Official Certification of the American Embassy and Consulate of the Identification of the body of Admiral John Paul Jones.

This is to certify that we, the undersigned, met at the School of Medicine (L’École de Médecine), in the city of Paris, at 10 o’clock a.m. on the 14th day of April, 1905, for the purpose of verifying the identification of the remains recently found by the American ambassador in the old Saint Louis cemetery for the burial of foreign Protestants, and believed to be those of Admiral John Paul Jones.

The body was lying on a table, entirely uncovered, having been taken from the leaden coffin in which it had been found, and from which the linen had been removed and placed on another table.

We had familiarized ourselves with the historical information regarding the age, size, color of hair, general appearance, manner of dress, etc., of John Paul Jones, and there were placed near the body the medal presented to him by Congress to commemorate his battle with the Serapis, showing his head in profile, and a copy of the well-known bust made from life by Houdon, which had been loaned for the purpose by the Trocadéro Museum. The remains were those of a man, and were remarkably well preserved by having evidently been immersed in alcohol. The flesh seemed firm, and the joints were somewhat flexible. There were bits of tin foil adhering to the hands, feet, and other parts of the body, as if they had been wrapped with it. The body was lying on its back, the hands were crossed over the abdomen, the left hand resting on the right. It was of a grayish brown or, rather, a tan color. The right eyelid was closed, the other was slightly open. The features presented quite a natural appearance, except that the cartilaginous portion of the nose was bent over to the right and pressed down as if by the too close proximity of the lid of the coffin, or by the excess of the hay and straw in packing the body. Several fine oblique lines were traceable upon the face, made by the folds of the winding sheet, which had left upon the skin an imprint of the texture of the fabric. The lips were a very little shrunken or contracted, exposing the extreme ends of the teeth. This slight contraction did not exist when the coffin was opened, and seemed to have been caused by exposure to the air.

Doctor Papillault, professor of anthropology in the School of Anthropology, one of the scientists who had been highly recommended and selected to aid in the work of identifying the body on account of his valuable experience in such examinations, explained to us the methods he had adopted and showed us the elaborate comparative measurements he had made of all the important features of the body and of the Houdon bust. The agreement was singularly exact in every important particular, as will be shown in his report, which he read in our presence, explaining the details as he proceeded. The principal results were as follows. The word “identical” will be used to signify that the agreement between the corresponding dimensions of the body and of the Houdon bust is exact, and that the appearance conforms strictly to the authentic historical description of the Admiral.

Length of body, 5 feet 7⅜ inches. Height of Paul Jones was 5 feet 7 inches. The three-eighths is the difference allowed by anthropologists between a person standing and the same person lying down. “Was 5 feet 7 inches tall, slender in build, of exquisitely symmetrical form, with noticeably perfect development of limbs.” (“Anecdotes of the Court of Louis XVI.”) Identical.

Principal features of face and head. Identical.

No beard. Identical. Face presented appearance of one who had not shaved for several days.

Hair very dark brown, generally speaking, might be called black. The front hair upon opening the coffin was found to be of an unnatural tan color, like the flesh, evidently discolored by the presence of the alcohol and straw. After taking some hair from the back of the head, where it had been protected by being gathered into a linen bag, and washing it its color was dark brown or black. “He was of the complexion usually united with dark hair and eyes, which were his.” (“Memoirs of Paul Jones,” Edingburgh edition.) “His hair and [Page 444] eyebrows are black.” (“Anecdotes of the Court of Louis XVI.”) See specimen of hair accompanying this report. Identical.

The hair in a few places was slightly tinged with gray. This fact, together with the condition of the teeth, indicates a person between 40 and 50 years old. John Paul Jones was 45 at the time of his death.

Doctor Capitan, professor of historic anthropology in the School of Anthropology, vice-president of the commission on megalithic monuments, member of the committee on historical and scientific works, and of the society of Old Paris, etc., then explained the course pursued by him in the identification and the autopsy effected by opening the back and removing and examining the internal organs so singularly preserved, and gave convincing evidence that the deceased had died of the disease which terminated the life of John Paul Jones. (See Doctor Capitan’s report.) In 1790 “the doctors declared that his left lung was more or less permanently affected.” (Buell’s “History of Paul Jones.”) “He died of dropsy of the chest.” (Official certificate of burial.) “For two months past he began to lose his appetite, grew yellow, and showed symptoms of jaundice.” “A few days before his death his legs began to swell, which proceeded upward to his body, so that for two days before his decease he could not button his waistcoat and had great difficulty in breathing.” (Letter of Colonel Blackden.)

The linen taken from the coffin, all in excedingly good condition except stained in places a tan color, was then minutely examined. It consisted of a shirt of fine linen, handsomely made, with plaits and ruffles corresponding with the historical description of the Admiral’s fondness for dress. “He is a master of the arts of dress and personal adornment, and it is a common remark that notwithstanding the frugality of his means he never fails to be the best dressed man at any dinner or fete he may honor by attending.” (“Anecdotes of the Court of Louis XVI.”) “To his dress he was, or at least latterly became, so attentive as to have it remarked.” (“Memoirs of Paul Jones,” Edinburgh edition.) Identical.

A sheet on which was worked with thread the figure 2. A linen bag or cap neatly made, which had been found at the back of the head and into which the hair had been gathered. Upon this was a small initial worked with thread. When the bag was held right side up, the letter was a “J,” with the loop nearly closed. When held in a reverse position, it was a “P.” If a “J,” it would be the initial of Jones, the name which he added to his family name. If a “P,” it would be the initial of his original family name, Paul. It may be remarked that then, as now, the French often marked their linen with the initial of their Christian name. In Paris the Admiral was sometimes familiarly addressed as “Mon Paul” and “Monsieur Paul.” He often signed his name Paul Jones, and sometimes J. Paul Jones, as shown by his correspondence.

There were no other articles in the coffin except the hay and straw with which the body had been carefully packed, and no inscription plate had been found. Taking into careful consideration the convincing proofs of identification of the body by means of the measurements, the autopsy, etc., the marks upon the linen, the fact that the coffin was found in the cemetery in which it was proved to have been buried, that it was superior in solidity and workmanship to the others, that the body had been carefully preserved and packed as if to prepare it for a long voyage, “that, in case the United States, which he had so essentially served, and with so much honor, should claim his remains, they might be more easily removed” (Letter of Colonel Blackden, the Admiral’s intimate friend, witness of his will and pall-bearer at his funeral, addressed to the eldest sister of Paul Jones, Mrs. Janet Taylor), and the further fact that in exploring the cemetery there was every evidence that the graves of the dead had never been disturbed, that only five leaden coffins were found, four of which were easily identified, three of them having inscription plates giving dates and names of the deceased, and the fourth containing a skeleton measuring about six feet two inches in length, we regard the identification as completely verified in every particular and are fully convinced that the body discovered is that of Admiral John Paul Jones.

Horace Porter,
American Ambassador.

[seal of the American embassy at paris.]
Henry Vignaud,
Secretary American Embassy.

John K. Gowdy,
U. S. Consul-General.

A. Bailly-Blanchard,
Second Secretary American Embassy.

[seal of the American consulate at paris.]