John Paul Jones (1747-1792) was a historical figure, a Scottish naval officer who served in the Colonist side of the American Revolution. He was among the first commissioned officers of the Continental Navy in 1775. He had a largely successful service record in the 1770s but maintained rather hostile relationships with some of his superiors and fellow officers.
In 1778, Jones commanded the "Ranger" in naval raids on the waters and coasts of Great Britain and Ireland. While the crew reportedly took this as a privateer expedition, their activities were generally minor and offered meager profit. On the other hand, the British command over-reacted and allocated defense resources across the British Isles in expectation of an American invasion force which was not actually coming. The resulting rumors offered quite a blow on British morale. The most important prize of the mission was capturing "HMS Drake", a sloop-of-war of the Royal Navy. It was the first victory of the Continental Navy over the Royal one within range of the Irish coast.
In 1779, the French allies of the Colonists entrusted Jones with command of "Bonhomme Richard", a frigate. Jones led a small squadron of ships in new naval raids on the British coasts, creating a new sense of panic. The squadron got involved in the Battle of Flamborough Head against a British squadron led by the "HMS Serapis", a British fifth-rate (among the strongest ships available to the Royal Navy). "Richard" was sunk but Jones managed to capture the "Serapis". He then led his squadron in retreating to Dutch waters. His activities brought him high praise in France and the Colonies. In contrast, Jones was considered a common pirate by the British.
He continued to serve in the Continental Navy to the 1780s. However with the former Colonies having achieved independence and the Revolution over, the Congress begun to downsize the American Navy. The Congress dissolved the Navy in 1785 and there would be no replacement until 1797. Jones was among the several officers who found themselves unemployed following this development. He found a new employer in the person of Catherine II of Russia. As a rear admiral of the Russian Navy, Jones took part in naval engagements against the Ottoman Empire.
Though successful as ever at sea, Jones failed in power politics when facing his rival Grigori Alexandrovich Potyomkin-Tavricheski (also known as Potemkin). He was recalled to Saint Petersburg in expectation of a new assignment which was constantly delayed through the machinations of Potemkin. In 1788, Jones resigned from the Russian Navy in protest and moved to France. He would remain in retirement for the rest of his life though he remained in contact with associates in the United States and Russia. He was appointed American Consul to Algiers in 1792 in order to negotiate the release of Americans held prisoner there. He died of a brain tumor in Paris before being able to sail for Algiers.