The "Qualifications of a Naval Officer" quotation variously attributed to John Paul Jones and force-fed to U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen in the publication Reef Points presents a clear sign of naval transformation at the turn of the 20th century. The action of a recent Commandant of Midshipmen, however, officially acknowledges that Jones had nothing to do with this 100-year-old mantra.
In 1986 naval historian James C. Bradford carefully constructed a case proving that Augustus C. Buell (1847-1904) was a fabricator. "Qualifications of a Naval Officer," long memorized by all midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, was not written by John Paul Jones, as first cited by Buell in his 1900 two-volume Paul Jones: Founder of the American Navy . 1 Rather, Bradford convincingly argued in a 33-page pamphlet published by the Naval Historical Foundation that the popular biographer had rewritten some of Jones's letters and created other documents to offer turn-of-the-century naval officers a model of modern professionalism. 2