The Last Voyage of John Paul Jones


John Paul Jones, “The Father of the U.S. Navy.”

Finding The Lost Grave of John Paul Jones:

In 1792, the story of the lost legacy of John Paul Jones began. John Paul Jones died on July 18 at the age of 45 years old from acute inflammation of the kidney. He lived and died in Paris as a forgotten man. Although he once was a naval hero of the American Revolution, a confirmed admiral in the Russian navy, and later dubbed the “Father of the U.S. Navy,” he sadly fell into obscurity. He lived out his final days with a few loyal friends, a servant, and his chambermaid, as he died a  lonely man.

Less than two weeks after his 45th birthday; he was found in his Paris apartment, lying face down on his bed, with his feet on the floor. Although not a religious man, the position of the body led to speculation that he was attempting to kneel, as he took his last breath.  In retrospect,  Jones’ final years were filled with frustration, sickness, and solitude amid the chaos of the French Revolution; he died far from the country that he had fought so valiantly to free.

Anticipating that American authorities would transport their legendary naval hero back to the U.S., the French laid his body to rest in a lead coffin that was filled with alcohol and sealed to preserve the remains. Within three weeks of the funeral, armed Revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace, where Louis XVI and his family were being held. Many of the 600 Swiss Guard died defending the king. Their dead bodies  were tossed into a mass grave next to Jones’ burial site. In the chaos, madness,  and  fanatical beheadings of the French Revolution;  John Paul Jones died swiftly, quietly, and  without fanfare.

To further complicate finding his final resting place,  came the sale to a private developer of the Saint Louis Cemetery property.  The new owners   regraded and covered over the graveyard which  made way  for urban redevelopment.  The former cemetery  site was  covered and hidden forever by city life.

Decades passed, then one man;  who possessed an extraordinary degree of  intestinal  fortitude, an undying duty to  persistence, and a dedication to his own personal need,  rediscovered the site.  How?  It was through his tireless  investigation and discovery that he uncovered the resting place of John Paul Jones.   Who was this incredible man who solved the mystery of the lost grave of John Paul Jones?

Louis XVI awarded Jones the Order of Military Merit and title of Chevalier(knight) with a gold hilted sword, note Benjamin Franklin and escorts.

One Man’s Quest to Find– John Paul Jones:

Just over a century later, in 1897, Horace Porter;a Civil War Medal of Honor winner, a former member of U.S. Grant’s staff, and the current Ambassador to France  arrived in Paris.  Here he began to ask questions regarding the lost grave of John Paul Jones. Two years later, he began a search that would consume six years and a great deal of his own money. He along with a number of Americans were distraught that the remains of their early naval hero was buried on foreign soil. Horace Porter’s motivation for taking on the task of finding Jones was personal. In addition, Porter feared that Jones’  heroism  would be forgotten,  and that his memory   would  be relegated to fiction.

Porter is the same man who personally undertook the massive task of fund raising, constructing, and co-designing  Grant’s Tomb in 1892, as well as,  seeing its historic dedication along the Hudson River  in New York’s Riverside Park in 1897.

Finding John Paul Jones’ burial site; gaining access to the grave, and proving the recovered remains were those of John Paul Jones was a challenge for the most sophisticated forensic investigators of the day. The task began,  as  Porter reviewed hundreds of records to find evidence of a burial site and cemetery. It was  rumored at the time that a Protestant cemetery was used,  After exhaustive research; the mystery was solved, when Porter discovered the minutes of Jones’ funeral oration.  The contents of  the minutes confirmed that he was buried at a different site–the Saint Louis Cemetery in Paris. Further investigation found that the land hand been sold in 1796, and the location of the graves rested about eight feet below ground level, beneath a courtyard, shacks, and buildings.

Paris, France, graves buried eight feet below the earth. Tunneling and drilling using miners was used to locate former cemetery and grave of J.P.J.

A  Risky Excavation Below a City Street:

To proceed with excavation at the former site of the Saint Louis Cemetery, Porter had many hoops to jump; political, economic, as well as  technical challenges. Exorbitant amounts of money were needed to gain the rights to tunnel under the site, in addition, the miners’ working conditions of noxious odors and poor ventilation were a concern. Finally in 1905, he started the excavation, after Porter had obtain an agreement to tunnel for a period of no more than three months.
The first shaft found the remains of many skeletons of destitute individuals buried in inexpensive wooden coffins that had long since rotted away. As the excavation continued, a mass grave of skeletons piled helter-skelter was discovered. This was apparently the trench where the bodies of the Swiss Guards had been dumped.

On March 31st, a third and final lead coffin was found. The decision was made to open this coffin, the others had identifying markings. A preliminary examination determined that the uncovered corpse was 5 feet 7 inches, the exact height of the former admiral. The remains were taken to the Paris School of Medicine for examination.

For six days and in the presence of a dozen French and American officials, they attempted to identify the body. Head and facial measurements were compared to a three quarter size bust by famed French sculpture Jean Antoine Houdon. The measurements and facial features of the corpse were consistent with the features displayed on the bust. An autopsy further revealed the left lung displayed signs of pneumonia of which Jones had been diagnosed in late 1788. Indications of kidney disease were found to be consistent with symptoms he displayed just prior to his death. Formal documents were signed by all in attendance that attested to the finding: that the exhumed body was that of John Paul Jones.


Bust of John Paul Jones by Jean-Antoine Houdin

Exhumed remains of John Paul Jones after a century.


Our Hero’s  Last Voyage 

Notified of the panel’s findings, President Theodore Roosevelt immediately dispatched a squadron of four cruisers to escort the casket of the admiral home. The American squadron left Cherbourg, France on July 8th flying the American ensign at the fore and the French ensign at the main. Arriving at Chesapeake Bay on July 22nd, the squadron was joined by seven battleships to convoy the final leg of the journey to Annapolis, Maryland, and the U.S. Naval Academy. As the  Brooklyn passed with his remains, four of the battle wagons fired a 15 gun salute.

On April 24th 1906, John Paul Jones was ceremoniously honored by President “Teddy” Roosevelt, with Horace Porter, at the Naval Academy. John Paul’s final interment was designated in an elaborate crypt beneath the transept of the Naval Academy Chapel on January 26th 1903.



John Paul Jones was interred with military honors that befitted his status as the spiritual “Father of the U.S. Navy.” America and its naval hero were reunited after one hundred and fourteen (114) years and two burials with his final resting place at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.

John Paul Jones, “Father of the U.S. Navy.”


This great American, Horace Porter, made it all possible.  Like so many unhearlded Americans who gave their life and limb for mother country, they go nameless.  Horace Porter played a role in perpetuating the legacy of U.S. Grant and John Paul Jones.

I wrote this article to pay homage to Horace Porter and John Paul Jones for their service, as well as, their role  in protecting and defending the freedoms of all Americans.



Horace Porter was U.S. Ambassador to France from 1897 to 1905, he was responsible for  finding and for  paying to  recover the body of John Paul Jones.  He lived as he died; a true man among men.

Ulysses S. Grant: A Dedication to a Civil War Hero


Grant’s Tomb , Dedication, April 27, 1897











Ulysses S. Grant was celebrated as America’s greatest Civll War hero.  Read the story of  how a nation paid tribute to his life as a general and president of our country.

You will read of his human qualities that made him famous and infamous at the same time.  Vintage photographs and digital reproductions will add to the storytelling in honor of his legacy. You will view his monument and meet his family of which he deeply cared and loved.

The family of Grant had many location choices to rest his final remains, but in the end, it was narrowed down to New York City. Ulysses S. Grant’s temporary resting place was designed and constructed within ten days of his death, July 23, 1885. A seven mile funeral procession made tribute to Ulysses S. Grant  through New York to Riverside Park and his original tomb. This tomb kept his remains until a suitable monument was built in his honor.

1885, Grant’s Tomb was temporary for 12 years until 1897.

The funeral was attended by numerous dignitaries; presidents (Hayes and Arthur), the entire Congress, and nearly every living figure who had played a prominent role during the Civil War. Civil War veterans from both North and South took part; General Winfield S. Hancock and pallbearers; General William T. Sherman, General Phillip H. Sheridan, and Admiral David D. Porter, as well as former Confederates; Generals Joseph E. Johnston, and Simon B. Buckner. Grant’s remains were placed in a temporary vault in Riverside Park.

Grant’s Tomb –interior and exterior views


On April 27, 1897, the 75th Anniversary of Grant’s birth, Grant’s Tomb and final resting place was dedicated, by President William McKinley and Horace Porter; he served as lieutenant colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War, as personal secretary to General and President Grant. Both men addressed the enormous crowd.
In December of 1902, Julia Dent Grant died and was interred beside her husband in a twin sarcophagus.
The 18th President of the United States was an iconic figure of his time, and in tribute to his greatness, the people of America donated money to build Grant’s Tomb, as the largest mausoleum in North America. It reflected the honor and respect that Americans felt for their beloved General and U. S. President.

His pain and suffering ended with his death, very few understood the degree of discomfort and agony that was caused by his simply drinking a glass of milk. The cancerous tumor in his mouth was very sensitive to eating or drinking. The doctors prescribed a painkiller for his throat that provided only temporary relief from the pain. He battled the illness with the will of a warrior; knowing the financial importance of a finished volume of his written memoirs would be to his family.
He fought his battle against a disease much like he did as a soldier, aggressively, determined, and straightforward. He never surrendered to his illness until he finished his writing. At that point, he surrendered “unconditionally” to his fate. The conditions in which he resisted his illness can be viewed in the context of today’s science. He was afflicted by a one two punch of addictive diseases, briefly discussed below.

During his days, little was known about the chemical dependency and adverse effects that stemmed from alcohol and nicotine addiction. People blamed one’s addiction on religious and moral reasons. Medical science and popular opinion were void of any scientific explanation for addiction. It was believed that punishment would relieve one of the demons causing such harmful effects. In the absence of formal punishment, society used guilt and shame in an attempt to rid one oh his or her addiction.

Grant was famous and infamous at the same time; because of his conflicting character traits and alcoholic disease. On one hand,  Grant was famous for his victories; Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, The Wilderness Campaign, Spotsylvania, and the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, Va. Now on the other hand, throughout the war his drinking was infamous, President Lincoln was a defender against Grant’s critics. There were complaints; that he was a butcher, incompetent, and a drunk. Grant’s drinking was common knowledge amongst his officers. Fortunately his excessive drinking did not impede most of his military decisions.

Lincoln’s response to Grant’s critics after the victory at Vicksburg. ” I will send a barrrel of whiskey to every General in the Army.”

He was especially criticized, at the victory of Vicksburg, when he ordered the release of captured Confederates to return home in exchange for a promise– that they would never again fight for the Confederacy.

Despite the scandals that arose during his presidency, Grant was never personally involved with any of them. He was infamously resented by Southerners for his role in “Reconstruction” and the passage of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. Grant had a disdain for politics, and he had an unwillingness to play the political game in Washington, D.C. He was an enigma of his own doing; as he was viewed by the press and others as a chameleon.

In closing,  Grant remained a modest man and soldier. He was calm, loyal, and intelligent.  He understood how to discipline and command his troops. His ability to lead was learned from General Zachery Taylor, his commanding officer, during the Mexican War. His calmness was acquired from training horses, he was the “horse whisper.”

1867 Chromolithograph of Ulysses Grant by Fabronius, Gurney & Son. — Image by © CORBIS

Today, he is most remembered for being the commander of the victorious Union Army.  He left us with a strong legacy of an aggressive and a determined leader. As the history of his role in the war is revisited, it is hoped that his memory will be seen –for not how he fought the war, but for how he ended the war– with respect and honor. Our nation shall never forget one of our greatest American heroes—Ulysses S. Grant.