John Paul Jones was born on July 6, 1747, in Kirkcudbright, Scotland. He was the son of a Scottish gardener. At the age of 12 he entered the British merchant marine and went to sea for the first time, as a cabin boy. In 1773, as the commander of a merchant vessel, he killed a mutinous crewman at Tobago in the West Indies and, rather than stay in prison and wait for trial, he fled to North America. At the outbreak of war between the US and Britain in 1775, John Paul Jones went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and, with the help of two friendly members of the Continental Congress, obtained a lieutenant's commission in the Continental Navy.
He soon made a reputation. The year following he became captain of the sloop Providence. In his first adventure aboard the Providence he destroyed the British fisheries in Nova Scotia and captured 16 British prize ships.
In 1777 he took command of the sloop Ranger. Sailing to France in 1778, Jones received from the French the first salute given to the new American flag by a foreign warship. During the spring he terrorized the coastal population of Scotland and England by making daring raids ashore and destroying many British vessels.
In 1792 Jones was appointed U.S. Consul to Algiers, but on July 18 he died before the commision arrived. He was buried in Paris, but in 1905 his remains were removed from his long-forgotton grave and brought to the United States where, in 1913, they were finally interred in the United States Naval Academy Chapel at Annapolis, Maryland.
see also US Navy