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About Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones (USN)
Thomas ap Catesby Jones (1790–1858) was a U.S. Navy officer during the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War.
Jones was born in 1790 in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Thomas ap Catesby Jones means Thomas, son of Catesby Jones in the Welsh language.
War of 1812
Thomas ap Catesby Jones began his naval career during the War of 1812, receiving honors for bravery at the Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana, delaying the British before the Battle of New Orleans.
In 1826, he signed a treaty with King Kamehameha III of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Jones was the original commander of the United States Exploring Expedition, but he resigned before it could be launched in 1838. Commodore Jones commanded the United States Pacific Squadron from 1841 to 1844 and again from 1848 to 1850. In 1842, mistakenly thinking that war had begun between the United States and Mexico, he seized Monterey, California for one day before returning control. Hearing that British Captain Lord George Paulet had seized the Kingdom of Hawaii, he sailed there and arrived July 22, 1843. The king was restored July 31, and Jones tried to hasten peace by hosting all parties to dinner aboard his ship.
In 1843, Jones returned a young deserter, Herman Melville, from the Sandwich Islands to the United States. Later, Melville modeled "Commodore J" in Moby-Dick and the commodore in White-Jacket after Jones. As Jones had a ship severely damaged in an attack by a whale in 1827, Moby-Dick may have been partially inspired by stories told of Jones.
By early 1844 he was replaced by Alexander Dallas as Pacific commander.
In 1848, Jones arrived in Mazatlán just at the end of the Mexican-American War, maintaining order until he could transport those who had aided the United States in that war to Monterey.
For the next two years, during the chaotic Gold Rush days, Jones provided a U.S. Navy presence in the San Francisco area while the United States debated what to do with the newly acquired California Territory.
In 1850, in a politically-charged court-martial shortly after White-Jacket was published, Jones was found guilty on three counts mostly related to "oppression" of junior officers and relieved of command for two and a half years. In 1853, President Millard Fillmore reinstated him and in 1858, the United States Congress restored his pay.