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John Paul Jones and the Bonhomme Richard

September 23, 2009 by  

There are many things wrong with public education in this country, as we all know. But one thing that’s almost never mentioned is how little young people today learn about many of the heroes we were taught to admire.

If you want to see evidence of this, play a word-association game with any teenager you know. Ask them to tell you about John Paul Jones, the Bonhomme Richard, or the phrase, “Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!” You’ll be sorely disappointed with the answers.

It was on Sept. 23, 1779, during the war for American independence, that Jones, commanding the Bonhomme Richard, engaged the British man-of-war Serapis. During the hard-fought sea battle, the American ship suffered considerable damage and British captain Richard Pearson asked Jones to surrender. It was then that the American captain issued his famous reply, “Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!”

The battle continued for three more hours until Pearson surrendered his ship to the Americans. Shortly after boarding it, Jones and his men watched their own ship, the Bonhomme Richard, sink to the bottom of the sea.

—Chip Wood

Chip Wood

is the geopolitical editor of He is the founder of Soundview Publications, in Atlanta, where he was also the host of an award-winning radio talk show for many years. He was the publisher of several bestselling books, including Crisis Investing by Doug Casey, None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen and Larry Abraham and The War on Gold by Anthony Sutton. Chip is well known on the investment conference circuit where he has served as Master of Ceremonies for FreedomFest, The New Orleans Investment Conference, Sovereign Society, and The Atlanta Investment Conference.

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  • Donald

    I have already tried it, results 18% right do the math even 3 politians from the U.S senate, that were visiting stumping for a candidate. I asked them what is the first 3 words of the constitution. None could give me the answer, they all said and I Quote “We don’t have time for such trivial matters”.

  • Tim

    It is a sad time this day to know that for all who yet enjoy the rights achieved by our ancestors, know nothing about their own heritage. I can imagine the response being ‘he played Bass for Led Zeppelin’, to the question ‘who is John Paul Jones?’

  • Peter Bowers

    It gets worse. If the right answer is given ask them to spell ‘Bonhomme Richard’.
    Never mind the ‘We don’t have time for trivial matters crowd’. At some future point that comment will be more than a dodge, as they will not really know for lack of reading/spelling skill.


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