Digging for John Paul Jones

The American Corsair

“The Memorable Engagement of Captain Pearson of the SERAPIS with Paul Jones of the BON HOMME RICHARD and his squadron, September 23, 1779.” (First View). Oil on canvas, 20″ x 45″, by Thomas Buttersworth (1768-1842). Painting in the U.S. Naval Academy Museum Collection, 1949.

It was there in the half-dark of the crypt that I became consumed by John Paul Jones’s adventurous life, maybe as close as America got to producing a Byronic hero. At the time I was taking a seminar in “Pyscho-History” (it was the 70s) and being an early adopter of Cockburn’s maxim to “waste no experience that can be turned into copy” I used my new-found obsession with Jones to write a 50-page psychological profile of the American corsair as my class project, viewing his life through the lens of Erik Erikson’s theory of personality.

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Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3

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