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Plate from Lives of Distinguished American Naval Officers by J. Fenimore Cooper, 1846.

Plate from Lives of Distinguished American Naval Officers by J. Fenimore Cooper, 1846.

John Paul Jones
By James Fenimore Cooper


Few names connected with the American marine have so much claim to celebrity as that of the subject of this sketch. His services were of a character so bold and romantic, the means he employed were seemingly so inadequate to the ends he had in view, and his success, on one occasion in particular, was so very brilliant as to have given rise, on the part of his political and personal enemies, to much unmerited and bitter calumny, while his admirers and friends have been induced to lean a little too strongly to the side of eulogy and undiscriminating praise. As the matter of the life and character of this distinguished officer has been frequently the subject of comment in biographies, of more or less merit, within the last few years, and a great mass of evidence has been produced to remove the veil which was so long drawn before his early years, this is perhaps the time when an attempt may best be made to arrive at a just appreciation of the deeds of the officer, and the qualities of the man. In assuming this task, we shall avail ourselves of such of the best authenticated facts that offer, reasoning for ourselves on their results and principles.

There are no longer any doubts thrown over the birth and early life of Paul Jones. His grandfather was a regular gardener, in the neighborhood of Leith, of the name of Paul. His father, John Paul, was apprenticed to the same trade, and at the expiration of his indentures he entered into the service of Mr. Craik, of Arbigland,1 in which situation he passed the remainder of his days. We have the assertion of Jones himself, that there never existed any connection between the Earl of Selkirk and his father, as has been long and generally asserted; and we may add, the present head of that noble family has assured the writer of this article that the Pauls were never in the service of his grandfather…



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