Paul Jones, the Privateer [Laws A3]
DESCRIPTION: John Paul Jones's American ship outruns a British man-of-war. Most of the ballad is devoted to describing the way the ship sails.
EARLIEST DATE: 1894 (Williams)
KEYWORDS: sea navy ship
1777 - The "Ranger" is commissioned
1778 - The "Ranger" outruns the British ship
FOUND IN: US(MA,MW,NE), Canada(Mar) Ireland
REFERENCES (13 citations):
Laws A3, "Paul Jones, the Privateer"
Doerflinger, pp. 131-133, "The Stately Southerner" (1 text, 1 tune)
Colcord, pp. 126-127, "The Stately Southerner" (1 text, 1 tune)
Harlow, pp. 177-184, "The Yankee Man-Of-War" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Beck-Maine, pp. 173-174, "The Stately Southerner" (1 text)
Creighton/Senior, pp. 267-268, "The Stately Southerner" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
Rickaby 44, "Paul Jones, the Privateer" (2 texts, 1 tune)
RickabyDykstraLeary 44, "Paul Jones, the Privateer" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Ranson, pp. 82-85, "Paul Jones" (1 text, 2 tunes)
Shay-SeaSongs, pp. 153-157, "The Yankee Man-of-War" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, pp. 157-158, "The Stately Southerner" (1 text)
DT 360, STATESTH
ADDITIONAL: Alfred M. Williams, _Studies in Folk-Song and Popular Poetry_, Houghton Mifflin, 1894, pp. 15-17, "The Yankee Man-of-War" (1 text)
cf. "Paul Jones's Victory" [Laws A4] (subject of John Paul Jones)
cf. "The Yankee Man-of-War (III)" (subject of John Paul Jones)
NOTES [273 words]: Although much is made of Jones's escape in this song, it really was not exceptional. The Ranger was a small commerce-raider, designed to be fast (and, according to Fletcher Pratt, The Compact History of the United States Navy, was also quite new, which would also tend to make her faster); heavy men-of-war were much slower, as they had to carry much more weight.
According to John Fitzhugh Millar and Gregory Irons (illustrtor), Ships of the American Revolution (Bellerophon, 1988), entry on the Ranger, the ship was an 18-gun corvette built at Portsmouth in 1777 and named after "the skillful riflemen who had played a crucial role in the great American victory at Saratoga." It adds that the ship was regarded as "exceptionally fast but 'over-hatted' (she had more sail area than was considered safe to carry)." Howard I. Chapelle, The History of American Sailing Ships, Norton, 1935, p. 59, confirms this: "[T]he Ranger was the most famous [of three sloop-ships built at this time[; she was built at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1777. William Hackett seems to have been her designed, and his cousin, James K. Hackett of Portsmouth, the builder."
It is ironic to note that the Ranger (no longer commanded by Jones, of course) was captured by the British in 1780 at the fall of Charleston, and ended its career as HMS Halifax (and was quickly found unsuitable for British use; she was sold in 1781).
For a biography of Jones (who is the "stately southerner" of Doerflinger's ballad; the title does not refer to the ship, as the Ranger sailed out of New England), see the entry on "Paul Jones's Victory" [Laws A4]. - RBW
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