John Paul Jones was a British merchant marine turned fugitive who took refuge in Virginia in 1773. At the outset of the Revolutionary War, he entered the Continental Navy as a lieutenant. Swiftly promoted to captain, Jones was given command of his first ship in 1776. His aggressive tactics led to his promotion to commodore and earned him a reputation as a pirate among the British.
Created by sculptor Charles Henry Niehaus and architect Thomas Hastings, this memorial to John Paul Jones consists of a bronze portrait statue mounted against a marble pylon. The statue itself depicts Jones in a naval officer's uniform, holding the pommel of his sword in his left hand. On the rear of the pylon, a relief shows Jones hoisting the American flag on a war vessel. Tradition says that he was the first to raise the new flag on a foreign war vessel.
Congress authorized the statue on June 8, 1906 (34 Stat., 224) with an appropriation of $50,000. It was dedicated April 17, 1912. The statue is located at 17th St. and Independence Ave., N.W. and currently owned by the National Park Service.