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II. PAPERS AND REPORTS

OF

DISCOVERY, IDENTIFICATION, AND TRANSFER

REMAINS OF JOHN PAUL JONES

MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT

To the Senate and House of Representatives :

For a number of years efforts have been made to confirm the historical statement that the remains of Admiral John Paul Jones were interred in a certain piece of ground in the city of Paris then owned by the Government and used at the time as a burial place for foreign Protestants. These efforts have at last resulted in documentary proof that John Paul Jones was buried on July 20, 1792, between 8 and 9 o'clock p. m., in the now abandoned cemetery of St. Louis, in the northeastern section of Paris. About 500 bodies were interred there, and the body of the admiral was probably among the last hundred buried. It was incased in a leaden coffin, calculated to withstand the ravages of time.

The cemetery was about 130 feet long by 120 feet wide. Since its disuse as a burial place the soil has been filled to a level and covered almost completely by buildings, most of them of an inferior class.

The American ambassador in Paris, being satisfied that it is practicable to discover and identify the remains of John Paul Jones, has, after prolonged negotiations with the present holders of the property and the tenants thereof, secured from them options in writing which give him the right to dig in all parts of the property during a period of three months for the purpose of making the necessary excavations and searches, upon condition of a stated compensation for the damage and annoyance caused by the work. The actual search is to be conducted by the chief engineer of the municipal department of Paris having charge of subterranean works at a cost which has been carefully estimated. The ambassador gives the entire cost of the work, including the options, compensation, cost of excavating, and caring for the remains, as not exceeding 180,000 francs, or $35,000, on the supposition that the body may not be found until the whole area has been searched. If earlier discovered, the expense would be proportionately less.

The great interest which our people feel in the story of Paul Jones's life, the national sense of gratitude for the great service done by him toward the achievement of independence, and the sentiment of mingled distress and regret felt because the body of one of our greatest heroes lies forgotten and unmarked in foreign soil, lead me to approve the ambassador's suggestion that Congress should take advantage of this unexpected opportunity to do proper honor to the memory of Paul Jones, and appropriate the sum of $35,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, for the purposes above described, to be expended under the direction of the Secretary of State.

The report of Ambassador Porter, with the plans and photograph of the property, is annexed hereto.

In addition to the foregoing recommendation, I urge that Congress emphasize the value set by our people upon the achievements of the naval commanders in our war of independence by providing for the erection of appropriate monuments to the memory of two, at least, of those who now lie in undistinguished graves—John Paul Jones and John Barry. These two men hold unique positions in the history of the birth of our Navy. Their services were of the highest moment to the young Republic in the days when it remained to be determined whether or not she should win out in her struggle for independence. It is eminently fitting that these services should now be commemorated in suitable manner.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT. THE WHITE HOUSE, February 13, 1905.

AMBASSADOR PORTER TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE

[Telegram.]

PARIS, April 14, 1905. My six years' search for remains of Paul Jones has resulted in success. Having explored the old St. Louis cemetery, where Admiral was buried in leaden coffin, and where I had verified the facts that all the dead remained entirely undisturbed, I found only four coffins of lead. The first three bore plates giving names and dates of burial, the fourth was in solidity of construction and workmanship much superior to the others. Like them was similar in shape to mummy coffins, widening from feet to shoulders with small round top to fit head, like all coffins of that period. No plate could be found; one may have been put on outer wooden coffin, few vestiges of which are left. Another corpse had been buried immediately on top. Appearances indicate that in digging that grave wooden coffin had been partly stripped off. Plate John Paul Jones Commemoration

45

may then have been carried away. On opening coffin body fortunately found quite well preserved, coffin having been filled with alcohol, but which had evaporated, and body carefully packed in straw. As I predicted in a former report, coffin contained neither uniform, sword, nor decorations. It was discovered in one of the spots where I expected to find it. I took it to the School of Medicine, where Doctors Capitan and Papillault, the distinguished professors of the School of Anthropology, well known for their large experience in such matters, were charged with removing the body from the coffin and making minute examination for purposes of identification. They were furnished with medallions, portraits, Houdon's two busts, authentic measurements, description of color of hair, and all the mass of information which had been collected regarding Paul Jones's appearance. The following facts were fully substantiated: Length of body, 5 feet 7 inches, Paul Jones's exact height; head in size and shape identical with head of Paul Jones, hair on head and body dark brown, same as that of Paul Jones, in places slightly gray, indicating person of his age, 45 years; high forehead, hair long, combed back, reaching below his shoulders gathered in a clasp at back of neck, curled in two rolls on temples; face clean shaven, corresponding exactly with descriptions, portraits, and busts of the Admiral. Buried in shirt and wrapped in sheet; linen in good condition, bearing a small initial worked with thread, either a “J” or, if read upside down, a “P.” Coffin very solid. Body carefully preserved and packed. Limbs wrapped with tin foil, evidently for purpose of sea transportation a long distance, as indicated in an authentic letter of his particular friend and pallbearer, Colonel Blackden, which says: “His body was put into a leaden coffin on the 2oth that in case the United States, which he had so essentially served and with so much honor, should claim his remains they might be more easily removed.” Autopsy showed distinct proofs of disease of which Admiral is known to have died. Identification complete in every particular. Detailed reports of all facts duly certified by participants and witnesses will go by mail. Will have remains put in suitable casket and deposited in receiving vault of American Church till decision reached as to most appropriate means of transportation to America.

PORTER.

THE ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE TO AMBASSADOR PORTER

(Telegram.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, April 15, 1905. The Department has great pleasure in sending cordial congratulations upon your success in finding body of Paul Jones.

LOOMIS.

THE ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE TO AMBASSADOR PORTER

[Telegram.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, April 17, 1905. The Government will send a naval squadron to bring back the remains of Jones. Some time in June is suggested as convenient period.

LOOMIS.

AMBASSADOR PORTER TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE

[Telegram.]

AMERICAN EMBASSY,

Paris, April 20, 1905. Thanks for congratulations. Any time month of June would be good season for arrival of fleet. Deposited remains to-day in vault American church incased in original coffin, a leaden casket and oak coffin covered with American flag.

PORTER.

THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO GENERAL PORTER

[Telegram.)

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, June 20, 1905. Obtain permission to land military force under arms from RearAdmiral Sigsbee's squadron as escort for body Paul Jones.

HAY.

LETTER FROM THE ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE TO GENERAL

PORTER

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, June 27, 1905.

, . Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 2d instant, transmitting a memorandum of the exact method pursued in recoffining the body of John Paul Jones for transporation to the United States.

I have caused a copy of your communication to be sent to the Navy Department for the completion of its files in connection with the subject.

As this memorandum completes your most interesting and valuable report, I beg leave to tender the Department's hearty congratulations

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