British Piracy In The Golden Age

2012 Words 9 Pages
12 July 1726. Had this been a typical Tuesday Morning, a Boston resident could have taken a stroll down cobbled King’s Street, perhaps picking up a copy of this week’s Boston News-Letter, on their way to the merchant shops at the Long Wharf. Once there, they could have gazed at dozens of deep sea vessels going about their trade in the Boston Harbor, or headed into Crown’s Coffee-House to hear the latest news from throughout the Atlantic told by sea hardened sailors. However, this particular Tuesday was anything but ordinary. The coffee-houses were silent, the sloops and brigantines filled with goods destined for far off ports docked eerily still. The wharf, however, beamed with sound and life. Thousands of residents from all over the colony …show more content…
Joel Baer’s British Piracy in the Golden Age (2008) has made reviewing such cases monumentally easier, for which I am deeply indebted. My research strives to go beyond a superficial analysis of the most widely circulated and notorious cases and examine the entire era of colonial piracy trials. The hope is that by carefully analyzing piracy legislation, and the way in which officials interpreted those policies in their courtrooms, we are able to better understand the perceived threat of piracy and the extent to which royal officials were willing to tolerate contradictory procedures in order to eliminate that …show more content…
Laws and royal decrees, while extremely helpful in ascertaining the desires of the politically powerful, can often embellish the importance of such measures. After all, there is a significant void between the intent of legislation and the outcome of its implementation. Here is where I believe earlier historians have missed the mark. By placing all their focus on the legislative efforts to eradicate piracy, they ignored how those policies were enforced at the local level. Combining these sources with trial documents allows us an eclectic view of imperial and colonial efforts to end piracy’s threat to the empire.
The study of piracy trials during the era under examination was made considerably easier by the recent publication of Joel Baer’s British Piracy in the Golden Age. Many of the documents discussed herein can be found in Baer’s four volume set, supplemented by several trials housed at multiple national archives in the United States and Great Britain. Included in these are three trials from the vice-Admiralty court of the South Carolina colony which have laid unexamined for over a century. Seventeen trials in total make up the bulk of the source material for this

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