John Paul Jones

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John Paul Jones

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jul 27, 2008, 7:45 pm

Does anyone here have recommendations for a good biography of John Paul Jones? I just read one called John Paul Jones: Father of the American Navy by Valentine Thomson, published in 1939. It was enjoyable, but left me feeling that there might be a more authoritative Jones bio out there now. Anyone know?


nov 11, 2008, 9:19 am


You might find some more at The Naval institute Press.

nov 11, 2008, 1:43 pm

Thanks. I will check that out. I also realized after I posted my query that I have Samuel Eliot Morrison's Jones biography on my biography shelf. With luck I will get to it in 09.

feb 16, 2009, 6:03 pm

I have heard that few people had more than two names during that period, and that the name 'Paul' was added later by his admirers solely to distinguish Captain Jones and make him immediately recognizable. Can anyone confirm this?

Redigerat: feb 16, 2009, 9:56 pm

His name was originally John Paul, but he added the Jones to escaped detection. From their site:

On the Caribbean island of Tobago, where his ship Betsy ended her outward voyage, Jones decided to invest money in return cargo rather than pay his crew for their shore leave. One sailor, known as "the ringleader," attempted to go ashore without leave. Jones drew his sword on the man to enforce his orders, but the man set on his captain with a bludgeon. In response to the attack Jones ran him through with his sword. Jones immediately went ashore to give himself up, but the death of the ringleader had so stirred up local sentiment that John Paul's friends prevailed upon him to escape to Virginia at once.

His friends sized up the situation as one that both the sugar planters (the dominant political movers in the area) and the British government would be more likely to hang an unknown mate than to go through a trial that could stir things up. Oh to live in the days when you only had to tack on a new last name to fool the authorities.

edited for typo