Bicycling through History

BICYCLING THROUGH HISTORY

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Pirates !!

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Sunken Treasure !!

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Edition 1

Edition 2

Edition 3

Edition 4

Edition 5

Edition 6

Edition 7

Edition 8

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Librarians

Retailers

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VIDEO on the WEB

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Pirates: A New Series on DVD

Ben Cherry has shared his interpretation of the most famous pirate, Blackbeard, for countless audiences throughout the eastern United States and in other countries. He provides exciting entertainment and education for people of all ages. His personal approach to reliving history has helped millions of school children to understand the nefarious roles that pirates have played during the early development of America.

For More Specific Information about Recruiting this Colorful Impersonator:

Call: 252-793-5166

Or Write:
  • Blackbeard
  • 119 West Water St.
  • Plymouth NC 27962


Blackbeard's real name might have been Edward Teach. People were not as literate in the early 1700's as they are today, so Teach could easily be confused with other names like Thach, Tache, Tack, or even Drummond or Commeday. Despite the lack of a precise written name, Blackbeard is best known through his many myths and legends. He is the one by which other pirates are often measured. He was a tyrant. He was a lady's man. He was a brute, and yet he had to care for the men on board his ships, or else he never would have developed such a notorious reputation.

Absolutely everyone who sailed the high seas in the 18th century, was well acquainted with violence. That was part of life. Blackbeard prevailed, for a short period anyway, through strategy, guile and ultimately - violence.

He was born in approximately the year 1680. He grew up in city of Bristol, England. His family was rather wealthy. He was educated in the finest schools. His education served him well, at least for a while anyway. At about age 13 his father died. When his mother remarried, his stepfather demonstrated the use of violence directly upon him as a young teenager. By age 16, Edward turned on the stepfather and nearly beat him to death. That required a very rapid change in lifestyle. He was forced to leave home. He went to the local docks of Bristol and signed on to a ship as a cabin boy. The ship was bound for Jamaica. It was there that he joined up with a privateer named Jennings. (A Privateer is somewhat like a pirate, but is actually licensed to steal by the government. Pirates work for themselves.) Jennings introduced young Edward to the "Brethren of the Coasts," otherwise known as pirates ! Another mentor was Benjamin Hornigold, a great Captain and an excellent teacher. Edward was becoming a black bearded pirate, yet his infamy was still a few years away. He was able to see the tactics required, learn the management skills and begin to navigate the treacherous waters of the Caribbean. Captain Horngold promoted Edward, the blackbeard, to be second in command.

In 1717, they managed to capture a French ship called the "Concord." At about that time, they were off the coast of St. Vincent when Hornigold decided to retire to a land based environment. That allowed the new Captain, Blackbeard, to assume command and thus rename the ship: The Queen Anne's Revenge. This was quite the impressive ship with 40 cannons mounted on deck and a wild crew that was ready to plunder. Those next years began the career, and all too soon the demise, of the famous Blackbeard.

Within a few short weeks, the King of England had given word to rid the area of pirates. Very soon a formidable ship was sent from Barbados to do the job. On Blackbeards first battle as Captain, he and his crew crippled the massive British ship, Scarborough, and sent it back from whence it came. That only angered the British. They do not like to lose and they remember who causes them that embarrassment.

Blackbeard continued with successful battles and increased the size of his fleet to five ships and over 300 men. King George the First decided to send out a proclamation that allowed all pirates to receive a full pardon with no punishments. That sounded like a deception, so in the spring of that year,1718, Blackbeard departed the Bay of Honduras for points north. The final destination was unknown, but it turned out to be the Carolinas. Blackbeard had previous business relationships with a local Governor there and he felt that he could negotiate to receive the King's pardon in a more favorable location.

After three weeks sailing, his fleet reached the coast of South Carolina. It is not clear whether Blackbeard himself was ailing, or some of his crew, but a demand was issued to the port of Charleston for food and medicine. The pirates blockaded the port for nearly a week. The local population decided it was better to relent than incur more violence from the likes of a notorious pirate fleet. They provided the food and medicine, but not until after Blackbeard had abandoned some his men and several of his ships nearby. The crewmen were later rescued, but in the meantime Blackbeard had disappeared.

By June of 1718, he had made his way to the Pamlico Sound. The narrow channels and shallow sand bars made navigation to follow Blackbeard very difficult. He located a most suitable hideout in Bath, North Carolina, which was then the main colonial town in that area. The Governor was sought to negotiate the King's pardon. Governor Eden accommodated Blackbeard and they became somewhat friendly in a business sense. The pirates would bring loot to the town and the small community on a remote river could provide a safe place for their home station.

Blackbeard was happy in North Carolina. He wasted very little time in selecting a new bride. He met a girl named Mary Orman who lived on a plantation not far from Bath town. Although the pirate was near 40 years old, she was only 16. Their wedding was quite an affair to remember. The governor actually performed the wedding ceremony and the crew took part in the celebrations. The locals were obviously concerned.

Pirates have an unusual career. They cannot stay home. They have to go out and find ships to conquer and treasure to bring home. Blackbeard decided to sail north, along the Atlantic coast. That journey managed to get rid of more crew, some as far as north as the Delaware River. Blackbeard then decided to return home. Little did he know that a plot was working against him. Colonel Edward Mosley and Colonel Maurice Moore were part of the Royal British military and they traveled to Williamsburg, Virginia, to discuss actions against pirates. They met with the local Governor, Alexander Spotswood. They planned an attack to rid the coast of pirates in general, but Blackbeard in particular. It was a well financed and concerted effort.

On November 22, 1718, as his sloop neared the island of Ocracoke, Blackbeard spotted the masts of two ships. Pirates always evaluate nearby ships and these two appeared to be very short on crew. This was an opportunity that pirates could not resist. He continued toward the island and toward the two ships. As he came alongside he quickly discovered that it was an ambush. The otherwise empty ships suddenly bustled with sailors and marines who began to attack. The fight was hopeless. Blackbeard and his outnumbered crew were doomed. They had fallen victim to their own tactics. The sea grew red with their blood.

It was fierce battle indeed. Blackbeard's body was found to have 21 slashes and cuts from swords and sabers. He had 5 bullet holes in him when the order was given to cut his head off.

Those that live by the sword : die by the sword.

There was a bounty on Blackbeard, and his head would be positive proof that his death was at the hands of those who had it. The crew with that trophy could claim the reward from the Governor of Virginia. The legend goes that his head was sailed to Virginia, hung off the bowsprit of the ship "Ranger." It was then placed on a boarding pike next to the shoreline at the mouth of Hampton Roads Harbor. It remained on that stake for weeks, perhaps months. His decaying skull served as a clear warning to all those so inclined, that pirates were not welcome in Virginia. Furthermore, that anyone who might think about becoming a pirate would suffer the same fate as Blackbeard.

That is one way to learn a lesson.

Pirating Through History is scary. Share it with friends.


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American History from the perspective of a Casual Cyclist.


Bicycling Through History
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