John Paul went to sea when he was 12, and his youth was adventure-filled. He was chief mate on a slave ship in 1766 but, disgusted with the work, soon quit. In 1769 he obtained command of the John, a merchantman that he captained until 1770. In 1773, while Jones was in command of the Betsy off Tobago, members of his crew mutinied and he killed one of the sailors in self-defense. To avoid trial he fled. In 1775 he was in Philadelphia, with the Jones added to his name; Joseph Hewes of Edenton, N.C., obtained for him a commission in the Continental navy.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.