John Paul Jones was born on July 6, 1747 in Arbigland, Kirkbean, Kirkcudbright, Scotland. His original name was John Paul. He entered the British merchant marines when he was 12 years old and learned to be a seaman on a brig called Friendship. In 1769 when he was 22 years old he received his first command. The name of the boat was John.
After he killed a sailor in his command in 1773, he escaped to the Americas. When he came to America, he took the last name of Jones. He settled in the Virginia colony.
On December 7, 1775, John Paul Jones became a lieutenant in the Continental Navy and served on the Alfred. He was the first person to raise the Union flag on a Continental warship.
In 1776, he was promoted to captain. His boat was the Providence, the first ship to be commissioned into the Continental Navy. It was originally a merchant vessel, but was made into a fighting ship. The Providence and its crew captured or sank forty British ships and was the most victorious American Ship of the Revolutionary War. People called the Providence 'The Lucky Sloop'. John Paul Jones said 'she was the first and she was the best.'
In 1778, John Paul Jones sailed to France. On February 14, 1778, six days after France decided to join the Patriots in their fight against the British, John Paul Jones was sailing into Quiberon Bay in France. He and Admiral La Motte Piquet of the French Navy saluted each other with gun fire. This was the first time the new flag of the Colonies had been recognized by a foreign government.
The French King gave him an old merchant ship in 1779 and John Paul Jones repaired it and named it U.S.S. Bon Homme Richard in honor of Benjamin Franklin. In August he set sail towards England on a mission to raid British ships.
On September 23, 1779, when he was fighting the British frigate Serapis at the Battle of Flamborough Head (England), the British captain asked Jones if he was ready to surrender. John Paul Jones answered, "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight."
After the American Revolution, Jones was a Rear Admiral for Empress Catherine of Russia. He returned to Paris in 1790 and died there on July 18, 1792 at the age of 45. He was buried in St. Louis Cemetery in Paris.
In 1845 Colonel John H. Sherburne wanted to have the John Paul Jones' remains returned to the United States because by then everyone thought of him as the Father of the U.S. Navy. He won approval in 1851, but some of Jones' relatives in Scotland stopped him from moving the remains. It really didn't matter, because no one really knew exactly what grave belonged to John Paul Jones.
Then in April 1905 Horace Porter discovered the exact burial place of John Paul Jones. President Theodore Roosevelt was President and he sent four ships to Paris to bring back his body. When these four ships arrived back in Chesapeake Bay they were escorted by seven more battleships to show honor to the man who created the U.S. Navy. On January 26, 1913, the remains of John Paul Jones were put in a crypt in the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland. Even today, a Marine honor guard stands duty whenever the crypt is open to the public.