Dubious Promotion

On September 23, 1779, off Flamborough Head in northeast England, John Paul Jones, sailing the ramshackle Le Bonhomme Richard, defeated a convoy of British merchantmen under the escort of the royal naval ship Serapis.

When Richard Pearson, Serapis's commander, returned to England, criticism for his defeat was drowned by the enormous praise for his generally heroic conduct.

John Paul Jones, however, was less impressed. Indeed, when he learned that his opponent had been awarded a knighthood, he was rather peeved indeed. "Should I have the good fortune to fall in with him again," he declared, "I'll make a lord of him!"

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