Who Was Blackbeard?
By 1717, Philadelphia was one of the largest cities in the American colonies, which were owned by Great Britain. Philadelphia was on the Delaware River, and its port welcomed ships from Europe almost every day. But in the fall of that year, many of those ships never made it to port. The few that did told tales that shocked and frightened the English colonists in and around Philadelphia. A pirate ship was lurking nearby in the Atlantic Ocean, where the Delaware met the sea.
Captains arriving in New York City and Baltimore told the same stories. A pirate was attacking their ships. He swooped in with his black flag flying. His men stormed merchant ships and stole everything that wasn’t nailed down.
The pirate captain himself had a long black beard and wore belts rigged with pistols and
swords. He wore lit pieces or rope in his beard so that his face was ringed by smoke. His vessel was equipped with cannons that sent iron balls smashing into the fragile sides of wooden ships. Only a brave few would dare to challenge him and his ferocious crew.
“If speedy care be not taken they will become formidable. . . . Our government can make no defense,” wrote Philadelphia merchant James Logan. Captain Charles Johnson later wrote that the pirate had “frightened America more than any comet that has appeared in a long time.”
This pirate was causing panic and fear throughout the American colonies. He continued his raids of terror down the Atlantic coast and into the Caribbean Sea. The people that he robbed and captured didn’t know it at the time, but they were in the hands of the man who would become the most famous pirate ever: Blackbeard!
Copyright © 2015 by James Buckley Jr.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.