John Paul Jones was born John Paul. He later changed his name to John Jones, and then later to John Paul Jones. His first missions during the American Revolution were to raid British shipping along the American and Canadian coast. He was an officer on the Alfred under commodore Esek Hopkins. On that ship, he was the first man ever to raise an American flag over an American naval ship.
He then led raids against the English and Scottish coasts. Since these raids concentrated on merchant vessels, rather than naval ships, and since he also conducted landing raids aimed at kidnapping nobles to trade for American prisoners, the British regarded him as a pirate. In one of the few military successes of the American Navy during the early part of the Revolutionary War, he captured the English warship, the Drake. This showed that the British Royal Navy was not invincible.
He took command of the Bonhomme Richard in 1779. On September 23rd, he led a 5 ship squadron in an attack on a British shipping convoy. The British warship Serarpis, with 2 more guns than the Bonhomme Richard, counter-attacked. At one point in the battle, with the Bonhomme Richard about to sink, his flag was shot away. The British commander, thinking that the flag had been lowered as a sign of surrender, called across to ask if she was giving up. John Paul Jones answered with the statement that made him famous to this day: "I have not yet begun to fight." He rammed the Serapis with the Bonhomme Richard. He had positioned marksmen in the masts, who fired down on the deck of the Serapis, allowing his own men to board and capture the ship.
John Paul Jones was a controversial commander. His discipline aboard ship could be harsh. His men did not always love him. Ashore, he was not skilled at the politics needed for career advancement. But he was a hero to the American people. His bravery earned him the reputation as the father of the American Navy.
This song was published as a poem, without any indication of the tune to which is should be sung. It may have been sung to either Anacreon or Packington's Pound.
Portrait of John Paul Jones
He scattered their host,
The first flag that blazed,
His arm crushed the Tory and mutinous crew
That strove to have freemen inhumanly butchered;
Remember his valor at proud Flamborough,
When he made the Serapis to strike to the Richard;
Oh! her robbed of their store
The vessels sent o'er
To feed all the Tories and foes on our shore,
He gave the freemen the spoils and long may they revere
The name of fair Liberty's brave Buccaneer.