John Paul Jones
“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.” November 16, 1778 letter from John Paul Jones to Le Ray de Chaumont
On February 14, 1778, John Paul Jones, in command of “The Ranger”, arrived in Quiberon Bay, France. The ship flew the American flag, and it was the first time that our flag was recognized by another country. The Ranger received a nine gun salute from a ship captained by French Admiral Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte. Jones penned a comment about the occasion: “I accepted his offer all the more for after all it was a recognition of our independence and in the nation.” The attached painting, created by Edward Moran in 1898, depicts the recognition of our flag on that day. The paining can be viewed at the US Naval Academy Museum
The Ranger was a 97’sloop with a crew of 145 men. Although it was built in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, there are no surviving plans for the ship. Reportedly Jones, and the ship’s designer John Hackett, argued over everything on the ship from its provisioning to its rigging. Benjamin Franklin and Jones received money from the French to retool the ship. The ship’s appearance was altered to resemble a British vessel. Jones then used it to conduct a series of raids, with a somewhat mutinous crew, in Whitehaven, England. Jones’ success in those raids was fortified by his knowledge of the port of Whitehaven. He began sailing as an apprentice at the age of 13 on the “Friendship” which harbored in Whitehaven. He later used the Ranger, after several attempts, to capture the British ship the “HMS Drake”. This success proved that the Royal Navy could be defeated. The Ranger, under a different captain, was captured by the Royal Navy in 1780. It was decommissioned in Portsmouth, England, and later sold for a mere 3 percent of its original cost of 65,000 Continental Dollars.
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