Friday, July 4, 2014

America -- Founded By Pirates

Happy 4th of July to Everyone!  On this day when we celebrate the birth of American independence, let us not forget the pirates.  Wait?!?  What do pirates have to do with American independence?  Quite a bit, actually.  Pirates influenced our style of government, worked with colonial governors, and even fought in the Revolution of 1776.

What the U.S. Flag Should Look Like

As you may remember from "You Want Me to Sign Your What?", pirates have a very democratic process for electing their captain and believe in rules agreed upon by the group as a whole and explained to everyone.  All though it may not resemble it so much anymore, this was the root that our modern system of government in the U.S. came from.  Many pirates were originally maroons; our modern freedoms have their roots in the settlements these former slaves set up for themselves.  If you don't like that idea very much, then check this out.

Pirates often worked with the governors of the American colonies.  As a holdover from earlier and simpler times, colonial governors had some of the crown's executive authority.  They could (and did) create privateers.  One of the major values to being a privateer was having a port to sell your cargo in, as long as you could prove it was 'spoils of war'.  Of course, you run the risk of being caught when you do this.  Below is an excerpt from a letter Governor Dudley of Massachusetts sent to the crown:
. . .

1.  That the government of Rhode Island does not observe the Acts of Trade and Navigation; but counteneces the violation thereof, by permitting and encouraging of illegal trade and piracy.

2.  That Rhode Island is a receptacle of pirates, who are encouraged and harbored by that government. . . .

What you may not know is the good governor Dudley also licensed pirates to be privateers for the Massachusetts Bay Co.  He wrote the crown because he was angry that these Rhode Island boys were cutting into his profits, not because he honored the Acts of Trade and Navigation so much or because he feared that pirates were a danger to his people.

What about the pirates fighting in the Revolutionary War?  Well that is a really fascinating story because it involves not only pirates, but also Ben Franklin.  You can read all about it here:

Luke Ryan, the Irish pirate who fought for American liberty.

No comments:

Post a Comment