Happy Birthday, Captain Jones!

Discussion in 'Other Patriotism' started by Peter Ansoff, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    July 6th marks the birthday of Captain John Paul Jones, the preeminent American naval hero of the Revolutionary War. He is best known for his capture of the British warship SERAPIS in the North Sea in 1779. Alexander Mackenzie, himself a Navy Captain, summarized Jones's legacy: "He fought a battle, which for stubborn and resolute courage, and triumphant success, is unsurpassed . . . This is a service, the value of which will be felt in its animating and encouraging example, so long as we continue to have a name among the nations of the earth."

    On 22 September 1782, Captain Jones wrote to the US Minister of Marine, "In time of peace it is necessary to prepare, and always be prepared for war by sea." True words, and as valid today as when he wrote them. However, they need to be understood in context. The Revolutionary War was winding down, and the Continental Navy was on its way to being disbanded. It was the ultimate downsizing: the remaining ships were sold, the officers and sailors pensioned off, and the shore establishments abolished. When he wrote those words, Jones anticipated, correctly, that he would soon be out of a job.

    After a brief tour of service as an Admiral in the Russian Navy, Jones died in Paris, alone and forgotten, in 1792. At the time of his death, the United States had no naval forces, even on paper. He did not live to see the founding of the US Navy that reveres his name today.

    To honor the Captain, we are flying the Serapis flag of 1779. We're also flying the Continental Colours, which Jones raised over the Alfred, the first ship of the Continental Navy, in 1775. (This was probably the first time that the flag of the United States was ever raised, and Jones mentioned several times in his writings that he was very proud of having done it). On the third pole, we have the modern flag of the US Navy Department.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Today is the birthday (1747) of Captain John Paul Jones. As noted in my post from last year, Jones is believed to have been the first person ever to raise an American flag. He himself was very much aware of this distinction; he mentioned in his writings how proud he was to have first hoisted the "flag of freedom." Happy Birthday, Commodore!

    Peter Ansoff
     
  3. YCHistorian

    YCHistorian New Member

    Peter,
    If you haven't read it already, I recommend Evan Thomas' biography of John Paul Jones. It was Teddy Roosevelt who had Jones' remains disinterred from France and returned to the US.

    -YC
     
  4. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    If you haven't read it already, I recommend Evan Thomas' biography of John Paul Jones.

    I thought that Thomas's book was well written, but it didn't seem to add much new information to the standard JPJ biographies by Lorenz and Morison. I still haven't read Joseph Callo's recent book on JPJ -- it's on my "pending" shelf!

    There's an interesting question about JPJ that occured to me recently. All historical sources that I've seen give his birthday as July 6, 1747. This was before the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, which occured in 1752 in Britain and the colonies. Is the July 6 date "old style" or "new style?" If it is "old style," then we should celebrate his birthday 11 days later, on July 17th. This is what we do for George Washington's Birthday -- 22 February is the "new style" Gregorian date, not the actual calendar date when he was born. (However, we celebrate Columbus Day on the "old style" date.)

    Peter Ansoff
     
  5. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Once again, it's time to honor the memory of John Paul Jones, Commodore in the American Continental Navy, Chevalier of France and Kontr'Admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy. Jones is credited with hoisting the American flag for the first time, on 3 December 1775 aboard the "Alfred" in Philadelphia. Jones was extremely proud of having done this, and mentioned it several times in his later correspondence. He never described the flag that he raised, but other sources (including the report of a British spy) make it fairly certain that it was the "Continental Colors."

    Jones's title of Chevalier is an interesting historical footnote. It was the French equivalent of a knighthood, and he was very proud of it -- he frequently signed his letters "Chevalier Paul Jones." I believe that Jones was the only American naval officer ever to hold a noble title. He is probably the only one that ever will, because both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution forbid American citizens from holding such titles. Jones was "grandfathered" because he received the title before the Articles were adopted.

    For his service in the Russian Navy, Jones received another noble title, the Order of St. Anne, from Empress Catherine the Great. He requested permission from the American Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, to accept the title; Jefferson told him that he could not change the Constitution. That didn't stop Jones from wearing the medal, however.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  6. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Yes, it's time again to mark the birthday of Commodore John Paul Jones of the American Continental Navy, born on this date in 1747. This year, for the first time, I was able to fly three of the flags that are historically associated with Jones: The Continental Colors of 1775 (which he was the first to hoist on an American warship), and the Serapis and Alliance flags of 1779. Kudos to CRW Flags of Maryland for producing the Alliance flag replica!

    The other flag that is often associated with Jones is the ensign of the Ranger, which was saluted by the French Navy in 1778. Unfortunately, there is no record of exactly what that flag looked like.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  7. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Happy Birthday (1747) to Commodore, Chevalier and Kontr'Admiral John Paul Jones. fighting hero of the American Continental Navy. Once again, we're flying the Serapis and Alliance flags, along with the Continental Colors.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  8. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Once again, it's time for a "Happy Birthday" salute to Captain John Paul Jones, naval hero of the American Revolution and the first man to raise a flag representing what was to become the United States. He was a consistent (if somewhat self-interested) champion of a strong naval service for the United States. I think that he would be pleased with, and proud of, the magnificent US Navy that serve our nation today.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  9. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Yesterday evening I was pulling out the flags to display for John Paul Jones' birthday. I'd planned to fly the Continental Colors and the Alliance and Serapis flags. However, my wife pointed out that I really should include the "Andreyevski" ensign to commemorate Jones' service in the Russian Navy. I substituted it for the Alliance flag.

    Happy Birthday, Commodore, Chevalier and Kontr'Admiral!
     
  10. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    To celebrate John Paul Jones' birthday this year, I decided on the US Navy flag instead of the Andreyevskii, along with the Continental Colors and the Serapis flag. Once again, Happy Birthday Commodore!
     

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