No circumstance connected with the career of Paul Jones is more extraordinary than the general and persistent misapprehension of his character, not only in England, where he has undoubtedly been the best-hated of all its revolted subjects, but for many years in America itself. He has been called vainglorious by nearly every student-historian of his character.
A brief recapitulation of his acts and a review of his own expressions of opinion in regard to his merits will establish the fact that his original valuation of himself was not extravagant.
When he first entered the service of the Continental navy he was offered the commission of captain and the command of the Providence, but refused both, preferring, as he said, the position of first lieutenant on the flag-ship, as it would afford him opportunity to learn from his superior officers and to gain the experience which he considered he was then in need of. In the letter to Morris of the year 1783, in which he drew up his claim for reinstatement in rank, to be presented to Congress, he very frankly admits that when he first entered the navy he "found himself imperfect in his duties as lieutenant."
It was inevitable, when he found that no one in the service could teach him more than he already knew,