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Admiral John Paul Jones. Russia. Ukraine. (Part 1. Crimea)

Posted 12/27/2018

John Paul Jones, a U.S. Revolutionary War hero is also known as the father of the U.S. Navy. 

One year of his life he spent in the service of Russian Empress. It is very interesting to have a look at that time in view of what is currently going on in that area. Not many people may be aware that the places where John Paul Jones served are part of current day Ukraine - Ochakov, Kherson, Kinbourn, the Liman.

We will use the book written by John Paul Jones “Life and correspondence of John Paul Jones, including his narrative of the campaign of the Liman.” Free copy is at Archive.org 


War had been impending between Russia and the Porte, since the disturbances in the Crimea, in 1777, occasioned by the election of a Khan, in which the former interfered to support one of the candidates, with the ultimate view of dispossessing him entirely. The empress, encouraged by her eccentric and overbearing favourite and general, Potemkin, in the ambitious desire of being crowned at Constatinople, never lost sight of this intention.” (p. 398)

Russian Empress Catherine had ambitious desire to be crowned in Constantinople. Why? It is the same idea of making Moscow “the Third Rome” we discussed in  earlier articles using material of a Yale Professor’s book.



“..the invasion of the Crimea was determined upon, as a necessary preliminary to operations against Turkey.” (p.398)

That is the time when Russia occupied Crimea. Please note that the invasion of the semi island in itself was an intermediate goal. The ultimate plan had totally different purpose – Turkey, or, as the first quote shows, the more precise aim was Constantinople.


At the same time Potemkin and Suvorrof subdued and received the homage of the tribes of the Kuban, and the extensive wilds more remote. A manifesto was published to justify these unprovoked acts, and the annexation of those districts to the empire.” (p. 399)

They will resettle 25 000 Ukrainian Chernomorsky Cossacks to Kuban where they will found their new capital – Ekaterinodar (currently Krasnodar). English traveler Dr. Edward Clark describes it in his book we discussed earlier and will mention in the Part Three in more detail.


 “By a new treaty the sovereignty of Russia over the Crimea, and great part of Kuban, with the right of the dominion of the Euxine, and to the passage of the Dardanelles, was conceded to Russia. New usurpations followed immediately on the part of the latter.” (p. 399)

The last sentence is a perfect example of Russia’s constant Modus Operandi – the signed treaty is just a new incentive for new usurpations.


In 1786, Catharine projected a magnificent progress to the Euxine (Black Sea), where, after having solemnly taken the sceptre of the Khan, it was her intention to conduct her young grandson, Constantine, to the gates of that city, with reference to whose contemplated destiny he had been named.” (399)

Empress Catherine named her grandson Constantine because she wanted to see him rule Constantinople.


These and various other grievances led to the presentation on the 26th July, 1787, of a memorial from the grand vizier, and reis effendi, to the French minister ; to which an immediate answer was requested. The ambassador asked for time to consult his court, which was granted. But the influence of Great Britain now predominated, and war was declared before any answer was received from Russia. Eighty thousand men were ordered to march to cover Oczakow. A large army advanced to the Danube ; and a squadron of 16 ships of the line, 8 frigates, and several gallies entered the Euxine under the command of the capitan-pacha. The Greeks were disarmed, and the Tartars invited to return to their allegiance to the grand seignior. They complied with the call, and their Shah had soon under his orders an army of 40,000 men.

This news was received with joy at St. Petersburgh.” (p. 400)

Another trait of Moscow policy – to provoke as much as possible and try to play the role of victim of aggression to the end.


Next are the excerpts from John Paul Jones letters: 

I afterwards set out for Paris, where I arrived on the 20th December, 1787.

Mr. Jefferson, the ambassador of the United States, visited me on the night of my arrival, and informed me that M. de Simolin, minister plenipotentiary of her imperial majesty of all the Russias, … appeared anxious to succeed in prevailing on me to go to Russia, to command the fleet against the Turks in the Black Sea. I regarded this proposal as a castle in the air; and as I did not wish for any employment in foreign service, I avoided meeting M. de Simolin, for whose character I had, at the same time, the highest respect.” (402)

" Though I foresaw many difficulties* in the way of my entering the service of Russia, I believed that I could not avoid going to St. Petersburgh, to thank the empress for the favourable opinion she had conceived of me.” (403)

" I arrived at St. Petersburgh in the evening on the 23d of April, old style, and on the 25th had my first audience of the empress. Her majesty gave me so flattering a reception, and up to the period of my departure treated me with so much distinction, that I was entirely captivated, and put myself into her hands without making any stipulation for my personal advantage.

" On the 7th May, I set out from the imperial palace of Sarscosello carrying with me a letter from her majesty to his high­ness the Prince Marshal Potemkin at St. Elizabeth, where I arrived on 19th. The prince marshal received me with much kindness, and destined me the command of the fleet of Sevastapol against the capitan pacha, who, he supposed, intended to make descents in the Crimea. His highness was mistaken in this, and the next day he received information that the capitan pacha was at anchor within Kinbourn, having come to succour Oczakow with a hundred and twenty armed vessels and other armed craft. The prince marshal then, requested me to assume command of the naval force stationed in the Liman, (which is at the embouchure of the Dnieper,) to act against the capitan pacha till Oczakow should fall. 1 considered this change as a mark of confidence flattering to myself;” (p. 405)


Memorial to John Paul Jones in Staraya Zburievka, Kherson region, UkraineMemorial to John Paul Jones in Staraya Zburievka, Kherson region, Ukraine

Memorial to John Paul Jones in Staraya Zburievka, Kherson region, Ukraine