Posted by: Democratic Thinker | November 7, 2009

Weekly Story: If You Want It Done, Do It Yourself

Weekly Story

How Captain John Paul Jones came to name his first ship.

Le Bon Homme Richard.

—The late Capt. John Paul Jones, at the time he was attempting to fit out a little squadron during the revolutionary war, in one of the ports of France, to cruise on the coast of England, was much delayed by neglects and disappointments from the court, that had nearly frustrated his plan. Chance one day threw into his hands an old almanac, containing Poor Richard’s Maxims, by Dr. Franklin. In that curious assemblage of useful instructions, a man is advised, “If he wishes to have any business faithfully and expeditiously performed, to go and do it himself;—otherwise to send.”

Jones was immediately struck, upon reading this maxim, with the impropriety of his past conduct, in only sending letters and messages to court, when he ought to have gone in person. He instantly set out, and, by dint of personal representations, procured the immediate equipment of the squadron, which afterwards spread terror along the eastern coasts of England, and with which he so gloriously captured the Serapis, and the British ships of war returning from the Baltic. In gratitude to Dr. Franklin’s maxim, he named the principal ship of his squadron after the name of the pretended almanac maker, Le Bon Homme Richard, Father Richard.

“Extracts from the Town-Records of Newbury, Mass.” (1824)