John Paul Jones: Man of Action

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
The Man Who Put Jones in the Navy

This Hermit good lives in that wood Which slopes down to the sea. How loudly his sweet voice he rears! He loves to talk with marineres That come from a far countree.

JUST how John Paul Jones, an unknown young Scotchman, made the leap from the pines of inland Virginia to the quarterdeck of one of the first American fighting ships has never been adequately explained. The written records of the period are hasty and incomplete; so we must surmise what cannot be at present proved.

The letters of Dr. Read show that at some time during the year 1775 Jones was in Philadelphia. He arrived there from his remote refuge in Virginia to find the grave little old town astir with armed men, politics, and buzzing tongues. Though the staider population was certain that good King George III would compel the die-hards in the British Parliament to abate their oppressive taxes and what was more detestable, their strangle-hold on colonial trade by sea, there were actually hotheads who were shouting for a lasting break with the mother country. War had al Ready begun. In Massachusetts the battle of Lexington had been fought; in Virginia a meeting had been held at Fredericksburg where the participants pledged themselves, if necessary, "to reassemble, and, by force of arms, to defend the laws, the liberties, and the rights of this or any sister colony, from unjust and wicked invasion"; and in North

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