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John P. Jones
John P Jones Senator.jpg
United States Senator
from Nevada
In office
March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1903
Preceded byJames W. Nye
Succeeded byFrancis G. Newlands
Personal details
Born(1829-01-27)January 27, 1829
Herefordshire, England
DiedNovember 27, 1912(1912-11-27) (aged 83)
Los Angeles, California
Political partyRepublican, Silver (1895-1901)
ResidenceGold Hill

John Percival Jones (January 27, 1829 – November 27, 1912) was an American politician who served for 30 years as a Republican United States Senator from Nevada. He made a fortune in silver mining and was a co-founder of the town of Santa Monica, California.

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  • ✪ History Brief: John Paul Jones


When the war began, most people believed that the British navy would crush the undermanned American fleet. The Continental Navy used fewer than 100 ships throughout the war, but captured or destroyed over 200 British vessels. How did the Patriot navy manage such success? Much of the success was due to a man now known as the "Father of the United States Navy". A Scotsman by birth, John Paul began working on British ships at a young age. After killing the leader of a mutiny, John Paul became an outlaw. He changed his name to John Paul Jones and fled to the American colonies. When the war broke out, Jones quickly established himself as a bold and clever sailor. The British considered him a pirate, as his tactics primarily revolved around raiding commerce ships. In early 1778, Jones captured seven British ships and defeated a Royal Navy sloop in English waters. "Where is the British Navy?" an English newspaper declared. Yet, Jones had only begun. When France formally recognized the United States, Benjamin Franklin arranged for Jones to receive a much larger ship from the new allies. In fact, the French greatly admired Jones and presented him with a fleet of seven vessels to command. Jones named his flagship Bonhomme Richard, in honor of Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac. The Richard carried 40 cannon (his previous sloop had 18) and a crew of 380 men that hailed from 11 different nations. With his new fleet, Jones tore through the English waters, capturing 17 merchant ships and 500 prisoners. The British people were in an uproar, but Jones' most famous moment was yet to come. On September 23, 1779, Jones launched a moonlight attack on a convoy protected by a British frigate, the HMS Serapis, and a sloop, the HMS Countess of Scarborough. When the British captain spotted Jones, he ordered the convoy to flee while the warships raced to attack the Richard. Jones knew he was in trouble, but refused to run. The Serapis had more and bigger cannon, along with copper sheathing which made the vessel faster than Jones' ship. Thousands of British gathered along the coast to watch the battle, and Jones put on a show. The Serapis launched a devastating attack which killed most of Jones' men and knocked out all but three of his guns. Many of Jones' officers begged him to surrender, and one made a rush to strike the Richard's flag (a signal of surrender). Jones struck the man with a pistol, rendering him unconscious. Jones, who had been manning one of his three remaining cannon, brought the Richard around and rammed the Serapis in an attempt to board it. As the ships locked together, the captain of the Serapis shouted, "Has your ship struck (surrendered)?" Jones roared "I have not yet begun to fight!" as he blasted another cannon at the Serapis' main mast. One of Jones' topmen eventually crawled onto the Serapis and dropped a grenade into the powder supply, setting off an explosion that knocked out all but four of the British cannon. It was still one more than Jones had, but the action convinced the British captain that he had no hope of defeating the stubborn Scotsman. The Serapis surrendered to John Paul Jones. As the Bonhomme Richard sank, Jones sailed the captured Serapis to Holland to be repaired. Today, the remains of John Paul Jones are entombed at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.


Early life

John P. Jones, one of thirteen children of Thomas Jones (1793–1871) and Mary A. Jones, was born in Herefordshire, England. The family immigrated to the United States and settled in Cleveland, Ohio in 1831. Thomas Jones purchased property, and established himself in business as a marble manufacturer.[1]

California Gold Rush

In 1849 John P. Jones went to California to participate in the Gold rush. He settled in Trinity County, California where he engaged in mining and farming. He served as county sheriff, and was a member of the California state senate from 1863 to 1867. In 1867 he was the nominee of the Republican party for Lieutenant-Governor.[2]

Comstock Lode Nevada

In 1868, Jones moved to Gold Hill, Nevada where he was superintendent of the Crown Point silver mine which was part of the Comstock Lode. When a body of silver ore was stuck in 1870, Jones and Alvinza Hayward acquired shares and were able to gain control of the Crown Point mine.[3][4][5]

US Senate

In 1873 he was elected by the Nevada state legislature to the United States Senate, in which he served five terms from 1873 to 1903. He served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Auditing the Contingent Expenses from 1877 to 1881 and from 1883 to 1893, and as chairman of the committee on epidemic diseases from 1893 to 1903. Jones was involved with the minting of the Twenty-cent piece silver coin. Like many Republicans from the western United States, Jones left the party in 1896 over the issue of bimetalism and joined the Silver Party.[6][7] He caucused with the Silver Republicans and later rejoined the Republican Party, but decided not to run for re-election to the Senate in 1902. Jones was a strong proponent of racist immigration policy, arguing on the Senate floor for the exclusion of the "tawny and the black races, in order that our own race may be kept intact and uncontaminated."[8]

Panamint Silver Mines

In 1874, Jones and fellow Nevada senator, William M. Stewart, invested in the Panamint silver mines near Independence, Inyo County, California.[9] Jones planned to build a railroad from the mines to the ocean at Santa Monica. By 1877, the Panamint mines were exhausted and closed.[10]

Santa Monica

Monument to John P. Jones in Palisades Park.
Monument to John P. Jones in Palisades Park.

Jones visited Los Angeles in 1874 and bought a three quarter interest in Colonel Robert S. Baker’s ranch in Santa Monica. In 1875, Jones and Baker laid out the town of Santa Monica. Jones built the first railroad (Los Angeles and Independence Railroad) from Los Angeles to Santa Monica. Due to financial pressures, Jones was forced to sell the railroad to Southern Pacific in 1877.[11]

Miramar, Jones' famous Santa Monica home, in 1890
Miramar, Jones' famous Santa Monica home, in 1890


In 1903 Jones retired to his 1889 home, Miramar, in Santa Monica where he continued to oversee his businesses. Shortly before the Senator died, Miramar was sold to King Gillette. Gillette rarely visited the house, and after a brief spell towards the end of World War I as a boys military academy, the estate was sold to hotelier Gilbert Stevenson and it became the Hotel Miramar in 1921. Since then, it has been run by various hoteliers — except for during World War II, when the Army Air Corps took over the Miramar and used it as a redistribution center for officers and enlisted men returning from overseas. The mansion was demolished in 1938, leaving as the oldest structure, the six story "Palisades" wing built in 1924. The Moreton Bay Fig Tree, given to the Jones’ by the bartender in 1889, still stands where it was planted by gardener W.H. Lee. The site is now the home of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel.

Family life

Jones married the widow Hannah Cornelia (Conger) Greathouse, in 1861, and they had one son, Roy Jones. Hannah died in 1871, and Jones married Georgina Frances Sullivan in 1875.[12] They had three daughters, Alice (MacMonnies), Marion (Farquhar) and Georgina (Walton).

Jones died in 1912 in Los Angeles, California and was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco, California.

See also


  • United States Congress. "John P. Jones (id: J000237)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  1. ^ Wickham, Gertrude Van Rensselaer (1914). The Pioneer Families of Cleveland 1796–1840. Evangelical Publishing House.
  2. ^ Mitchell Charles Harrison,(1902),Prominent and progressive Americans New York Tribune
  3. ^ Gorham, Harry M. (1939). My Memories of the Comstock. Gold Hill Publishing Co.
  4. ^ Smith, Grant Horace; Joseph V. Tingley (1998). The history of the Comstock lode, 1850-1997.
  5. ^ Elliott, Russell R. (1987). History of Nevada. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-6715-2.
  6. ^ U.S. Senate: Senators Who Changed Parties During Senate Service
  7. ^ Nevada’s Doctrinaire Senator: John P. Jones and the Politics of Silver in the Golden Age. Nevada Historical Society Quarterly 36 (Winter 1993): 246-62.
  8. ^ 13 Cong. Rec. 1740 (1882).
  9. ^ Lingenfelter, Richard E. (1988). Death Valley and the Amargosa. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-06356-3.
  10. ^ Wilson, Neill Compton (1937). Silver Stampede: The career of Death Valley's hell-camp, old Panamint. Books for Libraries Press. ISBN 978-0-8369-5969-7.
  11. ^ Ingersoll, Luther A (2008). Ingersoll's Century History, Santa Monica Bay Cities - Prefaced with a Brief History of the State of California, a Condensed History of Los Angeles County, 1542-1908; Supplemented with an Encyclopedia of Local Biography. ISBN 978-1-4086-2367-1.
  12. ^ The Nevada Senators's Marriage New York Times, January 12, 1875

External links

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
James W. Nye
 U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Nevada
Served alongside: William M. Stewart, William Sharon, James G. Fair
Succeeded by
Francis G. Newlands
Political offices
Preceded by
Matthew H. Carpenter
Chairman of the United States Senate Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expenses of the Senate
Succeeded by
Benjamin Harvey Hill
Preceded by
Benjamin Harvey Hill
Chairman of the United States Senate Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expenses of the Senate
Succeeded by
Edward Douglass White
Preceded by
Johnson N. Camden
West Virginia
Chairman of the United States Senate Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expenses of the Senate
Succeeded by
John Kean
New Jersey
This page was last edited on 22 September 2019, at 13:14
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