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Lecture: John Paul Jones (1747 - 1792)

Evan Thomas, the noted news analyst and author of John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy, the best-seller chronicling the Scotsman-turned American hero, was the featured speaker at the annual reception of The Living Legacy of Scotland on May 22. In his highly readable book, the author vividly describes the hero's early years in Scotland. Born John Paul in 1747, he went to sea at the age of 13. Described as "ruthless, indominable, clever," the "great American hero of the Age of Sail," John Paul spent several years as a merchant shipper and after an unfortunate accident came to the Virginia Colony where in 1773 he added Jones to his name. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, he cast his lot with the rebels and received a commission in the new American navy.

In a gripping sea battle, Jones was engaged in one of the world's most famous naval actions. Refusing to surrender after considerable losses, he is said to have shouted the immortal words, "I have not yet begun to fight!" Jones won the battle and he became a hero. Thomas depicts Jones as the original self-made American man.

Although Jones died and was buried in Paris, France, in 1792, his body was brought back to the United States and his elaborate tomb, beneath the chapel at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, is a national shrine. "He gave our navy," an inscription reads, "its earliest traditions of heroism and victory."

The dinner and lecture was held at the James Monroe House, a national historic landmark and home at the Arts Club of Washington DC.