Commodore Esek Hopkins (1718 - 1802)Esek (or Essex) Hopkins was a Commodore in the fledgling U.S. Navy. The first ships converted for U.S. naval use were under his command. He was, according to the Library of Congress, Commander in Chief of the American Fleet, and thus the first ranking officer of the U.S. Navy.
His competition was somewhat unusual: ``Hopkins had to compete with privateers for supplies and, more importantly, for men; privateers offered sailors higher wages and a greater share of plundered goods.'' This was somewhat ironic, since he had sailed a fleet of 10 privateer vessels in the French and Indian War.
He also got into trouble with Congress for interpreting his orders rather broadly in diverting his fleet from its announced destination of Charleston to the Bahamas, where he made a successful raid on military stores. Congress sacked him anyway. Some say his real crimes were a hot temper and an unguarded tongue.
Others say he had secret orders. Among his officers was First Lieutenant John Paul Jones, who helped take New Providence. This was the first American naval victory.
Commodore Hopkins flew on this first and on other voyages the Gadsden flag, designed by a man from Charleston, Carolina, with a coiled rattlesnake and the motto ``Don't Tread on Me.''
This flag was also carried by many U.S. ground troops of the time.
Commodore Hopkins was also my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather.
Last changed: Sun Oct 21 21:55:25 CDT 2001