John Paul Jones

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John Paul Jones (July 6, 1747(1747-07-06) – July 18, 1792(1792-07-18)) was the United States' first well-known naval fighter in the American Revolutionary War. Although he made enemies among America's political elites, his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to this day.

During his engagement with HMS Serapis, Jones uttered, according to the later recollection of his first lieutenant, the legendary reply to a taunt about surrender from the British captain: "I have not yet begun to fight!"


Early years

John Paul (he added "Jones" later) was born on the estate of Arbigland near Kirkbean in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright on the southwest coast of Scotland. His father, John Paul (Sr.), was a gardener at Arbigland, and his mother was named Jean Duff. His parents married on November 29, 1733 in New Abbey, Kirkcudbright. John Paul started his maritime career at the age of 13, sailing out of Whitehaven in the northern English county of Cumberland, as apprentice aboard the Friendship under Captain Benson. Paul's older brother had married and settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the destination of many of the youngster's early voyages.

For several years John sailed aboard a number of different British merchant and slaver ships, including the King George in 1764 as third mate, and the Two Friends as first mate in 1766. After a short time in this business, he became disgusted with the cruelty in the slave trade, and in 1768 he abandoned his prestigious position on the profitable Two Friends while docked in Jamaica. He found his own passage back to Scotland, and eventually obtained another position.

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