, the French commissary and the agent of the United
States at The Hague, had been directed to proceed to the Texel and do
what he could for Jones, and an interesting correspondence was carried
on between them and the French ambassador on the subject of Jones'
departure. With clear-eyed diplomacy and stubborn resolution the
American held on; go he would not until he was ready! It was, no
doubt, very exasperating to the Dutch, and they did everything
possible save using force to get rid of their unwelcome visitor.

The Alliance, as has been stated, was in an unseaworthy condition. An
old-fashioned sailing vessel was as complex and delicate a thing as a
woman; rude, brutal, and unskillful handling had the same effect on
both of them--it spoiled them. Jones at once began the weary work of
refitting her so far as his limited resources provided. The powder
which had been saved from the wreck of the Richard replaced the
spoiled ammunition of the Alliance. Two cables had been borrowed from
the Serapis, and such other steps taken as were possible. When the
squadron was turned over to France the prisoners, except those already
exchanged by agreement between Jones and Pearson, also were directed
to be surrendered to the French Government, who immediately exchanged
them with the English for an equal number of French prisoners,
promising Franklin that they would presently exchange a corresponding
number of French prisoners for the Americans. But Jones resolutely
refused to give up all of his prisoners. In spite of protests and
orders he re-embarked the hundred men who had been recovering from
their wounds in the fort on the Texel, and taking all the Americans of
the squadron, so that the Alliance was heavily overmanned, he made his
preparations to get away.

At this time the Duc de la Vauguyon, by the direction of De Sartine,
made Jones the offer of a French naval letter of marque, which might
have protected the captain of the Alliance on her proposed homeward
passage, and have removed all legal cause of objection as to her stay
in the Texel. To this proposition, which he considered insulting,
Jones made the following characteristic answer:

"My Lord: Perhaps there are many men in the world who would esteem as
an honour the commission that I have this day refused. My rank from
the beginning knew no superior in the marine of America; how then must
I be humbled were I to accept a letter of marque! I should, my lord,
esteem myself inexcusable were I to accept even a commission of equal
or superior denomination to that I bear, unless I were previously
authorised by Congress, or some other competent authority in Europe.
And I must tell you that, on my arrival at Brest from the Irish
Channel, Count D'Orvilliers offered to procure for me from court a
commission of '_Capitaine de Vaisseau_,' which I did not then accept
for the same reason, although the war between France and England was
not then begun, and of course the commission of France would have
protected me from an enemy of superior force.

"It is a matter of the highest astonishment to me that, after so many
compliments and fair professions, the court should offer the present
insult to my understanding, and suppose me capable of disgracing my
present commission. I confess that I never merited all the praise
bestowed on my past conduct, but I also feel that I have far less
merited such a reward. Where profession and practice are so opposite I
am no longer weak enough to form a wrong conclusion. _They may think
as they please of me; for where I can not continue my esteem, praise
or censure from any man is to me a matter of indifference_.[30]

"I am much obliged to them, however, for having at last fairly opened
my eyes, and enabled me to discover truth from falsehood.

"The prisoners shall be delivered agreeable to the orders which you
have done me the honour to send me from his excellency the American
ambassador in France.

"I will also with great pleasure not only permit a part of my seamen
to go on board the ships under your excellency's orders, but I will
also do my utmost to prevail with them to embark freely; and if I can
now or hereafter, by any other honourable means, facilitate the
success or the honour of his Majesty's arms, I pledge myself to you as
his ambassador, that none of his own subjects would bleed in his cause
with greater freedom than myself, an American.

"It gives me the more pain, my lord, to write this letter, because the
court has enjoined you to prepare what would destroy my peace of mind,
and my future veracity in the opinion of the world.

"When, _with the consent of the court_, and by order of the American
ambassador, I gave American commissions to French officers, I did not
fill up those commissions to command privateers, nor even for a rank
_equal_ to that of their commissions in the marine of France. They
were promoted to rank _far superior_. And why? Not from personal
friendship, nor from my knowledge of their services and abilities (the
men and their characters being entire strangers to me), but from the
respect which I believed America would wish to show for the service of

"While I remained eight months seemingly forgot by the court at Brest,
many commissions, such as that in question, were offered to me; and I
believe (when I am in pursuit of _plunder_) I can still obtain such an
one without application to court.

"I hope, my lord, that my behaviour through life will ever entitle me
to the continuance of your good wishes and opinion, and that you will
take occasion to make mention of the warm and personal affection with
which my heart is impressed toward his Majesty."

In no other letter among the many which I have examined does Jones
appear in so brilliant and successful a light. His high-souled
decision, and his dignified but explicit way of conveying it, alike do
him the greatest credit. In the hands of such a man, not only his own
honor but that of his country would be perfectly safe always. As
usual, on the 16th of December, he inclosed a copy of his letter to
Franklin with the following original comment:

"I hope," he said, "that the within copy of my letter to the Duc de la
Vauguyon will meet your approbation, for I am persuaded that it never
could be your intention or wish that I should be made the tool of any
great r---- whatever; or that the commission of America should be
overlaid by the dirty piece of parchment which I have thus rejected!
They have played upon my good humour too long already, but the spell
is at last dissolved. They would play me off with assurance of the
personal and particular esteem of the king, to induce me to do what
would render me contemptible even in the eyes of my own servants!
Accustomed to speak untruths themselves, they would also have me to
give under my hand that I am a liar and a scoundrel. They are
mistaken, and I would tell them what you did to your naughty servant.
'We have too contemptible an opinion of one another's understanding to
live together.' I could tell them, too, that if M---- de C---- had not
taken such safe precautions to keep me honest by means of his famous
_concordat_, and to support me by so many able colleagues, these great
men would not have been reduced to such mean shifts; for the prisoners
could have been landed at Dunkirk the day that I entered the Texel,
and I could have brought in double the numbers."

After annoying him with daily injunctions and commands, on the 16th of
December Vice Admiral Rhynst finally commanded Jones to come on board
his flagship and report his intentions. Jones promptly refused to obey
this astonishing order, telling the Dutchman that he had no right to
order him anywhere. Whereupon the vice admiral wrote to him as

"I desire you by this present letter to inform me how I must consider
the Alliance which you are on board of: whether as a French or
American vessel. If the first, I expect you to cause his Majesty's
commission to be shown to me, and that you display the French flag and
pendant, announcing it by discharging a gun. If the second, I expect
you to omit no occasion of departing, according to the orders of their
High Mightinesses."

Jones had passed beyond the arguing point, and treated this
communication with contempt. He rightly judged that the Dutch would
not resort to force in the end, and he refused to go out to certain
capture; indeed, he would not move until he was ready and a fair
chance of escape presented itself.

When the French Commissary of Marine at Amsterdam, the Chevalier de
Lironcourt, saw Rhynst's communication, which Jones sent to him, he
suggested that Jones might waive the point and display French colors
on his ship, disclaiming, at the same time, any ulterior motive not in
consonance with the dignity of the commander, on the part of himself
or his government, in this proposition. But Jones was not to be moved
from the stand he had taken. The man of the world was becoming the
dauntless citizen of the United States at last. He curtly told the
Dutch admiral that he had no orders to hoist any other flag than the
American, and that it only should fly from the gaff of his ship. He
also told him that as soon as a pilot would undertake to carry out his
ship he would leave. But his most significant action was to state
emphatically to the vice admiral's flag captain, who came aboard the
Alliance for an answer to his note of the 16th, that he was tired of
the annoyances, insults, and threats which had been directed at him
daily, and that they must be stopped in future, as he would receive no
more communications from the vice admiral. He also requested the flag
captain to say to his superior officer that, although the Dutch
flagship mounted sixty-four guns, if she and the Alliance were at sea
together the vice admiral's conduct toward him would not have been
tolerated for a moment. I have no doubt that Jones meant exactly what
he said, and I think the vice admiral was lucky in not being required
to test the declaration. From this time until his departure no
communications of any sort were received by Jones from his baffled and
silenced tormentor.

He had done all that mortal man could do to retain his prizes, to
protract his stay in Dutch waters, to commit Holland to the side of
the United States, to effect an exchange of prisoners, and to maintain
the honor of the American flag. In doing this, on all sides he had
been harassed and insulted beyond measure. It was therefore some
consolation to him to receive on the 21st the following note of
explanation and apology from De la Vauguyon:

"_December 21, 1779_.

"I perceive with pain, my dear commodore, that you do not view your
situation in the right light; and I can assure you that the ministers
of the king have no intention to cause you the least disagreeable
feeling, as the honourable testimonials of the esteem of his majesty,
which I send you, ought to convince you. I hope you will not doubt the
sincere desire with which you have inspired me to procure you every
satisfaction you may merit. It can not fail to incite you to give new
proofs of your zeal for the common cause of France and America. I
flatter myself to renew, before long, the occasion and to procure you
the means to increase still more the glory you have already acquired.
I am already occupied with all the interest I promised you; and if my
views are realized, as I have every reason to believe, you will be at
all events perfectly content; but I must pray you not to hinder any
project by delivering yourself to the expressions of those strong
sensations to which you appear to give way, and for which there is
really no foundation. You appear to possess full confidence in the
justice and kindness of the king; rely also upon the same sentiments
on the part of his ministers."

To this letter Jones sent the following reply; he was a generous man,
who bore no malice:

"Alliance, Texel, _December 25, 1779_.
"_The Duke de Vauguyon_.

"My Lord: I have not a heart of stone, but I am duly sensible of the
obligations conferred on me by the very kind and affectionate letter
that you have done me the honour to write me the 21st current.

"Were I to form my opinion of the ministry from the treatment that I
experienced while at Brest, or from their want of confidence in me
afterward, exclusive of what has taken place since I had the
misfortune to enter this port, I will appeal to your Excellency as a
man of candour and ingenuousness, whether I ought to desire to prolong
a connection that has made me so unhappy, and wherein I have given so
little satisfaction? M. de Chev. de Lironcourt has lately made me
reproaches on account of the expense that he says France has been at
_to give me reputation_, in preference to twenty captains of the royal
navy, better qualified than myself, and who, each of them, solicited
for the command that was lately given to me! This, I confess, is quite
new and indeed surprising to me, and had I known it before I left
France I certainly should have resigned in favour of the twenty men of
superior merit. I do not, however, think that his first assertion is
true, for the ministry must be unworthy of their places were they
capable of squandering the public money merely to give an individual
reputation! and as to the second, I fancy the court will not thank him
for having given me this information, whether true or false. I may add
here that, with a force so ill-composed, and with powers so limited, I
ran ten chances of ruin and dishonour for one of gaining reputation;
and had not the plea of humanity in favour of the unfortunate
Americans in English dungeons superseded all considerations of self, I
faithfully assure you, my lord, that I would not have proceeded under
such circumstances from Groix. I do not imbibe hasty prejudices
against any individual, but when many and repeated circumstances,
conspiring in one point, have inspired me with disesteem toward any
person, I must see very convincing proofs of reformation in such
person before my heart can beat again with affection in his favour;
for the mind is free, and can be bound only by kind treatment.

"You do me great honour, as well as justice, my lord, by observing
that no satisfaction can be more precious to me than by giving new
proofs of my zeal for the common cause of France and America; and the
interest that you take to facilitate the means of my giving such
proofs by essential services, claims my best thanks. _I hope I shall
not, through any imprudence of mine, render ineffectual any noble
design that may be in contemplation for the general good._[31]
Whenever that object is mentioned, my private concerns are out of the
question, and where I can not speak exactly what I could wish with
respect to my private satisfaction, I promise you in the meantime to
observe a prudent silence.

"With a deep sense of your generous sentiments of personal regard
toward me, and with the most sincere wishes to merit that regard by my
conduct through life."

The following extract from a letter to Robert Morris well indicates
how his treatment by the French ambassador rankled:

"By the within despatches for Congress I am persuaded you will observe
with pleasure that my connection with a court is at an end, and that
my prospect of returning to America approaches. The great seem to wish
only to be concerned with tools, who dare not speak or write truth. I
am not sorry that my connection with them is at an end. In the course
of that connection I ran ten chances of ruin and dishonour for one of
reputation; and all the honours or profit that France could bestow
should not tempt me again to undertake the same service with an
armament, equally ill composed, and with powers equally limited. It
affords me the most exalted pleasure to reflect that, when I return to
America, I can say that _I have served in Europe at my own expense,
and without the fee or reward of a court_,[32] When the prisoners we
have taken are safely lodged in France I shall have no further
business in Europe, as the liberty of our fellow citizens who now
suffer in English prisons will then be secured; and I shall hope
hereafter to be usefully employed under the immediate direction of the

It is a remarkable thing that, during the perplexities and harassing
incidents of his stay in the Texel, with the constant demands made
upon him in every direction, the difficulties with which he had to
cope, the responsibilities he assumed, the problems he had to solve,
and the dangers grappled with, he found time to carry on such a
voluminous and extraordinary correspondence as has been preserved.
Among other documents he drew up a long memorial to Congress
recounting his career and public services to date, which is of much
service to those who strive to solve the enigma of his complex life
and character. The tendency to lionize a hero was as prevalent then as
now, and Jones was compelled by the exigencies of his situation to
refuse many invitations of a social nature at Amsterdam and The Hague.
"Duty," he says, "must take precedence of pleasure. I must wait a more
favourable opportunity to kiss the hands of the fair." Certain young
impressionable misses, after the custom of the day, indited poetical
effusions to him. In the hurry and rush of business he could only find
time in his replies to deplore the fact that so much was expected from
him that he could not respond in rhyme to these metrical


Christmas day passed gloomily enough, I imagine, for the Americans on
the Alliance. There had been opportunities, of course, when it would
have been possible for Jones to have made the mouth of the harbor, but
his capture would have been inevitable. So, on one pretext or another,
he delayed until the night of the 27th of December, when he weighed
anchor and dropped down to the mouth of the Texel. Early the next
morning in a howling gale he dashed for the sea. On the same day he
sent the following note back to Dumas, and merrily proceeded on his

"I am here, my dear sir, with a good wind at east, and under my best
American colours; so far you have your wish. What may be the event of
this critical moment I know not; I am not, however, without good
hopes. Through the ignorance or drunkenness of the old pilot the
Alliance last night got foul of a Dutch merchant ship, and I believe
the Dutchmen cut our cable. We lost the best bower anchor, and the
ship was brought up with the sheet anchor so near the shore that this
morning I have been obliged to cut the cable in order to get clear of
the shore, and that I might not lose this opportunity of escaping from

Though he had escaped from the Texel, his situation was one of extreme
peril. It is claimed that no less than forty sail were on the lookout
for him in the English Channel; and, besides those specifically
detailed for the purpose, there were a number of ships and at least
two great fleets at anchor in these narrow waters, which he would have
to pass. I suppose that never before had so many vessels been on the
lookout for a single ship as in this instance. It never seems to have
occurred to the blockading ships that Jones would attempt to pass down
the Channel; his safest course from the point of view of the ordinary
man would have been through the North Sea and around Scotland and
Ireland. But Jones was not an ordinary man, though the English refused
to see the fact. Consequently, his bold course took them by surprise,
and, as usual, by choosing apparently the most dangerous way he
escaped. And the way of it was this: By the exercise of his usual
seamanship Jones managed to hug the Flemish banks so closely that he
passed to windward of the British blockading ships, which were driven
to the northward by the same gale of which he had taken advantage.

The wind came strongly from the east, and under a great press of
canvas the Alliance staggered away toward the south, keeping as close
as possible to the weather shore until all danger from the immediate
blockading fleet was avoided. Then Jones ran for the middle of the
Channel, and the next day the Alliance passed through the straits of
Dover and ran close to the Goodwin Sands, passing in full view of a
large English fleet anchored in the Downs only three miles to leeward.
On the day after, the 29th, the Alliance flew by the Isle of Wight,
running near enough to take a good look at another fleet at Spithead.

On the 1st of January Jones was out of the Channel, having passed in
sight of, and almost in range, at different times in this bold dash
for freedom, of several British ships of the line, just out of gunshot
to leeward. During all this time he had not ceased to fly the American
flag. I do not know of a more splendid piece of sea bravado than this
dash of the Alliance from the Texel. The daring and gallantry of the
man at first seemed to have led him into injudicious and dangerous
situations when he took the Alliance so close to the English coast and
the British fleets; but his effrontery was governed by that sound and
practical sense which ever distinguished his conduct from mere
unthinking recklessness, for no one would ever imagine that the
escaping ship would take such a course, and those vessels on the
lookout for him would probably be found where a less subtle commander
would have endeavored to pass--off the Flemish coast and near the
French shore, for instance. Be that as it may, the little Alliance,
with her Stars and Stripes flapping defiantly in the great breeze in
the face of the overmastering English ships, running the gantlet of
her enemies, is a picture we love to think upon.

The ship was in a critical condition. Damages which she had incurred
in her voyage from Boston to France were still unrepaired. Her trim
had been altered for the worse by Landais' blunders, and the improper
stowage of the ballast had dangerously strained her and greatly
diminished her speed, which had originally been very high. There was
no way these things could have been temporarily repaired in the Texel;
in fact, but little could be done until the vessel reached France.
Owing to the unsanitary regimen of Landais, disease had broken out at
different times, and the ship had become so dirty that nothing short
of a thorough disinfection would render her safe for her crew. She was
much overcrowded with men, all actually or professedly American, and
carried a hundred prisoners as well. There were two sets of officers
on board--those originally attached to her and the officers of the
Richard. Jealousy and bickerings between the two crews were prevalent.
Naturally, they had no love for each other. The officers and men of
the Richard could not forget the conduct of those on the Alliance, and
they looked upon them with hatred and contempt. Sailorlike, the men of
the Alliance reciprocated that feeling. It was the desire of every
one, except Jones and a few others, to get to France at once, but the
commodore wished to return with more prizes; so he bore away to the
south and west, seeking for ships, impressing upon his discontented
men that the Alliance was equal to anything under a fifty-gun ship! He
was not fortunate on this occasion, however, and finally, to avoid a
threatened gale, he ran into the port of Corunna in Spain, on the 16th
of January, 1780, where he was kindly received and hospitably
entertained. During this cruise, in spite of the responsibilities of
his position, he found time to compose the following verses in reply
to a similar communication which he had received from the daughter of
M. Dumas (it will be remembered that he deplored his inability in the
Texel to find time for his present occupation):

    "Were I, Paul Jones, dear maid, 'the king of sea,'
       I find such merit in thy virgin song,
     A coral crown with bays I'd give to thee,
       A car which on the waves should smoothly glide along;
     The Nereides all about thy side should wait,
     And gladly sing in triumph of thy state,
     'Vivat! vivat! the happy virgin Muse!
     Of liberty the friend, who tyrant power pursues!'

    "Or, happier lot! Were fair Columbia free
       From British tyranny, and youth still mine,
     I'd tell a tender tale to one like thee
       With artless looks and breast as pure as thine.
     If she approved my flame, distrust apart,
     Like faithful turtles, we'd have but one heart;
     Together, then, we'd tune the silver lyre,
     As love or sacred freedom should our lays inspire.

    "But since, alas! the rage of war prevails,
       And cruel Britons desolate our land,
     For freedom still I spread my willing sails,
       My unsheath'd sword my injured country shall command.
     Go on, bright maid! the Muses all attend
     Genius like thine, and wish to be its friend.
     Trust me, although conveyed through this poor shift,
     My New Year's thoughts are grateful for thy gift."

I have read worse poetry than this, also better, but it is very
creditable to the sailor. If the reader has a low opinion of it, let
him essay some verse-writing himself.[33]

While at Corunna, the ship was careened and her bottom scraped as far
as possible without docking her, and, having procured an anchor to
take the place of the two lost in the Texel, Jones prepared to set
forth once more. The 28th of January was fixed for his departure, but
the discontent among the crew reached such a pitch that they
positively refused to weigh anchor unless they received at least a
portion of their pay or prize money. Nothing had been paid them from
the time the ships had been put in commission until they reached the
Texel. There Jones had received from Amsterdam a small sum of money,
from which he advanced five ducats to each of the officers and one to
each of the men. The amount, compared to their dues and needs, was so
insignificant that many of the men threw the money into the sea in
disgust--a very foolish but extremely sailorlike action.

There were many patriotic men on these ships who merit the approbation
and deserve the gratitude of their country. They had shown, especially
those belonging to the Richard, a most desperate courage in most
trying scenes. They had performed services upon which no monetary
value could be placed, and had subjected themselves to dangers which
no mere pecuniary consideration could have tempted them to face. It
may at first, therefore, seem surprising that they should have so
resolutely demanded their pay and prize money, even to the extent of
mutinying for it; but it is a common experience that men who will
freely offer themselves for the most dangerous undertakings, and who
really are actuated by the strongest kind of patriotism, will quarrel
and rebel, and even fight, for the petty amounts promised them by way
of wages, which in themselves neither could tempt them to, nor repay
them for, the sacrifices they had cheerfully undergone. Frankly, I
have the greatest sympathy with the point of view of the unpaid
soldiers or sailors of the past, and I quite understand their demands
and complaints under such circumstances.

Perhaps there is an association of ideas between fighting for the
liberties of one's country and demanding one's dues. Both are a revolt
against injustice and oppression. The mind of the common sailor,
especially of that day, was not calculated to draw nice distinctions,
and he could see little difference between fighting for liberty and
demanding that the country whose independence he periled his life to
establish should show the small appreciation of his devotion involved
in paying his scanty wages and not withholding his lawful prize money.
Jones struggled for rank, station, reputation, opportunity; these men
could aspire to no higher station than they already filled, and their
corresponding effort was for the money justly due them.

The Richard's men had lost practically everything except the clothes
they stood in when their ship went down, and their personal needs were
necessarily very great. The original crew of the Alliance were under
the impression that Jones had reserved from the small sum he had
received at Amsterdam a considerable portion for himself. There is not
the slightest evidence to warrant this supposition. The commodore was
the most prodigal and generous of men, and his whole career evidences
his entire willingness to devote his own personal property to the
welfare and wages of his men. He finally persuaded the crew to get
under way by promising to run direct to L'Orient, where he hoped they
would undoubtedly receive their prize money. With this understanding
the crew consented to work the ship to that point, and their departure
was accordingly taken on the 28th.

When the vessel was fairly at sea, however, Jones summoned the
officers to the cabin and proposed that they should cruise two or
three weeks in those waters before making their promised port. I am
afraid that the commodore allowed the possibility of taking some
valuable prizes and perhaps another British frigate to incline him to
break his promise to his men. His interview in his cabin with his
officers was an interesting one. With all the eloquence of which he
was a master--and he was able to speak convincingly and well on
congenial subjects--he placed before them the possibilities presented,
appealed to their patriotism, their love of fame, and as a last
resort pointed out the further monetary advantage of another rich
prize--Iago's argument! If they were successful in taking another
frigate they would shed still greater luster upon their names, and put
money in their pockets. The officers, however, bluntly refused to be
persuaded. They emphasized the mutinous and discontented state of the
crews, who had only sailed under Jones' positive promise to take them
immediately to L'Orient; pointed out that many of the men had not
proper clothing with which to endure the severe winter weather, and
that they themselves were in a destitute condition.

Their natural reluctance to fall in with his plans infuriated Jones.
Rising from the chair upon which he had been sitting, with an emphatic
stamp of his foot he dismissed them with a sneering contempt in the
following words:

"I do not want your advice, neither did I send for you to comply with
your wishes, but only by way of paying you a compliment, which was
more than you deserve by your opposition. Therefore, you know my mind;
go to your duty, each one of you, and let me hear no more grumbling!"

The Alliance cruised for some days to the westward of Cape Finisterre,
but, as the quarreling between the two crews ran higher than ever, and
as Jones had failed to keep his promise, thus adding to their
discontent, when they fell in with the American ship Livingstone,
laden with a valuable cargo of tobacco, Jones gave over his attempt,
and decided to convoy her to L'Orient, where he arrived on the 10th of
February, 1780. That he should gravely have contemplated action with a
British frigate with his ill-conditioned ship and mutinous crew shows
the confidence he felt in his own ability. I have no doubt that,
unprepared as she was, if the Alliance had fallen in with an English
ship Jones would have been able to persuade his men to action, and
with anything like an equal force the results would have been


The tremendous nervous strain which Jones had undergone, the constant
labor and exposure necessitated by the circumstances of his hard
cruising and fighting, and the recent exposure in the severe winter
weather had broken down his health. His spirit had outpaced his body,
and in a very ill and weak condition, with his eyes so inflamed that
he was almost blinded, he went on shore in search of rest. Meanwhile
preparations were made thoroughly to overhaul the Alliance and load
her with a large quantity of valuable and much-needed military
supplies which had been purchased for the army of the United States,
among them the battery which had been cast for the Bon Homme Richard,
which had arrived after her departure.

Hard by the Alliance in the harbor lay the handsome Serapis. With
perfectly natural feelings Jones longed to get possession of her
again. He wrote immediately to Franklin, detailing the repairs
necessary to put the Alliance in shape, which were very extensive and
correspondingly expensive, and asked that he might have leave to
sheath the Alliance with copper, and that the Serapis might be
purchased and turned over to him. He hoped that the repairs to the
Alliance might be made by the French Government, perhaps that they
would also give him the Serapis. As the condition of the Alliance had
been justly attributed by Jones to the negligence and incompetence of
Landais, and not to any accident of the cruise under the auspices of
France, there did not seem to be any good reason for having the ship
repaired at the expense of the French Government. Franklin stated that
the whole expense would have to fall upon him, and begged him in
touching words to be as economical as possible, as his financial
resources, as always, were limited. For the same reason it was
impossible to secure the Serapis.

He says:

"I therefore beg you would have mercy on me; put me to as little
charge as possible, and take nothing that you can possibly do without.
As to sheathing with copper, it is totally out of the question. I am
not authorized to do it if I had money; and I have not money for it if
I had orders."

As the demand in America for the military supplies which Franklin had
procured was pressing, Jones was ordered to hasten the repairs to the
Alliance. In spite of Franklin's strict injunction to economize, Jones
proceeded to overhaul, refit, and remodel entirely the frigate in
accordance with his ideas and experience. As his ideas were excellent
and his experience had been ample, when the repairs had been completed
they left nothing to be desired. But the bills were very heavy.
Franklin protested, but paid. As a matter of fact, it must be admitted
Jones did not stint himself when it came to outfitting a ship--or
anything else, for that matter. His experience with the Ranger, the
Richard, and the Alliance had naturally disgusted him with
inadequately provided ships of war. The beautiful little boat was the
superior of any of her size upon the ocean, and subsequently, under
the command of Captain John Barry, she did brilliant and noteworthy
service. If it had not been for Jones she would have been worthless.

The charge of extravagance, however, is fairly substantiated. Jones
was, in fact, as indifferent in the spending of other people's money
as he was with his own, and I have no doubt the bills, although he
paid them, almost broke the harassed commissioner's heart. Jones,
however, was in a very different position from that he had occupied
previously. He had demonstrated his capacity in the most unequivocal
manner. He was not a man to be dealt with slightingly, nor did
Franklin, who undoubtedly cherished a genuine admiration and regard
for him, which the sailor fully reciprocated by an enthusiastic
admiration amounting to veneration, wish to do anything to humiliate

While the repairs were progressing the financial status of the crew
was in no way amended. There was no money forthcoming to them on the
score of wages; the sale of the prizes was delayed, and serious
differences arose between the agents of the crews, de Chaumont as
representing the king, and Jones himself. Finally, in order to further
the settlement of the matter, Jones decided to go to Paris and see
what he could do personally to hasten the sale of the prizes, and
perhaps secure some funds with which to pay the wages of the crews, in
part at least.

Early in April, therefore, he left the Alliance at L'Orient and
repaired to the capital. From one point of view it was an unwise thing
to do, for he left behind him a discontented and mutinous crew, which
only his own indomitable personality had been able to repress and
control. It is likely, however, that affairs at L'Orient would have
remained _in statu quo_ had it not been for the advent of Arthur Lee.
This gentleman is perhaps the only member of the famous family whose
name he bore upon whose conduct and character severe judgment must be
passed. Jealous, quarrelsome, and incompetent, his blundering attempts
at diplomacy had worked more harm than good to the American nation. By
his vanity and indiscretion he had continually thwarted the wise plans
and brilliant policy of Franklin, with whom he had finally embroiled
himself to such an extent that it became necessary for him to return
home. Not only had he lost the esteem of Franklin, but through his
petty meanness he had also forfeited the confidence of Congress, which
had superseded him by John Jay at the court of Spain, to which he had
been accredited previously.

Franklin desired Jones to give him a passage home in the Alliance.
Jones had a great dislike to his proposed passenger. When his draft
upon the commissioners for twenty-four thousand livres had been
dishonored, it was largely through the influence of Lee that the money
had been refused him. Lee was fully acquainted with the circumstances
which caused Jones to apply, and he might have secured payment. At
least that was the opinion of Jones. With his usual frankness, Jones
had not hesitated to express his opinion to Lee in a very tart letter,
which had not improved the situation. In the face of the request of
Franklin, Jones had no option but to receive Lee and his suite on the
Alliance. He objected, however, most strenuously to allowing the
ex-commissioner to take his carriage and other equipage on the
frigate, stating with entire accuracy that articles of such bulk would
take up much room, which could be better devoted to other and more
important freightage. This, no doubt, further incensed Lee against
Jones. He was ever inclined to put his personal comfort before the
welfare of his country.

Landais had been summoned, as we have seen, to Paris. The
commissioners, with the documents prepared in the Texel before them,
had discussed his case, and had decided to send him to America for
trial. Franklin, who had not yet expressed any public judgment in the
premises, though his private opinion was well known, had presented
Landais with a sum of money for his voyage to the United States, and
the whole correspondence, including the charges, had been transmitted
to Congress.

Arthur Lee, with his usual captious spirit, and inspired by his hatred
of Jones and the desire to disagree with Franklin at the same time,
had dissented from the view and decision of his colleagues. He had
maintained that Landais was legally entitled to continue in the
command of the Alliance, and that Franklin had not the power to
supersede him--a contention not substantiated by the facts, nor, as
was afterward shown, supported by Congress itself.

When Jones went to Paris, therefore, Lee, realizing his opportunity,
at once began to foment additional disorder in the already demoralized
crew. Coincident with Jones' departure, Landais also made his
appearance. Had Lee summoned him? Lee did not hesitate to express the
opinion to that gentleman himself, his officers, and crew, that
Landais was legitimately entitled to the command of the Alliance, and
could not be removed therefrom except by specific direction of
Congress. Things, therefore, developed with painful rapidity at
L'Orient, until Landais addressed a note to Franklin demanding that he
be reinstated in the command of the Alliance--a curious procedure for
a man who claimed that Franklin was without power to displace him!

Meanwhile Jones was having a brilliant reception in France. While he
had incurred the hostility of the French naval officers, who fancied
that he had deprived them of commands to which they were better
entitled, and in the enjoyment of which he had gained distinction
through opportunities which might possibly have fallen to them and
which they might have embraced, he was everywhere received with the
highest honors, as well by the court as the people. To the populace,
indeed, he was a hero who had humbled the enemy whom they hated with
the characteristic passion of Frenchmen. Franklin took him to call
upon his old tormentor, the dilatory de Sartine, and, owing perhaps to
naval prejudice, his first reception was extremely cool; but, as it
became evident that he was a popular hero, the tone of the minister
was lowered, and his actions were modified, so that he afterward
extended him a warm welcome and professed extreme friendship for the
commodore. The king and queen accorded him the favor of an audience,
and his majesty, falling in with the popular current, was pleased to
declare his intention of presenting him with a magnificent
gold-mounted sword, to be inscribed with the following flattering


He also signified his royal purpose, should the Congress acquiesce
therein, of investing Jones with the cross of the Order of Military
Merit, a distinction never before accorded to any but a subject of
France, and only awarded for heroic conduct or conspicuous and
brilliant military or naval services against the enemy. Nothing could
have been more grateful to a man of Jones' temperament than the
appreciation of the French people, and these evidences of admiration
and esteem from the hand of the king. On his previous visit to Paris,
after the capture of the Drake, he had been made much of; in this
instance his reception greatly surpassed his former welcome. He became
the lion of the day, the attraction of the hour. Great men sought his
company, and held themselves honored by his friendship; while the
fairest of the ladies of the gay court were proud to receive the
attentions of the man who had so dramatically conquered the hated
English. In all these circumstances he bore himself with becoming
modesty. On one occasion he was invited to the queen's box at the
opera. When he entered the theater he was loudly cheered, and at the
close of the act a laurel wreath was suspended over his head,
whereupon he changed his seat. This natural action has been quaintly
commented upon by various biographers, and the statement is made that
for many years it was held up before the French youth as an exhibition
of extraordinary modesty!

One of the most admirable of Jones' traits was a chivalrous devotion
to women. To a natural grace of manner he added the bold directness of
a sailor, which was not without its charm to the beauties of
Versailles, sated with the usual artificial gallantry of the men of
the period. Jones spoke French rather well, and had a taste for music
and poetry. There were, therefore, many who did not disdain to draw
the "sea lion" in their train. On account of the favors he had
received he was a person of distinction at the court. Among his
voluminous correspondence which has been preserved are numbers of
letters to and from different women of rank and station, dating from
this period and from his prolonged stay in Paris after the war had
terminated. Among others, he corresponded with a lady who, after the
romantic fashion of the time, at first endeavored to hide her identity
under the name of Delia. Between Jones and Delia there seems to have
sprung up a genuine passion, for the letters on both sides breathe a
spirit of passionate, heartfelt devotion. It has been discovered that
Delia was but another name for Madame de Telison, a natural daughter
of Louis XV, with whom Jones frequently corresponded under her own
name, and who is referred to in his biographies as Madame T----, and
the identification is definite and complete. He was catholic in his
affections, however, for he by no means confined his epistolary
relations to the gentle and devoted Madame de Telison.

It is interesting to note that in all these letters there is not a
single indelicate or ill-bred allusion. That is what would be expected
to-day, but when we remember that so great an authority as Robert
Walpole suggested that everybody at his table should "talk bawdy," as
being the only subject every one could understand, the significance of
his clean letters is apparent. In his correspondence, except in the
case of Aimée Adèle de Telison, he never appears to have passed beyond
the bounds of romantic friendship. In later years, however, it is
possible to infer from his letters that Madame de Telison bore to him
a son, whose history is entirely unknown. Among others who honored him
with their friendship were three women of high rank, the Duchess de
Chartres, Madame d'Ormoy, and the Countess de Lavendahl, who painted
his portrait in miniature.

An English lady, Miss Edes, sojourning in France at this time, thus
refers to him in two letters which she wrote for publication in the
English journals:

"The famous Paul Jones dines and sups here often; he is a smart man of
thirty-six, speaks but little French, appears to be an extraordinary
genius, a poet as well as hero; a few days ago he wrote some verses
extempore, of which I send you a copy. He is greatly admired here,
especially by the ladies, who are wild for love of him; but he adores
the Countess of Lavendahl, who has honored him with every mark of
politeness and distinction.

   "'Insulted freedom bled; I felt her cause,
     And drew my sword to vindicate her laws
     From principle, and not from vain applause.
     I've done my best; self-interest far apart,
     And self-reproach a stranger to my heart.
     My zeal still prompts, ambitious to pursue
     The foe, ye fair! of liberty and you;
     Grateful for praise, spontaneous and unbought,
     A generous people's love not meanly sought;
     To merit this, and bend the knee to beauty,
     Shall be my earliest and latest duty.'

"Since my last, Paul Jones drank tea and supped here. If I am in love
for him, for love I may die. I have as many rivals as there are
ladies, but the most formidable is still Lady Lavendahl, who possesses
all his heart. This lady is of high rank and virtue, very sensible,
good-natured, and affable. Besides this, she is possessed of youth,
beauty, and wit, and every other form of female accomplishment. He is
gone, I suppose, for America. They correspond, and his letters are
replete with elegance, sentiment, and delicacy. She drew his picture,
a striking likeness, and wrote some lines under it which are much
admired, and presented it to him. Since he received it he is, like a
second Narcissus, in love with his own resemblance; to be sure, he is
the most agreeable sea wolf one would wish to meet with."

In all this, however, Jones did not for a moment neglect the business
which had called him to Paris. He moved heaven and earth to effect the
sale of the prizes, bringing to bear all his personal popularity and
making use of his new-found friends, both men and women, to accomplish
the desired results. In all his attempts he was zealously supported by
Franklin, who, I have no doubt, greatly enjoyed the popularity of his

Finally, on the last day of May, having received positive assurance
that the prizes would be sold and distribution made immediately, he
set out for L'Orient. On leaving Paris he carried with him a personal
commendation from Franklin and a letter from de Sartine to the
President of Congress, as follows:

"Passy, _June 1, 1780_.
"_Samuel Huntington, Esq., President of Congress_.

"Sir: Commodore Jones, who by his bravery and conduct has done great
honour to the American flag, desires to have that also of presenting a
line to the hands of your Excellency. I cheerfully comply with his
request, in recommending him to the notice of Congress, and to your
Excellency's protection, though his actions are more effectual
recommendations, and render any from me unnecessary. It gives me,
however, an opportunity of shewing my readiness to do justice to
merit, and of professing the esteem and respect with which I am, etc.
B. Franklin."

From M. de Sartine to Mr. Huntington, President of the Congress of the
United States:

"Versailles, _May 30, 1780_.

"Commodore Paul Jones, after having shown to all Europe, and
particularly to the enemies of France and the United States, the most
unquestionable proofs of his valor and talents, is about returning to
America to give an account to Congress of the success of his military
operations. I am convinced, Sir, that the reputation he has so justly
acquired will precede him, and that the recital of his actions alone
will suffice to prove to his fellow citizens that his abilities are
equal to his courage. But the king has thought proper to add his
suffrage and attention to the public opinion. He has expressly charged
me to inform you how perfectly he is satisfied with the services of
the Commodore, persuaded that Congress will render him the same
justice. He has offered, as a proof of his esteem, to present him with
a sword, which can not be placed in better hands, and likewise
proposed to Congress to decorate this brave officer with the cross of
Military Merit. His Majesty conceives that this particular
distinction, by holding forth the same honours to the two nations,
united by the same interests, will be looked upon as one tie more that
connects them, and will support that emulation which is so precious to
the common cause. If, after having approved the conduct of the
Commodore, it should be thought proper to give him the command of any
new expedition to Europe, His Majesty will receive him again with
pleasure, and presumes that Congress will oppose nothing that may be
judged expedient to secure the success of his enterprises. My personal
esteem for him induces me to recommend him very particularly to you,
Sir, and I dare flatter myself that the welcome he will receive from
Congress and you will warrant the sentiments with which he has
inspired me."

While all this had been going on, however, Franklin had been having
serious trouble with the men of the Alliance. On the 12th of April the
officers dispatched a letter to Franklin demanding their prize money
and wages. Franklin had previously advanced them twenty-four thousand
livres, and he wrote them that everything was being done to hasten the
sale of the prizes, and that they would have to be content with what
he had given them, and receive the balance when they reached the
United States. On the 29th of May Landais wrote, repeating his
application of the 17th of March, and inclosing a mutinous letter
signed by one hundred and fifteen of the crew of the Alliance,
declaring that they would not raise an anchor nor sail from L'Orient
till they had six months' wages paid to them, and the utmost farthing
of their prize money, including that for the ships sent into Norway,
and until their legal captain, Pierre Landais, was restored to them.

Landais had added the phrase "until their legal captain, P. Landais,
is restored to us," himself. With this letter was another
communication from fourteen of the original officers of the Alliance,
to the effect that the crew were in favor of Landais, who was a
capable officer, whose conduct had been misrepresented, and whom they
considered themselves bound to obey as their legal captain. These
officers can not be relieved of a large share of the odium attaching
to the conduct of the Alliance during the battle between the Richard
and the Serapis. The reason for their dislike of Jones is therefore
apparent. To carry out their designs they had circulated among the
crew statements to the effect that Jones had received the prize money
and was enjoying himself at their expense. The fine Italian hand of
Mr. Lee is to be seen in the documents they forwarded to Franklin.
Franklin's reply to this disgracefully insubordinate batch of letters
was remarkable for its tact, acumen, and good sense. After keenly
expressing his surprise that the very officers who had testified
against Landais a short time before, and whom Landais had stated were
all leagued against him, were now desirous of being placed again under
his command, he writes as follows:

"I have related exactly to Congress the manner of his [Landais']
leaving the ship, and though I declined any judgment of his maneuvers
in the fight, I have given it as my opinion, after examining the
affair, that it was not at all likely either that he should have given
orders to fire into the Bon Homme Richard, or that his officers should
have obeyed such an order should it have been given them. Thus I have
taken what care I could of your honour in that particular. You will,
therefore, excuse me if I am a little concerned for it in another. If
it should come to be publicly known that you had the strongest
aversion to Captain Landais, who has used you basely, and that it is
only since the last year's cruise, and the appointment of Commodore
Jones to the command, that you request to be again under your old
captain, I fear suspicions and reflections may be thrown upon you by
the world, as if this change of sentiment may have arisen from your
observation during the cruise, that _Captain Jones loved close
fighting_,[35] but that Captain Landais was skilful in keeping out of
harm's way; and that you, therefore, thought yourself safer with the
latter. For myself, I believe you to be brave men and lovers of your
country and its glorious cause; and I am persuaded you have only been
ill-advised and misled by the artful and malicious representations of
some persons I guess at. Take in good part this counsel from an old
man who is your friend. Go home peaceably with your ship. Do your duty
faithfully and cheerfully. Behave respectfully to your commander, and
I am persuaded he will do the same to you. Thus you will not only be
happier in your voyage, but recommend yourselves to the future favours
of Congress and of your country."

At the same time he specifically directed Landais to refrain from
meddling with the men or creating any disturbance on the Alliance at
his peril. To this letter Landais paid no attention. This was the
situation when Jones reached L'Orient. Franklin wrote him concerning
the letters and batch of documents from Landais and the crew, which
had arrived after his departure, and advised him what had been done in
consequence. The commissioner had procured an imperative order to the
authorities at L'Orient for the arrest of Landais, who was to be tried
for his life as an emigrant without the king's permission. Franklin
also directed Jones to withhold from the signers of the mutinous
letter any portion of the money he had advanced on account of the
prizes, and he added the firm and decided injunction that if any one
was not willing to trust his country to see justice done him he should
be put ashore at his own charges to await the sale of the prizes.

The situation was most critical, and that Franklin appreciated it
fully is shown by the following citation from one of his letters to

"... You are likely to have great trouble. I wish you well through it.
You have shown your abilities in fighting; you have now an opportunity
of showing the other necessary part in the character of a great chief,
your abilities in policy."

Before this letter was received, however, matters had risen to a
climax, which resulted in the ejection of Jones and the assumption of
the command by Landais. Immediately he arrived at L'Orient, Jones
hastened to get ready for leaving. The Ariel, a small ship of twenty
guns, had been loaned by the French Government to carry such supplies
as could not be taken on the Alliance. Several American vessels with
valuable cargoes were awaiting his departure also, to sail under his

Jones had gone on board the Alliance as usual, as his duty demanded,
and had been received respectfully and his orders promptly obeyed. On
the morning of the 13th of June, being now for the first time informed
of the mutinous action of the crew and the letters to Franklin, he
mustered the crew and caused his commission and Franklin's first order
to him to take command of the ship in the Texel, and his last one, to
carry her to Philadelphia, to be read to the men. He then addressed
the seamen, pointing out to them the obligations they had assumed, the
consequences of a refusal to obey him on their part, and urged them to
a faithful performance of their duty. He asked them, if any one had
any complaints to make against him, that they be made now. No reply
was made to this address, and no complaints were brought forward. The
men were then dismissed to their stations.

Shortly after this incident Jones went ashore. Landais was advised of
the whole situation immediately, and sent a letter to Degges, the
first lieutenant, ordering him to assume the command of the ship and
retain it in the face of Jones or any one else until Landais should
receive an answer to his demand to Franklin to be replaced in the
command of the Alliance. When he received this order, Landais stated
that he would at once come on board and take over the ship. Degges
mustered the crew again and read this letter. The adroit suggestions
of Mr. Lee and the insinuations as to Jones' alleged betrayal of their
interests by making off with the prize money had so worked on the
feelings of the men that they at once declared for Landais, who, on
being notified, promptly repaired to the ship and formally assumed

Dale and the officers of the Richard on the Alliance, who had not been
aware of these last proceedings, for they had been adroitly timed for
their dinner hour when they were below, were apprised of Landais'
arrival by the cheering on deck. They protested against his assuming
command, and were all sent ashore without ceremony. Mr. Lee seems to
have suggested and approved of the action of Landais; indeed, without
his sanction the latter would never have dared to take command of the

On the afternoon of the same day Jones dispatched a letter to Franklin
by express, relating the circumstances, and then immediately followed
in person, which was an unnecessary thing to do. On his arrival at
Paris he found that peremptory orders had already been sent post haste
to L'Orient to detain forcibly the Alliance, and reiterating the
command to arrest Landais. Franklin, appreciating the meddling of Lee,
withdrew his request to Jones to receive him as a passenger, and
stated that he might return to America in some of the other ships
going home under the convoy of the Alliance. Finding nothing more to
be done, after staying but two days, Jones returned to L'Orient as
quickly as possible. He arrived on the morning of the 20th of June,
having been absent six days.

During this time the Alliance had been warped out of the inner roads
into the narrow strait called Port Louis, which was inclosed by rocks
and commanded by batteries, which she would have to pass before she
could reach the outer roads of Groix. The peremptory orders to stop
the ship had not arrived, but the commander of the port under his
previous orders had caused a barrier to be drawn across the narrow
strait of Port Louis, and had ordered the forts to sink the frigate if
she attempted to pass out. When Jones arrived, a boat was sent off to
the ship by the port officer, carrying the king's order for the arrest
of Landais. He positively refused to surrender himself. Franklin's
latest orders to Landais and the officers and men were then delivered,
and were treated with equal contempt.

All this was another evidence of Landais' folly, for the Alliance was
completely in Jones' power. He had but to give the word to have caused
the batteries to open fire and sink her. She could neither have
escaped nor made adequate reply. Indeed, it is probable, from the
character of her captain, officers, and crew, that she would have made
little or no fight. But, according to Jones' specific statement, for
France, the avowed ally of America, to have opened fire upon an
American ship, and to have killed and wounded American sailors, would
have been a terrible misfortune, a thing greatly to be deplored, and
to be avoided if possible, lest the present friendly relations between
the two countries should be impaired by this action. The aid of France
was vital to the American cause at this juncture, and it was patent
that every effort should be made to promote harmony rather than sow
discord; therefore Jones reluctantly requested the commander to secure
his batteries, open the barrier, and allow the Alliance to get through
the strait. The French officers accordingly, in the absence of other
orders, stopped the preparations they had made to detain the frigate,
and expressed their admiration for the magnanimity of Jones in
allowing the Alliance to go free. As soon as he received permission,
Landais warped the Alliance through the passage between the rocks and
anchored in Groix roads. Safe out of harm's way, he had reached a
position from which he really could defy Jones and France at last, and
defy them he did, more boldly than ever.

It is impossible entirely to approve of Jones' conduct in this
complicated affair. He might have gone on board the Alliance the day
of the outbreak and confronted Landais. His own personality was so
strong that it seems probable he could have regained possession of the
ship in despite of anything the weak Landais could say or do. However,
if the spirit of the men had been so turned against him that in his
judgment this would have been impracticable, he certainly had the
situation entirely in his own hands when the Alliance lay under the
guns of the batteries. It was not necessary for the batteries to open
fire. If he had simply kept the pass closed Landais would have been
unable to get away, and it is difficult to see how he could have
avoided surrendering himself and yielding up his ship eventually. All
that would have been necessary for Jones to do would be to have
patience; that was a thing, however, of which he had but little
throughout his life. If he did not desire to wait, he could have
opened fire upon the ship, taking the risk of a rupture, or allowing
the blame, if any arose, to fall upon those who had put him in command
of the Alliance originally, and had continued him therein. I venture
to surmise that the first broadside would have brought down the flag
of the Alliance. In this action he would have been entirely within his
rights. If Jones really wanted her, he could have easily secured
possession of the ship.

Instead of doing any of these things, he let Landais and the Alliance
go. For this he is distinctly censurable. It is, perhaps, not
difficult to see why he permitted her to escape. I have no doubt he
loathed the officers and men upon her. He was probably sick of the
sight of her. He could contemplate with no satisfaction whatever a
cruise upon her, especially with Arthur Lee as a passenger, and he was
a gentleman whom it would have been difficult to dispose of.

There was, it has been surmised, still another and more pertinent
reason. The Serapis was still in the harbor. She had just been
purchased by the king. Jones' desire for her was as strong as
ever--stronger, if anything. Upward of five hundred tons of public
stores and munitions of war still remained to be taken to America. The
Ariel could not begin to carry it all. His dream was to beg or borrow
the Serapis, which, in conjunction with the Ariel, should transport
the stores to the United States, and then be refitted for warlike
cruising under his command. If he retained the Alliance this hope
would vanish. When the Alliance was warped out of the harbor he
promptly wrote to Franklin suggesting this plan. Meanwhile, he kept up
a hot fire of orders and letters upon Landais, who, being now out of
his power, treated his communications with silent contempt. When Jones
directed that his personal baggage be sent off from the Alliance,
Landais sent it to him in disgraceful condition, trunks broken open,
papers scattered, and much of his private property missing.

On the 28th he wrote to Landais ordering him not to sail without his
permission, and directing him to send eighty of his best seamen
riggers to assist in equipping the Ariel. Landais sent him twenty-two
people, of whom he wished to be rid, with an insolent note. When Jones
wrote to him for the balance of the men he had ordered, Landais would
not allow the officer carrying the order to come on board. A few days
after this he sailed for America, with many of the men of the Bon
Homme Richard, who still adhered to Jones, and who refused to assist
him in getting the ship under way, in irons in the hold.

To close a troublesome subject, it may be stated that the Alliance
reached Boston in August. The peculiar conduct of Landais on this
cruise so alarmed the officers and jeopardized the safety of the ship,
that by the advice of the meddlesome Lee--who was in this single
instance justified in his suggestions--he was summarily deprived of
the command of the ship on the plea of insanity, and kept closely
confined till they reached Boston. No one was more incensed against
him than his whilom upholder and defender, Lee. Landais was formally
tried by court-martial when he arrived in the United States and
dismissed the service. He got off lightly. He should have been hanged
from the yardarm of his own ship as an example and a warning to
mutinous traitors.


Early in the month of July Jones received the sword which had been
bestowed upon him by the king. He commented enthusiastically upon its
beauty and its value, saying that it had cost twenty-four hundred
dollars--a large sum for that day. The month was passed in preparing
the Ariel for departure, and in a vigorous correspondence with
Franklin and his friends, feminine and otherwise. On the 2d of August,
in a note to the Prime Minister, the Count de Vergennes, Jones
informed him that he was nearly ready to sail. The last of July
Franklin had sent him his final dispatches with the Count de Vauban,
who expected to sail with him, but for unexplained reasons Jones did
not take his departure until the 4th of September, when the Ariel was
warped out to the open roads of Groix. From the 4th of September to
the 7th of October he was detained, partly by contrary winds and
partly by a rumor, to which, perhaps, he should not have given
credence, that further dispatches were to be sent to him. On the 7th
of October, at two o'clock in the afternoon, he weighed anchor and put
to sea, convoying three merchant ships. The wind, being from the
north-northwest, blew fair for their departure, and the weather was
mild and pleasant.

The next morning the wind shifted and came in violent squalls from the
southward. The ship was not yet clear of the land. The island of Groix
lay about fifteen miles to the northeastward, and, as the weather
became very thick and the wind increased until it was blowing a
tremendous gale, they soon lost sight of the shore to the leeward. In
spite of their efforts, they were unable to make any headway against
the storm, and were accordingly carried down toward the Penmarque
Rocks, a series of sharp, low reefs, jagged needles of the sea,
terminating the southeastern extremity of the peninsula of Brittany,
among the most dangerous in the world. The ship was in that position
above all others dreaded by the mariner--drifting upon a lee shore in
a gale of wind. The Ariel had been put under close-reefed fore and
main sails, and her head laid to the northwest in the hope that she
might stretch along and clear the reefs; but the wind, increasing to a
perfect hurricane, in the language of Mackenzie, "smothered" the ship,
at last obliging Jones to furl the courses and prevented him from
showing even a storm staysail.

In the report of the officers it is stated that the storm had become
so violent that "the lee fore yardarm was frequently under water; the
lee gangway was laid entirely under water, and the lee side of the
waist was full." The water in the hold flowed into the cockpit,
notwithstanding the utmost efforts of the chain pumps. The ship was
very heavy laden, and lay deep in the water, dipping her yardarms with
every roll. As the tempest rose in violence it became impossible to
tell just where they were, as the murky darkness of the storm hid
every landmark. It was evident, however, from an inspection of the
compass that they were still drifting toward the shore. This fact was
confirmed by the rapid shoaling of the water, a fact Jones established
by personally taking successive casts with the hand lead. There was no
room to veer and get the ship headed the other way. If there had been,
the result would probably have been no different. In the face of such
a storm she would have continued to drift toward the reef. Their
progress to leeward was frightfully rapid. The ship was leaking badly,
and one of the chain pumps had become choked and refused to work.
Destruction seemed inevitable. In all his varied experiences Jones had
seen nothing like the storm. In his report he says that never before
did he fully conceive the awful majesty of a shipwreck. In their
distress, as a last resort, he determined to anchor.

A hasty consultation was had among the officers on the quarter-deck,
and this desperate resort was agreed upon. At eleven o'clock in the
morning the best bower anchor was let go with thirty fathoms of cable.
The effect was not perceptible. The ship was not brought to, and
continued to drift broadside on toward the land in the trough of the
sea. She dragged her anchor as if it had been a straw. Two other
cables were spliced on and veered out. Still she drove on. The
pressure of the gale upon the bare spars was tremendous. The wind
roared through the top-hamper with amazing velocity. The masts
quivered and buckled under the awful strain to which they were
subjected; the standing rigging to windward stood out as taut and
rigid as if it had been cut from bars of steel. As the frigate lay in
the trough of the sea the mighty waves tossed her about like a
cockboat. Broad sheets of foam swept over the deck, washing away
everything not tightly secured. To relieve the pressure and get the
ship to ride to her anchor, Jones now ordered the weather shrouds of
the foremast to be cut, and the wind instantly snapped off the mast
above the deck; with all its weight of spars and rigging it fell to
leeward and carried away the other bower anchor and a kedge anchor,
and smashed up the head badly.

This afforded some relief, for immediately after the anchor took hold
and the ship gradually swung head to the wind at last. Her drift
toward the rocks was not entirely checked, but while they were
hesitating as to what to do next, the mainmast, the heel of which had
been jerked out of its step by the violent motion of the ship, so that
it had been vibrating to and fro like a smitten reed, parted just
where it entered the main deck. The wind hurled the immense mass of
timber and cordage aft, where it fell across the decks, carrying with
it the mizzenmast, smashing the lee quarter gallery, and generally
wrecking the after part of the vessel. The ship was thus stripped of
her spars except the bowsprit, and they could do no more. If she did
not bring to her anchor and cease her drag toward the rocks, over
which the breakers could now be seen crashing with terrible force, and
with a roar heard above the mad noises of the tempest, they were lost.
They hastily cleared the wreck as they were able, letting it drift to
leeward, and waited with still hearts and bated breaths for the next
happening. No mere seamanship, no human skill could save them now.
They were in God's hands. Since their other anchor had been lost by
the fall of the foremast, if their present anchor gave way they were
helpless. Fortunately the stripped ship, relieved of the tremendous
pressure of the wind upon her top-hamper, at last rode to her anchor,
and her drift on the rocks was stopped. For the present they were
saved. They could do nothing now but wait and trust to the strength of
the iron fluke and the hempen cable. Fortunately, both held.

For two days and three nights the Ariel swung to that single anchor,
and passively endured the tremendous buffeting of wind and waves
within a short distance of the mighty reefs upon which, if she had
struck, every soul on board must have perished. For the greater part
of this time the motion of the mastless ship was so violent that the
most experienced seaman could not keep his legs upon the deck. On the
12th the gale had sufficiently moderated to permit the crew to erect
jury masts under which they could regain the harbor. The cable was
hove short, but the anchor could not be weighed, as it was probably
caught upon a rock. Indeed, nothing but a rock hold would have saved
them; so the cable was cut, and the battered Ariel limped back to
L'Orient, which she reached on the 13th of October. The gale was one
of the most severe with which that storm-bound coast had ever been
visited within the memory of man. The whole shore was strewed with
wrecks and the bodies of drowned men. The merchant ships of the convoy
were lost, with hundreds of other vessels. That the Ariel, in the most
dangerous position which could possibly have been imagined even,
escaped without loss of life was due to the Providence of God and the
brilliant seamanship of her captain. Long afterward Richard Dale wrote
thus of his commander's conduct in these trying circumstances:

"Never saw I such coolness and readiness in such frightful
circumstances as Paul Jones showed in the nights and days when we lay
off the Penmarques, expecting every moment to be our last; and the
danger was greater even than we were in when the Bon Homme Richard
fought the Serapis."

Two months were required to put the Ariel in shape for sea once more.
All the arms which she was carrying out for the use of the army had
been so damaged by water as to be useless. They were left behind and
their place supplied by other cargo. During this interval, when not
occupied in superintending the repairs to the ship, Jones amused
himself with his usual prolific correspondence. He had also a spirited
encounter with one Thomas Truxtun, afterward the distinguished naval
officer, at that time master of a privateer called the Independence.
Truxtun entered the harbor of L'Orient flying a pennant, the use of
which was restricted by act of Congress to regularly commissioned
vessels of war, except in the case of privateers cruising alone. A
sharp correspondence was carried on between Jones and Truxtun, who was
a mere boy at the time. Truxtun at first refused to haul down the
offending pennant, but was finally induced to do so by Richard Dale
and two heavily armed boats' crews from the Ariel. Jones was not to be
trifled with, and Truxtun received a good lesson in subordination and
obedience to law--always of value to a privateer.[36]

While the Ariel was being refitted, Jones, with his usual longing for
a first-class ship of war--a thing he never enjoyed during the whole
course of his life--through some influential friends made an attempt
to get the French Government to lend him the new and handsome frigate
Terpsichore, but his request, as usual, was not complied with. Just
before the Ariel sailed, Jones gave a grand entertainment on board of
her, to which he invited all his friends, which closed with an
exercise at general quarters, followed by a representation of battle,
which greatly alarmed his fair visitors.

On the 18th of December he took his departure once more. His last
letters to Madame d'Ormoy are very characteristic of Jones in his
capacity as a squire of dames, and well indicate his feelings at this

"I can not leave France without expressing how much I feel myself
honoured and obliged by the generous attention that you have shown to
my reputation in your journal. I will ever have the most ardent desire
to merit the spontaneous praise of beauty and her pen; and it is
impossible to be more grateful than I am for the very polite
attentions I received at Paris and Versailles. My particular thanks
are due to you, madam, for the personal proofs I have received of your
esteem and friendship, and for the happiness you procured me in the
society of the charming countess, and other ladies and gentlemen of
your circle. But I have a favour to ask of you, madam, which I hope
you will grant me. You tell me in your letter that the inkstand I had
the honour to present to you, as a small token of my esteem, shall be
reserved for the purpose of writing what concerns me; now I wish you
to see my idea in a more expanded light, and would have you make use
of that inkstand to instruct mankind, and support the dignity and
rights of human nature."

In another letter to the same lady he says:

"It is impossible to be more sensible than I am of the obligation
conferred on me by your attentions and kind remembrance, joined to
that of the belle comtesse, your fair daughters, and the amiable
ladies and gentlemen of your society. I have returned without laurels
and, what is worse, without having been able to render service to the
glorious cause of liberty. I know not why Neptune was in such anger,
unless he thought it was an affront in me to repair on his ocean with
so insignificant a force. It is certain that till the night of the 8th
I did not fully conceive the awful majesty of tempest and shipwreck. I
can give you no just idea of the tremendous scene that Nature then
presented, which surpassed the reach even of poetic fancy and the
pencil. I believe no ship was ever before saved from an equal danger
off the point of the Penmarque rocks. I am extremely sorry that the
young English lady you mention should have imbibed the national hatred
against me. I have had proofs that many of the first and finest ladies
of that nation are my friends. Indeed, I can not imagine why any fair
lady should be my enemy, since, upon the large scale of universal
philanthropy, I feel, acknowledge, and bend before the sovereign power
of beauty. The English may hate me, but _I will force them to esteem
me too_."[37]

The voyage was uneventful. Jones chose the southern passage, which was
less frequented by ships than the more direct route; the value of his
cargo being so great and the force of his vessel so small, he did not
wish to run any risk of being captured on this cruise. When they had
reached a point about twelve hundred miles east of Florida and nine
hundred miles north of Barbadoes, in latitude 26° N., longitude 60°
W., they were chased by a sail, which appeared to be a large frigate.
Jones, for the reasons mentioned, endeavored by crowding sail on the
Ariel to escape--his reputation for courage and intrepidity was
sufficiently high to allow him to run away without any imputation
being warranted by this action--but the stranger had the heels of the
Ariel, and gradually overhauled her. Night came on before she came
within range, and Jones hoped to run away from her in the darkness;
but his efforts to elude his pursuer were unavailing, and when day
dawned she was still close at hand.

The wind fell during the morning, and the two ships maintained their
relative positions all day. Toward evening the breeze became stronger
again, and the stranger began to draw up on the Ariel. As she came
nearer, Jones discovered that she was not so formidable a vessel as he
had imagined, and he determined to effect her capture. Making a great
show of endeavoring to escape, therefore, he cleared ship for action,
sent his men to quarters, and permitted his pursuer to overhaul him.
She ranged alongside the lee beam just at nightfall. Both ships were
flying the English flag. Jones was ready for action, the other ship
was not. The quartermaster of the Ariel, whose duty it was to hoist
the flags, had unfortunately allowed one end of the halliards to
escape him. Jones had intended, as the stranger ranged alongside, to
haul down the English flag and substitute the American colors, then,
crossing the enemy's bows, pour in a broadside and capture her by
boarding; but this petty neglect, or trifling accident, on the part of
the quartermaster made it impossible to haul down the flag at the
appointed time, so the opportunity was lost and the project had to be
given over. Vessels of war, when maneuvering for position, frequently
sail under strange colors, but it is a point of honor, invariably
observed, which, so far as my knowledge goes, has not been disregarded
in civilized warfare--if that phrase be permissible--to fight under
one's own flag.

Having lost his opportunity from this unfortunate mischance, Jones
necessarily entered into a conversation with the other ship, while he
made preparations for further maneuvering. What is known in sea
parlance as "a regular gam" ensued. The conversation lasted for some
time, during which he discovered that their pursuer was the Triumph,
an American-built ship of twenty guns, Captain John Pindar, an equal
match for the Ariel. She was a British privateer, though Jones and his
men considered her a man-of-war. Pindar probably told them so to
increase his prestige. After learning all that he could about English
affairs in America from the garrulous captain of the privateer, who
must have been extraordinarily stupid, Jones directed him to lower a
boat and come on board with his commission to prove that he was really
an Englishman. Pindar refused to do this, and Jones, watch in hand,
said he would allow him just five minutes for reflection as to the
disastrous consequences of a refusal to comply with this request.
During this interval the Englishman endeavored to clear ship for
action, his men not having gone to quarters before--a great piece of
carelessness and neglect.

At the expiration of the appointed time, Pindar still proving
obdurate, Jones backed his ship on the weather quarter of the Triumph,
put his helm up, crossed her stern, and poured in a broadside which
raked her at short range and naturally did much execution. He then
ranged alongside the lee beam of the privateer, and for ten minutes
poured in a vigorous fire. The resistance of the enemy, at first
spirited, had grown more feeble, until at the end of that time Pindar
hauled down his flag and begged for quarter, saying when he
surrendered that half his crew were killed or wounded. The Ariel's men
left their stations and gave three cheers, but the erstwhile stupid
Pindar proved to be a more wily antagonist than they imagined. His
ship had gradually moved ahead of the Ariel during the contest, and
now, suddenly putting up his helm and throwing out his studding sails,
he ran off dead before the wind, with all his killed and wounded. The
unsuspecting and astonished Americans on the Ariel endeavored to
follow the man who had so cleverly eluded them, but their overloaded
ship was no match in sailing for the swift privateer, which soon made
good her escape in the night.

Jones was naturally much disgusted at the outcome of this engagement,
and in his journal he properly comments upon Pindar's action as

"The English captain may properly be called a knave, because, after he
surrendered his ship, begged for and obtained quarter, he basely ran
away, contrary to the laws of naval war and the practice of civilized

Jones stated that he never had seen a ship better fought by a crew
than the Ariel had been in this instance. However, the usual
conspiracy to rise and take the ship was discovered among the English
members of the crew later on. It was thwarted by his vigorous
measures, and on the 17th of February, 1781, the Ariel dropped anchor
in the harbor of Philadelphia, just three years, three months, and
sixteen days from the departure of the Ranger at Portsmouth.


When Jones arrived at Philadelphia, the Board of Admiralty was engaged
in investigating the delay in bringing the stores from France.
Franklin, Jones, and Landais were under discussion. For his share in
the performance, and for other actions mentioned, Landais had already
been punished, as we have seen. Jones, therefore, was at once summoned
before the board, but before he reported to them they dismissed the
summons and instead requested him to answer in writing an exhaustive
series of questions covering his actions from the time of his arrival
at L'Orient the year before. Jones immediately set about preparing his
replies, meanwhile sending Franklin's note and De Sartine's letter to
the President to Congress, which, on the 27th of February, adopted the
following resolutions:

"_Resolved_, That the Congress entertain a high sense of the
distinguished bravery and military conduct of John Paul Jones, Esq.,
captain in the navy of the United States, and particularly in his
victory over the British frigate Serapis on the coast of England,
which was attended with circumstances so brilliant as to excite
general applause and admiration.

"That the Minister Plenipotentiary of these United States, at the
Court of Versailles, communicate to his Most Christian Majesty, the
high satisfaction Congress has received from the conduct and gallant
behaviour of Captain John Paul Jones, which have merited the attention
and approbation of his Most Christian Majesty, and that his Majesty's
offer of adorning Captain Jones with a Cross of Military Merit, is
highly acceptable to Congress."

In accordance with the permission conveyed by these flattering
resolutions, the French Minister, M. de la Luzerne, gave a splendid
entertainment, to which the members of Congress and the principal
citizens of Philadelphia were invited. Before this distinguished
company, in the name of the king, the commodore, wearing his beautiful
sword, was invested with the cross of a Knight of the Order of
Military Merit. It is stated that Jones habitually wore this
decoration thereafter, and referred to himself, and desired to be
addressed, by the title of Chevalier, which was conferred with it.

On the 28th of March, having carefully considered his answers to the
questions, the board declared itself as fully satisfied that the delay
had not been owing to Jones or Franklin, and stated to Congress in an
enthusiastic document that the conduct of Jones merited some
distinguished mark of approbation. In accordance with this
recommendation, on the 14th of April the following resolution was

"That the thanks of the United States, in Congress assembled, be given
to Captain John Paul Jones, for the zeal, prudence, and intrepidity
with which he hath supported the honour of the American flag; for his
bold and successful enterprises, to redeem from captivity the citizens
of these States, who had fallen under the power of the enemy; and, in
general, for the good conduct and eminent services by which he has
added lustre to his character and to the American arms.

"That the thanks of the United States, in Congress assembled, be also
given to the officers and men who have faithfully served under him
from time to time, for their steady affection to the cause of their
country, and the bravery and perseverance they have manifested

The thanks of Congress, the highest honor an officer can receive, were
given to but five other officers during the Revolution--viz., to
Washington, for the capture of Boston; to Gates, for taking Burgoyne;
to Wayne, for the storming of Stony Point; to Morgan, for the victory
at the Cowpens; and to Greene, for his success at Eutaw Springs.
Jones, therefore, stood in distinguished company.

On the 19th of May, to all of these honors was added a further
evidence of esteem, which was perhaps as valuable as any that he had
received. It came in the shape of the following letter from

"Sir: My partial acquaintance with either our naval or commercial
affairs makes it altogether impossible for me to account for the
unfortunate delay of those articles of military stores and clothing
which have been so long provided in France. Had I any particular
reasons to have suspected you of being accessory to that delay, which
I assure you has not been the case, my suspicions would have been
removed by the very full and satisfactory answers, which you have, to
the best of my judgment, made to the questions proposed to you by the
Board of Admiralty, and upon which that board have, in their report to
Congress, testified the high sense which they entertain of your merit
and services.

"Whether our naval affairs have, in general, been well or ill
conducted it would be presumptuous for me to determine. Instances of
bravery and good conduct in several of our officers have not, however,
been wanting. Delicacy forbids me to mention _that particular one_
which has attracted the admiration of all the world, and which has
influenced a most illustrious monarch to confer a mark of his favour
which can only be obtained by a long and honourable service, or by the
performance of some brilliant action.

"That you may long enjoy the reputation you have so justly acquired is
the sincere wish of, Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,

"George Washington."

An attempt was made in Congress to promote him to the grade of rear
admiral--which he certainly deserved--and a resolution to that effect
was introduced. Owing, however, to jealousy among certain other
officers whom he would have superseded, the effort fell through. This
would have settled the long and tiresome contention on the question of
relative rank, and naturally would have been most agreeable to Jones.
However, the matter was settled in a more indirect but perhaps equally
satisfactory way.

On the 23d of June, Robert Morris became Minister of Marine in
succession to the Board of Admiralty, which was abolished, and on that
same day Congress resolved to take a ballot three days later to
designate the commander of the America, a magnificent ship of the
line, building at Portsmouth, which was then believed to be nearly
ready for launching. On the 26th of June, the ballot being taken, it
was found that Paul Jones had been unanimously chosen for the
position. Since the act of Congress on the 15th of November, 1776,
made a captain of a ship of from twenty to forty guns equal to a
lieutenant colonel, while a captain of a ship of forty guns and upward
was made equal to a colonel, and as he was the only officer intrusted
with so large a command, Jones was thus in effect placed at the head
of the navy list. He certainly belonged there. With his usual good
sense he notes in his journal his satisfaction, as follows:

"Thus Congress took a delicate method to avoid cabal and to do
justice. It was more agreeable to Captain Jones to be so honourably
elected captain of the line than to have been, as was proposed by the
committee, raised at once to the rank of rear admiral, because
Congress had not then the means of giving a command suitable to that

By direction of Robert Morris, at this time he presented his accounts
to Congress. He had received no pay and but little prize money since
his entry into the service, and, as has been stated, had advanced
large sums of money from his private funds for the payment of officers
and crew. The Government indebtedness to him amounted to some
twenty-seven thousand dollars, but no money was forthcoming,
consequently on the 28th of July he was actually compelled to ask for
an advance of four hundred pounds to pay current expenses and small
debts in Philadelphia, and enable him to proceed to New Hampshire and
enter upon his duties. This he appears to have received. He stopped
_en route_ at New Rochelle, where he was handsomely entertained by
Washington and de Rochambeau, both of whom he had great pleasure in
meeting. As he received a hint at the army headquarters that his
decoration and title might be obnoxious to the sturdy New Englanders,
he thereafter discontinued wearing the cross for a space. He reached
Portsmouth toward the last of August, and found that the America was
still on the ways and would not be ready to put to sea for months.
This was a great disappointment to him, but he set to work with his
usual zeal to further the work of getting the ship ready for

During his wanderings he had collected a most valuable professional
library, and he now found leisure to devote a good part of his time to
study, some of the results of which appeared in the improvements which
he carried out on the America. As usual, he also resumed his
correspondence. In his letters of this period are many excellent
suggestions looking to the welfare and future development of the naval
service. Many of these suggestions were subsequently adopted in the
service. The following letter, dated August 12, 1782, which he
received from John Adams, then minister at The Hague, is pleasant

"The command of the America could not have been more judiciously
bestowed; and it is with impatience that I wish her at sea, where she
will do honour to her name. Nothing gives me so much surprise, or so
much regret, as the inattention of my countrymen to their navy; it is
a bulwark as essential to us as it is to Great Britain.[38] It is less
costly than armies, and more easily removed from one end of the United
States to the other.

"Rodney's victory has intoxicated Britain again to such a degree that
I think there will be no peace for some time. Indeed, if I could see a
prospect of half a dozen line of battle ships under the American flag,
commanded by Commodore John Paul Jones, engaged with an equal British
force, I apprehend the event would be so glorious for the United
States, and ay, so sure a foundation for their prosperity, that it
would be a rich compensation for a continuance of the war."

When Jones heard of the movement which resulted in the surrender of
Cornwallis at Yorktown, he had expressed a desire to serve as a
volunteer in the army for the campaign under Lafayette. He pined for
action always. On this subject he received the following affectionate
letter from that gallant Frenchman:

"_December 22, 1781_.

"I have been honoured with your polite favour, my dear Paul Jones, but
before it reached me I was already on board the Alliance, and every
minute expecting to put to sea. It would have afforded me great
satisfaction to pay my respects to the inhabitants of Portsmouth, and
the State in which you are for the present. As to the pleasure to take
you by the hand, my dear Paul Jones, you know my affectionate
sentiments, and my very great regard for you, so that I need not add
anything on that subject.

"Accept of my best thanks for the kind expressions in your letter. His
Lordship's [Lord Cornwallis] downfall is a great event, and the
greater as it was equally and amicably shared by the two allied
nations. Your coming to the army I had the honour to command would
have been considered as a very flattering compliment to one who loves
you and knows your worth. I am impatient to hear that you are ready to
sail, and I am of opinion that we ought to unite under you every
Continental ship we can muster, with such a body of well-appointed
marines [_troupes de mer_] as might cut a good figure ashore, and then
give you plenty of provisions and _carte blanche_."

It would appear from the letters that both Adams and Lafayette held a
similar opinion of the capacity of the great commodore.

On the occasion of the rejoicings at Portsmouth over the surrender of
Cornwallis he ventured to assume his cross of knighthood again, and,
finding that no objections were made, he continued to wear it on all
occasions, and he also resumed the title of Chevalier. The fall, the
winter, and the following summer passed quietly and pleasantly for the
little captain, busily engaged in writing, waiting, working, planning,
and drawing. On the whole I think this must have been, after Paris,
the happiest period of his life. He made many friends, and was much
looked up to by the people of Portsmouth and vicinity. There was a
spice of excitement about his work as well, which relieved the
monotony, for the enemy conceived various projects to destroy the
America, which could not be put in operation owing to the vigorous
watchfulness of Jones, who armed and drilled and exercised his workmen
for guarding the ship. The birth of the French Dauphin was celebrated
elaborately in the summer of 1782.

Toward the last of August the ship was about ready for launching, and
Jones cherished high hopes of soon getting to sea in her.
Unfortunately, however, a squadron of French ships of the line, under
the Marquis de Vaudreuil, entered the harbor of Boston at this time,
and one of them, named the Magnifique, was stranded on a rock and
lost. Congress, by a resolution dated the 3d of September, presented
the America to the French king as a recompense for the loss of the
Magnifique, and on the 4th of September Morris sadly acquainted Jones
with the decision. To be compelled to turn over the great ship, in
which he had hoped to do such brilliant service, to the French was a
tremendous disappointment to the commodore, but he wrote in so noble
and magnanimous a manner to Morris on the subject that the latter at
once said to him that the sentiments which he had expressed would
always reflect the highest honor upon his character. In fact, Jones'
words made so strong an impression upon the mind of Morris that he
immediately submitted his letter to Congress.

The America was launched on the 5th of November. The operation of
getting her into the water was a difficult one on account of the
peculiar lay of the land opposite the ways, but Jones accomplished it
with his usual skill and address. When the ship was safely moored he
turned her over to the Chevalier de Martigne, the former captain of
the Magnifique, and on the next day he started for Philadelphia. The
America was reputed to be one of the most beautiful and effective
ships afloat.

Morris, who was a great admirer and an old friend of Jones, now
desired to place him in command of that vessel which had been the
object of his desire for so many years, the frigate Indien, which, by
a queer combination of circumstances, had finally been brought to
Philadelphia. The King of France, having no use for the ship, had lent
her to the Chevalier de Luxembourg, who had entered into a business
arrangement with a certain sea captain named Gillon, who was employed
by the State of South Carolina to command a small naval force which
had been equipped for the protection of her coasts, Gillon assuming
the title of commodore.

The Indien, now called the South Carolina, had been a rather fortunate
cruiser. Gillon had captured a number of merchantmen, and had joined
in another successful expedition to New Providence. He had then
proceeded to Philadelphia. As he was indebted to the United States for
advances of large sums of money, and as he had made no accounting to
the Chevalier de Luxembourg for his share of the prizes, it was
thought by Robert Morris and Luzerne, the French Minister, who
represented Luxembourg, that if they could get control of this
frigate, by placing it under Jones' command with other ships, they
could create a formidable force to cruise against the enemy.

But Gillon contrived to evade the legal process by which the claimants
sought to insure the payment of their dues, and, in spite of the
efforts made to detain him, he succeeded in carrying the Indien to
sea, where she was promptly captured just as she cleared the capes of
the Delaware by the Diomede, the Astrea, and the Quebec, three English
frigates stationed particularly to intercept her.

Disappointed again in his hope of getting a command by these untoward
circumstances, Jones requested permission to embark as a volunteer in
the squadron of De Vaudreuil, which was destined to take part in a
proposed grand expedition to France and Spain against Jamaica. Morris
forwarded Jones' request to Congress with a strong recommendation, and
that body at once passed the following resolutions:

"_Resolved_, That the agent of marine be informed that Congress,
having a high sense of the merit and services of Captain J. P. Jones,
and being disposed to favor the zeal manifested by him to acquire
improvement in the line of his profession, do grant the permission
which he requests, and that the said agent be instructed to recommend
him accordingly to the countenance of his Excellency, the Marquis de

Admiral de Vaudreuil was graciously pleased to receive the chevalier
on his flagship, the Triomphante, where he treated him with the
highest consideration, even sharing his cabin with him. The expedition
came to nothing, and though Jones probably enjoyed ample opportunity
for observing the handling of the fleet, he saw no actual service, to
his great disappointment; instead of which he became seriously ill
with intermittent fever. At Porto Cabello, on the 4th of April, 1783,
he received the news of the signing of the treaty of peace, and this
stern warrior, who was supposed to live only for fighting, thus
expressed himself concerning the subject:

"The most brilliant success, and the most instructive experience in
war, could not have given me a pleasure comparable with that which I
received when I learned that Great Britain had, after so long a
contest, been forced to acknowledge the independence and sovereignty
of the United States of America."

Jones shortly thereafter left the French fleet and returned to
Philadelphia, where he arrived on the 18th of May, 1783. He was still
very ill. He carried with him the two following letters to the French
Minister from de Vaudreuil and the Baron de Viomenil, who commanded
the land forces on board the fleet.

From the Marquis de Vaudreuil:

"M. Paul Jones, who embarked with me, returns to his beloved country.
I was very glad to have him. His well-deserved reputation caused me to
accept his company with much pleasure, and I had no doubt that we
should meet with some occasions in which his talents might be
displayed. But peace, for which I can not but rejoice, interposes an
obstacle which renders our separation necessary. Permit me, sir, to
pray you to recommend him to his chiefs. The particular acquaintance I
have formed with him since he has been on board the Triomphante makes
me take a lively interest in his fortunes, and I shall feel much
obliged if you find means of doing him services."

From the Baron de Viomenil:

"M. Paul Jones, who will have the honour of delivering to you, sir,
this letter, has for five months deported himself among us with such
wisdom and modesty as add infinitely to the reputation gained by his
courage and exploits. I have reason to believe that he has preserved
as much the feeling of gratitude and attachment toward France as of
patriotism and devotion to the cause of America. Such being his titles
to attention, I take the liberty of recommending to you his interests,
near the President and Congress."

He was in some doubt as to his future career, but for the present the
state of his health rendered it necessary for him to abstain from
active duty. As a matter of fact, there was practically no American
navy in existence at the close of the war, and no duty for him to
undertake. The commodore's constitution was much shattered, and the
wasting fever still clung to him. He removed, therefore, by the advice
of his physician, to the village of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he
passed the summer in rest and retirement, and his health gradually
improved under the careful treatment he received. He seems to have had
in mind the project of settling down and forming an establishment
somewhere, and marrying "some fair daughter of liberty," and he wrote
to some friends in regard to an estate he desired to purchase near
Newark, New Jersey. However, the design fell through, mainly because
he was unable to realize upon his resources, as his expense account
had not been paid by Congress, and no prize money was yet forthcoming.
While awaiting the complete restoration of his health he prepared
several plans for organizing a navy for the new country, all of which
are distinguished by his usual insight and skill. Many of the plans,
including the germ of a proposed naval academy in the shape of a
school-ship filled with cadets, were adopted with profit to the naval
service and the country in after years. But the new nation was too
poor and the central government too weak at that time to accept any of
these suggestions. Finally, by an act of Congress, dated November 1,
1783, in accordance with the report of a committee of which Mr. Arthur
Lee was a member--singular revolution of time which put him in the
position of upholding Jones!--he was appointed a special commissioner
to solicit and receive the money due from France for the prizes taken
by the Bon Homme Richard and his squadron. He was, of course, to act
under the direction of the American Minister, Franklin, and was
required to give bond to the amount of two hundred thousand dollars
for the faithful performance of his duty. It is an evidence of his
high reputation for probity and honor that he found no difficulty in
securing signers to his bond.


On the 10th of November Jones sailed from Philadelphia to Havre in the
packet Washington. Being detained by contrary winds, however, he put
into Plymouth on the 30th of November, his first visit to England,
save as an enemy, for many years. He there left the ship and went to
London for a conference with Adams, the minister, who informed him
that his dispatches for Franklin probably contained instructions for
concluding the commercial treaty with England, and advised him to
hasten. He therefore repaired immediately to Paris, where he arrived
on the 4th of December. He was most kindly received by the Maréchal de
Castries, the new Minister of Marine, and by the king and queen.
Society, too, welcomed him with open arms. He immediately set about
the task which had been allotted to him, with his characteristic
energy. For a year and a half he successfully combated the various
efforts of the French Government to make deductions from the amount
realized from the sale of the prizes on one pretext or another, and on
the 23d of October, 1784, de Castries at last approved of the account.

There were further delays, as usual, and the matter dragged until
January, 1785, when he wrote to de Castries as follows:

"From the great number of affairs more important that engage your
attention, I presume this little matter which concerns me, in a small
degree personally, but chiefly as the agent of the brave men who
served under my orders in Europe, may have escaped your memory. My
long silence is a proof that nothing but necessity could have
prevailed on me to take the liberty of reminding your Excellency of
your promise."

As usual, his persistence at last received its reward in the shape of
an order on the Royal Auditor at L'Orient for the money. He set out
for L'Orient in July, and there stirred up a further nest of troubles,
which, however, he managed to triumph over by the display of his usual
qualities, and at the end of September, 1785, the account, amounting
to one hundred and eighty-one thousand livres, etc., was paid to
him.[39] He charged no commission for collecting this money, but his
expenses for the period of his sojourn in France were placed at the
large sum of forty-eight thousand livres; to this was added thirteen
thousand livres as his share of the prize money, making a total of
sixty-one thousand livres, which he appropriated to himself. After
paying certain persons then living in France who were entitled to
share in the prize money, he turned over to Thomas Jefferson, who had
succeeded Franklin, the sum of one hundred and twelve thousand livres,
to be returned to the United States for the use of the officers and
men entitled to participate in the distribution.

The charges that he made for his personal expenses were certainly very
large, but there is not the slightest reason to infer, as has been
insinuated, that he falsified the account--every reason to think the
contrary, in fact. I have no doubt that he actually spent all that he
claimed to have done--probably more, for he was as apt to spend as he
was to fight--but the amount is greatly in excess of what should have
been properly expended, or at least charged against the total for
legitimate living expenses. As I have stated, however, he was
supremely indifferent to money, his own or other people's, and it
passed easily through his hands; although, so far as is known, he
avoided debts and promptly paid his bills. He had great ideas as to
the exalted nature of his position and the dignity of the country he
represented, and he did not stint himself in anything. It was an
expensive court, and he ruffled it royally with the best. He moved as
an equal in an extravagant and gay society, and he allowed no
considerations as to economy to restrain him from standing among the
freest and highest. We need not censure him too severely in the
premises, for the account was afterward investigated by Congress and
his expenditures approved.

During his long stay in France the fertile mind of the chevalier was
busied with various projects to advance his fortunes, among which was
a design which he conceived in conjunction with the famous navigator
and explorer Ledyard, who had gone around the world with the more
famous Captain Cook. The two men proposed to engage in the fur trade
in the then comparatively unexplored and unknown waters of the Pacific
Ocean. The affair assumed a considerable state of forwardness, but was
finally dropped on account of lack of necessary funds, the expenses
proving much greater than either of the projectors had imagined they
would be. In view of the vast fortunes which have been made
subsequently in pursuance of this very idea, the conception throws an
interesting light upon the keen business quality of the commodore's
mind.[40] As a light relaxation he had his bust made by the celebrated
sculptor Houdon, copies of which he presented, with wide generosity,
to a number of his friends. The bust was made at the instance of the
French Masonic lodge of Three Sisters, of which he was an honored

Early in 1787, upon the advice of Jefferson, he determined to repair
to Denmark to see what he could do to further the payment of the claim
for indemnity, amounting to forty thousand pounds, caused by the
delivery of the prizes of his famous squadron to the English at
Bergen. He had reached Brussels on his journey to Copenhagen when he
decided to return to America for two reasons: In the first place,
Jefferson had no authority to approve the account of the commodore in
the matter of prize money recently received from France. He had simply
acted as a medium of transmittal of the balance handed him to the
United States. The Treasury Board of Audit, to which the account and
the accompanying balance had been submitted, strongly disapproved of
the large item covering personal expenses, and Jones, when he heard
their views, felt it incumbent upon him to return to America
immediately to insure the acceptance of his statement and the
adjustment of the account. In the second place, another motive for his
return was on account of lack of funds. He had expected to receive at
Brussels remittances from some investments in bank stock in the United
States to enable him to proceed to Copenhagen, but they were not
forthcoming. It would appear that he had spent all of his prize money,
etc., which indicates his careless extravagance in monetary
matters.[41] Accordingly, he abandoned his Danish trip for the time,
and returned to the United States in the spring of 1787.

His explanations of his personal expenditures, while they may not have
convinced the auditors, were apparently satisfactory to Congress, to
which the matter had been referred, for his accounts were soon
approved, and Congress did him a singular honor in passing the
following resolutions, which certainly could never have been adopted
if there had been in the minds of any of the members the least cloud
upon his financial reputation:

"_Resolved_, That a medal of gold be struck, and presented to the
Chevalier Paul Jones in commemoration of the valor and brilliant
service of that officer in the command of a squadron of American and
French ships under the flag and commission of the United States, off
the coast of Great Britain, in the late war; and that the Honourable
Mr. Jefferson, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at the
court of Versailles, have the same executed with the proper devices."

The fact that eight years had elapsed since the event commemorated
shows that this action of Congress was not the result of any sudden
enthusiasm, but was deliberate and therefore more valuable. In
addition to this unique tribute to his worth and services, the same
august body addressed the following personal letter to the king, Louis

"Great and beloved Friend: We, the United States, in Congress
assembled, in consideration of the distinguished mark of approbation
with which your Majesty has been pleased to honour the Chevalier John
Paul Jones, as well as from a sense of his merit, have unanimously
directed a medal of gold to be struck and presented to him, in
commemoration of his valour and brilliant services while commanding a
squadron of French and American ships, under our flag and commission,
off the coast of Great Britain in the late war.

"As it is his earnest desire to acquire knowledge in his profession,
we cannot forbear requesting your Majesty to permit him to embark in
your fleets of evolution, where only it will be probably in his power
to acquire that knowledge, which may hereafter render him most
extensively useful.

"Permit us to repeat to your Majesty our sincere assurances that the
various and important benefits for which we are indebted to your
friendship will never cease to interest us in whatever may concern the
happiness of your Majesty, your family, and people. We pray God to
keep you, our great and beloved friend, under his holy protection.

"Done at the City of New York, the sixteenth day of October, in the
year of our Lord 1787, and of our sovereignty and independence the

This was presumably a reply to the official communication of De
Sartine which has been cited before. So far as I know, Jones remains
to this day the only officer so commended. Before this action of
Congress he had written the following letter to Jay, the Secretary of
State, which may have suggested the official letter to the French

"... My private business here being already finished, I shall in a few
days re-embark for Europe, in order to proceed to the court of
Denmark. It is my intention to go by the way of Paris, in order to
obtain a letter to the French Minister at Copenhagen, from the Count
de Montmorin, as the one I obtained is from the Count de Vergennes. It
would be highly flattering to me if I could carry a letter with me
from Congress to his most Christian Majesty, thanking him for the
squadron he did us the honour to support under our flag. And on this
occasion, sir, permit me, with becoming diffidence, to recall the
attention of my sovereign to the letter of recommendation I brought
with me from the court of France dated 30th of May, 1780. It would be
pleasing to me if that letter should be found to merit a place on the
journals of Congress. Permit me also to entreat that Congress will be
pleased to read the letter I received from the Minister of Marine,
when his Majesty deigned to bestow on me a golden-hilted sword,
emblematical of the happy alliance, an honour which his Majesty never
conferred on any other foreign officer. . . .

"It is certain that I am much flattered by receiving a gold sword from
the most illustrious monarch now living; but I had refused to accept
his commission on two occasions before that time, when some firmness
was necessary to resist the temptation; he was not my sovereign. I
served the cause of freedom, and honours from my sovereign would be
more pleasing. Since the year 1775, when I displayed the American flag
for the first time with my own hands, I have been constantly devoted
to the interests of America. Foreigners have, perhaps, given me too
much credit, and this may have raised my ideas of my services above
their real value; but my zeal can never be overrated.

"I should act inconsistently if I omitted to mention the dreadful
situation of our unhappy fellow citizens in slavery at Algiers. Their
almost hopeless fate is a deep reflection on our national character in
Europe. I beg leave to influence the humanity of Congress in their
behalf, and to propose that some expedient may be adopted for their
redemption. A fund might be raised for that purpose by a duty of a
shilling per month from seamen's wages throughout the continent, and I
am persuaded that no difficulty would be made to that requisition."

This is the first mention of a matter which had recently come to his
notice, and ever after engaged his attention--the dreadful situation
of the Americans held captive in the Barbary States. The first public
agitation for the amelioration of their unfortunate condition came
from him, and the glorious little struggle by which the United States,
a few years after his death, broke the power of these pirates, and
alone among the nations of the world made them respect a national
flag, had its origin in the love and sympathy of Paul Jones for the
prisoner wherever he might be--a significant fact generally forgotten.

On the 25th of October Congress passed some strong resolutions on the
subject of the failure of Denmark to pay the claim referred to above,
and instructed Jefferson to dispatch the Chevalier Paul Jones to
prosecute the claim at the Danish court, stating, however, that no
final settlement or adjustment must be made without the approval of
the minister. There was a decided difference between the two
commissions with which Congress honored Jones.

In the first instance, in France, he was simply to obtain what had
been actually received by the French Government from the sale of
certain prizes; the amount in question was not in negotiation save for
some allowances or deductions which did not greatly affect the total
one way or the other. In other words, he was simply to collect, if he
could, a just and admitted debt, and, after deducting expenses, divide
it in accordance with a certain recognized principle so far as his own
share, or the share of any one in Europe, was concerned, and remit the
balance to Congress for action. In the second instance, he was charged
with the more delicate and responsible work of pressing a claim for
heavy damages based on the estimated value of prizes which the Danish
Government had illegally returned to their original owners, the whole
transaction on their part constituting an unfriendly and unlawful act,
which could easily be magnified into a _casus belli_. In the first
case he was to collect a bill for forty thousand dollars; in the
second, to secure an admittance of obligation, establish the justice
of a claim for five times the first amount, and force a payment. The
second commission was the more honorable because the more responsible,
and is another proof of the continued and, in fact, increased
confidence in him which was felt by Congress.

The propriety, therefore, of associating him with Thomas Jefferson, by
requiring the approval of the latter to any final settlements, can not
be questioned. It can not be considered in any sense as a reflection
upon Jones. It was the usual and common practice under such important
circumstances to associate several negotiators to conduct the affair.
The action was unfortunate, however, as it was made a pretext by the
Danish Government for delaying the settlement. They had already
compromised their contention of the legality of their action in giving
up the ships by offering to settle with Franklin for ten thousand
pounds, which offer had been refused.

One other incident of his stay in his country--the last visit he was
destined to pay to it, by the way--brings upon the scene for the last
time one of the principal actors in the drama of Jones' life. During
his stay in New York, in the month of October, he was conversing with
a friend while standing on Water Street, when Captain Landais, who had
made his home in Brooklyn since his dismissal from the navy,
approached them. Jones' back was turned, and when Mr. Milligan, his
friend, told him of the advent of the Frenchman, he continued his
conversation without turning around. Landais approached slowly,
wearing a vindictive smile. When a few yards away from the two
gentlemen, he halted, spat upon the pavement, remarked, "I spit in his
face," and passed on. Mr. Milligan asked Jones if he had heard
Landais' remark, and he replied that he had not. Nothing further was
said about the incident at that time. Landais, however, circulated
reports of the meeting derogatory to Jones' character, and in reply
the chevalier published a statement of the occurrence signed by Mr.
Milligan, and added that his respect for the public had induced him to
establish the falsity of Landais' report by the testimony of the only
witness present; he also stated that he should not condescend to take
notice of anything further which might be said or done by his
antagonist. From this circumstance arose the rumor that he had been
publicly insulted--caned, in fact--without resenting it![42]

During this period Jones, as usual, kept up his correspondence,
especially with Madame de Telison, with whom his relations had
evidently reached that intimate point to which I have referred on page
276. On June 23d she advised him of the death of her friend and
protectress at court, the Marquise de Marsan. He wrote immediately,
commending her to Jefferson, and at once dispatched the following
letter to the lady herself:

"New York, _September 4, 1787_.

"No language can convey to my fair mourner the tender sorrow I feel on
her account! The loss of our worthy friend is indeed a fatal stroke!
It is an irreparable misfortune, which can only be alleviated by this
one reflection, that it is the will of God, whose providence has, I
hope, other blessings in store for us. She was a tried friend, and
more than a mother to you! She would have been a mother to me also had
she lived. We have lost her! Let us cherish her memory, and send up
grateful thanks to the Almighty that we once had such a friend. I can
not but flatter myself that you have yourself gone to the king in
July, as he had appointed. I am sure your loss will be a new
inducement for him to protect you, and render you justice. He will
hear you, I am sure; and you may safely unbosom yourself to him and
ask his advice, which can not but be flattering to him to give you.
Tell him you must look on him as your father and protector. If it were
necessary, I think, too, that the Count d'A----, his brother, would,
on your personal application, render you good services by speaking in
your favour. I should like it better, however, if you can do without
him. Mr. Jefferson will show you my letter of this date to him. You
will see by it how disgracefully I have been detained here by the
Board of Treasury. It is impossible for me to stir from this place
till I obtain their settlement on the business I have already
performed; and, as the season is already far advanced, I expect to be
ordered to embark directly for the place of my destination in the
north. Mr. Jefferson will forward me your letters. I am almost without
money, and much puzzled to obtain a supply. I have written to Dr.
Bancroft to endeavour to assist me. I mention this with infinite
regret, and for no other reason than because it is impossible for me
to transmit you a supply under my present circumstances. This is my
fifth letter to you since I left Paris. The two last were from France,
and I sent them by duplicates. But you say nothing of having received
any letters from me! Summon, my dear friend, all your resolution!
Exert yourself, and plead your own cause. You can not fail of success;
your cause would move a heart of flint! Present my best respects to
your sister. You did not mention her in your letter, but I persuade
myself she will continue her tender care of her sweet godson, and that
you will cover him all over with kisses from me; they come warm to
_you both_ from the heart!"

The Count d'A---- referred to was the Count d'Artois, subsequently
King Charles X. Madame de Telison was his natural aunt, and that Jones
should fear any evil consequence to her from her speaking to him is a
hideous commentary on the morals of the times. Mackenzie infers the
possibility that the Marchioness de Marsan was really the mother of
Madame de Telison, and from the assurance that she would have been a
mother to him also, had she lived, he thinks it possible that Jones
might have contemplated marrying his correspondent. The godson was
possibly Jones' own child. Shortly after this, correspondence with
Madame de Telison ceased temporarily. But when Jones finally returned
to France their relations were resumed. Before he died he provided for
her, and she was with him to the end.

On the 11th of November Jones left America for the last time, taking
passage at New York on a vessel bound for Holland. He was landed in
England, however, and after another interview with Adams at London, he
repaired to Paris on the 11th of December, and presented his
dispatches to Jefferson. Jefferson now communicated to him a project
which had been under discussion between himself and de Simolin, the
Russian ambassador at Versailles, looking to a demand for the services
of Jones by the Empress Catherine II of Russia. Some recent disasters
to the Russian fleet in the Black Sea in the war which she had been
waging against the Turks had caused the minister to consider the
possibility of securing the services of the distinguished sea captain.
No definite action was taken by either party at that time, although
Jones, after some persuasion, expressed his willingness at least to
consider the situation. Indeed, the prospects were sufficiently
brilliant to have dazzled any man; but nothing came of the matter
then. Jones had other business to attend to. At the close of January,
1788, he received his credentials from Jefferson, and on the morning
of the 2d of February, the day of his departure for Denmark, he
breakfasted with a Mr. Littlepage, chamberlain to the King of Poland,
and the Russian Minister, who informed him that he had seriously
proposed to his sovereign that Jones be intrusted with the command of
the Black Sea fleet. He had, in fact, written to her as follows:

"That if her Imperial Majesty should confide to Jones the chief
command of her fleet on the Black Sea, with _carte blanche_, he would
answer for it that in less than a year Jones would make Constantinople

He also informed the commodore that the empress had been much
impressed with the proposition, and was disposed to look favorably
upon it.

Jones in reply said that he would undertake the command, under certain
conditions, if the empress continued in the same mind, and set out
with high hopes for Copenhagen. He reached that city on the 4th of
March, and was royally received by the king and queen and principal
people of the country; but in spite of every effort he found it
utterly impossible to procure a satisfactory settlement of the claim.
The shuffling Danish Government seized upon the flimsy pretext that he
was not a plenipotentiary, since his powers were limited by the clause
referred to above, and that since Congress had required that
everything be referred to Paris, and final action should be taken at
that point, there was no use negotiating with an agent. Completely
thwarted in his attempts by this unfortunate clause, and having
received a definite summons through Baron Krudner, the Russian
ambassador at Copenhagen, to repair to Russia, Jones transferred the
negotiations to Jefferson at Paris, which was, in fact, all he could
do under the circumstances, and prepared to assume his new
command.[43] On the 8th of April, 1788, he wrote to Jefferson as

"Sir: By my letters to the Count de Bernstorf, and his excellency's
answer, you see that my business here is at an end. If I have not
finally concluded the object of my mission, it is neither your fault
nor mine; the powers I received are found insufficient, and you could
not act otherwise than was prescribed in your instructions. Thus it
frequently happens that good opportunities are lost when the supreme
power does not place a sufficient confidence in the distant operations
of public officers, whether civil or military. I have, however, the
melancholy satisfaction to reflect that I have been received and
treated here with a distinction far above the pretensions of my public
mission, and I felicitate myself sincerely on being, at my own expense
(and even at the peril of my life, for my sufferings from the
inclemency of the weather, and my want of proper means to guard
against it on the journey, were inexpressible; and I believe, from
what I yet feel, will continue to affect my constitution), the
instrument to renew the negotiation between this country and the
United States; the more so as the honour is now reserved for you to
display your great abilities and integrity by the completion and
improvement of what Dr. Franklin had wisely begun. I have done, then,
what perhaps no other person would have undertaken under the same
circumstances; and while I have the consolation to hope that the
United States will derive solid advantages from my journey and efforts
here, I rest perfectly satisfied that the interests of the brave men I
commanded will experience in you parental attention, and that the
American flag can lose none of its lustre, but the contrary, while its
honour is confided to you. America being a young nation, with an
increasing commerce, which will naturally produce a navy, I please
myself with the hope that in the treaty you are about to conclude with
Denmark you will find it easy and highly advantageous to include
certain articles for admitting America into the armed neutrality. I
persuade myself beforehand that this would afford pleasure to the
Empress of Russia, who is at the head of that noble and humane
combination; and as I shall now set out immediately for St.
Petersburg, I will mention the idea to her Imperial Majesty and let
you know her answer.

"If Congress should think I deserve the promotion that was proposed
when I was last in America, and should condescend to confer on me the
grade of rear admiral from the day I took the Serapis (23d of
September, 1779), I am persuaded it would be very agreeable to the
empress, who now deigns to offer me an equal rank in her service,
although I never yet had the honour to draw my sword in her cause, nor
to do any other act that could directly merit her imperial
benevolence. While I express, in the warm effusion of a grateful
heart, the deep sense I feel of my eternal obligation to you as the
author of the honourable prospect that is now before me, I must rely
on your friendship to justify to the United States the important step
I now take, conformable to your advice. You know I had no idea of this
new fortune when I found that you had put it in train, before my last
return to Paris from America. I have not forsaken a country that has
had many disinterested and difficult proofs of my steady affection,
and I can never renounce the glorious title of _a citizen of the
United States!_

"It is true I have not the express permission of the sovereignty to
accept the offer of her Imperial Majesty; yet America is independent,
is in perfect peace, has no public employment for my military talents;
but why should I excuse a conduct which I should rather hope would
meet with general approbation? In the latter part of the year 1782
Congress passed an act for my embarkation in the fleet of his most
Christian Majesty; and when, a few months ago, I left America to
return to Europe, I was made the bearer of a letter to his most
Christian Majesty requesting me to be permitted to embark in the
fleets of evolution. Why did Congress pass those acts? To facilitate
my improvement in the art of conducting fleets and military
operations. I am, then, conforming myself to the views of Congress;
but the role allotted me is infinitely more high and difficult than
Congress intended. Instead of receiving lessons from able masters in
the theory of war, I am called to immediate practice, where I must
command in chief, conduct the most difficult operations, be my own
preceptor, and instruct others. Congress will allow me some merit in
daring to encounter such multiplied difficulties. The mark I mentioned
of the approbation of that honourable body would be extremely
flattering to me in the career I am now to pursue, and would stimulate
all my ambition to acquire the necessary talents to merit that, and
even greater favours, at a future day. I pray you, sir, to explain the
circumstances of my situation, and be the interpreter of my sentiments
to the United States in Congress. I ask for nothing; and beg leave to
be understood only as having hinted, what is natural to conceive, that
the mark of approbation I mentioned could not fail to be infinitely
serviceable to my views and success in the country where I am going.

"The prince royal sent me a messenger, requesting me to come to his
apartment. His royal highness said a great many civil things to
me--told me the king thanked me for my attention and civil behaviour
to the Danish flag while I commanded in the European seas, and that
his Majesty wished for occasions to testify to me his personal esteem,
etc. I was alone with the prince half an hour. I am, with perfect
esteem, etc."

It is a quaint letter, but not conspicuous for modesty on the part of
the writer. But it is memorable for its passionate and determined
assertion of citizenship, and evidence that his entry into the Russian
service, temporarily, was due not to his own motion, but to the
suggestion of Thomas Jefferson, who highly approved of his acceptance
of the offer of Catherine. Inasmuch as his action has been called in
question, such approbation as that of Jefferson is of great value.
Congress did not confer upon him the desired rank, as should have been
done, and, besides, his statement was not quite correct.

Krudner had offered him the rank of captain commandant, equal to that
of major general in the army, and placed at his disposal one thousand
ducats for the expenses of his journey. He promptly demurred at the
proposed rank of captain commandant, or major general, and refused to
accept the sum offered for his traveling expenses. It was forced upon
him by the insistence of Krudner, however, and he finally received it.
He made no use of it at that time, keeping the money intact, and
intending to return it in case he should find it necessary on his
arrival in Russia to decline the proffered station. He made but few
stipulations with her Majesty's agent before entering upon the journey
to St. Petersburg, and these were that in the service of the empress
he should never be compelled to bear arms against either the United
States or France; that he should be at all times subject to recall by
Congress; and, as we have seen in his letter to Jefferson, he was
particular to assert that under no circumstances would he renounce
"the glorious title of a citizen of the United States." The man of the
world and the disinterested lover of human liberty had long since come
to a local habitation and name, and henceforth he never failed to
assert his citizenship in America.

As he left the court of Denmark and entered upon his journey to Russia
he carried in his pocket a patent for a pension issued to him by the
Danish Government for the sum of fifteen hundred crowns a year, which
was presented to him as an acknowledgment of the "respect he had shown
to the Danish flag while he commanded in the North Sea," etc.!
Curiously enough, the pension is dated the day it was decided to
transfer to Paris the negotiations which he had come to further. The
transaction is a most peculiar one. The coincidence of dates is, to
say the least, unfortunate. The reasons assigned are inadequate, and
the statement of cause is puerile. For a negotiator to accept
pecuniary reward from the person against whom he presses a claim is a
very remarkable thing to do.

It has been urged in justification of his acceptance: First, that he
never received any money from it, for the pension was never paid;
that, however, was a fact which, while it was potential, was not then
actual, and has no bearing upon his acceptance. Second, it has also
been claimed that the pension was given because the Danish Government
supposed such an evidence of appreciation of the qualities of her
appointee would be acceptable to the empress; but if a nice sense of
honor would dictate a refusal of the pension, the bestowal could not
be considered a compliment, therefore the acceptance could not enhance
his reputation. Third, it has been ingeniously surmised that his
acceptance of the pension was for the purpose of committing the Danish
Government to the payment of the claim; but if that were true, he
should have communicated his acceptance and his reasons to Jefferson
at once. The fact that the government absolutely refused to conclude
negotiations with him, and that he was of necessity obliged to permit
the transfer of the negotiations to Paris, takes away some of the
odium which attaches to his action, yet it does not completely clear
him. As the Russian prospect had matured he was more and more desirous
of quitting Denmark, and the transfer of the claim to Paris quite
accorded with his wishes.

This is the most painful incident in his career, and I am extremely
sorry that it occurred. I do not suppose that he realized the
situation quite as it is presented in these pages, or that he imagined
it would have so damaging an effect upon his reputation when it became
known. His valuation of his own services was so high that it was not
difficult to persuade him--or for him to persuade himself--that he was
entitled to a pension, or at least that it was not out of keeping with
his merits. Though how he had ever shown any particular respect for
the Danish flag when he commanded the Bon Homme Richard is a question.

Two circumstances incline me to believe that he was ashamed of it,
however, and that he had no primary intention of making use of it. His
vanity might lead him to treasure it as an evidence of appreciation,
where his sense of honor would restrain him from enjoying it. Of these
two circumstances, the first is that he never mentioned it to anybody
for three years, and he was never chary of letting the news of
evidences of appreciation be disseminated; the second is that he made
no attempt to draw anything on it until he was a sick, worn-out,
broken man, some years after, when he looked at life under different
circumstances and with different eyes. His letter to Jefferson, when
he finally did communicate the news to him three years after, is as

"The day before I left Copenhagen the Prince Royal had desired to
speak with me in his apartment. His Royal Highness was extremely
polite, and after saying many civil things remarked he hoped I was
satisfied with the attention that had been shown to me since my
arrival, and that the king would wish to give me some mark of his
esteem. 'I have never had the happiness to render any service to his
Majesty!' 'That is nothing; a man like you ought to be excepted from
ordinary rules. You could not have shown yourself more delicate as
regards our flag, and every person here loves you.' I took leave
without further explanation. I have felt myself in an embarrassing
situation with regard to the king's patent, and I have not yet made
use of it, though three years have nearly elapsed since I received

It is all that he could say for himself. I am glad he had the grace at
last to be ashamed. That is the best defense that I can make for him,
and I can only close the reference to this unpleasant incident by
saying again that I am very sorry indeed that it occurred.

About the middle of April, 1788, he set forth for Stockholm, where, on
account of his desire to reach St. Petersburg without delay, he
remained but a few hours, and then pressed on to Grislehamn
(Gresholm), Sweden, the nearest port to the Aland Islands, _via_ which
he hoped to cross the Gulf of Bothnia and reach Russia. The ice,
however, was so thick that he found it impossible to cross the gulf or
even to reach the islands, so he determined to pass through the open
Baltic Sea to the southward. He hired an open boat about thirty feet
long, and, taking a smaller boat in tow, to be used in case of
emergency, he started upon a journey which proved to be one of the
most romantic and adventurous of his whole career. Realizing that in
the severe winter weather prevailing it would be impossible to get
boatmen to attempt the passage, he carefully concealed his destination
from the men whom he had employed to ferry him over.

Having first attempted once more to reach the Aland Islands, and
thence proceed to the Gulf of Finland, and being balked as before by
heavy masses of drifting ice, he started to the southward between the
Swedish shore and the ice floes, which, being driven toward Sweden by
a strong east wind, scarcely left him a sufficient channel to pass in
safety. By nightfall he was nearly opposite Stockholm, and the water
seemed clear enough to seaward for him to attempt to cross. The men,
by this time alarmed for their safety, determined, in defiance of his
orders, to put into Stockholm; but Jones, seizing the helm himself and
drawing his pistols, resolutely commanded them to beat out to sea and
obey his orders under pain of instant death. He was not a man to be
trifled with by a few Swedish boatmen, and by his directions the
terrified men headed the boat offshore. The wind fortunately shifted
to the westward, and during the whole of the long night, in the midst
of a driving snowstorm, they threaded their way through the floating
ice, steering for the Gulf of Finland.

Jones had a pocket compass, and the lantern from his traveling
carriage enabled him to choose the course. He naturally took command
of the boats himself. The next day, baffled again by the ice in an
attempt to land on the north shore of the Gulf of Finland, they
continued to the westward and southward under circumstances of extreme
danger and hardship. The second night was worse than the first. The
wind came in violent squalls, and the cold was intense. The second
boat was crushed in the ice floes, and the men in it rescued with
great difficulty. Their own boat narrowly escaped being crushed
between the huge pieces of ice or swamped in the squalls on several
occasions. Only by Jones' seamanship and rare skill did they avoid one
or the other danger. The men were so terrified as to be helpless
between the storm, the cold, and the thought of the incarnate little
demon who sat grimly in the stern sheets, pistol in hand, and neither
slept nor took rest apparently, and who handled the boat with as much
dexterity as if it had been a toy. One thinks instinctively of the
little bark which could not sink because it carried Cæsar and his

At any rate, after four days of incredible difficulties the passage
was made, and the boat landed at Reval, a Russian port on the southern
shore of the Gulf of Finland. They had sailed in one way and another
about five hundred miles. Those who had known of his departure from
Sweden had no thought but that he and all with him had perished in the
attempt. He was, as he stated to Jefferson, in wretched health, and
the exposure alone might have killed him. That he went on is highly
characteristic of him, and exhibits his entire indifference to
personal hardships. The passage presents a fine evidence of his
audacity. When he determined to do a thing, he never allowed anything
to stop him. Having paid the boatmen for the loss of their boat, and
remunerated them handsomely for their labors, he dismissed them to
return at their leisure, and proceeded to the Russian court, where he
arrived on the fourth day of May. His great reputation, his
adventurous passage, his strange and attractive personality, and the
fact that he stood high in the good graces and enjoyed the favor of
the empress, rendered him an object of universal interest and

On the 6th of May he was presented to the empress, who immediately
conferred upon him the rank he coveted, of rear admiral. Catherine
treated him with such distinction that he states in his journal that
"I was overcome by her courtesies (_je me laissai seduire_), and put
myself into her hands without making any stipulation for my personal
advantage. I demanded but one favor, that I should never be condemned
unheard." Poor fellow! It was the one right--not favor, but rights
went by favor then in Russia--which was not accorded him. He little
knew what the future that looked so promising had in store for him,
but for the present everything was most delightful. He remained,
recuperating and preparing for his command, for two weeks, during
which period he was magnificently entertained by the highest nobility
of Russia and the distinguished foreigners in attendance at the court.
Among his papers the cards of many of them are still preserved. There
was one exception to his welcome. The English officers in the service
of Catherine, and they were many in number and high in quality,
affected to describe him as a pirate and a smuggler, and are said to
have threatened to resign in a body rather than serve under his
command. While I have no doubt as to their feelings, I think it
improbable that the threat was ever seriously meant, or that it
reached the ears of the empress, for two reasons: first, it was
apparently never contemplated that Jones should command the Cronstadt
fleet, in which those Englishmen who were highest in rank and
reputation were stationed--he had been designated for the Black Sea
fleet, and specifically called into service to war against the Turks;
and second, it is extremely unlikely that they should have carried
such a threat to the throne, for Catherine was not one whom it was
safe to threaten for a moment. Such an action in all probability would
have resulted in an apology and retraction, or a call for a
resignation. It is most improbable that the English protesters would
have relinquished the honorable and lucrative positions to which they
had attained in the Russian service, with the great opportunities of
advancement and pecuniary reward presented, for such a cause. As a
matter of fact, Englishmen did serve with credit under Jones' command
in the Black Sea, and we hear of no resignations from his squadron
there. The story may have gained currency by the gossipy repetition of
indiscreet remarks about the court, and from the fact that thirty of
the English-Russian officers signed a memorial addressed to Admiral
Grieg, their senior in rank, threatening various things if they were
associated with Jones. It is hardly possible, however, that Catherine
ever saw or heard the petition. At any rate, nothing came of it. Jones
enjoyed the anger of the English--he would not have been human if he
had not--but as for the rest, he snapped his fingers at them. He could
afford to defy them at that hour. He was then in the "high topgallant
of his fortunes." In a letter to Lafayette he writes, apropos of this

"The empress received me with a distinction the most flattering that
perhaps any stranger can boast of. On entering into the Russian
service her Majesty conferred on me immediately the grade of rear
admiral. I was detained against my will a fortnight, and continually
feasted at court, and in the first society. This was a cruel grief to
the English, and I own that their vexation, which I believe was
general in and about St. Petersburg, gave me no pain."

As I have said, I have no doubt as to the feelings of the English

On the 18th of May the admiral left St. Petersburg for Elizabethgrad,
the headquarters of Patiomkine. In addition to the sum recently
received from Krudner, he was provided with an other purse of two
thousand ducats for the expenses of his journey, and his salary was
fixed at eighteen hundred roubles a year.[44] As he started for the
Black Sea, Catherine handed him this letter:

"Sir: A courier from Paris has just brought from my envoy in France,
M. de Simolin, the inclosed letter to Count Besborodko. As I believe
that this letter may help to confirm to you what I have already told
you verbally, I have sent it, and beg you to return it, as I have not
even had it copied, so anxious am I that you should see it. I hope
that it will efface all doubts from your mind, and prove to you that
you are to be connected only with those who are most favorably
disposed toward you. I have no doubt that, on your side, you will
fully justify the opinion which we have formed of you, and apply
yourself with zeal to support the reputation you have acquired, for
valor and skill, on the element on which you are to serve.

"Adieu! I wish you happiness and health.


The letter to Besborodko referred to by Catherine was a request from
Patiomkine that Jones might be induced to come immediately to his
headquarters, that his talents might be employed in the approaching
campaign. Patiomkine promised to to do all in his power to give him an
opportunity for displaying his ability and courage,[45] Jones had
protested against being under anybody; Catherine refused to consider
his protest, hence the reason for her farewell epistle and her
inclosure of Patiomkine's promise to be all that he should be to
Jones. He arrived at Elizabethgrad on the 30th of May and was most
kindly received. But before entering upon the story of his campaign it
will be well to consider the situation of the country in which he
found himself, and the characters of those with whom he was to be
associated in service.

_Note with reference to the Danish pension_.

The most recent biographer of Paul Jones, whose book was issued
simultaneously with this one, makes no mention of the Danish pension,
and states that his reasons for omitting any reference to it were
"because it was never accepted, never paid, and never was intended to
be paid." I am forced to disagree with this statement. Certainly, it
never was paid, though what the Danish government may have intended it
is impossible to say. Probably if Jones had continued in favor in
Russia the pension would have been paid. Certainly the commodore
accepted the pension, and he endeavored to procure its payment, and
estimated it as an asset in the schedule of property which accompanied
his will. See Appendix V, page 473.


Far to the north is Russia. Extending through no less than one hundred
and seventy-three degrees of longitude, and covering forty parallels
of latitude, from the Baltic to the Pacific, and from the Black Sea to
the Arctic Ocean, with an area of eight and a half million square
miles, lies this great lone land. This gigantic empire, touching on
the one hand the ice-bound shores of Nova Zembla, and on the other the
caravan trails of Bokhara, stretches from the Gulf of Finland in the
west to Kamtchatka on the east. Within its boundaries are comprised
bleak deserts and fertile plains. Verdant valleys, unscalable
mountains, and vast steppes break the monotony of the landscape, and
diversify a surface watered by great rivers from the arctic Yenisei to
the Oriental Oxus. Great among the powers is this mysterious Colossus,
her head white with the snows of eternal winter and her feet laved in
the sunlight of tropic streams. The land of the seafarers--so its name
indicates--developing enormously and steadily in power, wealth, and
civilization, in the nine hundred years which have elapsed since Rurik
the Viking first stepped upon its shores, has not yet reached its
zenith. It is to-day the home of more diverse nationalities than any
other existent country, and foreshadowings of unlimited predominance
are apparent. Its sway extends over more races and peoples than any
other power has governed since the days of Augustus Cæsar, and the end
is not yet. Well do its rulers arrogate to themselves the imperial
title of the ancient head of the Roman Empire. Holy Russia, the home
of the Orthodox Church, the country of the White Czar, the land of the
once despised Slav, yet contains within its borders, in Lithuania, the
focal point of that Aryan race which has filled Europe with its
splendor. This Russia, the land of the Tartar, the Mongol, the
Samoyede, the Cossack, the Finn, and the Pole; this Russia, the land
of Ivan the Terrible, of Peter the Great, was now in the hands of a
woman--of Catherine II.

The little maiden, born on the 2d of May, 1729, in the quaint old town
of Stettin, and of the insignificant house of Anhalt-Zerbst,
christened Sophia, was received into the Greek Church on her marriage
with Peter of Holstein, grandson of the Romanoff Peter the Great,
under the name of Catherine. She had assumed the reins of government
after the murder of her wretched impotent husband, against whom she
had conspired in conjunction with the Orloffs. When she had deposed
and imprisoned him, unable to strike a blow for himself, he had
stipulated that in his confinement he might have the undisputed
enjoyment of his mistress, his monkey, and his violin! Even these
kingly pleasures were soon of little use to him, for on the 18th of
July, 1762, but a few days after the revolution which had hurled him
from his throne, Peter lay dead in the palace with some ominous and
ineffaceable black marks around his throat, telling of the manner of
his death from the giant hands of the terrible Orloffs--and his wife
was privy to the murder and consenting to it! That her husband had
been a knave and a fool--almost a madman--does not excuse her.
Catherine was then immediately proclaimed empress in her own right. As
the Neapolitan Caraccioli said, the Russian throne was neither
hereditary nor elective, but occupative! Catherine occupied it, and as
long as she lived Russia knew no other master. The world marveled at
her audacity, and trembled for the consequences of her usurpation, but
men soon found that, gigantic as had been her assurance, and
tremendous as was her task, she was entirely equal to the undertaking.
She had a genius for reigning as great as had been exhibited by
Elizabeth Tudor--good Queen Bess! In spite of her bad qualities and
evil beginning, Russia never progressed more than while under her
sway. She fairly divides honor as a sovereign, in Slavonic history,
with Peter the Great. True it is that Catherine had "woven out of the
bloody vestments of Peter III the most magnificent imperial mantle
that a woman had ever worn."

Some one wrote to Madame Vigée le Brun, who essayed to paint her

"Take the map of the empire of Russia for canvas, the darkness of
ignorance for background, the spoils of Poland for drapery, human
blood for coloring, the monuments of her reign for the cartoon, and
for the shadow six months of her son's reign."

A singular and complex character was that of this famous despot, this
"Semiramis of the North." Never more than a half-educated woman--and
in that she corresponded with her empire--she learned her politics
from Montesquieu, drew her philosophy of life from Voltaire, and
shaped her morals after Brantôme! A creature of singular
contradictions, she loved liberty, favored the struggle of the United
States, and ruled an absolute despot; she wrote charming fairy tales
for children and rode horseback astride like a man; she was one of the
greatest sticklers for morals--in other people--the world has ever
known, and yet was herself one of the most colossal examples of
unblushing and shameless professional sensuality that ever sat upon a
throne. Other rulers and sovereigns have had their favorites, she
alone made favoritism a state institution. "What has ruined the
country," she naïvely writes, "is that the people fall into vice and
drunkenness, and the comic opera has corrupted the whole nation!" As a
corrupter by example she surpassed all the comic operas ever written.
The morals of Russia, in her day, were rotten from the head downward.
Yet in spite of all this she was a great princess. She was allowed to
occupy that throne because she made Russia greater with each
successive year; not alone by force of arms either, and the Russian
destiny makers loved her. Education, the arts, and sciences, all felt
the stimulus of her interest and responded to her efforts. Progress
was the word of this imperious woman. She had a faculty for ruling as
remarkable as her exploitation of favoritism. Yet she governed her
empire with a sublime indifference to public opinion, and squandered
its revenues in a shameless prostitution of her own person, which
ceased only with her death, in 1794, at the age of sixty-five! The
fact that Catherine made an official business out of favoritism, and
that she was so utterly oblivious to the moral inconsistency of
it--for she was a faithful member of the Holy Orthodox Church--seems
to lift it upon a plane of its own, so simple and brazen was it.

Upon the chief of her favorites alone she had bestowed more than fifty
million roubles, vast estates carrying with them nearly one hundred
thousand serfs, and in addition orders, titles, privileges, and
decorations innumerable. The name of this favorite was Gregory
Alexandrovitch Patiomkine, commonly called Potemkin. He was the second
of the great _Vremienchtchick_, as the favorites were called, the word
meaning "men of the moment!" He succeeded the gigantic Orloff, whose
term as the favorite was longer than that of any successor, for he had
enjoyed a tenure of almost ten years--the usual period being about
two. Patiomkine's personal association with the empress was only for
that short time, when he was supplanted by another object of royal
regard. Unlike all the other favorites, Patiomkine was not relegated
to prompt obscurity, and he continued to be the power behind the
throne for practically the remainder of his life. He was greater than
all the others--too great to be done away with, in fact. If he could
not be the favorite, he would, like Warwick the kingmaker, make the
favorite, and for fifteen years he continued to do so. During this
period he swayed the destinies of the empire as a sort of mayor of the

The analogy is not altogether accurate, for Catherine was no supine
Merovingian to commit the administration of the state to others while
she passed hours of dalliance in the secret chambers of the palace;
she was too strong and too great for that, and she always retained her
grasp upon the helm; but it is certain that none of her favorites had
ever enjoyed such power and wielded it so openly as this princely

As to Patiomkine himself, the world did not know whether he was a
genius or a madman. At times he seems to have passed over that slender
line which divides these two antitheses of character, and appears now
on one side, now on the other. Personally he was a man of huge bulk
and great strength, with the natural instincts of an animal and a
veneer, more or less strong on occasion, of refinement. He, too,
typified Russia, a giant rising through barbarism into the
civilization of the century--and not yet arrived, either--now
inclining to the one side or the other. Catherine usually chose her
favorites among men of great physical vigor. Patiomkine was a giant in
size. His vast frame was capable of sustaining the most tremendous
hardships. He was a black-haired, swarthy, hot-tempered man, not
pleasant to look upon, for he had lost an eye in a fist fight after a
drunken revel with the Orloffs. He squinted with the other, and even
had not a figure to redeem him, for he was markedly knock-kneed. He,
like his mistress and his country, was a creature of contradictions.
In his palace in St. Petersburg we find him trifling with the most
delicate creations of the most skilled _chef_, and on his journeys
eating rapaciously of anything that came to hand. He sent his
adjutants thousands of miles for perfumes which caught his fancy, and
galloped madly himself across half Europe without rest or sleep for
days in pursuance of duty, and then spent weeks in dalliance with his

With the one hand he wrote poetic letters that quiver and thrill with
tenderness and beauty, pathos and passion, and with the other he
calmly consigned thousands of people to death. One day we find him
raging because his soldiers are not better cared for, and on the next
day remarking cynically, when the absence of ambulances was brought to
his notice, that so much the better--they would not have to bother
with the wounded! Sometimes cowardly, sometimes bold to the point of
recklessness; atheist and devotee, debauchee and ascetic, coarse and
refined, imperious and cringing, brutal and gentle, king and slave,
Christian and pagan--his life remains a mystery.

After he died of a frightful attack of indigestion, brought on by
gorging himself with coarse food, Catherine's son, upon succeeding to
the throne, treated his body with great indignity; and it was not
until seventy years later that his remains were discovered and
interred in the Cathedral of Kherson. Prince of Taurida, the conqueror
of the Crimea, and under Catherine the originator of that tremendous
and irresistible Russian policy which will some day replace the Greek
cross upon the temple of Justinian in Constantinople, Patiomkine is
one of the most remarkable figures in the history of the world.

In the service of the first of these two personages, and under the
specific orders of the last, Paul Jones was to make a campaign. It was
foredoomed to failure. Jones was not a good subordinate to any one.
His temper, his lack of self-control, his pride, and his vanity
rendered any ultimate successful association with a man like
Patiomkine impossible. Patiomkine had all Jones' faults and a thousand
more. They harmonized like flint and steel. To further complicate
matters, Jones was to be associated in his command, with the limits of
authority not clearly defined between them--always a prolific source
of trouble, and certain to cause failure--with Prince Otto of
Nassau-Siegen, of whom we have heard before. He had asked to serve
under Jones in the Indien, and when that project fell through he had
failed to answer Jones' letters, and had treated him with discourtesy
and indifference. In Catherine's army and navy thousands of soldiers
of fortune found a congenial atmosphere and a golden opportunity. They
were all made welcome, and, with anything like success to warrant
them, they generally achieved a handsome reward in her generous
service. The most noted among them, and one of the most worthless, is
this man, whom Waliszewski calls "the last notable _condottierre_ of
Europe; a soldier without country, without home, and almost without
family, his very name is the first of his conquests." His father was
the illegitimate son of a princeling, but the Parliament of Paris, in
1756, gave the young Otto, then eleven years of age, the right, so far
as they had the power, to bear the name of his ancestors, to which he
had no legitimate claim. They could not, however, do anything for his
patrimony. He had been a lieutenant of infantry, a captain of
dragoons, and finally a sailor under Bougainville when he made his
famous voyage around the world. Later he appears as an unsuccessful
explorer in Africa. In fact, he was not successful at anything. Unlike
Crichton, he did everything equally ill.

In 1779, as a colonel of French infantry, he made an unsuccessful
attempt upon the island of Jersey. The next year, in the Spanish
service, he commanded, unsuccessfully as usual, some floating
batteries before Gibraltar. Among other exploits--and it was his one
triumph--he seduced the Queen of Tahiti, so he said, and the
reputation of the unfortunate lady found no defenders in Europe. He
married a homely Polish countess with a great fortune, and after
meddling (unsuccessfully) with all sorts of things got himself
appointed to the command of a flotilla of Russian gunboats operating
against the Turks.

But to return to the story; the long distance--seven hundred and fifty
miles as the crow flies and probably twice that by road--between St.
Petersburg and Elizabethgrad, was covered by Jones in twelve days. He
was in a hurry, as always, to get to sea. The object of the Prince
Marshal's attack was the fortified town of Otchakoff, commonly spelled
in contemporary manuscripts Oczakow. This important place was situated
on the Russo-Turkish frontier of that day, on the Black Sea, not far
from the present city of Odessa, and occupied a commanding position at
the confluence of the great river Dnieper and the smaller river Bug.
Southward of the mainland the peninsula of Kinburn, a narrow, indented
point of land, projects for perhaps twenty miles to the westward,
forming a narrow estuary of the Black Sea about fifty miles long and
from five to ten miles wide, into which the two rivers pour their vast
floods. This estuary is sometimes called the Dnieper Bay, but more
commonly the Liman, and the undertaking hereafter described is
referred to as the campaign in the Liman. The bay or inlet is very
shallow. Sand banks and shoals leave but a narrow, tortuous channel,
which is of no great depth at best. The end of the peninsula of
Kinburn terminates in a long and very narrow strip of land, a point
which reaches up toward the northward and almost closes the opening of
the estuary; the distance between the point and Fort Hassan, the
southernmost fortification of Otchakoff, is possibly two miles. This
narrow entrance is further diminished by a long shoal which extends
south from Fort Hassan toward the point, so that, except for one
contracted channel, the passage is practicable for vessels of very
light draught only.

Otchakoff lies between the Bug and a smaller river called the Beresan,
deep enough near its mouth for navigation by small vessels. It was
strongly fortified and garrisoned by ten thousand men. While it
remained in the hands of the Turks it menaced the Russian
communications and rendered it difficult for them to hold the great
peninsula of Taurida, now known as the Crimea, which Patiomkine had
conquered previously, and from which he had taken the name of
Taurichevsky, or Tauricien, or Taurida, with his dukedom. Patiomkine,
therefore, decided to besiege and capture this place.

To prevent this, the Turks had re-enforced it by one hundred and
twenty armed vessels, ranging from ships of the line to gunboats,
under the command of one of the ablest of their admirals, a
distinguished old sailor, who had been recalled from service in Egypt,
which had been brilliantly successful, to conduct this operation. So
long as they could keep open communication by sea with Otchakoff its
power of resistance would be prolonged and its capture a matter of
extreme difficulty. The object of Jones' campaign was to hold the
Liman till Patiomkine could invest Otchakoff, then to defeat the
Turkish naval forces in the bay, and to blockade the town.
Incidentally he was required to cover the Russian towns on the Dnieper
and prevent any descent upon them by the Turks; a hard task for any
man with the force available and likely to be placed under his

Having stayed but one day at Elizabethgrad, Jones, accompanied by one
of the staff officers of Patiomkine, set out for Kherson, which is
located near the point where the Dnieper enters the Liman, and is the
principal Russian naval depot in that section of the country. The two
officers spent but one day at Kherson, but the time was sufficient to
develop the fact, as Jones said, that he had entered "on a delicate
and disagreeable service."

Mordwinoff, the Russian Chief of Admiralty, treated him with the
utmost coolness and indifference, and, though he had been ordered by
Patiomkine to give Jones full information as to the situation, he told
him nothing of importance, and even failed to provide him with a rear
admiral's flag, to which he was entitled. However, the day after his
arrival at Kherson, Jones repaired to the town of Gluboca, off which,
in one of the deeps of the river between the Dnieper and the mouth of
the Bug called Schiroque Roads, his command was anchored. It comprised
a single line of battle ship, the Wolodimer--which, on account of its
great draught and the shoal water of the Liman, could only mount
twenty-six guns--five frigates, five sloops of war, and four smaller
vessels, making a total of fifteen sail.[46] The ships were badly
constructed, "drew too much water for the navigation of the Black Sea,
were too crank to carry the heavy guns that were mounted on them, and
sailed badly." They were makeshift craft constructed by people who
since Rurik's advent have exhibited surprisingly little aptitude for
the sea. I can imagine Jones' disgust and disappointment as he
inspected his squadron with a seaman's quick and comprehensive glance.
In addition to this force, there was a large flotilla of light-draught
gunboats, each carrying a single heavy gun, and sometimes smaller
pieces, manned by from thirty to forty men each, and propelled mainly
by oars.

The command of the flotilla had been committed to the Prince of
Nassau-Siegen, and, although Jones had been repeatedly assured that he
was to have supreme charge of all naval operations in the Liman, he
found that Nassau exercised an independent command, and instead of
being subordinate to him, had only been requested to co-operate with
him. Jones' command will be called the squadron, Nassau's the
flotilla, hereafter in these pages, to prevent confusion. The squadron
had been hitherto under the command of a cowardly Greek corsair named
Alexiano, reputed a Turkish subject, who had attained the rank of
captain commandant, or brigadier, equivalent to commodore. He was a
man of little capacity, great timidity, and was tricky and unreliable
in his disposition.

Jones immediately proceeded on board the Wolodimer and exhibited his
orders. He found that Alexiano had assembled all the commanders of the
ships, and endeavored to persuade them to rebel against his authority.
The attempted cabal came to nothing, however, and on receiving a
letter from Patiomkine Alexiano relinquished the command to Jones, and
with a very ill grace consented to serve as his subordinate--he had
to. On the same day in which he arrived, in order to ascertain the
topography of the situation, Jones left the Wolodimer and rode over to
Kinburn Point, opposite Otchakoff. After a careful examination of the
water which he was to defend and the town he was to blockade, so far
as he could make it from the shore, he returned to the Wolodimer, and
finding, as he says, "all the officers contented," he hoisted his rear
admiral's flag on that ship on the evening of the 6th of June,
1788.[47] The Prince of Nassau-Siegen called upon him promptly, and
apparently recognized his superiority in rank, if not his right to
command. He had an immediate foretaste of the character of his new
associates when the prince informed him that if they gained any
advantage over the Turks it would be necessary to exaggerate it to the
utmost! Jones replied that he had never adopted that method of
heightening his personal merits. He might have added that a true
recital of his exploits was sufficiently dazzling to need no
embellishment by the wildest imagination.

The celebrated General Suvorof was in command of the strong fortress
of Kinburn, which was supposed to command the entrance of the Liman,
but it was too far inland to menace Otchakoff, or, indeed, to command
anything effectively. It is an evidence of Jones' quick perception and
fine military instinct that as soon as he inspected the position he
discovered the advantage of placing a battery on Kinburn Point,
opposite the shoal to which I have referred: and his first act upon
assuming the command was to point out to Suvorof, who was perhaps the
greatest of all Russian soldiers, the absolute necessity for a battery
there. Realizing the fact, Suvorof immediately mounted a formidable
battery on the point, and he magnanimously credited Jones with the
idea, in spite of the fact that the previous neglect to fortify the
point was a reflection on his military skill. Before the guns were in
position the capitan pasha as the Turkish admiral was styled, with
twenty-one frigates and sloops of war, and several smaller vessels,
entered the Liman and anchored before Otchakoff. He was followed by a
flotilla of gunboats about equal in number and individual efficiency
to the Russian flotilla. The ships of the line and heavier frigates of
the Turks, unable to approach near the town, remained at anchor in the
open roads to the westward, and as they took no part in the subsequent
actions they may be dismissed from further notice. Even as it was,
however, the Turkish force greatly overmatched the Russian.

Jones had fifteen ships, the Turks twenty-one, and ship for ship the
advantage was entirely in favor of the Turks. In number the two
flotillas of gunboats were about the same, and there was not much
choice in their quality. The poor quality of Nassau's leadership could
hardly be surpassed by any Turk, however incompetent, but the capitan
pasha in critical moments led his own flotilla, and, as Jones
practically did the same for the Russian gunboats, Nassau's
incompetency did not matter so much as it might.

On the 9th of June, having meanwhile received re-enforcements of
soldiers to complete the crews, the squadron, followed by the
flotilla, got under way and stood toward the entrance of the Liman.
The combined force anchored in two lines, the squadron forming an
obtuse angle in the channel with the opening toward Otchakoff, so as
to be able to pour a cross fire upon any approaching ships. On the
right and left flanks in the shallow water divisions of gunboats were
stationed, with another division immediately in the rear of the
squadron, and a reserve division at hand to re-enforce any threatened
point of the line. The station was just in front of the mouth of the
Bug, and commanded the entrance to that river and the Dnieper as well,
thus protecting Kherson from any attack by the Turks, and affording
Patiomkine's troops a free and unimpeded passage of the Bug when they
marched to invest the town. The position was most advantageously
chosen by Jones. His force was too weak to attack the Turks with any
hope of success at present, and he had been ordered by Patiomkine not
to enter upon any operation until the Russian army arrived. Absolutely
no fault can be found either with his location or his dispositions.

The Turks made no movement to attack them, and Nassau, who was good at
proposing aggressive movements when no dangers threatened, suggested
that they abandon their position and move forward nearer the town.
Nothing would be gained by this maneuver, and opportunities for a
successful attack by the Turks would have been greater than in their
present position. Jones realized that the Turks must of necessity
attack them sooner or later; that no commander could afford to throw
away such advantage in force as the Turks enjoyed, when any hour might
bring re-enforcements to the Russians, and the battery which Suvorof
had completed would prevent further re-enforcements being received by
the Turks. So Jones grimly held to his position in spite of Nassau's
remonstrances, which were seconded by those of Alexiano, and waited.
To wait is sometimes braver than to advance.

Finally one of the reasons for Nassau's desire to advance transpired.
He wished to remove from his position near the Turkish shore, upon
which batteries were being erected in the absence of any Russian land
force to prevent them, which would subject the right wing of his
flotilla to a land fire; and he desired to take a position where he
would be protected by the new fort at Kinburn Point and by the ships
of the squadron. Suvorof had made Jones responsible for the safety of
the fort on Kinburn Point, by the way, while awaiting the advance of
the army. Having received no orders from Patiomkine, Jones assembled a
council of war on the Wolodimer, at which Nassau was present. Jones'
supremacy was fully recognized by Nassau. The council approved of the
position in which Jones had placed his squadron, and commended his
resolution to maintain that position, and in obedience to urgent
pleadings from Jones the officers of the flotilla and squadron agreed
to co-operate and work together for the common good in the event of
being attacked. They did not have long to wait for the inevitable

On the afternoon of the 18th of June, the Turkish flotilla in two
divisions made a dash at the Russian gunboats on the right flank, and
a sharp engagement began. The Russians, greatly outnumbered, began to
give ground, and, though the reserve was immediately sent to support
the right wing, before the dashing attacks of the Turkish gunboats the
retreat was not stayed. A battery of artillery which had been unmasked
on the adjacent shore also seriously annoyed the extreme flank of the
Russians. On account of the shoal water the ships of the squadron
could not enter the engagement. Jones, therefore, with his instinctive
desire to get into a fight, left the Wolodimer and embarked in
Nassau's galley. That commander had entirely lost his head. He could
think of nothing to do of value, but implored Jones to send him a
frigate--which was impossible, for all the frigates drew too much
water; failing this, he threatened to withdraw his right wing, in
which case the Turkish gunboats probably would have taken the squadron
in reverse, and might have inflicted serious damage. Jones convinced
him that a return attack was not only necessary but inevitable, and,
as Nassau made no objection, he assumed the direction of the vessels
himself. Summoning the unengaged center and left divisions, he brought
them up through the squadron to attack the approaching Turkish galleys
on the flank. The diversion they caused so inspirited the broken right
and reserve divisions that they made a determined stand and stopped
their retreat. The capitan pasha, seeing himself in danger of being
taken between two fires and his retreat cut off, withdrew
precipitately before the center and the left fairly came into action.
Had Jones been in command of the flotilla from the beginning, a most
disastrous defeat would have been inflicted upon the Turks. As it was,
they retreated in confusion, leaving two gunboats in the hands of the

As the affair had been conducted entirely between the different
flotillas, Nassau claimed all the credit for the brilliant maneuvers
of the Russians. Jones contemptuously allowed him to make any claims
he pleased in his report to Patiomkine, and gave Nassau credit for at
least having taken his advice. It would have been better for Nassau's
fame if he had continued to take Jones' advice. Having obtained this
slight success, Nassau, who knew how well his urgency would look in
the reports, again proposed to Jones that they should advance and
attack. The Russian army had not yet invested the place, and the
success they had gained was so slight that circumstances had not
changed. Jones still refused to be moved from the position he had
assumed, which the experience of the 18th of June had justified, and
calmly awaited the further pleasure of the enemy. It takes a high
quality of moral courage for a stranger, who has a reputation for
audacity and intrepidity, absolutely to refuse to do that thing to
which a subordinate urges him, and which has the appearance of courage
and daring; and I count this refusal, in the interests of sound
strategic principles, not an unimportant manifestation of Jones'
qualities as an officer.

Meanwhile, the Russian army, having passed the Bug, invested the city
on the 28th of June, and the Turkish fleet was forced to attack or
withdraw. The capitan pasha elected to do the former. Having
re-enforced his crews by some two thousand picked men from the great
fleet outside the Liman, he advanced down the bay to attack the
Russians. The wind was free, and the Turkish fleet came on in grand
style, the capitan pasha leading in the largest ship, with the
flotilla of gunboats massed on his left flank, making a brilliant
showing. Nassau's desire to advance suddenly vanished, and he clamored
for a retreat. Jones paid no attention to him, but weighed anchor,
and, as it was impossible for him to advance on account of the wind,
he waited for the enemy. Fortunately for the Russians, at one o'clock
in the afternoon the Turkish flagship, which had been headed for the
Wolodimer, took ground on the shoals near the south shore of the
Liman. The advance of the fleet was immediately stopped, and the
Turkish vessels came to anchor about the flagship.

A council of war was at once convened on the Wolodimer, and Jones at
last persuaded the Russians, although inferior in force, to attack the
Turks as soon as the wind permitted. During the night the wind
fortunately shifted to the north-northeast, and at daylight on the
29th the squadron stood for the Turkish fleet. The Wolodimer led the
advance. By hard work the Turkish admiral had succeeded in floating
his flagship, but his ships were huddled together without order. Jones
immediately dashed at him, opening fire from his bow guns as he came
within range. The squadron was formed in echelon by bringing the van
forward on the center, making another obtuse angle, with the opening
toward the crowd of Turkish ships--in fact, Jones was attempting with
his smaller force to surround them. In the confusion caused by the
bold attack, the Turks, who seem to have been taken completely by
surprise, again permitted the ships of the admiral and of his second
in command to take ground. Jones' prompt approach and the heavy fire
poured upon them made it impossible to float the stranded ships. They
both of them keeled over on the shoal and could make no defense. Their
flags were struck, and they were abandoned by their crews. The other
Turkish ships were so discouraged by this mishap that they withdrew
toward Otchakoff, their flight being accelerated by the tremendous
fire poured upon them by the Wolodimer and the other Russian ships.
Just as the Wolodimer reached the stranded ship of the capitan pasha,
Alexiano, who found himself sufficiently near to the enemy, ordered
the anchor of the Wolodimer to be let go without informing Jones. As
the order was given in Russian, Jones knew nothing about it until the
motion of the ship was stopped.

There was plenty of fight in the Turkish admiral, who seems to have
been a very gallant old fellow, for after the loss of the flagship he
hoisted his flag on one of the gunboats and brought up the flotilla,
which poured a furious fire from its heavy guns upon the right
division of Jones' squadron, to which the lighter guns of the ships
could make but little reply. The situation became dangerous for the
squadron. One of the Russian frigates, the Little Alexander, was set
on fire and blown up by the Turkish shot, and the fortune of the day
trembled in the balance.

The light-draught gunboats each carried a large gun, heavier, and
therefore of greater range, than any on the ships. The shallow water
would not permit the ships to draw near enough to the flotilla to make
effective use of their greater number of guns. Hence, under the
circumstances, the squadron was always at the mercy of the flotilla
unless by some means they could get into close action, in which case
the ships would have made short work of the gunboats. Jones' position
was therefore one of extreme peril--untenable, in fact, without the
help of his own flotilla. The Russian flotilla had followed the
squadron in a very leisurely and disorderly manner, so slowly that
Jones had twice checked the way of his ships to allow them to come
within hailing distance. He now dispatched a request to Nassau to
bring up his gunboats on the right flank and drive off the Turkish
gunboats, thus enabling him to take possession of the two frigates,
which had been abandoned by their crews, and continue the pursuit of
the flying Turkish ships.

No attention was paid to this and repeated requests, and Jones finally
took his boat and went himself in search of Nassau's galley to entreat
him to attack the Turkish flotilla. He found Nassau in the rear of the
left flank, far from the scene of action, and bent only upon attacking
the two ships which were incapable of defense. Unable to persuade him
to act, Jones at last appealed to Nassau's second, Brigadier
Corsacoff, who finally moved against the Turks and drove them off with
great loss after a hard fight. Jones meanwhile returned to the
Wolodimer--both journeys having been made under a furious fire,
in the midst of a general action, in which upward of thirty-six ships
of considerable size and possibly a hundred gunboats were
participating--but before he could get under way Nassau, with some of
his flotilla, surrounded the two abandoned ships and set fire to them
by means of a peculiar kind of a bomb shell called _brandkugels_
(hollow spheres, filled with combustibles and perforated with holes,
which were fired from a piece called a _licorne_). The Turkish fleet
and flotilla, very much shattered, retreated to a safe position under
the walls of Otchakoff, thus ending the fighting for that day.
Nassau's action was inexcusable. The two ships he so wantonly
destroyed would have been a valuable addition to the Russian navy,
and, as they were commanded by the Wolodimer and the rest of the
squadron, they could not have been recaptured, and could easily have
been removed from the shoals.

The Turkish defeat had been a severe one, but the only trophy which
remained in the hands of the Russians was the flag of the capitan
pasha. A shot from one of the gunboats having carried it away, it fell
into the water, whence it was picked up by some Zaporojian boatmen,
who brought it to the Prince of Nassau's boat. Jones happened to be on
board of it at the time. The flag certainly belonged to him, but he
magnanimously yielded it to Nassau in the hope of pacifying that
worthless individual. It was by this time late in the afternoon, but
Jones gave orders to get under way toward Otchakoff. Now was the
proper time to advance and deliver a return blow upon the broken
enemy, but now Nassau desired to remain where he was. Jones was
inflexible as usual, and determined to finish the job so auspiciously
begun. Accordingly, the anchor of the Wolodimer was lifted and she got
under way, followed by the remaining ships of the squadron. Having
approached as near to Otchakoff as the shoal water permitted, Jones
anchored his vessels across the channel in such a position as to cover
the passage to the sea. If the Turkish vessels attempted to escape,
they would have to pass under the guns of the squadron, and would find
themselves within easy range of the formidable battery at Kinburn
Point. Nassau's flotilla at last following, the squadron was massed on
the right flank.

[Illustration: Map of the Russian Campaign on the Liman.]

The Turkish fleet and flotilla were drawn up in line parallel to the
Russians, under cover of the Otchakoff batteries; they still presented
a threatening appearance, but the severe handling they had received
during the day had taken much of the fight out of them. Having
disposed his squadron and flotilla to the best advantage, and being
unable to proceed further without coming under the fire of the heavy
Otchakoff batteries, there was nothing left for Jones but to hold his
position and wait another attack.

In order, however, to familiarize himself with the field of future
operations, and see if he had properly placed his force, just before
sunset he took soundings in a small boat all along the Turkish line
within range of case shot from the Otchakoff batteries, and from the
Turkish ships as well. His action was a part of his impudent
hardihood. His dashing attack had so discouraged the Turks, and his
success of the morning had so disheartened them, that not a single gun
was fired upon him. Having completed his investigations to his
satisfaction, he returned to the flagship.

That night the Turkish admiral attempted to escape with his remaining
ships and rejoin his main fleet on the Black Sea outside of Kinburn
Point. In an endeavor to avoid Jones' squadron on the one hand, and
the battery on the point on the other, nine of his largest ships ran
on a shoal. The attempt to escape was made under the fire of the fort
and ships, in which the flotillas and Fort Hassan joined. A few of the
ships succeeded in getting to sea; the rest were forced to return to
their position of safety under the walls of Otchakoff.

When morning came, the plight of the nine ships aground was plainly
visible. Suvorof, who had commanded the Kinburn battery in person that
night, immediately signaled Jones to send vessels to take possession
of the Turkish ships. Jones decided to send the light frigates of his
squadron, but it being represented to him by Brigadier Alexiano that
the place where the Turks had grounded was dangerous and the current
running like a mill stream with the ebb tide, upon the advice of his
captains he turned over the duty of taking possession of the Turkish
ships to the flotilla. Alexiano, having received permission, went with
the Prince of Nassau.

The boats of the flotilla soon reached the Turkish ships. When they
came within range of them they opened a furious fire, to which the
latter made no reply. In their helpless position, heeling every way
upon the shoal, it was impossible for them to make any defense. They
struck their flags and surrendered their ships. The Russian gunboats
paid no attention whatever to this circumstance, but continued to fire
upon them, drawing nearer and nearer as they realized the helplessness
of the Turks. Resorting to _brandkugels_ again, they at last set the
ships on fire. The hapless Turks in vain implored mercy, kneeling upon
the decks and even making the sign of the cross in the hope of
touching the hearts of their ruthless and bloodthirsty antagonists.
Seven frigates and corvettes were burned to the water's edge with all
their crews. It is estimated that about three thousand Turks perished
in this brutal and frightful butchery. Nassau and Alexiano enjoyed the
situation from a galley at a safe distance in the rear of the
attacking force. By chance two of the vessels were not consumed, and
were hauled off later and added to the squadron.

Jones viewed the dreadful slaughter of the Turks with unmitigated
horror and surprise. A man of merciful disposition and kindly heart,
who never inflicted unnecessary suffering, he was shocked and revolted
at the ferocity of his new associates. He protested against their
action with all his energy, and laid the foundation thereby of an
utter breakdown of the relations between Nassau and himself. Besides
being horribly cruel, the whole performance was unnecessary. Like the
two ships burned the day before, it was possible to have saved them,
and they could have been added to Jones' command and would have
doubled his effective force. After the destruction of the Turkish
vessels Nassau and Alexiano immediately dispatched a report of the
operations to Patiomkine. They claimed that the flotilla had captured
two and burned nine ships of the line!

Patiomkine, who was at this time extremely fond of Nassau, forwarded
this preposterous statement to the empress, with strong expressions of
approbation of Nassau's conduct. He gave him the whole credit of the
victory, which was entirely due to Jones, and suppressed the fact of
his ruthless and reckless destruction of the surrendered ships, which
would have been so valuable a re-enforcement to the government. In
this report Patiomkine also spoke favorably of the rear admiral,
saying that he had done his duty, but that the particular glory of and
credit for the success was due to the princeling who had hung on the
outskirts and lagged behind when there was any real fighting to be

For some ten days the naval force remained inactive, waiting for
Patiomkine to complete his investment of the town. On the night of the
8th of July the marshal sent orders to Nassau to advance with his
flotilla and destroy the Turkish flotilla under the walls of
Otchakoff. Jones was commanded to give him every assistance possible.
The weather prevented the carrying out of the orders for a few days.
On the night of the 12th of July, however, at one o'clock in the
morning, the advance began. The plan of attack had been arranged by
the marshal himself, but circumstances prevented its being followed.
But that did not matter; Patiomkine was not a military genius, and
Jones knew very much better than he what could or should be done in a
naval engagement. As it was impossible to use the ships of the
squadron, Jones manned all his boats, and led them to tow the

As day broke on the 12th of July, the flotilla, having advanced within
gunshot distance of the walls, began firing upon the Turkish boats and
on Otchakoff itself. After assisting in placing the Russian gunboats
in an advantageous position, Jones, with the boats of the Wolodimer,
made for five of the enemy's galleys which lay within easy range of
the heavy guns of Fort Hassan. These galleys were subjected to a cross
fire from the Russian flotilla on one side and Fort Hassan on the
other. They were also covered by the guns of the Turkish flotilla and
the citadel of Otchakoff. Their position made the attack a most
hazardous one. Jones was far in advance of the gunboats, which, under
the supine leadership of Nassau, did not manifest a burning anxiety to
get into close action. In spite of a furious fire which was poured
upon them, Jones dashed gallantly at the nearest galley. It was taken
by boarding after a fierce hand-to-hand fight. Turning the command of
the galley over to Lieutenant Fabricien with instructions for him to
tow her out of action, Jones then assaulted the next galley, which
happened to be that of the capitan pasha. This boat lay nearer the
fort and was much better defended, but the Russians, under the
inspiring leadership of their admiral, would not be denied, and the
galley was presently his prize. The cable of this boat was cut without
order, and she immediately drifted toward the shore and took ground
near Fort Hassan, where she was subjected to a smashing fire from the
Turkish batteries close at hand. Jones was determined to bring out the
boat as a prize if possible. He caused the galley to be lightened by
throwing everything movable overboard, and meanwhile dispatched
Lieutenant Fox to the Wolodimer to fetch a kedge and line, by which he
could warp her into the channel.

While waiting for the return of this officer he again manned his boats
and endeavored to bring up the Russian flotilla. He was partially
successful in this attempt, for they succeeded in compelling the three
other galleys of the group with which he had been engaged to strike
their flags and in forcing the other gunboats to retreat with severe
loss. When Fox returned from the Wolodimer a line was run from the
galley to the burned wreck of a Turkish ship, but, before the galley
could be moved, Jones, who had re-entered his barge, was intensely
surprised and annoyed to see fire break out on the two vessels he had
captured. They had been deliberately set on fire by the orders of
Alexiano. The other three Turkish galleys were also burned by the use
of the deadly _brandkugels_. It was brutal cruelty again. Not one was
saved from the five galleys except fifty-two prisoners whom Jones
personally brought off in his boats from the two which he had captured
by hard hand-to-hand fighting. These galleys appear to have been
propelled by oars which were driven by slaves on benches, in the
well-known manner of the middle ages. As they were Turkish galleys,
the slaves were probably captive Christians. They perished with the
Turks left on board. Two more ships belonging to the squadron which
had endeavored to escape the week previous, were set on fire and
burned under the walls of Fort Hassan. The rest of the flotilla
effected nothing, and under the orders of Nassau withdrew to their
former position.

This action ended the general naval maneuvers which were undertaken.
In this short and brilliant campaign of three weeks Jones had fought
four general actions, all of which he personally directed. With
fifteen vessels against twenty-one he had so maneuvered that the enemy
lost many galleys and no less than thirteen of his ships; a few had
escaped, and a few were locked up in the harbor, so that the Turkish
naval force in the Liman was not only defeated but practically
annihilated by Jones' brilliant and successful leadership and
fighting. Eleven ships might have been prizes had it not been
for the cruelty and criminal folly of Nassau. Jones had captured by
hand-to-hand fighting two of the largest of the enemy's galleys. He
had shown himself a strategist in his disposition of the fleet at the
mouth of the Bug, and later, when he had placed it to command the
mouth of the Liman. He had demonstrated his qualities as a tactician
in the two boat attacks, and had shown his usual impetuous courage at
all times. Nassau had done nothing that was wise or that was gallant.
When Jones was not with him his tendency was always to retreat. The
orders which brought the flotilla into action which made the brilliant
combination on the first day's fight, by which the Turks were
outflanked, were issued by Jones himself.

Nassau, like Landais, was "skilled in keeping out of harm's way," and
he did not personally get into action at any time. His services
consisted in the useless burning of the nine ships and the five
galleys, but he had a ready tongue, and he still enjoyed the full
favor and confidence of Patiomkine. As soon as the flotilla had
retired from the last conflict, he and Alexiano hastened to the army
headquarters to report their conquests and exploits. They lost nothing
in the telling. In accordance with Nassau's previous statement to
Jones, they were very much exaggerated, and the actions of the rear
admiral were accorded scant notice.

Patiomkine received the two cowards graciously, and, as usual,
forwarded their reports. Jones was not accustomed to this performance,
and in ignorance of their actions took no steps to establish the value
of his services beyond making a report of what he had done in the
usual way--a report quietly suppressed. Two days after Alexiano
returned on board the Wolodimer in the throes of a malignant fever, of
which he died on the 19th of July. It had been asserted that every
Greek in the squadron would immediately resign upon the death of
Alexiano, but nothing of the kind took place. The Greeks, like the
English and the Russians, remained contentedly under the command of
the rear admiral. On the day he died Catherine granted Alexiano a fine
estate in White Russia. At the same time Nassau received a valuable
estate with several thousand serfs in White Russia, and the military
order of St. George. The empress also directed him to hoist the flag
of a vice admiral when Otchakoff surrendered. Jones received the minor
order of St. Anne, an order with which he would have been perfectly
satisfied if the other officers had been awarded nothing more.

All the officers of the flotilla were promoted one step, and received
a year's pay with a gold-mounted sword. They were most of them
soldiers. The officers of the squadron, who were all sailors, and who
had conducted themselves gallantly and well, obtained no promotion,
received no pecuniary reward, and no mark of distinction was conferred
upon them. They were naturally indignant at being so slighted, but
when Jones promised them that he would demand justice for them at the
close of the campaign, they stifled their vexation and continued their

It is evident that the failure to ascribe the victory to Jones was due
to Patiomkine, and his action in giving the credit to Nassau was
deliberate. Jones and Nassau had seriously disagreed. The scorn which
ability and courage feel for inefficiency and cowardice had not been
concealed by the admiral; he had been outspoken in his censure, and
not reserved in his strictures upon Nassau's conduct. He had treated
the ideas and suggestions of that foolish commander with the
indifference they merited, and had allowed no opportunity to pass of
exhibiting his contempt--which was natural, but impolitic.

He seems to have made the effort in the beginning to get along
pleasantly with Nassau, and to work with him for the good of the
service; but, after the demonstration of Nassau's lack of character
and capacity in the first action, and after the repeated failure of
the prince to maneuver the flotilla in the most ordinary manner, Jones
lost all patience with him. Patiomkine had endeavored to establish
harmony and good feeling between the two, not only by letters,
but by a personal visit which he paid the rear admiral on the
Wolodimer on the 29th of June. He did everything on that occasion
to persuade Nassau to make an apology for some remarks he had
addressed to Jones previously, and, having done so, effected
some kind of a reconciliation, but the differences between them were
so wide--Nassau was so worthless and Jones so capable, while both were
hot-tempered--that the breach between them was greater than before.

Between the two Patiomkine, while not at first unfriendly to Jones,
much preferred Nassau. Hence his action. Not only did Patiomkine
enjoin harmony, but Littlepage, the American, whom we have seen before
as the chamberlain of the King of Poland, who had accepted the command
of one of the ships under Jones, also wrote him to the same effect.

Jones received his letter in the spirit in which it was written, and
assured the writer that he had borne more from Nassau than he would
have done from any other than a madman, and he promised to continue to
try to do so. The effort was a failure. Littlepage himself, unable to
endure the animosities engendered between the squadron and the
flotilla, threw up his command and returned to Warsaw. His parting
counsel to Jones showed that he well understood the situation.

"Farewell, my dear admiral; take care of yourself, and look to whom
you trust. Remember that you have rather to play the part of a
politician than a warrior--more of a courtier than a soldier."

Jones indorsed upon this note the following remark:

"I was not skilled in playing such a part. I never neglected my duty."

To resume the narrative: After the defeat in the Liman, the grand
Turkish fleet sailed away from Otchakoff, which was then strictly
blockaded by Jones' squadron, assisted by thirty-five armed boats
which had been placed under his command. At the end of July the
Turkish fleet, having had an indecisive engagement with the Russians
at Sebastopol, returned to Otchakoff. Preparations were made by Jones
to receive an attack, but none was delivered. Three ships attempted to
run the blockade: one was sunk, and the others got in with difficulty.
Nothing of importance happened during the months of August and
September, in which Jones continued an effective blockade, although he
undertook some minor operations at the request of the marshal.

Patiomkine carried on the siege in a very desultory manner. In
accordance with his contradictory nature he sometimes pressed
operations vigorously, and then for weeks did nothing. He seems to
have had a harem in his camp, which perhaps accounts for his dawdling.
Nassau, with his usual boastfulness, sent word to Patiomkine that if
he had permission he would take the boats of the flotilla and knock a
breach in the walls of Otchakoff big enough to admit two regiments;
whereupon Patiomkine asked him wittily how many breaches he had made
in Gibraltar, and removed him from his command. He was sent northward,
where he still managed to hold the favor of the empress. This did not
greatly improve Jones' situation, however, for the relations between
him and Patiomkine had become so strained as to be impossible.

On the 24th of October Patiomkine sent him the following order:

"As it is seen that the capitan pasha comes in his kirlangich from the
grand fleet to the smaller vessels, and as before quitting this he may
attempt something, I request your excellence, the capitan pasha having
actually a greater number of vessels, to hold yourself in readiness to
receive him courageously, and drive him back. I require that this be
done without loss of time; if not, you will be made answerable for
every neglect."

Indorsing this insulting document as follows: "A warrior is always
ready, and I had not come there an apprentice," Jones immediately
returned a spirited answer, part of which is quoted:

"Monseigneur: I have the honour to transmit to your highness a plan of
the position in which I placed the squadron under my command this
morning, in conformity to your orders of yesterday. . . . I have
always conformed myself immediately, without murmuring, and most
exactly, to the commands of your highness; and on occasions when you
have deigned to leave anything to my own discretion I have been
exceedingly flattered, and believe you have had no occasion to repent.
At present, in case the capitan pacha does resolve on attempting
anything before his departure, I can give assurance beforehand that
the brave officers and crews I have the honour to command will do
their duty 'courageously,' though they have not yet been rewarded for
the important services they have already performed for the empire
under my eyes. I answer with my honour to explain myself fairly on
this delicate point at the end of the campaign. In the meantime I may
merely say that it is upon the sacred promise I have given them of
demanding justice from your highness in their behalf that they have
consented to stifle their grievances and keep silent."

This provoked a reply from Patiomkine and another tart rejoinder
from Jones. The correspondence, in which on one occasion Jones had
stated that "every man who thinks is master of his own opinion, and
this is mine"--good doctrine for the United States, impossible in
Russia--terminated by another order from Patiomkine, which closed as

"Should the enemy attempt to pass Oczakow, prevent him by every means
and defend yourself courageously."

Jones' indorsement on this document was as follows:

"It will be hard to believe that Prince Potemkin addressed such words
to Paul Jones!"

But the patience of the prince had reached its limit, and on the 28th
he summarily relieved Jones of his command, and replaced him by
Vice-Admiral Mordwinoff, who had received him so coldly when he
arrived at Kherson six months before.

The order relieving him is as follows:

"According to the special desire of her Imperial Majesty, your service
is fixed in the northern seas; and as this squadron and the flotilla
are placed by me under the orders of the vice admiral and the
Chevalier de Mordwinoff, your excellency may in consequence proceed on
the voyage directed; principally, as the squadron in the Liman, on
account of the season being so far advanced, can not now be united
with that of Sevastopol."

The northern sea service was only a pretext, but on the 30th Jones
replied with the following brief note:

"I am much flattered that her Majesty yet deigns to interest herself
about me; but what I shall ever regret is the loss of your regard. I
will not say that it is not difficult to find more skilful sea
officers than myself--I know well that it is a very possible thing;
but I feel emboldened to say that you will never find a man more
susceptible of a faithful attachment or more zealous in the discharge
of his duty. I forgive my enemies who are near you for the painful
blow aimed at me; but if there is a just God, it will be difficult for
Him to do as much."

Patiomkine was intensely angered by this note, and he took serious
exception to the implication that he had been influenced against Jones
by any one. Jones states in one of his letters that when he took leave
of Patiomkine a few days afterward, the prince remarked with much

"Don't believe that anyone leads me. No one leads me!" he shouted,
rising and stamping his foot, "not even the Empress!"--which was
correct. The jesting interrogation with which Catherine closes one of
her letters to Patiomkine by saying, "Have I done well, my master?"
contained much truth. However, he moderated his tone somewhat in the
face of the sturdy dignity of Jones, and, before the admiral started
for St. Petersburg, Patiomkine gave him the following letter to the

"Madam: In sending to the high throne of your Imperial Majesty
Rear-Admiral M. Paul Jones, I take, with submission, the liberty of
certifying the eagerness and zeal which he has ever shown for the
service of your Imperial Majesty, and to render himself worthy of the
high favour of your Imperial Majesty."

Having given the officers he commanded, who seem to have become much
attached to him, testimonials as to the high value of their services,
Jones embarked in a small open galley on the 1st of December for
Kherson. He was three days and three nights on the way, and suffered
greatly from the extreme cold. He arrived at Kherson dangerously ill,
and was unable to proceed upon his journey until the 17th of December.
When he reached Elizabethgrad he received word that Otchakoff had been
taken by storm the day he had departed from Kherson; over twenty
thousand Turks were put to the sword on that occasion. He arrived at
St. Petersburg on the 8th of January, 1789, and was ordered to appear
at court on the 11th, when the empress awarded him a private
interview, at which he presented the letter of Patiomkine. A few days
afterward Catherine sent him word that she would wait the arrival of
the prince before deciding what to do with him.


Patiomkine did not reach St. Petersburg until the middle of February,
and while waiting for him Jones busied himself with formulating
suggestions for a political and commercial alliance between Russia and
the United States, one feature of which involved an attack upon
Algiers. In addition to holding a large number of American prisoners
in captivity, the Algerines had made common cause with the Turks, and
had been present in large numbers before Otchakoff. When Patiomkine
did arrive, the project was submitted to him, but it was not thought
expedient to attempt it at the time, lest it should result in the
irritation of England. During this time the commodore wrote to
Jefferson and learned for the first time that all the letters he had
written since he entered the Russian service had been intercepted.
When he examined the official reports concerning his actions, which
had been forwarded from the Liman, he found that he had been grossly
misrepresented, and the reports were false even to the most trifling

His situation was very different from what it had been when he entered
St. Petersburg before. Antagonized secretly by Patiomkine, and openly
by Nassau and the English at court, his favor appreciably waned. The
old story about the insubordinate carpenter whom he had punished in
the West Indies was revived, and in its new version the carpenter
became his nephew, and it was stated that he had flogged him to death.
This was the precursor of a more deadly scandal. His occasional
invitations to court functions became less and less frequent, and the
coldness in official circles more and more marked. Finally, in the
month of April, when he appeared at the palace to pay his respects to
the empress, he was refused admittance, and unceremoniously ordered to
leave the precincts.

This deadly insult, this public disgrace, which of course at once
became a matter of general knowledge, was due to a most degrading
accusation made against his character. To discover the origin of this
slander is difficult indeed. In the first flush of his anger Jones
specifically charged that his English enemies, whose animosities were
not softened by time, were the authors of the calumny. It is
impossible to believe that any English officer could descend to such
depths, nor is it necessary to credit the report that his disgrace was
due to them. The Russian court was as full of intrigue as that of an
Oriental despot. Jones was out of favor. He had succeeded in creating
powerful enemies for himself in Nassau and Patiomkine. The latter
gentleman had negatived a promising plan in the hope of thereby
pleasing England, with whom Russia was now coquetting. If he were the
instigator of the cabal against Jones, he might have thought the
disgrace of the man they hated would gratify the English people. If he
could bring this about without compromising himself he would not
hesitate to take the required action. Nassau had very strong reasons
for hating Jones, who made no secret of his contempt for that pseudo
princeling. At any rate, whatever the source or origin, there is no
doubt as to the situation.

Jones was accused of having outraged a young girl of menial station,
who was only ten years old! The charge was false from beginning to
end. It had absolutely no foundation, but with the peculiar methods in
vogue in Russia, it was not easy to establish his innocence. He was
not only presumed, but was declared guilty, without investigation. The
advocate he employed was ordered to abandon his case, and he found
himself in the position of one condemned beyond hope with no
opportunity for justification. He was ever jealous on the point of his
personal honor, and to see himself thus cruelly stigmatized at the
close of a long, honorable, and brilliant career nearly drove him
frantic. After exhausting unavailingly every means to force a
consideration of his case and an examination of evidence which he
succeeded in securing with great difficulty, he fell into despair and
seriously contemplated suicide. He was not the man that he had been.
Already within a few years of his death, although only forty-one, his
constitution was so broken that his strength was seriously undermined.

Providence raised up for him a friend in the person of de Ségur, the
French ambassador at Catherine's court. This man should be held in
eternal gratitude by all Americans--nay, by all who love honor and
fair play--for he did not permit himself to be influenced, as is the
wont of courtiers, by the withdrawal of royal favor from the
chevalier, whom he had known in happier days and under more favorable
circumstances. He had been Jones' friend when he had been in the
zenith of his career, and he remained his friend in this nadir of his
misfortunes. The part that he played in the transaction can be best
understood by his own statement, confirmed by two letters written by
Jones. The first letter is addressed to Patiomkine. It had been
written before the visit of de Ségur:

"St. Petersburg, _April 13, 1789_.

"My Lord: Having had the advantage to serve under your orders and in
your sight, I remember, with particular satisfaction, the kind
promises and testimonies of your friendship with which you have
honoured me. As I served all my life for honour, I had no other motive
for accepting the flattering invitation of her Imperial Majesty than a
laudable ambition to distinguish myself in the service of a sovereign
so magnanimous and illustrious; for I never yet have bent the knee to
self-interest, nor drawn my sword for hire. . . .

"A bad woman has accused me of violating her daughter! If she had told
the truth I should have had candour enough to own it, and would trust
my honour, which is a thousand times dearer to me than my life, to the
mercy of the empress. I declare, with an assurance becoming a military
character, that I am innocent. Till that unhappy moment I have enjoyed
the public esteem, and the affection of all who knew me. Shall it be
said that in Russia a wretched woman, who _eloped_ from her _husband_
and _family_ in the country, _stole away her daughter_, lives here in
a house of bad fame, and leads a debauched and adulterous life, has
found credit enough on a simple complaint, unsupported by _any proof_,
to affect the honour of a general officer of reputation, who has
merited and received the decorations of America, of France, and of
this empire?

"If I had been favoured with the least intimation of a complaint of
that nature having found its way to the sovereign, I know too well
what belongs to delicacy to have presented myself in the presence of
the empress before my justification.

"My servant was kept prisoner by the officers of police for several
hours, two days successively, and threatened with the knout.

"After the examination of my people before the police, I sent for and
employed Monsieur Crimpin as my advocate. As the mother had addressed
herself to him before to plead her cause, she naturally spoke to him
without reserve, and he learned from her a number of important facts,
among others, that she was counselled and supported by a distinguished
man of the court.

"By the certificate of the father, attested by the pastor of the
colony, the daughter is several years older than is expressed in the
complaint. And the complaint contains various other points equally
false and easy to be refuted. For instance, there is a conversation I
am said to have held with the daughter in the Russian language, of
which no person ever heard me pronounce two words together; it is
unknown to me.

"I thought that in every country a man accused had a right to employ
advocates, and to avail himself of his friends for his justification.
Judge, my prince, of my astonishment and distress of mind, when I
yesterday was informed that the day before the governor of the city
had sent for my advocate, and forbidden _him_, at his peril, _or any
other person_, to meddle with _my cause!_

"I am innocent before God, and my conscience knows no reproach. The
complaint brought against me is an infamous lie, and there is no
circumstance that gives it even an air of probability.

"I address myself to you with confidence, my prince, and am assured
that the friendship you have so kindly promised me will be immediately
exerted in my favour; and that you will not suffer the illustrious
sovereign of this great empire to be misled by the false insinuations
and secret cabals of my hidden enemies. Your mind will find more true
pleasure in pleading the cause of an innocent man whom you honour with
your friendship than can result from other victories equally glorious
with that of Oczakow, which will always rank among the most brilliant
of military achievements. If your highness will condescend to question
Monsieur Crimpin (for he dare not now _even speak to me_), he can tell
you many circumstances which will elucidate my innocence. I am, with
profound respect, my lord, your highness's devoted and most obedient
servant," etc.

This letter was accompanied by certificates which fully established
the character of the wretched woman by whose agency his ruin had been
sought. The letter is dignified and touching. It is the passionate
protest of an innocent man against an accusation concerning that which
he had ever held dearer than life--his honor. It carries conviction
with it. Incidentally it throws much light upon the Russian legal
methods of that day. Never does Jones appear in a better light. But it
was sent to an utterly unresponsive man. Honor, justice, innocence,
were idle words to Patiomkine. No reply was made to the note, and
Jones abandoned himself to despair. The narrative of de Ségur is taken
from his memoirs, and, excepting in some minor details, is
substantially correct:

"The American rear admiral was favourably welcomed at court; often
invited to dinner by the empress, and received with distinction into
the best society in the city; on a sudden Catherine commanded him to
appear no more in her presence.

"He was informed that he was accused of an infamous crime: of
assaulting a young girl of fourteen, of grossly violating her; and
that probably, after some preliminary information, he would be tried
by the courts of admiralty, in which there were many English officers,
who were strongly prejudiced against him.

"As soon as this order was known every one abandoned the unhappy
American; no one spoke to him, people avoided saluting him, and every
door was shut against him. All those by whom but yesterday he had been
eagerly welcomed now fled from him as if he had been infected with a
plague; besides, no advocate would take charge of his cause, and no
public man would consent to listen to him; at last even his servants
would not continue in his service; and Paul Jones, whose exploits
every one had so recently been ready to proclaim, and whose friendship
had been sought after, found himself alone in the midst of an immense
population; Petersburg, a great capital, became to him a desert.

"I went to see him; he was moved even to tears by my visit. 'I was
unwilling,' he said to me, shaking me by the hand, 'to knock at your
door and to expose myself to a fresh affront, which would have been
more cutting than all the rest. I have braved death a thousand
times--now I wish for it.' His appearance, his arms being laid upon
the table, made me suspect some desperate intention.

"'Resume,' I said to him, 'your composure and your courage. Do you not
know that human life, like the sea, has its storms, and that fortune
is even more capricious than the winds? If, as I hope, you are
innocent, brave this sudden tempest; if, unhappily, you are guilty,
confess it to me with unreserved frankness, and I will do everything I
can to snatch you, by a sudden flight, from the danger which threatens

"'I swear to you upon my honour,' said he, 'that I am innocent, and a
victim of the most infamous calumny. This is the truth. Some days
since a young girl came to me in the morning, to ask me if I could
give her some linen or lace to mend. She then indulged in some rather
earnest and indecent allurements. Astonished at so much boldness in
one of such few years, I felt compassion for her; I advised her not to
enter upon so vile a career, gave her some money, and dismissed her;
but she was determined to remain.

"'Impatient at this resistance, I took her by the hand and led her to
the door; but, at the instant when the door was opened, the little
profligate tore her sleeves and her neck-kerchief, raised great cries,
complained that I had assaulted her, and threw herself into the arms
of an old woman, whom she called her mother, and who certainly was not
brought there by chance. The mother and the daughter raised the house
with their cries, went out, and denounced me; and now you know all.'

"'Very well,' said I, 'but can not you learn the names of those
adventurers?' 'The porter knows them,' he replied. 'Here are their
names written down, but I do not know where they live. I was desirous
of immediately presenting a memorial about this ridiculous affair,
first to the minister and then to the empress; but I have been
interdicted from access to both of them.' 'Give me the paper,' I said;
'resume your accustomed firmness; be comforted; let me undertake it;
in a short time we shall meet again.'

"As soon as I returned home I directed some sharp and intelligent
agents, who were devoted to me, to get information respecting these
suspected females, and to find out what was their mode of life. I was
not long in learning that the old woman was in the habit of carrying
on a vile traffic in young girls, whom she passed off as her

"When I was furnished with all the documents and attestations for
which I had occasion, I hastened to show them to Paul Jones. 'You have
nothing more to fear,' said I; 'the wretches are unmasked. It is only
necessary to open the eyes of the empress, and let her see how
unworthily she has been deceived; but this is not so very easy; truth
encounters a multitude of people at the doors of a palace, who are
very clever in arresting its progress; and sealed letters are, of all
others, those which are intercepted with the greatest art and care.
Nevertheless, I know that the empress, who is not ignorant of this,
has directed under very heavy penalties that no one shall detain on
the way any letters which are addressed to her personally, and which
may be sent to her by post; therefore, here is a very long letter
which I have written to her in your name; nothing of the detail is
omitted, although it contains some rough expressions. I am sorry for
the empress; but since she heard and gave credit to a calumny, it is
but right that she should read the justification with patience. Copy
this letter, sign it, and I will take charge of it; I will send some
one to put it in the post at the nearest town. Take courage; believe
me, your triumph is not doubtful.'"

The contents of the letter which Jones was advised to copy and send
are not now ascertainable, but the following letter was written to the
empress; and, while it is so evidently in Jones' own peculiar and
characteristic style as to admit of no doubt as to its authorship, he
probably embodied in it the suggestions of de Ségur and substituted it
for the copy proposed:

"St. Petersburg, _May 17, 1789_.

"Madam: I have never served but for honour; I have never sought but
glory; and I believed I was in the way of obtaining both when I
accepted the offers made me on the part of your Majesty, of entering
into your service.... I sacrificed my dearest interests to accept an
invitation so flattering, and I would have reached you instantly if
the United States had not entrusted me with a special commission to
Denmark. Of this I acquitted myself faithfully and promptly.... The
distinguished reception which your Majesty deigned to grant me, the
kindness with which you loaded me, indemnified me for the dangers to
which I had exposed myself for your service, and inspired me with the
most ardent desire to encounter more.... I besought your Majesty never
to condemn me unheard. You condescended to give me that promise, and I
set out with a mind as tranquil as my heart was satisfied....

"At the close of the campaign I received orders to return to court, as
your Majesty intended to employ me in the North Seas, and M. le Comte
de Besborodko acquainted me that a command of greater importance than
that of the Black Sea ... was intended for me. Such was my situation,
when, upon the mere accusation of a crime, the very idea of which
wounds my delicacy, I found myself driven from court, deprived of the
good opinion of your Majesty, and forced to employ the time which I
wish to devote to the defence of your empire in cleansing from myself
the stains with which calumny has covered me.

"Condescend to believe, madam, that if I had received the slightest
hint that a complaint of such a nature had been made against me, and
still more, that it had come to your Majesty's knowledge, I know too
well what is owing to delicacy to have ventured before you till I was
completely exculpated.

"Understanding neither the laws, the language, nor the forms of
justice in this country, I needed an advocate, and obtained one; but,
whether from terror or intimidation, he stopped short all at once, and
durst not undertake my defence, though convinced of the justice of my
cause. But truth may always venture to show itself alone and
unsupported at the foot of the throne of your Majesty. I have not
hesitated to labour unaided for my own vindication; I have collected
proofs; and if such details might appear under the eyes of your
Majesty I would present them; but if your Majesty will deign to order
some person to examine them, it will be seen by the report which will
be made that my crime is a fiction, invented by the cupidity of a
wretched woman, whose avarice has been countenanced, perhaps incited,
by the malice of my numerous enemies. Her husband has himself
certified and attested to her infamous conduct. His signature is in my
hands, and the pastor, Braun, of the district, has assured me that if
the College of Justice will give him an order to this effect he will
obtain an attestation from the country people that the mother of the
girl referred to is known among them as a wretch absolutely unworthy
of belief.

"Take a soldier's word, madam; believe an officer whom two great
nations esteem, and who has been honoured with flattering marks of
their approbation.... I am innocent; and if I were guilty I would not
hesitate to make a candid avowal of my fault, and to commit my honour,
which is a thousand times dearer to me than my life, to the hands of
your Majesty.

"If you deign, madam, to give heed to this declaration, proceeding
from a heart the most frank and loyal, I venture from your justice to
expect that my zeal will not remain longer in shameful and humiliating
inaction. It has been useful to your Majesty, and may again be so,
especially in the Mediterranean, where, with insignificant means, I
will undertake to execute most important operations, the plans for
which I have meditated long and deeply. But if circumstances, of which
I am ignorant, do not admit the possibility of my being employed
during the campaign, I hope your Majesty will give me permission to
return to France or America, granting, as the sole reward of the
services I have had the happiness to render, the hope of renewing them
at some future day...."

Catherine, to her credit be it stated, took the "soldier's word,"
examined the convincing proofs, and, being satisfied of his innocence,
publicly received him at court again and thus openly vindicated him.
New projects immediately began to take shape in his fertile brain. No
bodily weakness could apparently impair his mental activity. With a
half dozen East Indiamen armed for warlike purposes he offered to cut
off the food traffic between Egypt and Constantinople; an idea as old
as the days of the Cæsars, when upon the arrival of the corn ships
from Alexandria depended the control of the Roman plebeians; but the
idea was as good now as it was then, and if he had been intrusted with
the meager force he requested he would have compelled the Turks to
detach ships from the Black Sea fleet, and thus relieve the pressure
on the Crimea.

Count Besborodko was pleased with the project, and promised to submit
it to the empress, proposing, at the same time, if this plan fell
through, to give him another command in the Black Sea, with an
adequate fleet, by which he might force his way into the
Mediterranean. About the middle of June, on his applying to this
minister again, he was promised an answer in two days as to the
pleasure of the empress concerning him. Besborodko stated that
Catherine would either give him a command or grant the leave of
absence which he had asked in his letter of the 17th. The minister had
a court memory, however, and not two days, but many, passed without
the information. On the 5th of July Jones wrote again to the minister
in the usual direct way he employed when he was irritated, and asked
for an immediate declaration of intentions regarding him. It was a
high-handed way to address the Russian court, but it brought an
immediate reply. On the 8th of July he was officially informed that
his request for a leave of absence was granted for two years, with
permission to go outside the limits of the empire. His salary was to
be continued during that time.

On the 18th of July he had a farewell audience with the empress, who
treated him very nicely on this occasion. As he kissed her hand in
good-by she wished him _bon voyage_, which was politic but
unsubstantial. He did not leave St. Petersburg immediately, and it was
not until the last of August that he took his final leave of the
Russian capital. During this interval he was detained partly by the
difficulty in collecting his arrears in pay and allowances, and partly
for the reason that he undertook, in spite of the rebuffs he had
received, again to lay before Besborodko and others a project for a
war against the Barbary States, which, of course, came to nothing. He
left Russia a bitterly disappointed man.

The disinterested friendship of de Ségur had not been exhausted by his
previous actions, and he gave additional proofs of his affection by
supplying Jones with letters of introduction to the representatives of
the French Government at the different courts of Europe which he
proposed to visit, and the two following statements addressed to the
French Minister of Foreign Affairs:

"St. Petersburg, _July 21, 1789_.

"The enemies of the Vice-Admiral[48] Paul Jones having caused to be
circulated reports entirely destitute of foundation concerning the
journey which this general officer is about to undertake, I would wish
the inclosed article, the authenticity of which I guarantee, should be
inserted in the _Gazette de France_, and in the other public papers
which are submitted to the inspection of your department. This article
will undeceive those who have believed the calumny, and will prove to
the friends and to the compatriots of the vice admiral that he has
sustained the reputation acquired by his bravery and his talents
during the last war; that the empress desires to retain him in her
service; and that if he absents himself at this moment it is with his
own free will, and for particular reasons, which can not leave any
stain on his honour.

"The glorious marks of the satisfaction and bounty of the king toward
M. Paul Jones, his attachment to France, which he has served so
usefully in the common cause, his rights as a subject, and as an
admiral of the United States, the protection of the ministers of the
king, and my personal friendship for this distinguished officer, with
whom I made a campaign in America, are so many reasons which appear to
me to justify the interest which I took in all that concerned him
during his stay in Russia."

"_Article to be inserted in the Public Prints, and particularly in the
Gazette de France_.

"St. Petersburg, _July 21, 1789_.

"The Vice-Admiral Paul Jones, being at the point of returning to
France, where private affairs require his presence, had the honour to
take leave of the empress, the 7th[49] of this month, and to be
admitted to kiss the hand of her Imperial Majesty, who confided to him
the command of her vessels of war stationed on the Liman during the
campaign of 1788. As a mark of favour for his conduct during this
campaign the empress has decorated him with the insignia of the order
of St. Anne; and her Imperial Majesty, satisfied with his services,
only grants him permission to absent himself for a limited time, and
still preserves for him his emoluments and his rank."

Jones did not lack other friends either, for M. Genet, Secretary of
the French Legation at St. Petersburg, and subsequently Minister from
France to the United States--his extraordinary conduct while he
enjoyed that office will be remembered--whose father had been an old
friend of the commodore's, gave him a most cordial and gratifying
letter of introduction to the celebrated Madame Campan, in which he
specifically states the unfounded nature of the charges which had been
made, and, describing the circumstances in which Jones left Russia,
authorized her to correct any rumors to his disadvantage which might
be put in circulation at Versailles. He also consented to act as
Jones' financial representative, and transmitted to him from time to
time such amounts on his pay as he could wrest from the Russian


The next year of his life the commodore passed in travel. His
destination when he left Russia was Copenhagen; perhaps he had in mind
the possibility of resuming the negotiations with the Danish
Government on the old claim, and it is possible that his deferred
pension may have had something to do with this intention. He had no
especial place to go; one city was as good as another to him. In his
busy wandering life he had never made a home for himself, and, while
his mind and heart turned with ever more intensity of affection to the
United States, yet he loved America in an abstract rather than a
concrete way. The principles for which the United States stood, and
upon which they were constituted and organized, appealed to him, but
those personal ties which he had formed in his brief sojourn before
the Revolution were weakened by absence or had been sundered by death.
There was no employment for him there, for his country had absolutely
no navy. Besides, he needed rest. He who had fought throughout a long
life for liberty and freedom, for honor and fame, was doomed to
struggle for that last desire for the few remaining years left him.

He traveled leisurely from St. Petersburg to Warsaw, where he was
kindly received at the court of Poland, and where he busied himself
preparing journals of his American service and of the Liman campaign,
copies of which he sent to Catherine. There, too, he met the great
Pole, Kosciusko, and the acquaintance between the veteran sailor and
the old soldier of the Revolution speedily ripened into intimacy.
Sweden had declared war against Russia. Kosciusko, who was the
inveterate enemy of this gigantic empire which finally wrote _finis
Poloniæ_ across the story of his country, would have been most happy
if he could have seen the fleets of Sweden led by so redoubtable a
warrior as Jones. But of course such a proposition was not, and could
not be, entertained by Jones.[50]

On leaving Warsaw for Vienna, it is suggested that he made the detour
necessitated by visiting that point, rather than proceeding directly
to Copenhagen via Berlin, at the instigation of Catherine, who desired
to remove him from the vicinity of the Swedes. She might not use him
herself, but she could not contemplate with any degree of equanimity
the possibility of his serving against her. There is not the slightest
evidence that he ever thought of entering the service of Sweden. He
repels the idea with indignation, and the sole foundation for it arose
from Kosciusko's ardent desire. Jones' conduct in the affair is beyond
criticism; indeed, he was too ill at that time, although he did not
realize it, to be employed by any one. In his papers the following
declaration is found. It is undated, and the documents to which it was
attached give no clew as to when it was written, or whether it was
ever published, but from its contents it must have been prepared while
he was on this leave of absence from Russia. It is a notable little
document, for it repeats his assertion of American citizenship,
expresses his intention of never warring against the United States or
France, and clearly defines the tenure of his connection with the


"The Rear-Admiral Paul Jones, desirous of making known unequivocally
his manner of thinking in relation to his military connection with
Russia, declares:

"1st. That he has at all times expressed to her Imperial Majesty of
Russia his vow to preserve the condition of an American citizen and

"2d. That, having been honoured by his most Christian Majesty with a
gold sword, he has made a like vow never to draw it on any occasion
where war might be waged against his Majesty's interest.

"3d. That circumstances which the rear admiral could not foresee when
he wrote on the last occasion make him feel a presentiment that, in
spite of his attachment and gratitude to her Imperial Majesty, and
notwithstanding the advantageous propositions which may be made to
him, he will probably renounce the service of that power, even before
the expiration of the leave of absence which he now enjoys."

To return to his trip. After staying some time in Vienna, where he
seems to have been received with favor in high social circles, though
the illness of the emperor prevented his being presented, he went to
Amsterdam via Hamburg. Here he remained for some time, engaged, as
usual, in correspondence. He still seems to have cherished the
sailor's dream of buying a farm and passing his remaining years
thereon, for we find among his letters an inquiry addressed to Mr.
Charles Thompson, the Secretary of Congress, about an estate near
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which he thought of purchasing from funds
invested in the United States. But in view of his anomalous connection
with Russia he thought it well to remain in Europe until it had either
ceased or been renewed. This was the time, being in need of funds,
that he wrote to his old friend Krudner to endeavor to secure payment
of the Danish pension.

Krudner readily undertook Jones' commission, and the Danish Government
promised to pay the pension at Copenhagen to any one whom Jones would
authorize to receive it. They never paid it. Krudner always retained
his friendship for Jones, and one of his letters closes with these

"At all events, I flatter myself, as a good Russian, that your arm is
still reserved for us."

At the end of April, 1790, he crossed over to London on some financial
business, which he settled to his satisfaction. He remained but a
brief time in England--his visits there were always brief and devoid
of publicity; he seems to have felt keenly the hatred with which the
English regarded him, and under such circumstances his action was

Toward the close of May he returned to Paris, which was perhaps the
place where his happiest hours had been spent, and at Paris he
continued to reside until the last scene in his eventful history. It
was no longer the gay and pleasure-seeking resort of his earlier and
happier years. The grim shadow of the Revolution, as yet no larger
than a man's hand, was already lowering on the horizon. A year before
his arrival the States-General had been summoned for the first time in
a hundred and seventy-five years. On the 14th of July, eight months
before his coming, the drums of the sections rolled the knell of the
Bastile, and a little later still the old feudal constitution, which
had endured the vicissitudes of a thousand years of change, was
abrogated, and the rule of the people began. Louis XVI, poor puppet of
fortune, "imponderous rag of circumstance," was driven hither and
thither by the furious blasts of liberated passion charged with
centuries of animosity, for a few aimless, pitiful years, and
then--the guillotine!

For two years Jones lived in quiet retirement. He made but one other
public appearance, in July, 1790, in connection with the first
anniversary of the taking of the Bastile. Paris, inspirited with the
first breath of freedom, drawn from the first labor pains of the
Revolution, determined to celebrate in fitting style this grand
anniversary. Different groups of foreigners residing in France sent
delegates to appear before the National Assembly and ask permission to
take part in the national _fête_. Paul Jones headed the Americans, and
made an address to the Assembly. Thenceforward he did nothing of a
public character.

His traveling had brought him neither surcease of care nor restoration
to health. His hardy constitution, shattered by constant exposure in
all weathers and every climate, and worn out by the chafings of his
ardent and impatient temperament throughout the course of a career
checkered by periods of alternate exaltation and depression, and
filled with hopes and disappointments in equal measure, was rapidly
yielding to the pains and ailments which were ushering in the fatal
moment which should put an end to all his dreams and aspirations. His
time, however, was not passed unhappily, and returns from investments
provided him with enough for his simple needs. During the stirring
hours of the beginning of the Revolution he busied himself in writing
his journals, arranging the great mass of papers he had accumulated,
and in his never-failing correspondence. Sometimes he attended the
Sorbonne, and held discussion with philosophers. Madame de Telison was
with him.

He was drawn in two ways by the condition of France. His sympathies
were ever with humanity struggling for freedom; but he had received so
many marks of favor from the French king, to whom he owed his great
opportunities for achievement and advancement, that he could scarcely
view with equanimity the dangers and harassments of that unhappy
monarch. He was a republican through and through in principle, but by
instinct and association, if not by birth, he was one of the proudest
and most thoroughgoing of aristocrats--as Washington was an
aristocrat. Like many other people, his theory of life and government
was different from his practice. Besides, the liberty which the French
were striving to establish was already perilously verging on that
unbounded license into which it soon degenerated, and that his
disciplined soul abhorred. His associates in France were mainly among
the Girondists, with whom he was more nearly affiliated than with
other political parties.

He did not realize that he was so broken in health, for he still clung
to his tenuous connection with Russia, sending repeated letters to
Catherine and Patiomkine, with demands, requests, and suggestions of
various plans for service. Patiomkine, as usual, took no notice, but
the last letter to Catherine having been forwarded through Baron
Grimm, she directed him, rather curtly by the way, to inform Jones
that if she had service for him she would let him know. After that
Jones seems to have discontinued his letters to Russia. He found,
however, two new outlets for his restless zeal. Early in 1792,
chancing to meet an Algerian corsair, who had captured many Americans
now held for ransom in Algiers, he learned much of the unfortunate
condition of those unhappy sailors, to whose fate their country was
apparently oblivious. The corsair informed him that if these captives
were not ransomed promptly they would be sold into slavery. Jones
wrote immediately to Jefferson, then Secretary of State, and with all
his power urged that something be done for them, either by sending a
force to compel restitution or by means of ransom. The letter, as we
shall see, was not without result.

The second object of interest was a claim which he entertained against
the French Government for salary due him while in command of the Bon
Homme Richard and the squadron. The United States had paid him his
salary as an officer during that period, but he felt that since his
services had been asked by France, and the squadron had been at the
charge of the French Government, a further amount was due him from the
French, and he wrote to de Bertrand, Minister of Marine, demanding the
balance due. The claim was the subject of acrid correspondence, and
the matter was pending when he died.[51] From the letters written
during the last years of his life I quote portions of three--the first
two to his sister, Mrs. Taylor, and the last one to Lafayette:

"Amsterdam, _March 26, 1790_.

"I wrote you, my dear friend, from Paris, by Mr. Kennedy, who
delivered me the kind letter you wrote me by him. Circumstances
obliged me to return soon afterward to America, and on my arrival at
New York Mr. Thomson delivered me a letter that had been intrusted to
his care by Mrs. Loudon. It would be superfluous to mention the great
satisfaction I received in hearing from two persons I so much love and
esteem, and whose worthy conduct as wives and mothers is so
respectable in my eyes. Since my return to Europe a train of
circumstances and changes of residence have combined to keep me
silent. This has given me more pain than I can express; for I have a
tender regard for you both, and nothing can be indifferent to me that
regards your happiness and the welfare of your children. I wish for a
particular detail of their age, respective talents, characters, and
education. I do not desire this information merely from curiosity. It
would afford me real satisfaction to be useful to their establishment
in life. We must study the genius and inclination of the boys, and try
to fit them, by a suitable education, for the pursuits we may be able
to adopt for their advantage. When their education shall be advanced
to a proper stage, at the school of Dumfries for instance, it must
then be determined whether it may be most economical and advantageous
for them to go to Edinburgh or France to finish their studies. All
this is supposing them to have great natural genius and goodness of
disposition; for without these they can never become eminent. For the
females, they require an education suited to the delicacy of character
that is becoming in their sex. I wish I had a fortune to offer to each
of them; but though this is not the case, I may yet be useful to them.
And I desire particularly to be useful to the two young women, who
have a double claim to my regard, as they have lost their father.
Present my kind compliments to Mrs. Loudon, her husband, to Mr.
Taylor, and your two families, and depend on my affectionate

"Paris, _December 27, 1790_.

"I duly received, my dear Mrs. Taylor, your letter of the 16th August,
but ever since that time I have been unable to answer it, not having
been capable to go out of my chamber, and having been for the most
part obliged to keep my bed. I have now no doubt but that I am in a
fair way to perfect recovery, though it will require time and

"I shall not conceal from you that your family discord aggravates
infinitely all my pains. My grief is inexpressible that two sisters,
whose happiness is so interesting to me, do not live together in that
_mutual tenderness and affection_ which would do so much honour to
themselves and to the memory of their worthy relations. Permit me to
recommend to your serious _study_ and _application_ Pope's Universal
Prayer. You will find more morality in that little piece than in many
volumes that have been written by great divines:

      "'Teach me to feel another's woe,
         _To hide the fault I see;_
        That mercy I to others show,
         _Such mercy show to me_.'

"This is not the language of a weak, superstitious mind, but the
spontaneous offspring of true religion, springing from a heart
sincerely inspired by charity, and deeply impressed with a sense of
the calamities and _frailties_ of human nature. If the sphere in which
Providence has placed us as members of society requires the exercise
of brotherly kindness and charity toward our neighbour in general, how
much more is this our duty with respect to individuals with whom we
are connected by the near and tender ties of nature as well as moral
obligation. Every lesser virtue may pass away, but _charity_ comes
from Heaven, and is immortal. Though I wish to be the instrument of
making family peace, which I flatter myself would tend to promote the
happiness of you all, yet I by no means desire you to do violence to
your own feelings by taking any step that is contrary to your own
judgment and inclination. Your reconciliation must come free from your
heart, otherwise it will not last, and therefore it will be better not
to attempt it. Should a reconciliation take place, I recommend it of
all things, that you never mention past grievances, nor show, by
_word, look, or action_, that you have not forgot them."

"Paris, _December 7, 1791_.

"Dear General: My ill health for some time past has prevented me from
the pleasure of paying you my personal respects, but I hope shortly to
indulge myself with that satisfaction.

"I hope you approve the quality of the fur linings I brought from
Russia for the King and yourself. I flatter myself that his Majesty
will accept from your hand that little mark of the sincere attachment
I feel for his person; and be assured that I shall be always ready to
draw the sword with which he honoured me for the service of the
virtuous and illustrious 'Protector of the Rights of Human Nature.'

"When my health shall be established, M. Simolin will do me the honour
to present me to his Majesty as a Russian admiral. Afterward it will
be my duty, as an American officer, to wait on his Majesty with the
letter which I am directed to present to him from the United States."

Jones appears in a very pleasant light in all of these letters, and I
am glad to read the evidences of gentleness and of affection and
kindly feeling which they present. In March, 1792, his disease, which
had developed into a lingering form of dropsy, became complicated with
a disorder of the liver. He grew much worse, lost his appetite, became
very jaundiced, and was confined to his bedroom for two months. Under
treatment he grew temporarily better, until the beginning of July,
when he became suddenly worse again and the dropsy began to manifest
itself once more. The disease attacked his chest. His legs became much
swollen, and the enlargement extended upward so that he could not
button his waistcoat and had great difficulty in breathing.

He was not, as has been asserted, in poverty and want, deserted by his
friends. He lived in a comfortable apartment in the second story of
No. 42 Tournon Street, and enjoyed the services of one of the best
physicians in France, who was, in fact, physician to the queen.
Gouverneur Morris, the American Minister, was a warm friend of his,
and paid him many visits during his dying hours. He had no lack of
other friends either, for he was attended by two gentlemen,
ex-American army officers, Colonels Swan and Blackden, and by a French
officer, M. Beaupoil. They all seem to have been fond of the little
commodore, and to have visited him constantly. They did everything
possible to lighten his dying hours. His symptoms became so alarming
about the middle of July that Colonel Blackden took upon himself the
duty of advising him to make his will and settle his affairs. He put
off this action until the 18th of the month. On the afternoon of that
day Morris drew up a schedule of his property from Jones' own
dictation, and his friends having sent for a notary, he made his will,
which was drawn in English by Morris, and transcribed in French by the
notary. The will was witnessed by Swan, Blackden, and Beaupoil.[52] In
this document--the last of all his writings--dictated in those solemn
hours when he looked Death in the face in final glance, the real value
of earthly honors and titles became apparent to him; he describes
himself with touching simplicity, not as Commodore, Chevalier, or
Admiral--titles he had loved--but in greater words as "_John Paul
Jones, a citizen of the United States_."

At eight o'clock in the evening his friends bade him good by, and
perhaps "Good night" were the last words any one heard him speak. They
left him seated in his armchair in his parlor in the second story. A
short time after their departure the physician arrived to pay his
regular evening visit. The armchair was empty, and the door of the
chamber adjoining the parlor was open. He walked over toward it and
stopped in the entrance, and this is what he saw: the figure of the
great commodore lying prone upon the bed, his feet touching the floor
and his hands outstretched before him. There was no sound in the still
room. The physician stepped softly to the bedside, turned him over,
and laid his hand upon his heart. He felt no responsive throb. The
little captain of the Bon Homme Richard was dead, worn out, fretted
away, broken down, at the age of forty-five! "The hand of a conqueror
whom no human power can resist had been laid upon his shoulder, and
for the first time in his life the face of Paul Jones was turned away
from the enemy."[53] Fitting, indeed, would it have been if from the
deck of the war ship the soul of the sea king had taken its flight;
but, after all, he was at rest at last--"in peace after so many
storms, in honor after so much obloquy."

The peculiar position in which he was found, as I have thought upon
it, has suggested to me the possibility that, when he felt the last
crisis coming upon him, he may have attempted to sink down by his
bedside, that the call of his Maker might find him--as years after it
found David Livingstone in the heart of dark Africa--on his knees in
prayer. And then sometimes I think--and this is perhaps more
likely--that he may have risen to his feet to face death, as was his
wont, and have fallen forward when it came. No one can tell. A century
has fled away since they found him there, but the sorrow of it all is
still present with me as I write. An exile from his native land, far
from the country of his adoption, in the prime of life, he dies. There
was not a woman with him to whisper words of comfort, to give him that
last touch of tenderness that comes from a woman's hand. Alone he had
lived--alone he died. Oh, the pity of it! The man of the world, become
the citizen of the new republic, had found another country--let us
hope a heavenly one. He did much and he suffered much, and for such we
may be sure there is much charity, much forgiveness.

By the terms of his will all his property, amounting to some thirty
thousand dollars, was left to his two surviving sisters and their
children--the same to whom he had sent those sweet words counseling
forbearance and consideration. The fact that he had shown but little
of the one and had received but little of the other in his life only
accentuates his sense of their need. One other honor his country had
in store for him, but it arrived too late. He had been long buried
when a commission appointing him to negotiate the release of the
prisoners in Algiers arrived in France. It was an honor he would have
appreciated, and in carrying it out he would have found a congenial

The National Assembly honored his memory by sending a deputation,
headed by its president, to represent them at his funeral, which took
place on the second day after his death, at eight o'clock in the
evening. All his friends, including the Americans, were there as well.
A French Protestant clergyman named Marron conducted the services and
delivered a eulogy, but one sentence of which is worthy of quotation:
"The fame of the brave outlives him; his portion is immortality."

It has been determined recently that the interment was made in the
little cemetery reserved for those who died in the Protestant faith,
situated at the corner of the Rue de la Grange aux Belles and Rue des
Écluses Saint Martin--then in the suburbs, now in the heart of the
city. The cemetery was officially closed on January 1, 1793. A canal
was afterward cut through it and buildings erected upon the other,
lots. The exact location of Jones' grave is unknown, and, as there
were at least ten thousand people buried there, it would probably be a
matter of great difficulty to find it, should the effort be made; and
the expense would be considerable. The body, clad in an American
uniform, was incased in a leaden coffin, with sword,[54] etc., and
unless all the elements have been dissipated by the action of the
water it might be possible to identify his remains. Certainly there is
no question, if satisfactory settlement could be had, that his remains
should be brought to the United States, with all naval honors, here to
be suitably interred and his grave marked by an appropriate monument.
So far as I know, there has not even been so much as a memorial tablet
erected to his memory in any part of the great country toward whose
independence he contributed so much. A serious and ungrateful omission
this, and, whether his remains be found or not, it is to be hoped that
it may be soon rectified.[55]


Paul Jones was a small, slender man, somewhat under the middle
stature, or about five feet five inches in height. As is frequently
the custom with seamen, who pass much of their lives between decks,
his shoulders were slightly rounded, and at first glance he seemed
smaller than he was. In physique he was active and graceful, well
proportioned and strong. Many portraits of him exist, some of them
gross caricatures, representing him as the proverbial pirate of early
days clad in fantastic costume, his belt bristling with pistols and
knives, and depicting him in the act of slaying some terrified and
helpless sailor; but it is from such representations as the painting
by Peale,[56] the bust by Houdon, the naval medal, and the miniature
by the Countess de Lavendahl, that we get a correct idea of his
appearance. His features were regular; his nose was straight,
prominent, and slightly enlarged at the tip; his lips were elegantly
curved. His head was well proportioned, and set firmly upon his
shoulders; in spite of his stoop he held it erect, which gave him an
intent, eager expression. His large black eyes were set deep in their
sockets under heavy, arched eyebrows; in moments of action they
sparkled with fire and passion. His hair was black and plentiful, and
the darkness of his complexion had been intensified by years of
exposure to wind and weather. His hands and feet were small and of
good shape. He was always particular in his dress, which was of
material as rich and in cut as elegant as his means permitted. Without
being handsome, therefore, he was a man of distinctly striking and
notable appearance in any society.

His habitual expression was thoughtful and meditative. His face was
the face of a student rather than that of a fighter. As it looks out
at us from the canvas of the past in Peale's portrait, there is a
little touch of wonder and surprise in the soft, reflective eyes. The
mystery of life is there. We feel that the man is speculating upon us,
measuring us, wondering who and what we are. There is a gentle gravity
about the face which is most attractive. In the profile on the medal
and in the Houdon bust other qualities predominate. You catch a
glimpse of the proud, imperious, dashing sailor in the uplifted poise
of the head, the tense, straight line of the lips, and the firm,
resolute chin; and there is a suggestion of humor, grim enough, in the
whole face. The Countess de Lavendahl apparently depicts him in the
role of a lover, fashionably attired and arrayed for conquest. In each
of these representations we have the broad, splendid brow which
typifies the mind that was in him. It is probable that these different
portraits were each good likenesses, and that each artist, in
accordance with his insight, wrought into his presentment what he saw
in the man.

A man of abundant self-confidence, he was not easily embarrassed, and
we find him at home as well in the refined and cultivated colonial
society of North Carolina as upon the decks of a ship manned by the
rudest and roughest of men. He bears himself with easy dignity at
the courts of Russia and France, and is not discomfited in the
presence of king, queen, or empress. His manners were easy and polite.
There was a touch of the directness of the sailor and the fighter in
his address, I doubt not, but his behavior was certainly that of a
gentleman--quiet, dignified, somewhat haughty, but pleasing. This is
established by the testimony of those who knew him, including the
Englishwoman mentioned above; by traditions which have come down to
us; by the fact that he was admitted into the most exclusive circles
in various courts of Europe, and that he retained the place which had
been accorded him through years of acquaintanceship. He has been
called low, brutal, common, and vulgar, but such accusations are
incompatible with the position he occupied. He might have been
received, of course, but he never would have been not merely
tolerated, but admired and sought after, if the charges were correct.

In saying this, I do not wish to be understood as being oblivious of
his faults. As occasion has demanded, I have not hesitated to call
attention to them. He was irritable and impatient, captious and
quarrelsome, at times variable and inconsistent. We find him
addressing a superior at one time in terms that are almost too
respectful, and in his next communication writing with a blunt
frankness of a superior to an inferior. This frequently caused him
trouble, inasmuch as he usually had to deal with men who were his
superiors in birth and station, though not to be compared with him in
talents and education. The limitations of his humble origin account
for this variant attitude to the world's so-called great.

His great fault was his vanity. It was a weakness, like some of his
other qualities, colossal. It manifested itself in every way that
vanity can manifest itself. No defense can be uttered. We recognize
the fact and note it with pain, but in the presence of his great
qualities pass it by, after calling attention to the strange fact that
other and more famous sailors, including the greatest man who ever
fought a ship or squadron, Lord Nelson, were under the spell of the
same weakness--and other greater weaknesses. No character in history
is without weakness. There was but One who manifested no weakness, not
even on a cross.

His mind was a well-furnished one. From boyhood he had cultivated the
studious habit with which he was endowed in large degree, with the
assiduity and perseverance of a Scotsman. He was thoroughness itself;
whatever he attempted he did so well that he usually left nothing
further to be desired. His brain was alert and active. He was
quick-witted, and not devoid of humor, although there is always a
touch of sternness in his persiflage. His letters fall into two
classes. When he wrote under pressure of strong emotion or excitement,
he expressed his personality with his pen as adequately as he did in
his actions; his remarks were short, sharp, direct, logical, and in
good taste; his style was vigorous and perspicuous. On the other hand,
he frequently descended, especially when addressing women, into
verbosity, and verbosity of that most intolerable species known as
fine writing--witness his letter to Lady Selkirk. As a phrase maker
many of his sentences ring with his spirit. "I do not wish to have
command of any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in
harm's way"; "I have not yet begun to fight"; "I have ever looked out
for the honor of the American flag"; "I can never renounce the
glorious title of a citizen of the United States," are some of his
sayings which have passed into history, and might appropriately serve
for inscriptions on the four sides of his monument, when a too tardy
people pay him the honor of erecting one.[57]

He spoke French well and wrote it better. He found no difficulty in
making himself understood in France, and that language was used
entirely in his Russian campaign. In an age when everybody scribbled
verse he wrote poetry which is creditable to him. It has been remarked
that it was much better verse than Nelson wrote. Like many other naval
officers of that day, he played the flute and had a taste for music.
He was undoubtedly a member of the Presbyterian Church by baptism in
infancy, and although, so far as is known, he was not actively in
communion with any religious organization during his life, he was in
no sense an irreligious man. "They that go down to the sea in ships
that do business in great waters," who see "the works of the Lord, and
his wonders in the deep," are rarely ultimately indifferent to
religion. They are superficially careless, perhaps, but they are
neither skeptics nor atheists.[58] Nothing could be sweeter and more
gentle than his letters to his sisters with their unequivocal
recognition of the Power above which shapes our ends.

In a day when seamen--and no less the naval officer than the
merchantman--considered a capacity for picturesque and plentiful
profanity a mark of professional aptitude, he was distinguished by
refraining from oaths and curses. Mark the words: "Do not swear, Mr.
Stacy--in another moment we may all be in eternity--but let us do our
duty." Uttered in the heat of action, and in a critical moment, the
sentence is as rare as it is beautiful, and it somehow reminds me of
the dying words of Nelson in the cockpit of the Victory. He was
clean-mouthed and clean-hearted. I do not wish to say that he was
immaculate, a saint, or anything of that sort, but there is no man of
similar upbringing, who lived in his day, and under such
circumstances, whose life appears to be cleaner. There is a total
absence of sensuality in his career. In over thirteen hundred letters
which have been examined, there is not a coarse or indelicate
allusion; no _double entendre_ ever sullies his pages, and the name of
no woman is mentioned save in terms of respect. It is probable that
his amour with Madame de Telison passed the bounds of Platonic
friendship or romantic admiration, and it is possible that they did
have a child; but even this is by no means certain, and the conclusion
may do him an injustice.

When one remembers that from a tender age he was deprived of those
gentle restraints imposed by pious and loving family ties, his
character is remarkable. I have observed in much experience with men
that when the check put upon humanity by the Church, by association
with good women, and by keeping in touch with law-abiding society is
removed, and men are assembled far from these things in camps or
ships, where the principal requirement is a stern obedience to law,
and the atmosphere strictly masculine, they are apt to think, say, and
do things to which they would never descend under ordinary
circumstances. Jones had been a sailor--an apprentice boy at that--at
twelve years of age; for sixteen years thereafter he had never been
off blue water for more than a few months. Five years of that time he
had been on a slaver, beginning as third mate at sixteen and quitting
as chief mate at twenty-one, and of all the degrading, brutal
influences to which humanity could be subjected there was nothing that
equaled the horrors of a ship in the slave trade. The tough moral
fiber of the Scotsman stood him in good stead here, for the thing
which with a boy's indifference he could countenance, he could not
endure as a man.

And this brings us to another of his qualities, which awakens our
interest--his intense love of liberty. Probably it began with the
slave trade; at any rate, it was always and everywhere present with
him. Practically his first military effort was an attempt to set free
American prisoners, and his last commission from the United States was
the appointment to effect the release of the unfortunate Americans
held by the Barbary States. Thus he fought not merely for the
establishment of civil liberty and national independence, but with an
eye single to the individual prisoner, and his spirit was sufficiently
catholic to make him kindly disposed even when the prisoners were
trophies of his prowess. His pleading at L'Orient, when he was left
with the dishonored draft, mutinous crew, and over one hundred
prisoners, was as much for those Englishmen whom the fortune of war
had thrown into his power as for his own people.

Like most men of fierce passions and quick temper, he did not long
cherish animosities. He was not a good hater, and this very quality
sometimes led him into mistaken kindness. He was a humane man, in no
sense the cruel and bloodthirsty warrior of popular imagination. He is
thankful, for instance, after the descent on Whitehaven, that there
was no loss of life on either side, and we have no reason to doubt the
genuineness of his outburst of gratitude when peace was declared,
although it left him without occupation.

He had a good head for business also. In spite of his roving life he
succeeded in amassing considerable property, and his success as a
trader before he entered the naval service had been better than the
average. In fact, his merchant services resulted in an unbroken line
of testimonials not only to his capacity but to his probity and
trustworthiness as well. As a negotiator or diplomatist he was open,
straightforward, persistent, and unusually successful. A solid
foundation of good qualities must have been laid by his homespun
mother in those twelve years in which she watched over and shaped the
future character of the boy.

While he was too much of a wanderer ever to form those deep and
abiding social ties which are the delight of old age and
reflection--though to youth matters of indifference--yet his various
duties brought him into intimate association with great men all over
the world, and there is a universal testimony from them as to his
worth. They were not blind to his faults, but they saw the worthiness
of the man beneath them. Franklin, the keen philosopher and diplomat,
who knew him best, esteemed him most; but Robert Morris, the
incorruptible financier; Thomas Jefferson, the great Democrat;
Gouverneur Morris, the accomplished man of the world; John Adams, the
shrewd statesman; and Washington, the first of them all, esteemed and
admired him, and considered themselves honored in his friendship.
Richard Dale, his great subordinate, who had been with him in times
that tried men's souls, entertained the most devoted feelings of
attachment toward him, and Cooper, who knew Dale personally, tells us
that to the day of his death he never lost his affectionate regard for
his old captain. The terms of their intimacy when not on duty
permitted Dale to address Jones by the friendly name of Paul, and
Cooper chronicles the peculiar tenderness with which he uttered the
word in his old age.

Among the French who respected and admired him, the gallant and
impetuous Lafayette is pre-eminent. That warm-hearted representative
of the haute noblesse of France sought opportunities for service with
the commodore, and never failed to express his affection for him in
the most unequivocal words. Among others were Rochambeau, the soldier;
Malesherbes, the great advocate, defender of his king; the Baron de
Viomenil, who led the French assaulting column at Yorktown; and
Admirals d'Orvilliers, de Vaudreuil, and d'Estaing. Among other
foreign friends were van der Capellen, the Dutch statesman and
diplomat and friend of America; of Russians, Krudner and Grimm; and
the immortal Kosciusko, of Poland. His acquaintance with these men was
no mere passing contact, but was intimate and personal; and his
relations in most instances were not temporary and casual, but lasting
and permanent. Laughton, the English authority in naval history, in
his famous sketch entitled "Paul Jones, 'the Pirate'"[59] says that
Jones' moral character may be summed up in one word--detestable! He
calls him a renegade and a calculating liar, incapable of friendship
or of love, and says that, "Whenever his private actions can be
examined, they must be pronounced to be discreditable; and as to many
others that appear to be so, there is no evidence in favor except his
own unsubstantial and worthless testimony." It is not an indictment
against Jones alone that Professor Laughton so lightly writes, but
against the great men who, with infinitely better opportunities for
observation than any of his biographers have enjoyed, have not been
slow to call him their friend. Is it to be conceived for a single
moment that Franklin, Jefferson, Lafayette, the Morrises, or any of
the others, would have associated with, corresponded with, and
publicly praised a vulgar blackguard? Would such a man, however
successful, have been admitted to any society whatsoever? Or, having
in the first flush of joy at the news of his tremendous victory been
so admitted, could such a man have retained his position for thirteen
years--until he died, in fact? Nonsense! He looked like a gentleman;
he wrote like a gentleman; whenever his words have been recorded we
find he spoke like a gentleman, and he certainly fought like one.

Never was a man so calumniated. His actions were so great that intense
interest was felt in his career from the day of his arrival in Europe,
and after his death quantities of sketches of him appeared, many of
which are still extant. They are of the chap-book order--the dime
novel of the day--and usually contain an awe-inspiring picture, and
relate a tale in which smuggling, gambling, falsehood, theft, rape,
murder, and everything else that is vile, are included. Laughton seems
to have arrived at his estimation of Jones by accepting these
scandalous tales as authentic, and building his biography of material
culled from these disgraceful and discredited sources. No man can
conceal his real character for any great length of time, especially a
man in official station, who lives in the white light of public
criticism. If Jones were the creature that Laughton describes him, it
would appear somewhere in some serious page of his own. He was a most
voluminous correspondent--Philip II was not a more indefatigable
letter writer than he--and he spoke of the subjects under discussion
with a sailor's frankness. Why is it that none of these things are
evident? He was foolish sometimes, but never base. It is too late to
write down in a few careless words the great men who entertained so
high an opinion of the commodore. But Professor Laughton is not alone
in his opinions. Indeed, his conclusions appear to represent a general
English sentiment. So great a novelist as the gentle Thackeray calls
Jones a traitor, and the popular opinion even in this day does not
seem to have changed. In the current number of the London Academy[60]
he is again called a "pirate." Let us settle this question at least.

What is a pirate? Says President Woolsey: "Piracy is robbery on the
sea, or by descent from the sea upon the coast, committed by persons
not holding a commission from, or at the time pertaining to, any
established state. It is the act (1) of persons forming an
organization for the purpose of plunder, or with malicious intent; but
who, inasmuch as such a body is not constituted for political
purposes, can not be said to be a body politic; (2) of persons who,
having in defiance of law seized possession of a chartered vessel, use
it for the purpose of robbery; (3) of persons taking a commission from
two belligerent adversaries. The reason for ranking these latter among
pirates is that the _animus furandi_ is shown by acting under two
repugnant authorities. It has been held by some that a vessel which
takes commissions even from two allies is guilty of piracy, but others
regard such an act only as illegal and irregular."[61]

Chancellor Kent calls piracy "robbery, forceful plunder, or murder by
marauders on the high seas _in the spirit and intent of universal
hostility_." The Century Dictionary defines it as follows:
"Specifically in the law of nations, the crime of depredations or
willful and aggressive destruction of life and property, committed on
the seas by persons having no commission or authority from any
established state. As commonly used, it implies something more than a
simple theft with violence at sea, and includes something of the idea
of general hostility to law."

By any of these definitions can Paul Jones be called a pirate? It will
be readily seen that the charge hangs upon the question as to whether
Jones held a commission from an established state. In fact, the
determination of that point settles the matter. He was regularly
commissioned a captain in the navy of the United States, as we have
seen.[62] Was the United States an established power, a sovereign
state? The United States began to be with the Declaration of
Independence. To quote Woolsey again: "The sovereignty of a state
dates from its _de facto_ existence, and does not depend upon its
recognition by foreign powers. Thus the sovereignty of the United
States was complete from July 4, 1776, not 1782, when the English
Government recognized, not granted, its independence." If the United
States had not a legal existence as a sovereign power competent to
wage war, and therefore to issue commissions to naval officers, until
the treaty of peace, England would have granted independence thereby,
instead of which she recognized a long-accomplished fact. Moreover,
the British Government, long before peace was declared, had conceded
belligerent rights to the revolted colonies, after much protestation.
But necessary privileges of belligerency are those of raising forces
and commissioning officers whose status as individual belligerents is
determined by the recognition. None of the American prisoners taken
from time to time were hanged as rebels or traitors, nor would such
action have been permitted by the British people, if it had been
seriously entertained by the king. Even if they had captured Paul
Jones, the English, in all their fury, would not have dared to treat
him as a pirate. Upon the point of law there is no justification for
the charge. Paul Jones' commission was as valid a document as any
under which a naval officer ever sailed. The sovereignty of the United
States had been recognized long before the termination of the war by
France, Spain, and Holland, and Frederick the Great, by opening the
port of Dantzic to American ships, had practically committed himself
to that side; although the failure of any or all of these to do so
would not have abrogated our _de facto_ existence as a nation.

But, turning from the subject of the commission as established, let us
examine the other phases involved in the charge. Piracy consists of
murder and robbery in a spirit of universal hostility toward humanity
(the _animus furandi_ of Woolsey's paragraph). Jones directed his
attacks at England alone. There was no killing unless in open combat;
no robbery except by taking ships and property in open warfare, and
surely Jones' conduct with regard to Selkirk's plate was not that of a
robber or a pirate! By the law of nations a pirate, whatever his
nationality, is subject to the jurisdiction of any country. Thus, an
English pirate caught by the French Government, or a French pirate
caught by the English Government, would be summarily dealt with
without the slightest reference to the country of his nationality. If
Jones had been a pirate France would either have made short work of
him, or else have incurred the odium of humanity as an abettor of

His acts were not those of an irresponsible person or a body of people
who sent him forth with malicious intent, but were undertaken for
distinctly political purposes at the instance of an undoubted body
politic. These purposes were: (1) The protection of our coasts by
showing the vulnerability of the coasts of England. (2) The stoppage
of the ravages on our seaboard, by demonstrating some of their horrors
in the land of the ravagers. (3) The securing of prisoners by which
the principle of exchange should be established, and thus our citizens
released from a captivity in which they were treated with scant regard
to the laws of humanity. (4) The breaking up of the enemy's commerce
and the impairment of his material resources, so that the burden of
consequences would induce him to end the war and recognize our
independence. (5) The making of a diversion in the north which would
facilitate the proposed grand operations of the French and Spanish
fleets in the south. These are legitimate motives in the highest
sense. They are of the deepest importance, and they constitute a brief
catalogue of his accomplishments. Add to the list the shattering of
British prestige by his hard and successful fighting, and mention the
way he contrived to force the Netherlands finally to declare for the
United States, and we have a catalogue of achievements of which any
one might be proud.[63]

There was no thought in Jones' mind of private gain. Prize money had
accrued from captures from time immemorial, but Jones was ambitious of
distinction, and as anxious to worthily serve his country as Farragut
or Sampson, and the question of prize money was purely a minor one
with him. If gain had been his object, a privateering commission which
he was urged to accept in France--and which he could undoubtedly have
received in America--but which he rejected with disdain, would have
given him greater opportunity than he ever enjoyed of acquiring
wealth. His whole career, in fact, shows him to have been absolutely
indifferent to money. He never hoarded or amassed it, and, though he
received large sums from time to time, he usually spent it in generous
profusion as fast as it came in. Had professional advancement been his
sole desire, he would have accepted the rank of _Capitaine de
Vaisseau_--that is, a captain of a ship of the line--which
d'Orvilliers had offered to procure for him, from which he might have
progressed to the highest naval rank, instead of which he chose to
remain in command of the petty little Ranger. How Laughton can deny
his enthusiasm for America when, with but little hope of reward, he
periled his liberty and his life in her service, and absolutely
refused under any circumstances to withdraw from that service, I fail
to understand.[64]

He did not, in defiance of law, charter a vessel for the purpose of
waging private war. On the contrary, his ship was provided by the
French king, and commissions for those officers who had not been
commissioned directly by Congress, as had Jones himself, were issued
by Franklin, who possessed the unquestioned power to do this by the
specific action of Congress. Indeed, such was Franklin's power, that
when he displaced Landais from his command he did not hesitate to
overrule a commission issued by Congress under circumstances of
peculiar importance, and he was upheld by that body when his action
was called in question.

Nor did Jones take a commission from two belligerent adversaries--that
is, he had no commission from England which he threw up to accept that
of the United States. He had never served in the English navy in any
capacity. There were officers in the United States land service who
had held English commissions and yet accepted American commands, but
Jones was not one of them. He had never, until he entered the Russian
service, sailed under any commission save that of the United States,
and one of the noblest acts of his life was his indignant repudiation
of a French letter of marque when his acceptance of it was considered
the only way of saving his head. Nothing could induce him to declare
the Alliance a French ship in those hazardous moments in the Texel
when he was menaced by the Dutch fleet on one side and the English
fleet on the other, nor would he even temporarily hoist the French
flag on that ship. He did not even commit the so-called illegal and
irregular act of accepting a commission from two allies, for he
refused a French commission again and again. This certainly
constitutes a clear and overwhelming refutation of the charge of
piracy. Indeed, on the question of piracy, Jones' own ingenious
comment is not without interest. Laughton has called attention to it
in the following words:

"Paul Jones strongly objected to the word as applied to himself; he
had, he said, looked in the dictionary and found the definition of
pirate to be 'an enemy against mankind.' Now, he was not the enemy of
mankind, but only the enemy of England. With a _tu quoque_ argument,
not wanting in ingenuity, he urged that, as England was then at war
with the whole of America, the greater part of Europe, and much of
Asia, not to speak of a part of Africa, she, in point of fact, came as
near being the enemy of mankind as could well be conceived--that
England was therefore the pirate, not Paul Jones."

Why was it that the English called him a pirate, put a price on his
head, and attempted to compass his death or capture by private hands?
Why was it that he evoked such widespread animosity, and became the
object of a hatred which has not exhausted itself to this day? Surely
not because he had been a British subject! All who fought on the
American side had been British subjects. Jones had removed to America
and had determined to settle there before the war broke out. Why
should any one attempt to insinuate that the same feelings which
actuated Adams, Washington, and Patrick Henry did not operate to make
him espouse the colonial cause? He was as fond of freedom as they, and
as anxious to promote it.

Many of the most distinguished colonists were not only British
subjects, but they had worn the king's uniform, fought under the
king's flag, and eaten the king's bread; as, for instance, the great
Washington. Richard Montgomery, an Irishman, who laid down a life
valuable to his adopted country when he fell in the assault on Quebec,
had been a British officer; and there were many others, some of whom,
like the traitor Charles Lee and the worthless Gates, were actually
half-pay officers in the British army when they entered the American

Among the naval officers, the heroic Biddle, who matched the little
Randolph, of thirty-two small guns, against the huge line of battle
ship Yarmouth, and fought until his ship was blown to pieces, and he
and all his crew were lost except four men, had been a midshipman in
the British navy with Nelson. Stout old John Barry, who commanded the
Alliance when he captured the Atlanta and the Trepassy, and fought the
last action of the war by beating the frigate Sibylle, of superior
force, was an Irishman.[65] The most bigoted Englishmen to-day speak
of those men with respect which they will not accord to Jones. Why is

The reason for the strange exception lies in the brilliant success
with which he cruised and fought. The English claimed and exercised an
absolute and practically undisputed supremacy on the high seas. Their
arrogant navy for more than a hundred years had been invincible. In
single ship actions they had always conquered. No enemy had landed on
their shores for over a century. They could stand being beaten on
land--they were accustomed to it. With few notable exceptions England
does not produce great soldiers--Carlyle feelingly refers to the
average English commander as a "wooden hoop pole wearing a cocked
hat"[66]--but such a line of sailors as had sprung from their shores
has never been equaled in the history of the world. Such sea
leadership and such sea fighting has never been exceeded, or even
equaled, by any nation.[67]

The capture of the Serapis was a trifling circumstance; it did not
impair the naval efficiency or abridge the maritime supremacy of
England an appreciable degree; but it had a moral significance
that could not be misunderstood by the nations of the world. They saw
and approved.[68] English ships had been beaten in fair fight, in one
instance by a ship of equal, and in the other instance of inferior,
force. The English coasts, in spite of swarms of great ships of the
line, had been shown to be as vulnerable as any other.[69] The affront
had been to her pride, and never since the days that brave old
Tromp--gallant Dutchman, for whose character I have the greatest
admiration--swept the narrow seas with a broom at his masthead, and
actually entered the Thames under that same provoking emblem, had
England suffered such naval humiliation. The English cheek tingles
still from the blow dealt upon it by the hot-handed sailor. Naturally,
they did not love Paul Jones. The hatred, which after a hundred years
still rankles, is evidence of what they feel--and what he did! As for
us, we love the bold little captain for the enemies he has made.

It has been stated by unthinking people that the Bon Homme Richard was
a privateer or a letter of marque: in one case an armed vessel owned
by private individuals and authorized, under certain restrictions, to
cruise at private expense to prey upon the commerce of the enemy; in
the other case, an armed vessel engaged in trade, but possessing the
right to capture ships of the enemy should she happen to fall in with
them. There is nothing disgraceful about either of these commissions,
though, to be sure, their essence consists in making war for
individual gain. The Bon Homme Richard was purchased and converted
into a man-of-war by the French Government, and then loaned to the
American Government for the time being. De Chaumont acted only as the
representative of the king--that is, of the Government. There was no
question of individual gain in the matter. The money for the sale of
the prizes was received, and the share of Jones was paid, by the
French Government. Therefore it was a Government ship, not a private
vessel. France and the United States were allies in a war against
England when she was commissioned, and the transaction was customary
and legitimate. The Bon Homme Richard was as bona fide an American
man-of-war as the Constitution. Of course, there could be no exception
to the status of the Ranger or any of the earlier ships in which Paul
Jones sailed.

I have considered the personal character and professional status of
Paul Jones, now let me say a few words as to his qualities as an
officer. Here at last we reach a field in which there is practically
little disagreement. First of all, he was a thorough and accomplished
seaman. His experiences had been many and varied. His handling of the
Providence in the Gut of Canso, of the Alfred along the coast of Cape
Breton, his splendid seamanship in the Ariel in the terrific gale off
the Penmarques, his daring passage of the Baltic amid the winter gales
and ice, not to speak of the way he maneuvered the Richard in the
battle with the Serapis, all tell the same story of skill and address.
Not only did he understand the sailing of ships, but he acquired no
small familiarity with the principles of naval architecture. Witness
his remodeling of the Alliance, the improvements he introduced in the
America, and the skillful way he managed the launching of that ship.
Some of his suggestions were radical, and some of the principles he
laid down were embodied in shipbuilding by naval architects until the
advent of the ironclad age.

He was a stern disciplinarian, and usually managed to work his very
indifferent crews into something like fair shape. In none of his
commands did he have a first-class crew of American seamen, such as
the 1812 frigates exhibited. His sway on his ships was absolute. His
officers were generally creatures of his own making (Simpson being an
exception), and completely under his domination; with few exceptions,
like Dale, whom he loved and respected, they were poor enough. In his
passionate impatience with their stupidity or inefficiency, he
sometimes treated them with great indignity, even going to the length
of kicking them out of the cabin when they displeased him.[70] He was
a fierce commander, who brooked no interference, needed no
suggestions, and had no tolerance for ignorance and incapacity.
Notwithstanding all this, he was a merciful captain in an age in which
the gospel of force, punctuated by the cat-o'-nine-tails, was the only
one in vogue on ships of war. He resorted but rarely to the practice
of flogging, and in comparison with most commanders of the period his
rule was not intolerable. He did not, however, inspire affection in
his crews; they respected his talents, trusted to his skill, and
admired his courage, but nothing more. His men were drilled and
exercised incessantly, and target practice was had as frequently as
the poverty of his supplies permitted. His ships were all notably
clean and orderly.

As a commander we may consider his achievements from three points of
view: as a strategist, as a tactician, and as a fighter. Strategic
operations tend to bring you where sound policy dictates you should
be, while tactical maneuvers refer to the manipulation of your force
at the point of contact. A man may be a brilliant strategist and a
poor tactician, or the reverse; or he may be both, and yet not be a
hard, determined fighter. Jones was all three in large measure. His
strategic conceptions were excellent. His successful destruction of
the fishery industry at Canso, and his attempt upon the coal fleet in
the Alfred; the brilliant plan which would have resulted in the
capture of Lord Howe by d'Estaing if it had been carried out in time;
the project he conceived for taking the homeward-bound East Indiamen
by capturing St. Helena as a base of attack, and the other enterprises
he urged upon the French Government indicate these things; but the
conception which lifted him above the ordinary sea officer was his
acute realization of the great principle that should regulate commerce
destroying, which is one of the legitimate objects of warfare, and
merciful in that it tends to end the conflict, and is aimed at
property rather than life.

His idea was that, to be successfully accomplished, it could not be
committed to the cruiser or commerce destroyer, but that attacks on
centers of trade must be made by forces sufficiently mobile to enable
them to cover great distances rapidly, and sufficiently strong to
defeat any reasonable force, and then crush the enemy's commerce at
vital points. A single ship may catch a single ship upon the high
seas, or from a fleet in convoy perhaps cut out two or three; but a
descent upon a great body of shipping in a harbor--unprotected as were
the harbors of those days--would result in an infinitely greater loss
to the enemy. Mahan has demonstrated that the necessary preliminary to
the destruction of the enemy's commerce is to batter his navy to
pieces--then it is at one's mercy. So far as I know, Jones is the only
sailor of his day, or of many subsequent days in any navy, who had a
glimmer of an idea in this direction; and, without detracting from
Mahan's originality, in a limited sense Jones forestalled him. Mahan,
indeed, gives him full credit for his genius on this very point.

The beginning of strategy is to determine the vital point at which to
aim, and Jones began well. He tried to carry out his idea of commerce
destroying with the Ranger in the Irish Channel, and he came near
enough to success to demonstrate the absolute feasibility and value of
his conception, given adequate force to carry it out. He had a greater
force, of course, under his partial command in his famous cruise in
the Bon Homme Richard, but the peculiar constitution of that squadron,
which was an assemblage of co-operative ships rather than a compact
body responsive and obedient to one will, also prevented him from
carrying out his plans. Suppose, for instance, that the Alliance had
obeyed his orders, and that the Vengeance, the Cerf, and the
privateers had remained with the Pallas under his command, and that
all had been well officered and manned! He would have taken the
Serapis in half an hour or less, and the great Baltic fleet, worth
millions of dollars, would have been at his mercy. What he attempted
at Leith he could have carried out at Newcastle and Hull.

The largest force under his command was the Russian squadron in the
Liman. He chose his admirable position there with an eye to its
strategic possibilities, and it was due to him, and not to the trained
and veteran soldier Suvorof, that the fort was placed on Kinburn
Point, which practically determined the fate of Otchakoff, since it
prevented the Turks from re-enforcing their fleet, and kept them from
escaping after Jones had defeated them. Fortune never gave him an
opportunity, but it can not be doubted from what he did accomplish
with an inferior force that if he had been given a chance he would
have made a name for himself as a sea strategist not inferior to that
of Nelson or Sampson.

As a tactician he was even more able--perhaps because he enjoyed
better opportunities. It was seamanship and tactics which enabled him
to escape from the Solebay, and it was seamanship and tactics by which
he diverted the Milford from the pursuit of his prizes and insured
their safety. His tactics when he fought the Drake were admirable. In
his famous battle with the Serapis they were even more striking. One
never ceases to wonder how he succeeded in maneuvering his slow,
unwieldy ship so as to nullify the greater speed and gun power of the
Serapis. His action in laying the Bon Homme Richard aboard the English
frigate was the one chance that he had of success, and he made that
chance himself.

His tactics in the Liman were even higher than elsewhere. It was he
who so maneuvered the boats of the flotilla on June 17th as to
precipitate the flight of the Turks; it was he who again, on June 28th
and 29th, so placed his ships that he drove the Turks from their
stranded flagships. It was he who dispatched the flotilla to clear the
right flank, which would have enabled the Russians to take possession
of the two frigates if Nassau had not foolishly burned them. It was he
who, by his splendid disposition of his ships and the battery on the
point, forced the Turkish ships to take ground upon the shoals, in
their attempt to escape, where Nassau destroyed them. On the other
hand, he was never reckless. He coolly calculated chances and
judiciously chose the right course, and he was happy in that the right
course was usually the bold and daring one.

In the third capacity of an officer, there is no question as to his
willingness and ability to fight. No one ever called him a coward. He
certainly exhibited the very highest reach of physical bravery. It was
not the courage of the braggart, for he was not continually thrusting
it in the face of people on all occasions. Having established his
reputation, he was content to rest upon it, and did not seek
opportunity--which he did not need--for further demonstration. Nothing
could surpass the personal courage and determination with which he
fought his ships. Unlike most commanders, who confine their efforts to
direction, he labored and fought with his own hands.

We find him heading the boarders on the forecastle of the Richard,
and, pike in hand, repelling those from the Serapis; he assists in
lashing the two ships together; he takes personal command of the
quarter-deck guns, one of which, with the assistance of a few resolute
souls, he dragged across the deck from the unengaged side. When the
Ariel was drifting in deadly peril upon the Penmarques, with his own
hand he heaves the lead. At Kinburn, after repeated efforts to get the
galley fleet to move, he leads it forward himself. To ascertain the
depth of water, he goes in a small boat under the walls of Otchakoff,
within easy range of the cannon. He takes his barge on the Liman in
the midst of the hottest engagement, and rows about through the
contestants. When the assault is made on the flotilla under the walls
of that town, he leads in person, and captures two gunboats by
boarding. At Whitehaven, alone he confronts a mob and keeps them in
check until the fire which he started himself has gained sufficient
headway. The bullying of the Dutch admiral in the Texel can not move
him a single foot.

While he did not always exhibit the same amount of moral courage, yet
in some very interesting situations he showed that he possessed it in
large measure. His physical courage was, of course, natural. His moral
courage seems to have arisen in part from an absolute confidence in
his own ability and an habitual reliance upon the accuracy of his own
judgment. He showed this moral courage when, at the peril of his
commission, he assumed the responsibility of piloting the Alfred to
her anchorage in the Bahama expedition. He showed it particularly
when, after assuming the proper position demanded by good strategy in
the opening of the Liman campaign, he refused to be moved from it by
the representations of such fire eaters as Nassau and Alexiano. His
declining to hoist the French flag, or to sail under a French letter
of marque, were evidences of this quality, and he showed it again by
sending a present to Louis XVI in the dark days of the Revolution,
when respect to the king in his hours of humiliation marked a man

On the other hand, he showed a sad lack of moral courage if de Ségur's
statement be true that he found him, pistol in hand, in his apartments
in St. Petersburg, apparently contemplating suicide. Moral courage is
perhaps a more universal requisite for true greatness of character
than any other virtue, and he did not rise in this sphere quite to the
height he attained in the others. In other words, he was greater as a
commander and as an officer than as a man.

As a commander he made mistakes. What commander did not? His quickness
to imagine or to resent a slight was marred by too great a willingness
to forgive. His treatment of the mutinous Simpson was entirely too
gentle and forgiving for the maintenance of that discipline necessary
to the welfare of the service. It was certainly a mistake to yield to
Landais' importunities and leave the advantageous situation off
Limerick, and, as I have stated, the excuse was worse than the action.
His failure to keep his promise to his men after leaving Corunna in
the Alliance was a more serious blunder. There are few professions in
which the word of an officer is so implicitly relied upon by his
inferiors as in the naval service. The lives of the crew are so
entirely in the hands of the officers that without confidence the
situation is impossible. His extravagant outfitting of the Alliance
was also a wrong to Franklin under the circumstances. His method of
dealing with the mutiny on the Alliance and with Landais' successful
attempt to get command of her was weak, and can only be explained by
the postulation that he did not really desire to get possession of
her; but even the explanation leaves him in a bad position. His
dawdling at L'Orient is also censurable. This, however, is a small
catalogue in view of what he attempted and accomplished. Otherwise in
his campaigns and in his military life he made no blunders.

He has been severely censured for choosing localities with which he
was familiar from childhood as the scene of his military operations.
The war of the Revolution was practically a civil war, with all the
rancorous passions attendant thereon superadded to those ordinarily
engendered in conflict. In America, friend met friend in deadly
hatred, and not one royalist or rebel hesitated to use his local
knowledge for the advancement of his cause. In accordance with his
duty, by his oath as an officer, Jones was bound to put all the
information as well as the ability he possessed at the services of the
country under whose flag he fought. He was not born at Whitehaven,
and, while he had sailed from the port many times, he had no special
attachment for the place and people which comes from long association
in society and business. When he made his famous descent upon the
place it was seven years since he had set foot in it. At any rate, he
was only doing in England what other people on both sides were doing
in America without censure, and he was doing it with so much more
respect to the laws of civilized warfare, and with so much more mercy,
that there is no comparison between his forays and those, let us say,
of Lord Dunmore, for instance, or Mowatt at Portland. The journal of
an officer of the Serapis, who was killed in the action, was found
after the battle was over. He had been under Dunmore's command in
Virginia at the outbreak of the Revolution, and such a tale of
maraudings, accompanied by destruction of property, murdering, and
outraging of women as the volume contained would have been incredible
had it not been confirmed by the statement of hundreds of witnesses in
America. None of this kind of warfare was waged where Jones commanded.

A century and a decade, lacking two years, have elapsed since the
lonely little commander entered upon his long, long rest; and the
country whose first banner was hoisted by his hands at the masthead of
the Alfred, whose permanent standard was flung to the breeze by the
same hands from the truck of the Ranger, whose ensign was first
saluted by one of the greatest powers of the world through his address
and determination, whose flag was made respectable in the eyes of the
world by the desperate gallantry with which he fought under it, which
alone among the powers that sailed the sea through him demonstrated
its ability to meet successfully the Mistress of the Ocean, has done
nothing to perpetuate the memory of this founder of the Republic and
rescue him from oblivion. The place of his grave is known, but squalid
tenements and cheap stores have been erected over his remains.
Commerce, trade, and traffic, restless life with its passions, noble
and ignoble, flows on above his head, and it is probable that so it
will be until the end of time. "So runs the world away!"

It is all so mournful in some strange way. In spite of his glory and
his heroism, in spite of his strenuous life and his strugglings, the
note that lingers in my mind as I write these concluding words is one
of sadness. I read of hopes that brought no fruition; of plans made
and abandoned; of opportunities that could not be embraced; of great
attempts frustrated by inadequate means; of triumphs forgotten. I see
a great life that might have been greater, a man of noble qualities
marred by petty faults, and yet I love him. I can not tell why
exactly, but the words of Solomon come into my mind as the vision of
the little captain appears before me, dying alone of a broken heart,
fretted away--_Vanitas vanitatem_.

And yet he did not live in vain, and his exploits shall live forever
in the minds of his countrymen. So long as we possess that masculine
virility which is the heritage of a great nation whose rugged coasts
are washed by thousands of leagues of beating seas; so long as the
beautiful flag we love waves above the mighty Republic, which, true to
the principles of its founders, stands in every quarter of the globe
for freedom of person, for liberty of conscience, for respect to law,
so long shall the story be told of the little captain from the far
land who loved these things, and who fought so heroically to establish
and to maintain them.



_Letter of Mr. W. M. Cumming, of Wilmington, N. C., May 21, 1899_.

"John Paul adopted the name of Jones in token of affectionate regard
for the Honorable Willie (pronounced Wylie) Jones, of North Carolina,
and his beautiful and charming wife, who had both been very kind to
him in his days of obscurity. He was particularly devoted to Mrs.
Jones, and called himself her son. It was through the influence of
Honorable Willie Jones (member of Congress, I think, from North
Carolina), that John Paul obtained his commission in the navy of the
young Republic, and it was about this time that he adopted the name of
his friend and patron."


_Letter of Mr. Junius Davis, of Wilmington, N. C., February 23, 1900_.

"I first heard from my father, the late Hon. George Davis, who was a
devoted student of the history of North Carolina, and perhaps the
highest authority in the State upon such subjects, that _Paul_,
shortly after going to Virginia to take the estate left him by his
brother, met Willie Jones of this State; that Jones took a fancy to
him and invited him to pay him a visit in North Carolina; that Paul
did so and remained quite a long time with him and became so attached
to Jones and his wife that he adopted their name. _Willie_--pronounced
_Wylie_--Jones and his brother Allan were educated at Eton, and were
gentlemen of large means, high ability, and devoted Whigs. They were
prominent in every movement and assembly in this State prior to and
during the Revolution. Allan lived upon his plantation, 'Mount
Gallant,' in Halifax County, and Willie upon his, 'The Grove,' in the
adjoining county of North Hampton. They were warm friends and
associates of Joseph Hewes, of Edenton, one of the delegates from
North Carolina to the first and second Provincial Congresses. Wheeler,
the historian of North Carolina in his Reminiscences and Memoirs of
North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians, says as follows:

"'The daring and celebrated John Paul Jones, whose real name was John
Paul, of Scotland, when quite young visited Mr. Willie Jones at
Halifax, and became so fascinated with him and his charming wife that
he adopted their family name. Under this name, John Paul Jones, he
offered his services to Congress and was made a lieutenant, December
22, 1775, on the recommendation of _Willie_ Jones.' ... Jones in the
very outset of his Autobiography says: 'I at the same time acquainted
Mr. Hewes, a member of Congress and my particular friend, with the
project for seizing the island of St. Helena,' etc. This is the Mr.
Hewes mentioned above. In the second Congress Hewes was at the head of
the committee in charge of naval affairs, and was virtually the first
Secretary of the Navy. Paul could only have known Hewes, whom he calls
his particular friend, through the Joneses, and it has always been one
of the traditions of this State that it was the Jones influence with
Hewes that got Paul his lieutenancy in the American navy. In a letter
received recently from my aged kinsman, Colonel Cadwallader Jones, of
Rock Hill, South Carolina, a lineal descendant of _Allan_ Jones, I
find that Colonel Jones' mother was a granddaughter of General Allan
Jones, was raised by him, married in 1810, and lived in Halifax until
1826. Up to this time she was a frequent visitor at 'The Grove,' the
residence of Willie Jones, as was also Colonel Cadwallader Jones. The
latter, who is now eighty-six years of age, has always heard that John
Paul assumed the name of Jones as a mark of respect and affection for
these brothers, Willie and Allan Jones, and for the wife of the
former, whose virtues might well win the admiration of any man.
Colonel Jones remembers his aunt, Mrs. Willie Jones, perfectly; she
survived her husband many years. The statement that John Paul was
invited by Willie Jones to visit 'The Grove' while he was looking
after his property in Virginia is corroborated by Colonel Jones.... I
quote the following from newspaper clippings:

"1. From the Charleston Observer of November, 1899:

"'Fredekicksburg, Va., _November_ 18_th_.

"'The announcement that the remains of that distinguished naval hero,
John Paul Jones, have been located in Paris, France, brings to light
that the deceased was once a resident of this city. According to the
records of the county court, he came here in 1773 to administer on the
records of his brother, William Paul, who lived here in 1772. William
Paul came here in 1760 and shortly afterward entered the mercantile
business, in which he was engaged up to the time of his death. The
store occupied by him is on the corner of Main and Market Streets, and
is the same building in which George Washington was made a Mason.
Tradition also says that one of the rooms in the building was used by
John Paul during his residence here, which was nearly two years, as
his lodging quarters. It was also during his citizenship here that he
received his appointment from the Colonial Congress as lieutenant in
the navy. It was here, too, that he added Jones to his patronymic,
which, it is said, was in token of the friendly act of Colonel Willie
Jones, of North Carolina, who became his bondsman for five hundred
pounds when he administered on his brother's estate.'

"2. The State, Columbia, S. C., Monday, November 6, 1899:

"'Saratoga, Buckingham County, Va., _February_ 22,1899.

"'... While no Revolutionary biography can boast more public events of
vivid and intense interest than that of Paul Jones, none is so bare
and meager in personal detail. Even the fact that he has immortalized
a name which was his only by selection and adoption is slurred over in
history with the calm statement that "he changed his name for unknown
reasons." As the reasons were not unknown, and, however difficult to
obtain later, were then easily accessible, it appears to have been
rather a lack of careful and intelligent investigation than of facts
which caused their suppression. They are now for the first time given
to the public.... In 1773, the death of his brother in Virginia, whose
heir he was, induced him to settle in America. It was then he added to
his name and thenceforth was known as "Paul Jones." This was done in
compliment to one of the most noted statesmen of that day, and in the
love and gratitude it shadows forth is a scathing reproach and a
touching example to a people who could neglect in life and forget in
death. It appears that before permanently settling in Virginia, moved
by the restlessness of his old seafaring life, he wandered about the
country, finally straying to North Carolina. There he became
acquainted with two brothers, Willie and Allan Jones. They were both
leaders in their day, and wise and honored in their generation. Allan
Jones was an orator and silver-tongued; Willie Jones, the foremost man
of his State, and one of the most remarkable of his time....

"'His home, "The Grove," near Halifax, was not only the resort of the
cultivated, the refined, but the home of the homeless, Mrs. Jones
having sometimes twenty orphan girls under her charge, and it was here
the young adventurer, John Paul Jones, was first touched by those
gentler and purer influences which changed not only his name but
himself, from the rough and reckless mariner into the polished man of
society, who was the companion of kings and the lion and pet of
Parisian salons. The almost worshiping love and reverence awakened in
his hitherto wild and untamed nature by the generous kindness of these
brothers found expression in his adoption of their name. The truth of
this account is ... attested by the descendants of Willie Jones.

"'In addition to the above, I would say that General Allan Jones of
the Revolution was my great-great-grandfather. My grandmother was
raised by him, and was often at "The Grove," the residence of her
great-uncle, Willie Jones. My father, Colonel Cadwallader Jones, now
eighty-six years of age, in his youth was also often an inmate of "The
Grove," and heard the facts spoken in both families.

"'A. I. Robertson,

"'Secretary Columbia Chapter, D. A. R.'"


_Letter of Mrs. A. I. Robertson, of Columbia, S. C.,
April 14, 1900_.

"John Paul was thrown more with Mr. and Mrs. _Willie_ Jones, I think,
than _Allan_, as he was more at 'The Grove' (the residence of Willie
Jones) than at 'Mount Gallant' (the residence of Allan Jones), though
a great deal at both places. I have an exact facsimile of the
commission which these brothers got for him, which appeared in the
World, February 11, 1900.

"Mrs. Allan Jones was Mary Haynes, married 1762; their daughter Sarah
married General William R. Davis.

"Mrs. Willie Jones was Mary Mumford, daughter of Joseph Mumford, son
of Robert Mumford and wife Anne, daughter of Robert Bland. These two
Mrs. Jones are spoken of in Mrs. Elliot's Women of the Revolution,
Wheeler's History of North Carolina, and Appletons' Cyclopædia of
American Biography.

"I quote you the following from the family book of my father: 'When
the army of Cornwallis passed through Halifax to Virginia, his
officers quartered for some time in the town. Colonel Tarleton was at
"The Grove," the residence of Willie Jones. He had been wounded in the
_hand_ at Cowpens by a sabre cut by Colonel William Washington.
Speaking of Colonel Washington, Tarleton said he was a common,
illiterate fellow, hardly able to write his name. "Ah, colonel," said
Mrs. Jones, "you ought to know better, for you bear upon your person
proof that he knows _very well how to mark his mark_."' I inclose a
MS. of my father on the subject, which you are at liberty to copy."

_MS. of Colonel Cadwallader Jones inclosed in above Letter_.

"Paul Jones--Why he changed his name--Colonel Hubard's account.

"A recent sketch of the life of Paul Jones in the Century has revived
the memory of his gallant achievements, and rekindled public interest
in this famous hero. There is much inquiry as to his reason for
adopting the name of Jones. It is not a little remarkable that such an
incident in the life of one so renowned should be so soon forgotten.

"Let me tell you what I know about this man and how I know it; the
public mind needs to be refreshed. When John Paul came to Virginia,
some three years before the war of the Revolution, looking after an
estate left him by his brother, he visited Halifax, North Carolina, at
that time a place of considerable repute. Here he made the
acquaintance of those grand old patriots, Allen and Willie Jones; he
was a young man but an old tar, with a bold, frank sailor bearing that
attracted their attention; he became a frequent visitor at their
homes, where he was always welcome; he soon grew fond of them, and as
a mark of his esteem and admiration, he adopted their name. Why John
Paul became John Paul Jones--it was his fancy...."


_Letter of General Edward McCrady, of Charleston, S. C., April 3,

"Mrs. McCrady was the granddaughter of General William R. Davie, of
Revolutionary fame, who married the daughter of General Allan Jones,
of Mount Gallant, Northampton, North Carolina. Tradition in her branch
of the family has been that it was _Allan_ Jones who befriended John
Paul, and not his brother _Willie_--pronounced _Wylie_, not Willie. It
was in honor of Allan Jones that he adopted the name of Jones as
surname to that of Paul...."


In a subsequent letter from Mr. Junius Davis, Wilmington, North
Carolina, dated April 24, 1900, he writes as follows:

"In respect to the name of Jones, I never heard the question raised in
the State as to whether Willie or Allan was the man, who, as it were,
picked up John Paul and was his closest friend. Beyond all question,
_Willie_ was the man, but above Willie in the affection of John Paul
was Mrs. Willie Jones. Undoubtedly it was his affection for her that
induced him to change his name. She was a Miss Montford, daughter of
Colonel Joseph Montford, and had a sister who married Colonel John
Baptiste Ashe, a distinguished soldier of this State, during the war
of the Revolution. In regard to the retort made by Mrs. Willie Jones
to Tarleton, you will find it mentioned in Mrs. Elliot's Women of the
Revolution. It is also mentioned by Wheeler in vol. ii, page 186, of
his History of North Carolina. It is a little singular that Mrs. Ashe,
sister of Mrs. Willie Jones, also retorted upon Tarleton. On one
occasion, when he said with a sneer that he would like to meet Colonel
Washington, she replied, 'If you had looked behind you at the battle
of Cowpens you would have had that pleasure.' These two ladies were
both very beautiful women, highly gifted in mind and character, and
highly educated."


On this subject see also Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography,
vol. iii, under Jones.


"_Agreement_ between Messieurs John Paul Jones, captain of the Bon
Homme Richard; Pierre Landais, captain of the Alliance; Dennis
Nicholas Cottineau, captain of the Pallas; Joseph Varage, captain of
the Stag; and Philip Nicholas Ricot, captain of the Vengeance;
composing a squadron that shall be commanded by the oldest officer of
the highest grade, and so in succession in case of death or retreat.
None of the said commanders, while they are not separated from the
said squadron, by order of the minister shall act but by virtue of the
brevet, which they shall have obtained from the United States of
America, and it is agreed that the flag of the United States shall be

"The division of the prizes to the superior officers and crews of said
squadron, shall be made agreeable to the American laws; but it is
agreed that the proportion of the whole coming to each vessel in the
squadron shall be regulated by the Minister of the Marine Department
of France, and the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of

"A copy of the American laws shall be annexed to the present
agreement, after having been certified by the commander of the Bon
Homme Richard; but, as the said laws can not foresee or determine as
to what may concern the vessels and subjects of other nations, it is
expressly agreed that whatever may be contrary to them should be
regulated by the Minister of the French Marine, and the Minister
Plenipotentiary of the United States of America.

"It is likewise agreed that the orders given by the Minister of the
French Marine, and the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States
be executed.

"Considering the necessity there is of preserving the interests of
each individual, the prizes that shall be taken shall be remitted to
the orders of Monsieur le Ray de Chaumont, honorary intendant of the
Royal Hotel of Invalids, who has furnished the expenses of the
armament of the said squadron.

"It has been agreed that M. le Ray de Chaumont be requested not to
give up the part of the prizes coming to all crews, and to each
individual of the said squadron, but to their order, and to be
responsible for the same in his own and proper name.

"Whereas the said squadron has been formed for the purpose of injuring
the common enemies of France and America, it has been agreed that such
armed vessels, whether French or American, may be associated therewith
by common consent, as shall be found suitable for the purpose, and
that they shall have such proportion of the prizes which shall be
taken as the laws of their respective countries allow them.

"In case of the death of any of the before-mentioned commanders of
vessels, he shall be replaced agreeably to the order of the tariff,
with liberty, however, for the successor to choose whether he shall
remain on board his own vessel, and give up the next in order, the
command of the vacant ship.

"It has, moreover, been agreed, that the commander of the Stag shall
be excepted from the last article of this present agreement, because
in case of a disaster to M. de Varage he shall be replaced by his
second in command, and so on by the other officers of his cutter, the

    "J. Paul Jones.

    "P. Landais.

    "De Cottineau.

    "De Varage.

    "Le Ray de Chaumont.

    "P. Ricot."


The statement is frequently made that the flag under which the Bon
Homme Richard fought the Serapis is still in existence, and the
following letter from the assistant secretary of the Smithsonian
Institution gives a history of the claim:

"I am authorized by the secretary to acknowledge the receipt of and
reply to your letter of the 27th instant, in which you ask whether the
identical flag used by John Paul Jones on the Bon Homme Richard is the
one now in the custody of the Smithsonian Institution.

"Your letter has been referred to Mr. A. H. Clark, Custodian of the
Section of American History in the National Museum, who has submitted
the following facts, which I submit to you as the opinion of this
institution in the case."

"'The evidence appears conclusive that the flag in the National Museum
is the identical one used by John Paul Jones on the Bon Homme Richard.
This flag was presented to James Bayard Stafford in 1784, by the
Marine Committee, with the following letter. The sword and musket are
exhibited with the flag together with the original letter:

"'"Philadelphia, _Monday, December_ 13, 1784.

"'"_James Bayard Stafford_.

"'"Sir: I am directed by the Marine Committee to inform you that on
last Thursday, the 9th, they decided to bestow upon you, for your
meritorious service thro' the late war, Paul Jones' Starry Flag of the
Bon Homme Richard--which was transferred to the Alliance--a boarding
sword of said ship, and a musquet captured from the Serapis.

"'"If you write to Captain John Brown, at the Yard, what ship you wish
them sent by to New York, they will be forwarded to you.

"'"Your humble servant,

   "'"James Meyler,

      "'"_Secretary, pro tem_."

"'In the United States Senate, May 1, 1872, the Committee on
Revolutionary Claims favorably reported a bill (S. 1060) for payment
to Sarah S. Stafford, for the services of her father, James Bayard
Stafford, an officer of the Revolution. In the committee's report,
Commodore Barry, of the Alliance, certified to the service of
Lieutenant Stafford, and the report further states that "it fully
appears from the testimony before the committee that James Bayard
Stafford entered the navy at the beginning of the War of Independence,
and was in constant and active service, and in frequent battles, and
remained in the service until the close of the war; that his ship was
captured by a British cruiser, and subsequently recaptured by John
Paul Jones, when he volunteered on the Bon Homme Richard, where he
received wounds, which, owing to unskillful treatment, broke out after
a time, disabling both his arms."

     (Signed.) "'A. H. Clark,
        "'Custodian, Section of American History,
            United States National Museum.'

            "Yours very respectfully,
     (Signed.) "Richard Rathbun,
                  "_Assistant Secretary_."

This is an opinion with which I must disagree. Stafford, it is
claimed, had been a sailor in the American armed ship Kitty, which had
been captured by a British cruiser, said cruiser and her prize being
subsequently taken by the Richard, whereupon Stafford volunteered for
service on the Richard, was warranted a midshipman, and is alleged to
have performed several heroic deeds in connection with the flag during
the action.[71] There is no authority whatever for any of these
statements in any existing contemporary account of the battle, yet the
occurrence was sufficiently important to be mentioned somewhere,
surely, if it had occurred. Stafford's name does not appear in any of
the lists of the officers and crew, and the Richard certainly did not
capture any British cruiser and her prize. But we have evidence which
is more than negative, for Jones explicitly states that when the
Richard went down, a flag--presumably that which had been shot from
the staff, or had fallen with it, during the action, and had been
recovered the next day--was left flying at the peak. In subsequent
letters, though, he takes occasion to refer specifically to the fact
that he sailed under American colors in the Alliance--he calls them
"my very best American colors," a phrase certainly inappropriate for
the battle-torn ensign of the Richard--he never makes the slightest
reference to their having been used in the famous battle. Again, the
Alliance sailed finally under the command of Landais, and no mention
of any particular flag appears thereafter. It may be possible,
however, though doubtful, that the flag which was given to Stafford
was the "best American colors" under which Jones sailed from the
Texel, and, if so, it is an interesting relic. The last circumstance
that militates against the claim is the size of the flag in question.
It is so small that it is highly improbable it was ever used for a
battle flag!


    "Here comes brave Paul Jones, Oho!
     He's a jolly good fellow.
     His ship has sunk 'neath the sea,
     On a bold English cape, O.

    "Here comes brave Paul Jones, Oho!
     He's a jolly good fellow.
     Born an American true,
     And English not a bit, O.

    "Here comes brave Paul Jones, Oho!
     He's a jolly good fellow.
     He does so many brave deeds
     For the good of his friends, O."


    "Oh, had we him here,
     Or had they him there,
     He'd well know what to try for
     And luck he'd let go by, sir!"


"_Testament of Paul Jones, July 18, 1792_.

"Before the undersigned notaries, at Paris, appeared Mr. John Paul
Jones, citizen of the United States of America, resident at present in
Paris, lodged in the street of Tournon, No. 42, at the house of Mr.
Dorberque, _huissier audiancier_ of the tribunal of the third
_arrondissement_, found in a parlour in the first story above the
door, lighted by two windows opening on the said street of Tournon,
sitting in an armchair, sick of body, but sound of mind, memory, and
understanding, as it appeared to the undersigned notaries, by his
discourse and conversation,--

"Who, in view of death, has made, dictated, and worded, to the
undersigned notaries, his testament as follows:

"I give and bequeath all the goods, as well movable as heritable, and
all, generally, whatever may appertain to me at my decease, in
whatever country they may be situated, to my two sisters, Janette,
spouse to William Taylor, and Mary, wife to Mr. Loudon, and to the
children of my said sisters, to divide them into as many portions as
my said sisters and their children shall make up individuals, and to
be enjoyed by them in the following manner:

"My sisters, and those of their children who on the day of my death
shall have reached the age of twenty-one, will enjoy their share in
full property from the date of my decease. As for those of my nephews
and nieces who at that period of time may not reach the age of
twenty-one years, their mothers will enjoy their shares till such time
as they attain that said age, with charge to them to provide for their
food, maintenance, and education; and as soon as any of my nephews or
nieces will have reached the age of twenty-one years, the same will
enjoy his share in full property.

"If one or more of my nephews and nieces should happen to die without
children before having reached the age of twenty-one, the share of
those of them who may have deceased shall be divided betwixt my said
sisters and my other nephews and nieces by equal portions.

"I name the Honourable Robert Morris, Esq., of Philadelphia, my only
testamentary executor.

"I revoke all other testaments or codicils which I may have made
before the present, which alone I stand by as containing my last will.

"So made, dictated, and worded, by said testator, to the said notaries
undersigned, and afterward read, and read over again to him by one of
them, the others being present, which he well understood, and
persevered in, at Paris, the year 1792, the 18th July, about five
o'clock, afternoon, in the room heretofore described, and the said
testator signed the original of the present, unregistrated, at Paris,
the 25th of September, 1792, by Defrance, who received one livre,
provisionally, save to determine definitively the right after the
declaration of the revenue of the testator. The original remained with
Mr. Pettier, one of the notaries at Paris, undersigned, who delivered
these presents this day, 26th September, 1792, first of the French

(Signed.) "Pottier.



"_Schedule of the Property of Admiral John Paul Jones, as stated by him
to me, this 18th of July, 1792_.

"1. Bank stock in the Bank of North America, at Philadelphia, six
thousand dollars, with sundry dividends.

"2. Loan-Office certificate left with my friend Mr. Ross, of
Philadelphia, for two thousand dollars, at par, with great arrearages
of interest, being for ten or twelve years.

"3. Such balance as may be in the hands of my said friend John Ross,
belonging to me, and sundry effects left in his care.

"4. My lands in the State of Vermont.

"5. Shares in the Ohio Company.

"6. Shares in the Indiana Company.

"7. About eighteen thousand pounds sterling due to me from Edward
Bancroft, unless paid by him to Sir Robert Herries, and is then in his

"8. Upward of four years of my pension due from Denmark, to be asked
from the Count de Bernstorf.

"9. Arrearages of my pay from the Empress of Russia, and all my prize

"10. The balance due to me by the United States of America, of sundry
claims in Europe, which will appear from my papers.

"This is taken from his mouth.


This property was estimated as being worth about thirty thousand
dollars at the date of Jones' death.


Ranger, Nantes 11_th Dec_. 1777.

"Honored Sir:--I think it my duty to give you some account of my
Passage from Portsmouth to this place, as this may perhaps find you at
home in the Bosom of domestic happiness. I had passed the Western
Islands before a Sail appeared within our Horizon from the Mast head;
but this Halcyon Season was then interrupted, and changed into
continued alarms Night and day till the Ranger cast Anchor here the 2d
Current, this afforded me excellent opportunities of exercising the
Officers and Men especially in the Night, and it is with much Pleasure
that I assure you their behaviour was to my entire Satisfaction. I
fell in with an Enemies Fleet of Ten Sail off Ushant, bound up
Channel, but notwithstanding my best endeavours, I was unable to
detach any of them from the strong Convoy under which they sailed. I
fell in with and brought too a number of other Ships and Vessels none
whereof proved to be British Property except two Brigantines with
fruit from Malaga for London which became Prizes, the one is arrived
here, the other I am told in Quiberon Bay. The Rangers sailing does
not answer the general expectation, oweing in a great measure to her
being too deep, very foul and over Masted, her Ballast laid too high,
on account of its improper quality, for a Ship of this construction,
this with the extraordinary weight of her lower Masts; occasioned her
being very Crank, I am paying my whole Attention to remedy these
inconveniences as much as Possible, I am shortening the lower Masts,
shifting the Main Mast further aft, and mean to ballast with Lead; as
that Article will store under the lower tier of Water the less
quantity will be sufficient, of course the Ship will be so much the
lighter, and Sail so much the faster, and we shall then, I hope, be
able to store the Cables under the Platform. Tho' I have yet received
no Letter from the Commissioners, I understand that they had some time
ago provided for me one of the Finest Frigates that can be imagined,
calculated for Thirty two, Twenty four Pounders, on One deck, and
longer than any Ship in the Enemies Fleet, but it seems they were
unfortunately under the necessity of giving her up on Account of some
difficulties which they met with at Court, however I esteem the
intention as much as tho' it had succeeded, as I shall always cherish
the grateful remembrance of the Honor which Congress hath conferred on
me by this and every other instance of their generous Approbation, I
shall be the happiest of Men if a Life of services devoted to the
Intrests of America can be rendered instrumental in securing its

"My particular thanks are due to you Sir, as one of the four Members
of that Honorable Committee to whose generous intention, and
Approbation I more immediately owe this great and unsolicited
Obligation, but I hope for Opportunities of proving by my Conduct the
deep sense I entertain of that favor.

"The inclosed letter, and its consequences hath given me real concern.
Malice is a stranger to my Nature. I hate domestic broils, or
misunderstandings, and would do, or suffer much, as a private Person
to prevent them. But as an Officer, honored with the Approbation of
Congress, and conscious of having at no time exceeded even in Thought
the delicate lines of my duty, or express letter of my Orders; I am in
the highest degree tenacious of the respect due to my Signature; and I
bid the most contemptuous defiance to the insinuation of any Man out
of Congress.

"I have been informed in Portsmouth that the four Oared Boat which
attended the Ranger was built for the Portsmouth Privateer, and after
being rejected as misconstructed and unuseful for that Ship, was
assigned over to the Ranger, be this as it may, I will boldly affirm
that she was the worst constructed and most unservicable Boat that I
ever saw, belonging to a Ship of War, for tho' a Man stepping on her
Gunnel, would bring it down to the Waters edge, yet was her Weight
equal, or nearly so to that of the Cutter, which I planned, and had
built, capable of carrying 40 Armed Men, had I been able, which I was
not, to stow the two Boats, which I found provided for the Ranger, I
must have been reduced to the Alternatives of throwing them overboard,
or strikeing the Top Masts several times, on the Passage to prevent
oversetting the Ship. I mention this matter to you _in confidence_ as
a Friend, declaring on the Honor of a Gentleman that I wish on my part
to give it to Oblivion. I have the Pleasure to hear that Captains
Thompson and Hinman are well at Lorient of which please to inform Mrs.
Thompson. I shall endeavour to procure the Articles mentioned in Mrs.
Whipple's Memorandum, I hope to live in the remembrance of the few
acquaintances I have in Portsmouth, and I have the honor to be with
due Respect.


      "Your very Obliged

            "very Obedient

               "most humble Servant,

                       "Jno P Jones"[72]

The Hon'ble
   Gen'l Whipple


[Footnote 1: Among the gross slanders by which envy strove to blacken
the fame of the great commodore in after years--the foulest, because
it attempted to rob a virtuous woman of her crown of honest motherhood
and question the legitimacy of Jones' birth--was one which ascribed
his paternity to the Earl of Selkirk. To the English snob of that day
it may probably have seemed impossible that so much greatness could
spring from so plain a stock, and in a left-handed descent from Lord
Selkirk was sought an explanation of Jones' fame. The calumny was
refuted not only by its antecedent incredibility, but by the testimony
of persons in position to affirm as to the high personal character of
Jean MacDuff Paul and by the loving and tender family relationship she
ever sustained to her husband and children. The family was well known
and highly respected. It may be noted, by the way, that the Earl of
Selkirk was not conspicuous for ability or anything else, and if it
had not been for a subsequent exploit of Jones' he would have been
forgotten long since.]

[Footnote 2: See Appendix I.]

[Footnote 3: The Marine Corps was established by the Congress November
10, 1775.]

[Footnote 4: A fictitious house, under the name of which the
commissioners sent out military stores.]

[Footnote 5: A coarse thin stuff, a very poor substitute for the
ordinary canvas.]

[Footnote 6: English accounts state their casualties at twenty-five.]

[Footnote 7: Italics mine.]

[Footnote 8: The ship of the line Thesée (74), commanded by the
celebrated de Kersaint, was lost in the night battle between Hawke and
Conflans at Quiberon Bay, because in the midst of a terrific gale,
with a very heavy sea on, the Frenchman unfortunately opened his lower
deck ports to make use of his heavy battery in the action.]

[Footnote 9: There is a discrepancy in the various accounts of the
armament of the Richard, some authorities asserting that all the guns
on the main deck were 12-pounders and that the small guns on the poop
and forecastle were 6-pounders. The probabilities are as I have

[Footnote 10: See Appendix No. II.]

[Footnote 11: In case of disaster, that is.]

[Footnote 12: The English learned this in 1812, when with the long
eighteens of the Guerrière and the Java they tackled the long
twenty-fours of the Constitution's broadside.]

[Footnote 13: From the author's novel, The Grip of Honor.]

[Footnote 14: See remarks on page 226.]

[Footnote 15: Doubtful.]

[Footnote 16: Possibly he might be an ensign.]

[Footnote 17: Some authorities imply that the flag had been nailed to
the masthead, and that it was necessary for Pearson to go aloft in
default of any one else in order to strike his colors. Nailing a flag
to the masthead is a figure of speech, and I doubt the actuality of
the performance. On the other hand, it would be easy and natural for
Pearson to have nailed the ensign to a staff, which contemporary
prints show that ships sometimes carried for the purpose of flying the
colors. In the latter case it would be easy for Pearson to tear it
down; in that hypothesis his whole action then and subsequently is
understandable. If the flag had been nailed to the masthead it is
extremely unlikely that he would have taken the time, trouble, and
risk of going aloft to tear it down when by a simple word or two he
could have surrendered his ship.]

[Footnote 18: It has been incorrectly stated that many wounded and
prisoners were carried down with the ship. Jones, who was in a
position to know, asserts the contrary.]

[Footnote 19: See Appendix No. III.]

[Footnote 20: Thackeray told an American friend that the account of
the amazing capture of the Serapis by Paul Jones was one of the most
extraordinary stories in naval annals, and Mrs. Ritchie, writing of
her father's last days, says: "Sometimes we found him in great
spirits, as when he had been reading about the famous fight of the
Serapis, a stirring thing indeed."--Editor.]

[Footnote 21: Captain A. T. Mahan, U. S. N. (retired). The greatest
authority, living or dead, on warfare on the sea, especially from the
philosophical standpoint.]

[Footnote 22: She could only have engaged to starboard by crossing the
path of the Richard, in which event she would have raked her, of
course, with her port battery, and then have brought her starboard
battery in play when she got alongside again.]

[Footnote 23: Italics mine.]

[Footnote 24: By resolution of the Marine Committee, dated September
5, 1776, this was, for captains: "A coat of blue cloth with red
lapels, slashed cuffs, a stand-up collar, flat yellow buttons, blue
breeches, and a red waistcoat with yellow lace." In Jones' case the
"flat yellow buttons" were made of gold and the lace was woven of the
same precious tissue. Nothing was too good for him, for the rank he
supported, and the cause he upheld.]

[Footnote 25: See Appendix No. IV.]

[Footnote 26: Italics mine.]

[Footnote 27: Italics mine.]

[Footnote 28: Italics mine.]

[Footnote 29: As this is the last appearance of Pearson in our pages,
it may be interesting to note that when he returned to England he was
knighted for "his gallant defense of the Serapis against a greatly
superior force"; in addition to which the merchants of London
presented him, and Captain Piercy as well, with very valuable services
of plate for their efficient protection of their convoy. Pearson
afterward rose to high rank in the British service. He certainly had
protected his convoy, for all of them escaped, and the gratitude of
the merchants was natural. On the other hand, he had been beaten by an
inferior force, and merited no honors on that score. As a matter of
fact, the Serapis alone, to say nothing of the Countess of
Scarborough, was nearly a match for Jones' whole squadron. Suppose,
for instance, that Jones had been in command of the Serapis and
Pearson of the Richard. Does anybody doubt that Jones could have
beaten the Richard, the Alliance, and the Pallas with the Serapis
alone? But it is unprofitable to discuss this question further. When
Jones heard of these honors, he is reported to have made the following

"He has done well, and if he get another ship and I fall in with him
again, I will make a duke of him." There is a grim humor about his
comment which is highly pleasing, in spite of Jones' subsequent
repudiation of it.]

[Footnote 30: Italics mine.]

[Footnote 31: Italics mine.]

[Footnote 32: Italics mine.]

[Footnote 33: For another specimen of Jones' verse-writing, see page

[Footnote 34: "Louis XVI, the rewarder, to the mighty deliverer, for
the freedom of the sea."]

[Footnote 35: Italics mine.]

[Footnote 36: Evidently Truxtun learned the lesson well, for in the
war with France he became one of the sternest and most severe
disciplinarians in the naval service, in spite of which his crews
adored him. See my books, Reuben James, A Hero of the Forecastle; and
American Fights and Fighters.]

[Footnote 37: That was beyond his power. They never did and to this
day do not "esteem" him other than a pirate. His courage and ability
are, however, alike unquestioned by friends and foes.]

[Footnote 38: The remarks of John Adams as to the need of a great navy
are even more apposite now than they were then.]

[Footnote 39: Nearly $40,000, equivalent in that day to much more than
at present.]

[Footnote 40: Quite what might have been expected from a "canny Scot."
But it must not be forgotten that the chevalier had been a trader
before he became a fighter.]

[Footnote 41: Very unlike a "canny Scot" in this instance.]

[Footnote 42: After his dismissal Landais resided in Brooklyn, where
he lived in very straitened circumstances on a small annuity, the
income upon an advance of four thousand dollars from Congress on
account of arrears of prize money due him, which amount was to be
deducted from his share of whatever was recovered from Denmark. His
income was about two hundred dollars a year, but by strict economy it
sufficed him. He is reputed to have cherished a high feeling of
independence, and would never consent to receive a gift he was unable
to return. Toward the close of his life he was a constant petitioner
for five thousand dollars with interest, which he conceived to be
still due him on account of the Danish claim. Every other year he
contrived to visit the seat of government to plead his cause in
person. On one occasion, having heard that a member of Congress had
spoken slightingly of him, he put on his faded Continental uniform,
buckled on his small sword, repaired to the gallery of the House of
Representatives, and expressed his readiness to meet any gentleman who
wished for an honorable satisfaction. His quaint figure, so attired,
was often seen on the streets of New York. He used to carry his hat in
his hand for hours in the street, out of respect to his lawful
monarch, executed by the rebels of France! He never ceased to affirm
that he, and not Paul Jones, had captured the Serapis. He died in 1818
at the age of eighty-seven years, and was buried in St. Patrick's
Cathedral churchyard. He had probably returned to the Roman Catholic
Church, which he is said to have abjured on his entry into the
American service. One of his biographers tells us that he was a cadet
of the family of a younger son of the youngest branch of one of the
oldest, proudest, and poorest families in Normandy; that, owing to his
lack of court interest, which was due to his poverty, he was kept for
thirty years a midshipman in the French navy. The same ingenious
apologist makes the following quaint comment on the respective actions
and qualities of Landais and Jones:

"Paul Jones, by his impetuous and undisciplined gallantry, earned the
reputation of a hero, and poor Landais, by a too scrupulous attention
to the theory of naval science, incurred that of a coward. I believe
that naval authority is against me, but I venture to assert _meo
periculo_ and on the authority of one of my uncles, who was in that
action as a lieutenant to Paul Jones, that Landais erred not through
any defect of bravery, but merely from his desire to approach his
enemy scientifically, by bearing down upon the hypothenuse of the
precise right-angled triangle prescribed in the thirty-seventh
'man[oe]uvre' of his old text-book."

Surely the author of this extraordinary paragraph must have been more
than an unconscious humorist!

A stone erected over his remains, which has long since disappeared,
bore the following inscription:

   A la Mémoire
   Pierre De Landais
   Ancien Contre-Amiral
   au service
   Des États Unis
   Qui Disparut
   Juin 1818
   Agé 87 ans.

There is something pathetic in the picture of the "Ancien
Contre-Amiral," in his faded Continental uniform and the proud
independence of his old age; and perhaps after all we may charitably
attribute his colossal blunders to insanity and incompetency rather
than to malice or treachery.]

[Footnote 43: Negotiations on this claim were protracted for over
sixty years. In June, 1847, the Danish Government formally and finally
denied the validity of the claim, and it has not been paid. Congress,
however, on March 21, 1848, provided for the payment of the prize
money involved, to the heirs of Paul Jones and other persons entitled
to share in the distribution of the fund.]

[Footnote 44: The rouble was then worth about one dollar, and, as has
been mentioned, a dollar was greater then than now.]

[Footnote 45: In after years Jones indorsed upon this letter a grim
comment: "Has he kept his word?"]

[Footnote 46: Some authorities say fourteen; the difference is

[Footnote 47: All dates given, except in letters, are new style,
eleven days in advance of Russian dates.]

[Footnote 48: This is a mistake, he was never a vice admiral.]

[Footnote 49: Old style.]

[Footnote 50: Nassau was then in command of the Russian fleet in the
Baltic, and an encounter with him--had a Swedish command been tendered
Jones, and if he could have accepted it--would have been interesting.
There would have been a final demonstration, which probably would have
convinced even Nassau, as to the merits of the rival commanders in the
Liman. Nassau, by accepting the advice of the English and other
foreign officers associated with him, succeeded with a superior force
in beating the Swedes, whereupon honors were showered upon him--more
land, more peasants, more roubles, more rank. His favor was higher
than ever; but he was magnificently beaten a short time after by a
very inferior Swedish fleet, and his defeat was as decisive as it was
disgraceful. He lost fifty-three vessels, fourteen hundred guns, and
six thousand men. He had refused to take anybody's advice on this
occasion and had conducted the battle himself. His cowardice and
incapacity therefore were entirely apparent. He tried to attribute
this defeat, which compelled Catherine to make peace upon terms not
advantageous to her, to the cowardice of the Russians whom he
commanded. The Russians were not cowards. He fell from favor, left the
court, and passed the remainder of his life on his estate in Poland in
the society of his homely but devoted wife. It is to be hoped that she
made things interesting for him, but it is hardly likely. He died in
obscurity and poverty in 1809, unregretted and forgotten.]

[Footnote 51: A portion was subsequently paid to his heirs by the
French Government.]

[Footnote 52: See Appendix No. V.]

[Footnote 53: From my book, American Fights and Fighters.]

[Footnote 54: This sword was, of course, not that presented to him by
the King of France. After Jones' death his heirs gave this famous
sword to Robert Morris. Morris, in turn, presented it to Commodore
John Barry, at that time senior officer of the United States Navy. By
him it was bequeathed to his friend Commodore Richard Dale, once of
the Bon Homme Richard, and it now remains in the possession of his
great-grandson, Mr. Richard Dale, of Philadelphia.]

[Footnote 55: Why a monument has not been erected to Jones I can not
understand. It would be a noteworthy object for individual and
national effort, and in no better way could we commit ourselves to the
fame and achievements of the great captain, and forever stamp with
disapproval those calumnies with which envy seeks to sully the name of
our first great sailor.]

[Footnote 56: The frontispiece of this volume.]

[Footnote 57: Some of his phrases in his Russian letters remind me of
Shakespeare's Henry V.]

[Footnote 58: I have known hundreds of sailors more or less
intimately, and I have never met one who might be included in either
of those melancholy classes.]

[Footnote 59: Studies in Naval History, by John Knox Laughton, M. A.,
Professor of Modern History at King's College, London, and Lecturer on
Naval History at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, etc., 1887.]

[Footnote 60: July 6, 1900.]

[Footnote 61: Woolsey, International Law, section 144, page 233.]

[Footnote 62: And not a captain of a special ship, as was sometimes
the case, but a captain in the service, and therefore eligible to
command any ship. See page 75.]

[Footnote 63: The following interesting document was found in his
papers; it enumerates a few of the things he did: "In 1775, J. Paul
Jones armed and embarked in the first American ship of war. In the
Revolution he had twenty-three battles and solemn rencontres by sea;
made seven descents in Britain and her colonies; took of her navy two
ships of equal, and two of superior force, many store ships, and
others; constrained her to fortify her ports; suffer the Irish
volunteers; desist from her cruel burnings in America, and exchange,
as prisoners of war, the American citizens taken on the ocean, and
cast into the prisons of England, as 'traitors, pirates, and

[Footnote 64: Notwithstanding this, he was as ambitious of glory,
honor, and fame to himself in the service of his country as Nelson
was. They were both of them

    "Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel.
     Seeking the bubble reputation
     Even in the cannon's mouth."]

[Footnote 65: See my book, American Fights and Fighters.]

[Footnote 66:  The recent war in South Africa demonstrates the
accuracy of Carlyle's perspicuous observation.]

[Footnote 67: The United States has shown that it possesses in full
measure the sea adaptability and capacity of the Anglo-Saxon, but
opportunity for demonstrating that capacity, except upon a small
scale, has never been afforded us. The almost unbroken line of
victories on the sea, however, which we have won with anything like
equality of force from English, French, and Spaniards, enables us to
confidently await the issue of any future naval action under
conditions of equality; and the names of Jones, Dale, Biddle, Barry,
Preble, Hull, Decatur, Bainbridge, Lawrence, Stewart, MacDonough,
Perry, Farragut, Dewey, and Sampson will not be outshone by any

[Footnote 68: So careful and accurate an historian as John Fiske makes
the mistake of saying that Russia bestowed the order of St. Anne on
Jones for this action.]

[Footnote 69: Paul Jones and his men were the last foreign foemen to
land on the shores of England.]

[Footnote 70: See Park Benjamin's History of the Naval Academy for
similar instances on the part of less famous captains. Personal abuse
was a custom of the service, apparently.]

[Footnote 71: See Preble's History of the American Flag, where the
story of Stafford is given _in extenso_.]

[Footnote 72: The above hitherto unpublished letter, with its unusual
signature, was addressed to William Whipple, one of the signers of the
Declaration of Independence from New Hampshire, who in 1777 was a
member of the Continental Congress, and one of the four Navy
Commissioners. The original of the Commodore's interesting
letter is in the collection of Mr. Ferdinand J. Dreer, of

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