John Paul Jones Flag
Starry Flag

Date: 1775

Canton of 12 stars. Field of thirteen red and white stripes. (R13)

At the present time, the origins of this flag are unknown.

John Paul Jones was the founder of the American Navy. As a captain he flew several banners identifying his ships as American. Read more.

One of the most controversial flags associated with John Paul Jones was the ensign of the Bon-Homme Richard. Though the Americans had hardly any navy, John Paul Jones proved highly effective as a raider in British waters. In 1779, Jones sailed his ship, the Bon-Homme Richard, to its fateful encounter with the Serapis off the coast of Scotland. He won this most famous of the Revolutionary sea battles, but was forced to abandon his sinking ship and transfer to the captured Serapis.

Previously, in a 1778 letter, Benjamin Franklin, then Commissioner to France, wrote to the King of Naples and described our nation's new flag as "having thirteen stripes alternating red, white, and blue." After the Serapis battle, Jones triumphantly sailed into Texel, a friendly Dutch port where he was awarded a flag that fit Ben Franklin's description.

Jones own reported that the US flag was shot away. Ironically a flag purported to be from the Bon-Homme turned up in the Smithsonian Institution where it hung for decades until it was withdrawn as a fake in 1942.