By Jim O’Neal
John Barry was a naval officer during the Revolutionary War and was issued commission No. 1 by President George Washington. This resulted in him becoming a commodore.
John Hancock – president of the Continental Congress – gave him a captain’s commission in 1776 and many consider Barry “the Father of the American Navy,” despite his relative anonymity today.
Another naval commander of the Revolutionary War, John Paul (he later added “Jones” to elude authorities after a duel), was born in Scotland in 1747 and became a sailor at age 13.
John Paul Jones joined the American Navy and made his fame in 1779. He was commanding an old French merchant ship refitted and renamed the USS Bonhomme Richard (in honor of Ben Franklin’s “Poor Richard”) when he engaged a British warship in the North Sea.
During the ensuing battle with the HMS Serapis, 300 of 375 American seamen were killed or wounded. Jones’ ship sustained such heavy damage that it sank the following day.
At some point in the battle, the British asked if the Americans were ready to surrender. It was in this situation when JPJ famously replied:
“I have not yet begun to fight!”
Perhaps this legendary quote is why he shares the title with John Barry as “Father of the American Navy.”
Intelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].