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the General in the following words: For more than a century the mortal
remains of our first great sailor lay in an unknown grave, lost to his country
and the world. The generosity and patriotism of a distinguished citizen,
already noted for eminent public service in war and peace, have freed us
from this national reproach. I introduce to you General Horace Porter.


\HIS day America reclaims her illustrious dead. We gather here

in the presence of the Chief Magistrate of the nation and of this

vast concourse of representative citizens of the Old World and the New to pay our homage to the leading historic figure in the early annals of the American Navy, to testify that his name is not a dead memory, but a living reality, to quicken our sense of appreciation, and to give assurance that the transfer of his remains to the land upon whose arms he shed so much luster is not lacking in distinction by reason of the long delay.

The history of John Paul Jones reads more like romance than reality. It is more like a fabled tale of ancient days than the story of an American sailor of only a century and a quarter ago. As light and shade produce the most attractive effects in a picture, so the singular contrasts, the strange vicissitudes of his eventful life, surround him with an interest that attaches to few of the world's celebrities. His rise from the humble master's apprentice to the command of conquering squadrons ; his transition from the low-born peasant boy to the favorite of imperial courts; crouching at times within the shadow of obscurity, at other times standing on the highest pinnacle of fame—these are some of the features of his marvelous career that appeal to the imagination, excite men's wonder, and fascinate the minds of all who make a study of his life.

The two distinct natures he possessed lend a peculiar interest to his personality. He displayed the fierce temerity of the ancient sea kings combined with the knightly courtesy of mediæval chivalry. At one time we find him aboard the Bonhomme Richard, the frail merchantman he had hurriedly converted into a man-of-war, equipped with condemned guns, whose explosion early decimated his crew, attacking the Serapis, a superior British ship, just off her own shores, his vessel soon a wreck and sinking, most of his guns disabled, half of his motley crew of Americans and French lying about him dead or dying, the scuppers running with human blood, his ship a charnel house, over 200 prisoners confined in the hold rushing up from their prison and attacking the remnant of his exhausted crew, his own consort even, with her treacherous captain, raking his vessel with her fire, flame and smoke issuing from the lower deck filled with splinters, the mad carnage raging till it seemed that hell itself had usurped the place of earth, the undaunted commander in the very thickest of the combat, hatless and begrimed with powder, the very incarnation of battle, preparing to lead a boarding party and try this one desperate chance of success, and when asked by his antagonist, who saw his desperate condition, whether he had struck his flag, replying, “I've just begun to fight !" Then, by the inspiration of his example, forging weaklings into giants, capturing his opponent, snatching victory from defeat, and transferring his crew to his prize just in time to see his own ship sink beneath the waves with the flag still floating defiantly from the mast.

At another time we see him arrayed in the height of fashion, displaying an easy manner and marked elegance in the brilliant salons of the most polite courts of Europe, replying gracefully to the compliments of kings and princes in fluent English, French, and Spanish, showing that he could tread the polished floor of a royal palace as becomingly as the blood-stained deck of a man-of-war.

He was a many-sided man. On the water he was the wizard of the sea; on the land he showed himself an adept in the realms of diplomacy. While his exploits as a sailor eclipsed by their brilliancy his triumphs as a diplomat, he often proved himself a master both of the science of state craft and the subtleties of diplomacy. He early urged upon the Government the policy of weakening the blockade so disastrous to the colonies, which were essentially commercial, by sending war ships into Great Britain's home waters, attacking her vast commerce on the sea, compelling her to keep fleets at home to protect it, raiding her coasts, and bringing to her people an awakening sense of the realities of war in order that they might tire of it. He aimed to save his prizes, so that he could exhibit captured British war ships in French ports, show the John Paul Jones Commemoration


people the hopefulness of the cause of the colonies, stimulate the government of that power, and encourage it to send armies and fleets to our relief.

His chief diplomatic triumph was when he took the captured Serapis and Countess of Scarborough into the principal harbor of Holland for the express purpose of raising irritating questions regarding the rights of belligerent vessels in neutral ports and embroiling England in a war with Holland. He undertook this mission of his own initiative and against the advice of such experienced diplomatists as De Vauguyon, the French ambassador to Holland, and Dumas, the eminent international lawyer. By his ingenuity and the signal ability of his correspondence he succeeded perfectly in his undertaking, and England soon had another foe arrayed against her. By a rare tact he escaped giving offense to Holland and at the same time avoided wounding the susceptibilities of France.

So much was our Government impressed by this and other exhibitions of his rare diplomatic skill that it intrusted him with the delicate and difficult mission of collecting international claims.

Washington said of him, in a letter addressed to Congressman Hewes: Mr. Jones is clearly not only a master mariner within the scope of the art of navigation, but he also holds a strong and profound sense of the political and military weight of command at sea.

Jefferson, by direction of Washington, intrusted him with a diplomatic mission to Holland to see whether that State could be induced to join us in an expedition against the pirates of the Barbary coast, and made known that it was the President's desire to give him command of a squadron for such a purpose.

But his death intervened before the necessary ships could be furnished.

Paul Jones had written in French an exceedingly able pamphlet entitled “Treatise on the Existing State of the French Navy," which produced a profound impression. Napoleon, when first consul, was so struck by it that he had it reprinted, and the title-page bore the inscription “Written by the great American and Russian Admiral.”

When Paul Jones took his prizes into the ports of Holland the English minister there distinguished himself by constantly alluding in official correspondence to the conqueror of the Serapis as 'a certain Paul Jones, a pirate.” Next to the Admiral's able and complete refutation of this unfounded characterization, made to the Dutch States-General and

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accepted by them, perhaps his best answer was the explanation he wittily gave sometime afterwards in a conversation.

Having been alluded to as a pirate (said he], I looked up the authoritative definitions of that epithet, and found among them“Pirate—one who is at war with mankind.” I am holding a regular commission as a naval officer in an honorable service and making war only upon the armed enemies of my country. England is at war with America, France, Holland, and Spain, and engaged in provoking war in several colonies, and it seems to me that she is the pirate, not I.

When he landed a force in England and his sailors carried off a quantity of silver plate from Lord Selkirk's estate, Paul Jones purchased it from the crew, who then owned it and counted its value as prize money, paying for it $700 out of his own pocket, a large sum in those days, and as soon as he could procure the means of communicating, returned it and received a handsome acknowledgment from Lord Selkirk. Lord Dunmore, on the contrary, heading a party of British and Tories, completely ravaged the plantation on which Paul Jones had established himself in Virginia, burned to the ground his houses and mill, destroyed his wharf, killed his cattle, and carried off his able-bodied slaves of both sexes to be sold in Jamaica. If piracy there was, the record stamps not Paul Jones, but Lord Dunmore, as the pirate.

One of the most conspicuous traits in the character of our illustrious sailor was his pronounced and enthusiastic loyalty to America. In a letter to Jefferson in 1788 he said:

I can never renounce the glorious title of a citizen of the United States.

At another time he wrote:

I do not wish to engage in privateering. My object is not that of private gain, but to serve the public in a way that may reflect credit on our infant Navy and give prestige to our country on the sea.

And yet this is the man whom calumny has called a privateersman.

At the outbreak of the Revolution, after he had presented to Congress, by request, his celebrated suggestions for the organization of an efficient navy-a plan as applicable fundamentally to the service to-day as then he wrote:

As this is to be the foundation, or, I may say, the first keel timber of a new navy, which all patriots must hope shall become the foremost of the world

And, again: If by exceedingly desperate fighting one of our ships shall conquer one of theirs of markedly superior force, we shall be hailed as the pioneers of a new power on the sea with untold prospects of development.


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