Welcome to our collection of quotes by John Paul Jones. We hope you enjoy pondering them and please share widely.
John Paul Jones (born John Paul; July 6, 1747 – July 18, 1792) was a Scottish-American naval captain who was the United States' first well-known naval commander in the American Revolutionary War. He made many friends among U.S.political elites (including John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin), as well as enemies (who accused him of piracy), and his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to this day. As such, he is sometimes referred to as the "Father of the American Navy" (a sobriquet he shares with John Barry and John Adams).
Jones was born and raised in Scotland, became a sailor, and served as commander of several merchantmen. After having killed one of his mutinous crew members with a sword, he fled to the Colony of Virginia and around 1775 joined the newly founded Continental Navy in their fight against the Kingdom of Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War. He commanded U.S. Navy ships stationed in France, led one failed assault on Britain, and several attacks on British merchant ships. Left without a command in 1787, he joined the Imperial Russian Navy and obtained the rank of rear admiral.
I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way.
My desire for fame is infinite.
The situation of America is new in the annals of mankind; her affairs cry haste, and speed must answer them.
I have not yet begun to fight.
I have not yet begun to fight!
It is true that I must run a great risk; no gallant action was ever accomplished without danger.
He who will not risk cannot win.
The common class of mankind are actuated by no nobler principle than that of self-interest; this and this alone determines all adventurers in privateers: the owners, as well as those whom they employ.
Since human wisdom cannot secure us from accidents, it is the greatest effort of reason to bear them well.
I would lay down my life for America but I cannot trifle with my Honor.
Without a Respectable Navy, Alas America!
It is with great pleasure that I see the political system of almost every power in Europe changing in our favor since the news of our late successes.
I profess myself a citizen of the world, totally unfettered by the little, mean distinctions of climate or of country, which diminish the benevolence of the heart and set bounds to philanthropy.
A captain of the Navy ought to be a man of strong and well connected sense, with a tolerable good education, a gentleman, as well as a seaman both in theory and practice.
An honorable Peace is and always was my first wish! I can take no delight in the effusion of human Blood; but, if this War should continue, I wish to have the most active part in it.
It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win.
If fear is cultivated it will become stronger, if faith is cultivated it will achieve mastery.
I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm's way.
Whoever can surprise well must conquer.