Tuesday, January 20, 2015
I was walking to Luxembourg Gardens today when I passed this location. John Paul Jones of "I have not yet begun to fight" and " I wish to have no connection with a ship that does not sail fast for I intend to go in harms way", hero of the Revolution and Father of the Navy, died in Paris in 1792 at the age of 45.
Jones had a colorful career. He was a harsh disciplinarian and was often at odds with his superiors. And like many soldiers, he didn't do well during peace time. After the American Revolution, he found employment under Catherine the Great for the Russians. He got in a bit of a controversy there and returned to France. He died in Paris (from kidney disease) and was buried in a royal cemetery.
After the French Revolution, all royal property was seized and the location of his grave was lost. It was not located again until the US ambassador (Civil War General Horace Porter) decided to find it in 1905. Using old maps and a description of Jones' coffin (He was buried in a lead lined casket filled with alcohol in case America wanted to bring his body back home,) he was able to locate Jones body and confirm its identification. Jones was then shipped back to the US and interred at the USNA where he now lies in a tomb rivalling Nelsons.
If you want a complete history of his last days and the search for John Paul Jones body, go here.