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The Pirates and Privateers of Early America
The entertaining "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies seem like pure fiction, but they are not as far off as one may think. Granted there was no such thing as a "fountain of youth" or undead skeleton crewmembers, Caribbean waters were once covered in ruthless pirates as displayed in the movies. Since the early 1700's pirates scourged the seas looting merchants ships travelling along the transcontinental European trade routes. This time period, lasting until about 1725, was known as the "Golden Age of Piracy." ("Reefs, Wrecks and Rascals") Pirates ruled the Caribbean and the North American seaboard, invading ships bringing goods from Europe, Africa and India to North America and the West Indies. Most pirates were of American or European ancestry who had once served in the British navies. Years later in 1763, when Britain, Spain and France ended their feud over American colonial lands in the Seven Years War, many sailors found themselves jobless and landlocked.
The lack of a strong colonial government and a desire for wealth further contributed to the piracy boom. ("Reefs, Wrecks, and Rascals") One pirate in particular seemed to leave an indefinite mark on the history of piracy. In 1716, an English Pirate by the name of Edward Teach gained much popularity for his terrifying appearance and ruthless tactics. He ruled the West Indies and often commandeered ships bringing goods to the British settlement of North Carolina. ("Biography of Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach.") Today we all know him as the infamous Captain Blackbeard. However, Blackbeard and his crew were not the only group of pirates terrorizing the sea during this time period.
Another group of sea-legged hooligans soon took to the seas. They were known as the Barbary...