The colorful Captain John "Mad Jack" Percival was a legend in his time. Known as a seaman of uncommon ability and fearlessness, he led such an extraordinary life that he drew the attention of the famous novelists Hawthorne, Melville, and Michener. The fact that his first and last ships are national shrines has only enhanced his reputation. Percival's naval career began in 1797 when he was impressed into British naval service aboard the HMS Victory and ended in 1846 after taking the USS Constitution on her only around-the-world cruise. This book draws from unpublished journals, letters, and logs to provide previously unknown details about his adventures and the formative years of the U.S. Navy.
Hailing from Cape Cod and recognized by Congress for meritorious action in the War of 1812, Mad Jack fought against the French and British and had the Constitution off the coast of Mexico when war with that country broke out. In between he chased West Indies pirates and Globe mutineers, tussled with South Pacific chieftains, policed distant American whalers and merchantmen, charted unknown waters, quarreled with missionaries, educated and trained midshipmen, and skirmished with local forces in what is now Vietnam. This work is just as entertaining as the tall tales about this heroic figure spun by generations of seamen, but it is completely true.