Return to Revolutionary-Era Art and Artifacts

Pocket pistol belonging to John Paul Jones

Pocket pistol belonging to John Paul Jones
Image 1 of 1

To order an image, navigate to the full
display and click "request this image"
on the blue toolbar.

A pistol said to have been presented by Congress to John Paul Jones (1747-1792), a newly appointed captain in the Continental Navy, on October 10, 1776.

John Paul was born near Kirkbean in Scotland to John Paul, Sr. and Jean McDuff. He first went to sea as an apprentice at the age of 13 and continued to work on merchant and slave ships as a young man. On a voyage aboard the brig John in 1768, both the captain and a ranking mate of his vessel died suddenly of yellow fever, and John Paul navigated the ship safely back to port. As a reward, the Scottish owners promoted him to master of the ship and its crew. Eventually he fled Scotland for North America to avoid charges of murder, and changed his name to John Paul Jones. He was assigned as a 1st Lieutenant in the newly-founded Continental Navy on 7 December 1775 and went on to become the first well-known naval commander in the Revolutionary War. He is sometimes referred to as the "Father of the American Navy". After a long career, including a stint in the Imperial Russian Navy, he died in Paris in 1792.