Captain John Paul Jones Reburial‎

Captain John Paul Jones Reburial‎

April 24, 1906 – The Reburial Commemoration Ceremony for Capt. John Paul Jones is held at the Naval Academy. At the ceremony, President Theodore Roosevelt delivers a speech in honor of the legendary Revolutionary War naval captain.

In May 1790 Jones arrived in Paris, to live as a retired Russian rear admiral with a corresponding pension. (Yes, he lived an AMAZING life). He was found dead (aged 45) lying face-down on his bed in his third-floor Paris apartment, No. 19 Rue de Tournon, on July 18, 1792. The cause of death was interstitial nephritis. A small procession of servants, friends and loyal family walked his body the four miles for burial. He was buried in Paris at the Saint Louis Cemetery, which belonged to the French royal family. Four years later, France’s revolutionary government sold the property and the cemetery was forgotten.

In 1905, Jones’s remains were identified by U.S. Ambassador to France Gen. Horace Porter, who had searched for six years to track down the body using faulty copies of Jones’s burial record. After Jones’s death, Frenchman Pierrot Francois Simmoneau donated over 460 francs to mummify the body. It was preserved in alcohol and interred in a lead coffin “in the event that should the United States decide to claim his remains, they might more easily be identified.” Porter knew what to look for in his search. With the aid of an old map of Paris, Porter’s team, which included anthropologist Louis Capitan, identified the site of the former St. Louis Cemetery for Alien Protestants. Sounding probes were used to search for lead coffins and five coffins were ultimately exhumed. The third, unearthed on April 7, 1905, was later identified by a meticulous post-mortem examination by Doctors Capitan and Georges Papillault as being that of Jones. The autopsy confirmed the original listing of the cause of death. The face was later compared to a bust by Jean-Antoine Houdon.

Jones’s body was brought to the United States aboard the USS Brooklyn (CA-3), escorted by three other cruisers. On approaching the American coastline, seven U.S. Navy battleships joined the procession escorting Jones’s body back to America. On April 24, 1906, Jones’s coffin was installed in Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, following a ceremony in Dahlgren Hall, presided over by President Theodore Roosevelt who gave a speech paying tribute to Jones and holding him up as an example to the officers of the Navy. On January 26, 1913, the Captain’s remains were finally re-interred in a magnificent bronze and marble sarcophagus underneath the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis.

Sources: US Naval History and Heritage Command, Navsource and Wikipedia. Images:

(1) Father of the U.S. Navy, John Paul Jones, is entombed at the U.S. Naval Academy and is guarded by Midshipman 24-hours a day, three hundred sixty-five days a year. Jones is forever immortalized by uttering the words, “I have not yet begun to fight”, during the battle between USS Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis, off the coast of England in 1779. Jones was buried in a pauper’s grave in Paris. More than a century later, his remains were returned to the United States and placed at the academy as a national shrine. Jones’s marble and bronze sarcophagus at the United States Naval Academy

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