John Paul Jones' Crypt – Annapolis, Maryland - Atlas Obscura

John Paul Jones' Crypt

United States Naval Academy

Rediscovered after a century, the father of the American Navy was reinterred in something dredged up from Davy Jones' Locker. 


The father of America’s Navy is well known for shouting the famous phrase, “I have not yet begun to fight,” in response to a request for his surrender at the Battle of Flamborough Head during the American Revolutionary War.

Less well known is the fact that for over a century after his death, the location of Jones’ body remained a mystery. Following his victories with the American Navy, Jones soon found his employment opportunities in America running dry. As a result, Jones joined and served with the Russian Imperial Navy for a short time. In May 1790, Jones retired to Paris. He died there two years later and was buried in a cemetery belonging to the French royal family. In 1796, France’s revolutionary government sold the property and the cemetery was forgotten. The area was later used as a garden, a place to dispose of dead animals and where gamblers bet on animal fights. It wasn’t until 1905 that Jones’ remains were re-discovered by America’s Ambassador to France and returned to the United States.

Today, Jones rests in an extravagant sarcophagus below the chapel of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The incredible coffin is covered in sculpted barnacles and is held up by legs in the shape of stylized dolphins. The whole thing is sculpted out of a black and white marble that makes it look as though it has been weathered by untold ages beneath the waves.

It was a long, strange voyage for Jones’ body to reach its final destination but his grand maritime tomb is a fine place for a man of the sea to spend his long sleep.  

Know Before You Go

Just take the tour of the Naval Academy! They'll take you through the Chapel (as long as it's open. No weddings or funerals) and the Crypt. The Tripoli monument is basically diagonally across the street behind the one building. The Agerholm is then in the next cluster of buildings across the street from The Tripoli Memorial. 

 You MUST have an ID to enter the USNA. No parking on site. Must park on the street. The earlier you get there the better.

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