These were the words of Captain John Paul Jones, an American immigrant who volunteered for service in the Navy. During the American Revolution, he was ordered to sail to European waters where he was expected to attack British ships and seaports and generally create havoc.
In 1779, following Jones’ attack on the coast of Ireland, he sailed a squadron of five ships north around the tip of Scotland to a position near Northern England. There, he met a large merchant convoy that was escorted by two ships in the British navy (including the impressive 44-gun Serapis) and immediately gave chase.
It wasn’t long before the British ships gained the advantage, and Jones’ flagship, the Bonhomme Richard took critical damage and began to sink. Seeing this, the British captain demanded Captain Jones’ surrender. However, rather than surrender, Jones responded with his now famous words “I have not yet begun to fight.” After this, Jones and his crew increased the ferocity of their attack so much that, despite their inferior ships, inferior training, and initially inferior position, they ultimately won the battle.