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Copyright © 2008 - 2014 by Andrew J. Morris





A generation which ignores history has no past -- and no future.

Robert Heinlein

History of United States

Featured Picture:


Spearfish Falls in the Black Hills, South Dakota


Local History Notes:

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

From: THE MUNICIPALIST, by Maurice A Richter 1859

"Preamble. We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Preambles and prefaces are generally considered unprofitable reading, especially by ladies; but you must make an exception with this preface. It closes the epoch in the history of our country from 1643 to 1787, which may be termed the time of incubation of our present Union.

After the colonists had opened the path for European culture through the primitive American forests, erected towns where be fore stood wigwams, subdued powerful Indian tribes, and had in those struggles for life and independence acquired the skill of self- government, so easily lost in luxury and affluence, they felt the necessity of a government of their own, and a union of their colonial forces. Many attempts were made for this purpose, during the period I have indicated, as you know from the history of the United States. When the right time came to strike the blow, the right men were at the head of the public affairs to secure success. As the colonists always managed their municipal affairs them selves, under English governors, the question after the liberation was to give a proper form and place to that part of the public affairs which belong to a nation, and which were, with the usual haughty, lordly spirit of a monarch, withheld by the English crown.

If you throw a glance at the history of the world, you will dis cover that it is this kind of public business which has caused the great revolutions and struggles for freedom. The ancient Greeks managed their municipal affairs as well as we ours; but they never succeeded, although repeatedly trying it, in organizing the national business well. They deserved, on this account, hardly the name of a nation, and became therefore an easy prey to their monarchical adversaries. The success of the Romans, on the other hand, resulted from the strong consolidation of the national affairs in Rome, similar to that of France in Paris. To set this business right, the Germans revolted in 1848. The Italians are, it is said, at the eve of a revolution for the same purpose. When it required, in the North American colonies, almost two hundred years to realize a free, independent, stable government, among men who were comparatively free, at least in regard to the management of their municipal affairs, how doubtful must be such revolutions among people who, like the Spaniards or Italians, or even the Germans, have been for centuries subject to strong monarchical rulers!

The colonies had, as early as 1778, adopted the appellation, "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." Still the present constitution, although framed by a convention composed of delegates chosen by the legislatures of the states, was ratified and adopted by the people: hence the words, "We, the people" that is, the aggregate of families, forming society and nations. It makes, indeed, but little difference whether this act of the free, independent people is called a sovereign act or not. A nation, as such, is master of its destiny. There is no society without a certain rule or organization. Cannibals, also, obey their chiefs. The family state is the beginning of social organization, and requires it for the purposes of support and education. It is, within its domestic limits, as independent as a nation within her political boundaries.

That the people, by their votes, and not by the states, have adopted the constitution, is an important fact in regard to the validity of the covenant, because on this fact, not the state governments, not Congress, but only the people, have to decide. Mind that no single state can leave the Union without the permission of the whole people or nation.

The preamble expresses the main objects of the constitution. First, A MORE PERFECT UNION. This was, as we have seen, most desirable. The new state governments cleaved with the same obstinacy to the national business as the English government, from the fear that Congress might become too powerful; from which cause sprung up a separate party, the republicans, opposing the federalists. This fear is unfounded, if we concede to Congress but national political business. You must remember that the business managed by states or Congress is called political or public business, which I shall, in a separate letter, endeavor clearly to explain. This Union has now been, after much trouble and a bloody war, achieved, by adopting the present constitution, which gives to Congress the national business, leaving to the states the municipal, and to society, or the people at large, the free, non-political affairs to manage.

The declared aim of the constitution is, further, to ESTABLISH JUSTICE. This is the supreme and ultimate object of all political organizations. St. Paul, as you know from his first letter to Timothy, had already said, "The law [or state] is not made for the righteous, but for the lawless" etc. This means: if men would always act right, there would be, of course, no need of states, Congress, courts, sheriffs, troops, jails, etc. But this not being the case, we have to organize society, in order to establish and realize justice, on account of the lawless, and thus INSURE DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY and PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE. On this account, Congress has also to take care for the COMMON DEFENSE. It is a part and the consequence of the establishment of justice, and its execution, at home and with regard to foreign nations. If all this is well done, the BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY will most certainly be secured to ourselves and our posterity; while the reverse, as injustice and lawlessness, will sow the seeds of discord, civil commotions, general misery, and despotism. The blessings of liberty consist chiefly in being un-subject that is, in full possession of the rights of self-government, so that man is not hindered in regard to his industrial pursuits, culture, and management of his public affairs. No organic law, that I am acquainted with, protects people in this regard better than our federal constitution. For such a rational liberty, however, very few men comparatively are, yet prepared. The majority mistake liberty for licentiousness.

The men who framed this constitution could hardly have introduced it by a better preamble. It shows best what a clear and practical conception they had of their task. They have erected a monument of their wisdom, which, although made for their time, arid the actual wants of their society, composed of very heterogeneous elements (Americans, Indians, Europeans, and Africans), is, notwithstanding, a perfect pattern of an organic law for all states and nations, as we shall often have opportunity to notice. I promise you that you will admire it the more, the longer you live.




Biographies:

Biography of Thomas Andrews Hendricks

Thomas Andrews Hendricks, Vice-President of the United States, was born on a farm in Muskingum county, Ohio, Sept. 7, 1819; son of Maj. John and Jane (Thomson) Hendricks, and a nephew of William Hendricks . In the spring of 1822 his parents removed to Shelby county, Ind., and while a resident of that county his father was appointed by President Jackson deputy surveyor of public lands, and in 1832 took up a homestead on the site of Shelbyville, Ind. Thomas was prepared for college at the Shelby County seminary and entered Hanover college with the class of 1841. Absence during the last three months of his senior year prevented his obtaining a diploma with the class, but he was afterward placed on the list of the alumni. He then studied law with Stephen Major in Shelbyville, 1842, and with his uncle, Judge Alexander Thomson, at Gettysburg college, Chambersburg, Pa., 1843; was admitted to the bar at Shelbyville, Ind., in 1843, and practised there, 1843-50. He was married, Sept. 26, 1845, to Eliza C., daughter of the Hon. Isaac Morgan, of North Bend, and their only child, Morgan Hendricks, died in 1851 when three years old. In 1848 he was elected a Democratic representative in the state legislature, and he was a member of the state constitutional conveution of 1850. He represented the Indianapolis district in the 32d and 33d congresses, 1851-55; was U.S. commissioner of the general land office by appointment of President Pierce, 1855-59; was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor of Indiana in 1860 against Henry S. Lane; served as president of the Democratic state convention of 1862; and as U.S. senator 1863-69. He served on the committees on claims, public buildings, the judiciary, public lands and naval affairs. He opposed the reconstruction measure, the test oath, the civil rights bill, tile freedman's bureau bill and the impeachment of President Johnson. He favored large appropriations for vigorously prosecuting the war and proposed the increase of the soldier's pay to meet the depreciation of the currency. He was a candidate for President of the United States before the Democratic national convention of 1868, held in New York city, and on the twenty-first ballot, with Gen. W. S. Hancock leading with 135 1/2 votes, he stood second with 132 votes, when the name of Horatio Seymour was so forcibly presented as to carry the convention. He was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor of Indiana against Acting-Governor Conrad Baker, losing the election by 961 votes. He by was defeated for re-election to the U.S. senate, the legislature being largely Republican, and he returned to his law practice in Ilidianapolis. He supported the Cincinnati nominations in 1872 and in October of the same year was the successful candidate for governor of Indiana, defeating Thomas M. Brown, Republican, by 1148 votes, the only name elected on the Democratic ticket except M. C. Hopkins, superintendent of public instruction, and in the November election the vote for the Republican electoral ticket was 3000 less than that received the month before by Mr. Hendricks. In 1875 his duty to his party in the state, the lieutenant-governor being a Republican, made him unavailable for U.S. senator and Joseph E. McDonald was elected by the Democratic legislature. In the Denmcratic national convention of 1876 held at St. Louis, Mo., on the first ballot Mr. Hendricks received 133 1/2 votes to 403 1/2 for Mr. Tilden and 75 for General Hancock. On the second ballot Mr. Tilden was nominated, and on the following day Sir. Hendricks received 730 of the 738 votes of the delegates for the second place on the ticket and he was then unanimously nominated as candidate for Vice-President. the electoral commission decided the election in March, 1877, in favor of Hayes and Wheeler, and Mr. Hendricks visited Europe in June, returning to the United States in October. He was a delegate to the Democratic national convention at Chicago in 1884, and in behalf of the Indiana delegation nominated Joseph E. McDonald, of that state, as their choice for candidate for President of the United States, and after the nomination of Grover Cleveland the entire 816 votes of the convention were east for Thomas A. Hendricks for the vice-presidential candidate. the Democratic electoral ticket was given 4,911,017 popular votes to 4,848,334 for the electors for Blaine and Logan and the electoral college in 1885 gave Mr. Hendricks 219 votes to 182 for John A. Logan. He assumed his duties as Vice-President of the United States March 4, 1885, presiding over the U.S. senate up to the close of its special session, April 3, 1885. He received the honorary degree of LL.D. After the adjournment of the senate in May, he returned to his home in Indianapolis. He attended the commencement exercises of the class of 1885 at Yale in June, where he delivered an oration before the law school on "The supreme court of the United States and the influences that have contributed to make it the greatest judicial tribunal in the world." He also attended the Harvard commencement of that year, and after visiting Boston and Pittsfield, Mass., he rejoined Mrs. Hendricks at Atlantic City, and they subsequently made the trip of the great lakes, attended the funeral of General Grant in New York city and in September returned to their home in Indianapolis, where he rested, preparatory to his contemplated journey to Washington at the reassembling of congress in December. He attended a reception given in his honor by the citizens of Indianapolis Nov. 24, 1885, and on returning to his home he was taken ill and died on Thursday, Nov. 25, 1885.

From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Johnson, Rossiter, editor




A Biography of Joseph Hewes

Joseph Hewes, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Kingston, N.J., in 1730; son of Adam and Providence Hewes. His parents were among the persecuted Quakers of New England who were compelled to leave Connecticut on account of their religious tenets. When crossing the Housatonic river they were so closely pursued by Indians that Mrs. Hewes was severely wounded by a shot. They settled at Kingston, N.J., near Princeton, where Joseph was well educated. He was apprenticed to a merchant in Philadelphia, and later was furnished by his father with capital to enter the shipping and mercantile business on his own account. He removed to Edenton, N.C., in 1760, where he engaged in business and soon became prominent in local politics. He was elected a state senator in 1763 and re-elected several consecutive terms, and in 1774 was a delegate from North Carolina to the 1st Continental congress, where he was a member of the committee that prepared the report on "the statement of the rights of the colonists in general, the several instances in which their rights are violated and infringed, and the means most proper to be pursued for obtaining their restoration." In 1775 he left the Society of Friends because of its action in condemning the proceedings of the Continental congress. He was active in promoting the non-importation agreement, although his own business was virtually ruined by the compact. In 1776 he was a member of the secret committee, of the committee on claims and chairman of the naval committee. The last named position made him practically the first secretary of the navy, and as such he fitted out eight armed vessels with remarkable economy and despatch, and planned with General Washington the operation of the campaign of 1776-77. He was very active in raising supplies in his state. He at first opposed, but finally voted for, the immediate adoption of the Declaration of Independence, in accordance with the resolution of the North Carolina convention of April, 1776, which was the earliest colonial movement toward a declaration to throw off the British yoke. In 1777, when the enemy threatened his own state, he vacated his seat in congress and gave his services to North Carolina until 1779, when he again entered congress. He attended the sessions until Oct. 29, 1779, when he left the hall for the last time. He was the only signer of the Declaration who died at the seat of government while attending to public duty. His funeral was attended by General Washington and a large delegation from congress, and was conducted with civil and military ceremonies. He left no children. His death occurred in Philadelphia, Pa., Nov. 10, 1779.

From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Johnson, Rossiter, editor




Andrew Johnson - A Biography

Andrew Johnson, seventeenth President of the United States, was born in Raleigh, N.C., Dec. 29, 1808; son of Jacob and Mary (McDonough) Johnson. His father was city constable and porter in the state bank of Raleigh and lost his life through rescuing Thomas Henderson, editor of the Raleigh Gazette, from drowning. Andrew's early education was neglected, and in 1818 he was apprenticed to J. J. Selby, a tailor, in Raleigh, with whom he remained until 1824, when he ran away and settled at Laurens Court House, S.C., where he worked at his trade until 1825. He returned to Raleigh and offered to pay Selby for the unexpired term of his indenture, but as no amicable settlement could be arrived at he removed with his mother to Tennessee, and settled in Greeneville in September, 1825. He erected a little shop and engaged in the tailoring business. He was married, May 27, 1826, to Eliza McCardle, the daughter of a shoemaker in Leesburg. She had obtained a good education and to her he was indebted for his education, as at the time of his marriage he could scarcely read or write. He progressed rapidly with his studies, his business flourished, and in a short while he was enabled to build himself a one-story brick house in which he lived during the first years of his political successes. In 1828 he was elected one of the aldermen of the town, was re-elected in 1829, and was mayor of the city, 1830-33. He was appointed a trustee of Rhea academy by the county court in 1831, and participated at the meetings of a debating society at Greeneville college. He was a representative in the state legislature, 1834-37, and was again elated in 1839. He supported Hugh L. White, of Tennessee, for President in 1836, opposing Martin Van Buren; but in 1840 he was a Van Buren elector. He was a state senator from Greene and Hawkins counties in 1841, and was one of the "immortal thirteen" Democrats who refused to meet the house in joint convention, thus preventing the Whigs from electing a U.S. senator. He was a Democratic representative from Tennessee in the 28th-32d congress, 1843-53, his first speech to that body being in support of the resolution to restore to General Jackson the fine imposed upon him at New Orleans. He also supported the annexation of Texas, and defeated the ten per cent tax on tea and coffee. Although opposed to the Clay compromise, he supported the compromise measures of 1850, as a matter of expediency. He was elected governor of Tennessee, Oct. 17, 1853, over Gustavus A. Henry, the Whig candidate, and was re-elected in 1855 over Meredith P. Gentry. He was a member of the U.S. senate, 1857-62, and urged the passage of the homestead bill, and opted the grant of land for the construction of a Pacific railroad. He was opposed to secession, and on Dec. 13, 1860, he introduced a resolution to amend the constitution so as to provide for the election of a President and Vice-President by district votes, senators by a popular vote, and to limit the term of the Federal judges to twelve years. His anti-slavery views made him many enemies in the south, but this loss was more than offset by his increased popularity in the north. He was appointed by President Lincoln military governor of Tennessee, March 4, 1862. He urged the holding of Union meetings throughout the state, and it was chiefly due to his efforts that Nashville was prevented from falling into the Confederate possession. He raised twenty-five regiments for service in the state, levied a tax on the wealthy southern sympathizers, to be used in behalf of the families of the poorer Confederate soldiers, and did much to strengthen the Union cause in Tennessee. Upon the renomination of Mr. Lincoln for President, June 6, 1864, Mr. Johnson was nominated for Vice-President, and was inaugurated, March 4, 1865. On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was assassinated, and Johnson was immediately sworn in as President by Chief-Justice Chase, at his quarters in the Kirkwood house, Washington. President Johnson held his first cabinet meeting in the Treasury building, April 15, 1865, and invited all the members of Mr. Lincoln's cabinet to remain with him, it being understood that Senator James Harlan would supplant John P. Usher as head of the interior department, and when Secretary Harlan was again elected U.S. senator in 1866, President Johnson appointed Orville H. Browning as his successor in the interior department. Soon after the close of the civil war, the President declared a special amnesty "to all except fourteen specified classes of citizens." After this proclamation the difference between the President and the party that had elected him, on the question of the reserved rights of the states, became apparent. He held that the southern states had never been out of the Union; that the state leaders were wholly responsible, and that the Federal government had no power to refuse the states re-admission. This policy was directly contrary to the opinion held by the Republican leaders. He also held that the right of suffrage to the negroes was a matter of internal regulation of the individual states and beyond the control of congress. He appointed provisional governors for the seven seceded states, instructing them to [p.88] organize state governments and pass laws on the negro question in conformity with the will of the voters of the respective states. When congress met in December, 1865, it was overwhelmingly Republican, and the first breach between the President and the party was the veto of the Freedmen's bureau act, February, 1866, on the grounds that it had been passed by a congress in which the southern states were not represented. On March 27, 1866, the President vetoed the civil rights act, making freedmen citizens without a vote, but it was passed over his veto, and on June 16, 1866, the proposed 14th amendment to the constitution was disapproved by the President but was ratified and declared in force, July 21, 1868. The opposition to the President by his party caused Attorney-General Speed to resign in July, 1866, and Henry Stanbury was appointed attorney-general. Postmaster-General Dennison also resigned from the cabinet in July, 1866, and the President appointed Alexander W. Randall in his place. The second Freedmen's Bureau act was vetoed in July, 1868, but was passed over the President's veto, and the act giving negroes the right of suffrage in the District of Columbia was passed over his veto in December, 1866. An attempt to impeach the President was made in this congress, but it failed, and in January, 1867, an act to deprive him of the right to proclaim general amnesty was passed, but was disregarded. By the incorporation of a clause in the army appropriation bill the President was deprived of his power as commander-in-chief of the army and navy, the clause providing that all orders of the executive be promulgated by the general of the army, who was not to be removed without the consent of congress. The act for the admission of Nebraska to the Union, providing that no law denying the right of suffrage in the state on account of race or color should ever be passed, was also vetoed by the President and passed over his veto. The "bill to provide efficient governments for the insurrectionary states" was passed over his veto, and the southern states were thus divided into military districts, each district under a brigadier-general of the U.S. army, who was to preserve order until a state government could be established, and the state was admitted into the Union. He also vetoed the tenure-of-office act, which was passed, providing, among other things, that members of the cabinet should not be removed without the approval of the senate; and if congress was not in session, the President could suspend, but not remove, an official, and in case the senate, at the next session, should not ratify the suspension, the official should be re-instated. On Aug. 5, 1867, the President requested Secretary Stanton to resign his office as secretary of war, and upon his refusal, he was suspended and General Grant was appointed secretary of war ad interim. The senate refused to ratify the suspension, General Grant resigned and Mr. Stanton again entered upon his duties. The President removed him, and on Feb. 21, 1868, appointed Gen. Lorenzo Thomas secretary ad interim. This removal was declared illegal by the senate, Mr. Stanton refused to surrender the office, and General Thomas did not enter the service. A resolution was passed for the impeachment of the President, Feb. 24, 1868, the eleven articles of impeachment charging him in various forms with violation of the tenure-of-office act; with violation of the constitution; with conspiracy to prevent the execution of the tenure-of-office act, and with conduct and utterances tending "to bring the high office of President into contempt, ridicule and disgrace." The trial was presided over by Chief-Justice Chase, and was conducted on the part of the house of representatives by B. F. Butler. One of the counsel for the defence was William M. Evans, of New York. During the trial, which lasted for three months, Mr. Johnson made a tour through the north and west, which was characterized by his enemies as "swinging round the circle." He made strong speeches against the acts of congress, declaring that "the 39th congress was not a constitutional legislature," and upon these speeches were based additional articles for impeachment. The test vote was made, May 16, 1868, thirty-six vows being needed to convict. The senate stood thirty-five for conviction to nineteen for acquittal. On the result of the impeachment trial being announced Secretary Stanton resigned, and on June 2, 1868, President Johnson appointed Gen. John M. Schofield secretary of war, and he was continued in office by President Grant. Secretaries Seward, McCulloch and Welles, and U.S. Ministers Charles Francis Adams. Cassius M. Clay, George P. Marsh and John P. Hale, all appointed by President Lincoln, were retained through his administration by President Johnson. Mr. Adams resigned in 1868, and was succeeded by Reverdy Johnson, and Gen. John A. Dix was appointed, in 1866, U.S. minister to France, John Hay, charg? d'affaires, being transferred to Austria as charg? d'affaires, and in 1868, Henry M. Watts, of Pennsylvania, was made U.S. minister to Austria and Austria-Hungary. Upon the expiration of his term of office, March 4, 1869, Mr. Johnson returned to Tennessee. He was a candidate for the U.S. senate, and in 1872 was candidate for representative in congress for the state at large, but was defeated. He was elected to the U.S. senate in 1875, and before the end of the first session, he returned to Tennessee to visit his daughter, at Carter's Station, where he was stricken with paralysis, and died. He was buried at Greeneville, Tenn., and a monument was erected to his memory by his family. He received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the University of North Carolina in 1866. He died at Carter's Station, Carter county, Tenn., July 30, 1875.

From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Johnson, Rossiter, editor




Biography of John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones, naval officer, was born in Arbingland, in the parish of Kirkbean, Scotland, July 6, 1747; son of John Paul, a humble gardener in the household of the Earl of Selkirk. John was the constant companion of seafaring men, as his birthplace was near the shores of the Firth of Solway. He attended the parish school at Kirkbean, and studied navigation and the French language at home In 1759 he was bound at Whitehaven apprentice to the merchant marine service, and served on board a vessel engaged in thetobacco trade withthe American colonies. He next shipped as third mate on board a vessel engaged in the African slave trade, but after making two or three voyages, became dissatisfied with the business, and while in the West Indies he took passage on board a brigantine bound for Scotland. While on this voyage the captain and mate both died of yellow fever and John took charge of the vessel and brought her into port. In recognition of this service the owner of the vessel made him master and supercargo, and he continued to trade with the West Indies and the colonies until 1768, when he became master of a large London ship. In 1770 he was obliged to go through a long trial before a British jury, the complaint being that he had displayed cruelty in the punishment of Mungo Maxwell, a carpenter on his ship, who was the leader of a mutiny. After a delay of six months, the jury failed to render a verdict and to justify himself Paul made an affidavit, proclaiming his innocence, and charging his enemies with a conspiracy to take his life. He was fully acquitted, and he left the service to devote himself to agriculture and study in Virginia, where he undertook the management of his brother's estate near Fredericksburg, William Paul having died intestate in 1773. Attracted by the early exploits of the New England navy, he went to Philadelphia in 1775, and offered his services to congress. He was commissioned senior first lieutenant, and it was about this time that he assumed the name of Jones, although his reason for so doing is not definitely known. It is supposed that he did so because of his admiration for the wife of Willie Jones, of North Carolina . He was second officer on the Alfred and, as Lieutenant Jones, he was the first naval officer to hoist the American naval flag under a salute of thirteen guns. This flag then consisted of thirteen stripes, alternating red and white, with a rattlesnake undulating across the folds, and the motto, "Don't Tread on Me," underneath. He sailed under Commodore Esek Hopkins on the expedition that captured New Providence, and on the return of the fleet to New London, took part in his first naval fight: the engagement of the Cabot, the Alfred, and the Columbus, with the British frigate Glasgow off Block Island. He was promoted captain and given command of the Providence, May 10, 1776, and convoyed vessels laden with cannon and army supplies between Providence, New York and Philadelphia. He received his commission as captain of the Providence from John Hancock, president of congress, Aug. 8, 1776, and cruised with her for six weeks, capturing sixteen prizes, and by his skillful seamanship succeeding in evading the British frigate Solway off Bermuda and keeping up a running fight with the British frigate Milford. He cruised as far north as Canso, where he captured three schooners and nine fishing vessels, and after transferring the valuable cargo to his own vessel and to such crafts as he intended to take into port, he supplied the remaining vessels with sufficient provisions and sent the captured crews home to England. He attacked a coal fleet at Cape Breton, in November, 1776, and rescued the American sailors imprisoned in the coal mines there. He also captured a large transport laden with provisions and clothing, and a privateer from Liverpool, which, after arming and manning, he gave to the command of Lieutenant Saunders. Upon his return to Boston he was relieved of command, but did not cease to advise the government as to the needs of the new navy, suggesting many ways in which it could be strengthened and improved. He was made commander of the new sloop-of-war Ranger in May, 1777, his commission bearing date, June 14, 1777, the same day that the new flag, composed of thirteen stripes alternating red and white, and a union of thirteen stars, white on a blue field, was adopted by congress. This new flag was sent to the Ranger and thus John Paul Jones was the first American naval officer to run up the Stars and Stripes to the masthead of a U.S. naval vessel. He set sail in the Ranger from Portsmouth, N.H., Nov. 1, 1777, carrying a letter from congress to the American commissioners at the court of Versailles, designating him the commander of the American navy in., Europe. Upon his arrival at Versailles, he was disappointed in not finding ready for him a man-of-war with such other vessels as would make up a fleet, and he employed his sloop in cruising between Nantes and Brest, and in acting as a convoy to American vessels. Tiring of this inactivity he set sail with the Ranger, April 10, 1778, to invade the British waters. Although an American by adoption, he was a Scotchman by birth, and in this movement he ran the chances, if captured, of death as a traitor or the penalties attached to a pirate. On April 14, 1778, he captured an English brigantine, and after securing her crew, set her on fire. When off Dublin, April 17, 1778, he captured the Lord Chatham, which he manned and sent to Brest. On the 18th he encountered the sloop-of-war Drake, but by skillful manoeuvring outsailed her and put into the harbor at Whitehaven, where he had planned to land and capture the town. The wind shifted, however, and he was obliged to head seaward to avoid being blown ashore. On April 19 he captured a schooner and a sloop, both of which he scuttled and sank. He entered the harbor of Whitehaven, effected a landing and leading a party of thirty men in small boats he gained the fort, locked the sleeping garrison in the guard houses, spiked the guns, and set fire to a number of vessels in the harbor. The illumination from the burning vessels disclosed their bold operations and the awakened inhabitants gathered on the wharves, and Jones was obliged to return to his sloop. He ran over to St. Mary's Isle, where the Earl of Selkirk resided, intending to seize the earl as hostage to insure the release of the American seamen confined on the prison ships in America and in Mill prison, Plymouth, England, but upon landing they found the earl absent, and the [p.137] plan failed. His crew demanded some return for their hazardous venture and Jones allowed them to seize the silver plate, but prevented them from further damaging the house. This proceeding greatly incensed the inhabitants of the coast and lost Jones friends both in France and America. When the prize property was sold, however, Jones purchased the plate at an exorbitant price and restored it to the earl, who formally acknowledged its receipt. The exploits of the Ranger terrified the whole sea-coast, and the Drake set sail from Carrickfergus bay determined to capture the pirate. When the two vessels met, Jones disguised the Ranger as a merchantman; captured the men on board a boat sent out from the Drake to determine her character, and put out from the shore, so as to gain sea room. The armament of the two vessels was about equal and a running fire of broadsides was kept up, the well-directed fire from the Ranger playing havoc with the spars, rigging and sides of the Drake, and so disabling her that she was obliged to strike her colors. The French government had now declared an alliance with the United States, and upon entering the harbor of Brest with his prize Jones received the first salute from a foreign power ever given to the American flag. Although a suitable vessel had been so long promised to Jones by the American commissioners, his success caused delays as it gave rise to jealousy on the part of the French officers. Jones wrote to the Prince of Nassau asking for a commission under the French flag. A first-class ship was offered him if he would give up his commission in the American navy and take charge of a privateering expedition, organized by a party of wealthy French citizens for gain, but he refused to entertain the offer. Despairing of obtaining a command from congress, he went to Versailles and insisted upon being furnished with a ship. The French government fitted out the Duras, formerly an old India trading ship, and Jones re-christened her the Bon Homme Richard. She was armed with 38 guns?six 18 pounders and thirty-two 12-pounders; her crew was composed of French peasants and British vagabond sailors, but his official roll was made up entirely of American seamen. Lieutenant Richard Dale served as second officer. The remainder of his fleet consisted of the Alliance, 36 guns, Pallas, 32 guns, Cerf, 18 guns, and Vengeance, 12 guns: all manned by French officers and crews. The Alliance was commanded by Pierre Landais, with whom Jones was antagonistic, and who had publicly declared, "I shall soon meet Captain Jones on shore. Then I will either kill him or he shall kill me." After a number of mishaps, on Aug. 14, 1778, the fleet put to sea and was joined by two French privateers. Jones intended to proceed to Leith, Scotland, seize the town, and by levying a ransom on the inhabitants, secure the release of the American seamen incarcerated in British dungeons. When within ten miles of Leith he made preparations for landing his troops, but a change of the wind blew the fleet out to sea, and although he determined to renew his efforts the next morning, the French officers refused to support him, and as Landais had obtained from the French minister of marine a concordat binding the five captains to act together, Jones found that he had no authority to command them. The Richard, Alliance, Pallas and Vengeance proceeded south, and on August 23 ran upon a fleet of merchantmen under convoy of the British ships of war Serapis, 44 guns, and Countess of Scarborough, 28 guns. The Pallas engaged the Countess of Scarborough, which, after an hour's conflict, struck her colors. The Alliance and Vengeance held aloof from the conflict, while the Richard and the Serapis were left in single-handed combat. The Serapis was one of the finest frigates in the British navy, while the Richard was an old ship refitted as a frigate. The battle opened an hour after sunset, the sea being lighted by a full moon. The ships were three miles off the cliffs of Flamborough, which were crowded with spectators, as were the piers and shore-front. When abreast the Serapis hailed the Richard and simultaneously they both opened their broadsides. Two of the 18-pounders on the Richard burst, killing every man working them and so destroying the deck as to render useless the four remaining guns, leaving only six 9-and 12-pounders on the Richard, while the Serapis had twenty 18-pounders. Broadside followed broadside, the dense smoke hiding the two ships from the spectators on shore. While manoeuvring to cross the Richard's bow, the bowsprit of the Serapis crossed the deck of the Richard and Jones lashed it to the mizzenmast, thus swinging the stern of the Serapis around to the bow of the Richard. The rigging of the two ships became entangled and the muzzles of their guns often touched. The shots from the Richard had cut nearly through the masts of the Serapis, and the 18-pounders of the Serapis had torn the side of the Richard into one immense porthole, exposing her guns and leaving her deck supported by a framework of stanchions. Her water line was also cut and admitted torrents of water. The marines on her quarter-deck picked off the gunners on the Serapis and in turn were swept by the storm of grapeshot from the batteries of their opponent. The battery of 12-pounders on the Richard was silenced and at this supreme moment, Jones gave the order to prepare to board and that the two vessels be lashed together. They were so close that when loading [p.138] the gunners were obliged to run their rammers through the ports of the enemy's ship. One hundred men from the Richard rushed over the side of the Serapis, and were met with a terrible resistance and forced back. It was too dark to see the ensigns, and Captain Pearson, of the Serapis, shouted, "Have you struck your flag?" "No," replied Jones; "I have not yet begun to fight," and he ordered his men back to their guns, which he served with his own hands. The Richard was now in a sinking condition, her rudder was useless, and one of her officers rushed below and released 300 prisoners confined in the hold. Captain Pearson, of the Serapis, gave the order to board, but his men were driven back. A hand-grenade thrown from the yard-arm of the Richard fired a train of cartridges which had been dropped by the powder-monkeys on the Serapis, and a terrible explosion followed. The main mast, already cut by the shot from the Richard, went by the board, leaving the Serapis a wreck. Thereupon Captain Pearson, with his own hand, struck his flag. As the fight neared its close the Alliance made her appearance and fired volley after volley into the Richard, after which she withdrew from the scene of action. After the captain and lieutenant of the Serapis were transferred to the Richard the firing was continued by the men between decks, who were uninformed of the surrender. Finding that it was impossible to carry the Richard to port, the crew with the prisoners and wounded were transferred to the Serapis and Jones took his disabled prize to the port of Texel, Holland. The Richard sank shortly after being abandoned. Jones was the idol of the hour. In France and America the enthusiasm was boundless, and the British government offered a price of ?10,000 for him, dead or alive. Fearing the displeasur of England, the Dutch government insisted upon his leaving Texel immediately with the frigate Alliance. The British fleet was anchored in the Downs, and on December 26, Jones set sail through the North Sea by way of the Straits of Dover, past the Isle of Wight, and in full view of the fleet, to the port of Corunna, Spain, where he repaired his ship. He had sailed over a route of 1500 miles without a single interruption, although he passed a number of British line-of-battle ships. He entered the harbor of L'Orient, France, Feb. 13, 1780, and went to Paris, where he was paid every honor. King Louis XVI. conferred on him the Grand Cross of the Order of Military Merit, and presented him with a gold-handled sword. Upon his return to L'Orient he found that his right to command was questioned by Captain Landais, who was supported by Commissioner Lee, and on going on board the Alliance that Captain Landais had already assumed command, and had Lee on board as a passenger to America. Jones at once proceeded to Versailles. When the Alliance reached Philadelphia, Landais was arrested, but was pronounced insane. Jones left L'Orient for America in command of the Ariel, Dec. 18, 1780. He encountered the British frigate Triumph, Captain Pinder, and after an engagement of ten minutes the Triumph struck her colors. Jones accepted this unconditional surrender and while the crew of the Ariel were attending their wounded the Triumph suddenly spread all sail and escaped. Jones arrived in Philadelphia, Feb. 18, 1781, and was given charge of the construction of the frigate America, 74 guns, the largest ship in the world, then building at Portsmouth, N.H. He hoped to command this ship, but by act of congress, the America was transferred to the king of France as indemnity for the loss of the Magnifique, stranded in Boston harbor. He was promised the command of the Indian, but before he could take charge she was captured by a British frigate. Mr. Augustus C. Buell in his "Paul Jones" (1900) gives this episode in his life, apparently not recorded in earlier publications: "Pursuant to the resolution of congress, Nov. 1, 1783, Commodore Jones received his commission and plenipotentiary credentials, Nov. 5, and on the 10th sailed from Philadelphia in the ship Washington for France. After a remarkably fortunate passage of twenty days, the Washington was headed off in the Channel by an easterly gale and put into Plymouth, England. Anxious to arrive at the scene of his mission, and being, moreover, the bearer of important official despatches to Dr. Franklin and also to Mr. Adams, then our minister at The Hague, Jones determined not to await the return of fair weather for the packet to sail, but set out at once by post-chaise from Plymouth to London on December 1. Some of his fellow-passengers cautioned him against venturing on the soil of England so soon afar his public and official denunciation as a 'pirate and State criminal,' but he ridiculed these apprehensions, saying that, whatever might be its other faults, the British government did not violate flags of truce nor wage war after signing treaties. Before reaching London he learned from a newspaper picked up at a town en route [p.139] that Mr. Adams was in that city, the newspaper notice, fortunately, giving his address there. Immediately on his arrival in London, Jones called at Mr. Adams's hotel, and finding him in his apartments, delivered the mail and despatches addressed to him. Mr. Adams was as much astonished to see Paul Jones in London as the latter had been at learning of Mr. Adams's presence there. He informed Jones that the object of his visit was to sound the ministry on the subject of a commercial treaty with the United States, and he expressed the opinion that the despatches which Jones had for Dr. Franklin referred to the same subject. But as they were sealed, Mr. Adams would not take the responsibility of opening them, though Jones insisted that he had a perfect right to do so. Mr. Adams informed Jones that the despatches for him which were intended for delivery at The Hague, referred to a project for a commercial treaty, but indicated the prior necessity of consultation with Dr. Franklin, who, being dean of our diplomatic representatives in Europe, was Mr. Adams's superior." Jones joined the French fleet to cruise in the West Indies, but the war came to an end before operations actually began, and he remained in France where he presented the claims of the American government urged and his own for prize money. In 1787 he returned to the United States and congress presented him with a gold medal in commemoration of his services, Oct. 11, 1787. Soon after he visited Denmark on public business connected with prize money, and went from there to Russia, where in 1788, having gained the friendship of the Empress Catharine, he was invested with the command of the Russian fleet operating against Turkey. He was commissioned admiral and won repeated victories over the Turks. Before entering the service he had conditioned that he should not be called to fight against America or France, and in the event of America needing his services he reserved the right to leave. This conditional enlistment hindered his advancement and he became dissatisfied and finally resigned. He was appointed by the President U.S. commissioner and consul to Algiers, in 1792, but did not live to receive his commission. He died in Paris, France, July 18, 1792.

From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Johnson, Rossiter, editor






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