CONGRATULATIONS
Roseanna M. White IS A CHRISTY FINALIST!!!

Winners on the 5 Year Anniversary of the Colonial Quills blog are: Joan H. Hochstetler Perfect Pies goes to Rhonda and Noorthkill goes to Kim Hansen, Roseanna M. White Bev Duell-Moore, Carla Gade Audio of Pattern for Romance winner Rachel Dodson,Shannon McNear Pioneer Christmas won by Melissa Petterson, Carrie Fancett Pagels winner book of choice/earrings/bookmarks/postcards goes to Katie Edgar, Angela Couch's Mail Order Revenge goes to Andrea Byers, Denise Weimer's winner is Joan Arning! Congrats all!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

THE DAYS OF WOODEN SHIPS AND IRON MEN

“There was a time before our time,
It will not come again,
When the best ships were the wooden ships
But the men were iron men.”

Clipper Ships and Captains
By
Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet

Veteran’s Day should be a day when all Americans take time to reflect on and be thankful for the service of so many men and women throughout our 236 years as a nation. I am appreciative not only for those who have served our great country over all these years but particularly for two sons and a son-in-law who are currently serving in the military.

Midshipman Henry G. Taylor
Ours was a Navy family; but it also included men who served in almost all branches of the armed forces. My oldest son graduated from the Naval Academy in 2001, and like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him is a naval officer. As a girl I remember my grandfather, a retired Navy Admiral, referring to the good old days of “iron men and wooden ships. His stories of attending the Naval Academy 1903-1907, and sailing with The Great White Fleet fascinated me. I loved exploring the Academy in Annapolis, MD and reading about its history as well as the origins of the U.S. Navy.

Prior the Revolution, there were colonists who served in the British naval campaigns against Spain and France. By 1775 Americans were growing disenchanted with British rule and realized that any conflict with Britain would mean that the Atlantic Ocean would very likely become a theater of war. On October 13, 1775 the Continental Congress authorized two armed vessels to sail and search for munitions ships that were supplying the British Army in America.

It was not Congress’ intent to contest Britain’s control of the seas, only to wage attacks on their merchant shipping with the goal of cutting off their supplies to support their war efforts. The Continental Congress built up its fledgling navy by new construction, purchases and conversion of existing ships to twenty warships during the course of the war. Most of them were later destroyed by the British or by Americans to prevent their capture.

Peale’s portrait
John Paul Jones
It would be Scottish born John Paul Jones, a seafaring man with a history of serving on British ships and some run-ins with the law, a sympathizer with the colonial cause who would provide America with some crucial victories. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Continental Navy in December of 1775 and given the command of The Alfred. Over the next six years he had command of several ships and experienced numerous victories. It was while serving at the helm of the Bonhomme Richard in 1779, he captured the HMS Serapis. As his ship sunk beneath him he notably uttered “I have not yet begun to fight!”

After accepting a position in the Russian navy in 1788, he ran afoul of Empress Catherine’s military leaders and returned to Paris. In 1790 he was offered a military commission by George Washington, but his health had already begun to fail. In 1792, President George Washington and Thomas Jefferson signed a commission making John Paul Jones an official citizen of the United States and appointing him American consul to Algeria to clean up the piracy problems along the Barbary Coast. A month later at the age of forty-five the self proclaimed “citizen of the world” died and was buried in a leaden coffin in a cemetery for foreign Protestants in Paris where he would remain for 114 years.

In 1899 American Ambassador to France General Horace Porter began an intensive search through Paris for John Paul Jones grave, finally locating it after nearly six years. President Theodore Roosevelt charged Congress with appropriating the funds needed to exhume the American hero. The arduous task of retrieving the body and the subsequent autopsy validated his identity, made easier because the body had been preserved in brandy.

Annapolis was eventually chosen as John Paul Jones’ final resting place. In 1906 Jones was finally given the military honors he so often sought during his lifetime, first with an elaborate procession through Paris, by train to Cherbourg, then by transatlantic crossing with a fleet of eleven military vessels, and finally with a grand ceremony at Annapolis.

Painted scene of the Great
White Fleet from Silk Banner
The 1906 celebration of the “Father of the American Navy” was part of a larger public relations move on the part of President Roosevelt to promote US Naval sea power. In 1907, the same year my grandfather graduated from the Naval Academy, the President sent The Great White Fleet on a fourteen month circumnavigation of the world. Ensign Taylor was one of the 14,000 naval and marine personnel on twenty-eight ships that embarked from Hampton Roads to see the world.


John Paul Jones’ Crypt at the
U.S. Naval Academy
Photo courtesy of Travelbeat.net
The US Naval Academy Chapel, “The Cathedral of the Navy” was completed in 1912. John Paul Jones was laid to rest below the chapel in a dimly lit crypt watched over by an honor guard, where the ornate marble sarcophagus is supported by four bronze dolphins. Many inlays in the floor and glass cases along the walls display artifacts and facts of his remarkable life. This is a stop you don’t want to miss while touring the Academy yard.




8 comments:

  1. omigosh. What a post. I had chills and a tear or two. I had no idea of the story behind Jones' re-burial. I'm so anxious to go back to Annapolis and your post just increased that. Iron Men and Wooden Ships. Wow, such incredible words.

    thank you so much!

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  2. Oh, Janet, what a rich history you have in your family. Like Debra, I had chills and was a bit teary at what you've shared. Since researching the Revolutionary War, I've had a much deeper appreciation for those who served/serve. We really can't fathom the sacrifices or courage of many who gave up so much to give us so much.

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful post.

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  3. Thank you for your comments Debra and Laura. I’ve always had a heart for those who have given so much in service of our country throughout our rich history.

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  4. Thank you for your interesting post, Janet! You inspired me to put up a Veteran's Day post on my family history blog. My Dad served on the first navy ship to be named after John Paul Jones (DD-932) in 1956. My husband also served in the Navy.

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  5. Thanks Carla,
    When we honor our vets, we also need to applaud their families who also sacrifice in many ways.
    "Those who wait serve also."

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  6. Susan Craft said...
    George Washington attended a Public Dinner at Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street in New York where he would propose 13 Toasts with Hot Butter'd Rum. See #7 and #8 in particular --

    The 13 Official Toasts:
    1. To the United States of America,
    2. To His Most Christian Majesty Louis XVI of France;
    3. To the United Netherlands;
    4. To the King of Sweden;
    5. To the American Army;
    6. To the Fleet and Armies of France which have served in America;
    7. To the memory of those heroes who have fallen for our freedom;
    8. May our country be grateful to her military children;
    9. May justice support what courage has gained;
    10. To the indicators of the rights of mankind in every quarter of the globe,
    11. May America be an asylum to the persecuted of the Earth;
    12. May a close union of states guard the temple they have erected to Liberty;
    13. May the remembrances of the day be a lesson to princes.

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  7. Great post Janet. Cool, Susan! I want to go there,too, Debra! Guess its not in Roseanna's new Love Finds You in Annapolis, MD, since that was well before this was built. Laura, I am so blessed to be able to hear many of Janet's family stories in person and am encouraging her to write some fiction that incorporates some of those fascinating stories!

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  8. Thanks Ladies, you are all so inspirational! I saw a great sign on Veteran's Day (which I am slightly altering).

    "Only Two Defining Forces Have
    Ever Offered To Die For You
    JESUS CHRIST
    AND THE AMERICAN SOLDIER,SAILOR & AIRMAN
    One Died For Your Soul
    The Other Died For Your Freedom."

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