He was born in Kirkcudbright, Scotland, 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 13 American Colonies and the Kingdom of Great 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 USS 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 1779 Captain Jones took command of the USS Bonhomme Richard, a merchant ship rebuilt and gifted to America by French shipping magnate, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray. On September 23 of that year, Jones encountered the British frigate HMS Serapis[?] in the North Sea. Sailing in close, Captain Jones had his men lash the Bonhomme Richard to the British ship, fighting the battle at point-blank range. During the fight, two of his cannon exploded, and the British captain demanded to know from Jones if he was then ready to surrender. John Paul Jones' now famous response was: "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight." The American crew eventually boarded and took control of the Serapis and from its deck they watched the USS Bonhomme Richard sink to the bottom of the North Sea.
In 1792 Jones was appointed U.S. Consul to Algiers, but on July 18 he died before the commission arrived. He was buried in Paris, France, but in 1905 his remains were removed from his long-forgotton grave and brought to the United States where, in 1913, he was interred in the Chapel of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.
See also US Navy