Monday, July 6, 2009

The Sad Ending of Capt. Jones, on his Birthday


I am fascinated with archaeological finds, bones, mummies, as well as history, so this bit of information caught my eye. Did you know when John Paul Jones, the hero of the Revolution and "Father of the U.S. Navy", died alone and penniless in Paris on July 18, 1792, a French commissary paid to have his body immersed in alcohol and buried in a lead lined coffin, preserving it for eventual repatriation to America?

Following the war, Congress disbanded the Continental Navy. The unemployed captain served briefly as a rear admiral in the Russian imperial navy, then traveled to France in search of a similar post. But in 1790, he was already in poor health due to malaria and dengue fever he had contracted on his travels.

Jones was born July 6, 1747 in the gardener's cottage of the Arbigland Estate, Kirkbean, Scotland. When he died at the age of 45, the circumstances of his death were unknown. His body was exhumed and examined by three doctors in Paris, in April 1905. The attending doctor diagnosed Jones as having jaundice and "dropsy of the chest." Today's analysis points to end stage kidney failure due to viral or bacterial infection.

In 1905, with much pomp and ceremony, his body was returned to the United States and is now entombed at the U.S. Naval AcademyChapel. Sadly, too much, too late, in honoring this American hero.

If fear is cultivated it will become stronger,
if faith is cultivated it will achieve mastery.

John Paul Jones

57 comments:

  1. Willow, thank you for your ALWAYS fascinating post!

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  2. Very interesting. Loved the quote.

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  3. Willow:

    I had no idea. What a sad story of an American hero as you said.

    Regards,

    Omar.-

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  4. Wow. Very interesting and so sad! Dropsy of the chest sounds horrible.

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  5. I do love the fascinating information one gets in blogland - very interesting willow.

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  6. Is that gruesome thing on the left, him?

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  7. I love learning things when I come here.

    I wonder sometimes if my brain is leaking information to make room for all the new information!

    Not kidding.

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  8. what an interesting quote by JPJ to go with an intriguing bit of trivia. wonder why they embalmed his body as such? i guess they knew him? how the mighty had fallen, forgotten when no longer needed.

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  9. hi willow, i've heard of john paul jones and this was really fascinating. the quote at the end makes him especially intriguing! it's actually amazing how many incredible people met with unkind and often anonymous endings. have a peaceful day

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  10. We saw his burial site at the Academy. A room under the church as I recall. Most interesting story.

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  11. When I first looked at this post, I thought that I might be bored(Just being completely honest), But I read it and the more that I read, the more interested that I got,until the end, and then I was like "Thats it?"
    I wanted more! That was terrific!

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  12. I loved all the medical details....

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  13. What an interesting little piece of history! Thanks, Willow!

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  14. Oh my. Just when I thought that baloney and creamed corn recipe I discovered was horrifying I now see dear Captain Jones as mincemeat. Was there a date as to when they took this "portrait"? It reminds me of the accounts I've read about Lincoln's coffin being opened at the early part of the 20th century. Gruesome but you almost can't turn away. Now as to that baloney and cream corn recipe...want it? It's from Del Monte circa 1964. I bet you won't find it in Gourmet.

    And was I the only one fascinated with John Paul Jones when they were young because he had the first two names of Beatles? For that reason I always figured, in my disturbed mind, that he had to be quite a fellow. Oh never mind. It's better I not reveal too much of the workings of my mind.

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  15. Fascinating stuff .. as always (which is not a bad thing)

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  16. A lovely way to honour John Paul Jones on his birthday. Glad to see Manor Events back on the sidebar and your header is wonderful Willow- very creative! Thanks for your recent visit and comment.

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  17. Sad that so many of the worlds "heros" have similar stories.

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  18. I love hearing these precious stories-thanks willow!

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  19. I too am fascinated by archeology. In fact, if my present path was not available and I had to do something different, I would do that. Thanks.

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  20. Willow, fantastic info. I had known of the French connection (so to speak )but not the Russian one (see the things left out of school history books? )And it's never too late to honour a veteran...

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  21. Good for Paul. He is back home at last. Things have changed a lot since he was here the last time. I wonder what he would think. Speaking of those on their way to Heaven...

    I was just writing a post for Monday and mentioned putting a camera in the coffin to take snapshots of onlookers.

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  22. Goodness! His death must have been horrible. Hopefully, his descendants are aware of the honor that has FINALLY come his way.

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  23. Sad tale. I am a firm believer that every life is a fascinating story, and I'm always intrigued with how people lived/died--it's often poignant to me that people wind up being only posthumously honored as they should be.

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  24. My goodness, what a story. So sad. And the quote? Very interesting. Very. Thanks!

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  25. Hope you had a good celebration Willow, or should I say Johnny?

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  26. It is one of those tales that makes you wonder about (im)mortality and one person's significance. I have always believed that one of the traits that unites us all as humans is the need to be remembered. Even otherwise meek and humble people still want to leave behind a body of work or a rich life for which they can be remembered. Or they try to resurrect other lesser-known people's history, as in this case. Many thanks for that fascinating and well-researched post. I really appreciated it.

    Greetings from London.

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  27. very interesting (and sad) piece of history...

    ...

    hope you had a grand 4th of July!

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  28. So many courageous people's 15 minutes are not remembered when they are in need. Thanks for the slice of historical life. -Jayne

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  29. See Paris & Die. Pickled in Alcohol.......I,m thinking Too Of Jim Morrison!.What Is It About Americans & Paris? (I was watching the film "Taken" on DVD this weekend.An Americans Revenge!!!).
    How Sad To Die Alone.......& did he realise after all these years we still care.Cold Comfort I would Imagine?
    Thank You For A Moving Post Willow.

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  30. I salute this stalwart hero,...and hope he had the faith to master his fate! Thank you for this interesting story.

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  31. There are so many stories of people who made history, then died poor and alone. Seems so unfair!

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  32. Thank you for a fascinating glimpse of a great American who served his country so well.

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  33. I too am fascinated by archaeology and this was an enlightening piece of unknown history...however the picture ruined my bowl of shredded wheat...

    Hope you had a sunny weekend!

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  34. Interesting historical information. But what I found really captivating was the book cover link on the Sultana Disaster. My 2nd great-grandfather's brother Allen Lile was on the Sultana when it exploded. The evidence now suggests that it was sabotage that created the catastrophe. Allen survived and apparently attended many survivor reunions. Other former prisoners weren't so fortunate.

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  35. Hello Willow,

    Fortunate that someone in France thought JPJ worthy of preservation and that he did make it back home eventually. I think that it must have been very difficult for a person's fame to be recognised when one's existence could be so "remote and localised".

    Thanks for your comments on my poem and poster. Your book title/subject could be very appropriate.

    I think Callas could be thrilling in some pieces but there are others I don't like to hear!

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  36. Sharon, sorry about the shredded wheat. :P

    Meri, you might like a post I did in April on the Sultana:

    http://willowmanor.blogspot.com/2009/04/sad-day-in-history.html

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  37. Remember Ogden Nash's poem "England Expects?" There was a line in there that went "...and every English schoolboy knows that John Paul Jones was only an unfair American pirate..." Now you give us the real story! Thanks.

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  38. LOVE the quotation of his and feel this is so true.

    A fascinating read Willow; was totally ignorant of most of your info, but am no longer and like Otin, I say "more."

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  39. History is filled with so much irony. JPJ's story is indeed sad. On Saturday, I reread the stories of the signers of the Declaration who literally did in many cases - as they pledged - give up their "Lives" and "Fortunes" and families...but not their "Sacred Honor." Rest in peace, John Paul Jones and all our patriots.

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  40. you have a great blog! love visiting here & seeing what you have to say. Thanks for the Public Enemies review, now I can feel confident going to see it.
    : )

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  41. A sad and difficult life but still an honorable one. So many military organizations in different countries to join? The preservation of his body is ghastly...he was so handsome and died so young.Thank you for sharing this bit of history.

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  42. Thanks for that bit of history about a truly great American hero.
    The name John Paul Jones will have a greater and deeper meaning for me now than just a great bassist for Led Zeppelin ;)
    You have a fantastic blog and will be anxiously returning to read more.

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  43. sad, very sad.

    but, i love all history as well.
    thank you xx

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  44. Willow, you come up with the most fascinating information.

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  45. willow, how lovely to come across this post. john paul jones is a well know character in these parts for his home is not so many miles from where i live. we have a "paul jones" bakery in our wee town of kirkcudbright. i thought you might like this link to the jp jones sit ( apologies if you knew of it already) http://www.jpj.demon.co.uk/index.htm

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  46. Yes, the face on the left, I knew I'd seen it somewhere before -haunting me like a bad dream, i knew it ,i'd seen it many times , but where? I railed and I roared and dragged the foul depths of memory and like a depth charge it hit me, I remember now, it was in the shaving mirror this morning.Ah well, that's monday mornin's for ya!

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  47. What an interesting story!

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  48. Actually America does a better job oh honoring their heroes than most countries.

    Including (or especially) my own.

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  49. I have strong, loving connections to the Naval Academy. My father was Class of '40, my husband did his service attached to the hospital, and my third child was born there and christened in the chapel. That is the first time I have heard that sad story.

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  50. I love history so i definitely appreciate this post!

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)