Derick Buffum


A piracy in 1700s and 1800s could be defined as, an individual who attacked merchant vessels and coastal cities for personal gain who is loyal to no nation. Men became pirates for many reasons. These reasons could be for economic, legal, or personal reasons. Men on naval and merchant ships had low pay and miserable living condition, so many men turned to piracy. Pirates were always looking for new recruits when they captured new ships.


Pirates included skilled seamen, doctors, and carpenters. When a ship was captured, the crew would be invited to join the pirate ranks, if not then they would be marooned or killed. All the stolen goods and money were divided equally among the crew, however the captain got slightly more than the rest. Captains were elected by the crew. Captains were usually chosen based on leaderhsip and naval knowledge. The captain's cabin was always open to the entire crew. For centuries pirates always designed their own unique flags. The flags were used to intimidate their victims. Only a small percentage of pirates were ever brought to justice, which made piracy a very attractice option to many sailors all over the atlantic.

The Notorious Edward Teach or "Blackbeard"

The Flag the Black Bart Roberts Used to Intimidate his Enemies


After the "Golden Age" Piracy which spanned from 1650 to 1750, pirate activity died down. The after the Napoleonic Wars many privateers found themselves without work. So many turned to piracy operating in places like Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. Also after the Napoleonic Wars the oceans were considered to be safer for commerce. At the the time there was a growing demand for materials that came from the Industrial Revolution, so the Caribbean and American shipping lanes were filled with a greater amount of vessels than ever before. This set the stage for more pirate attacks. Many small attacks ensued on merchant vessels going over to the Americas. Pirates stole food, equipment, money, clothing, and new products from the Industrial Revolution. Money remained a constant valued item to be stolen from ships. However pirates targeted goods based on the times. Whatever was trending is shipping and trade, pirates targeted. Between 1815 and 1820 hundreds of American vessels were attacked and plundered. Marine insurance rates saw a major increase. Piracy had become a huge problem for Europe, the United States, and the Caribbean. In response to the attacks, major efforts were made by the US Navy and British Royal Navy to end piracy in the Caribbean. Naval patrols and raids on known pirate areas, brought the situation under control. Successful pirates like Jean Laffitte were driven out of the sea. By the late 1820s few notorious pirates remained, and the threat of piracy as a whole had receded. However the seas were not completely safe, and occasionally pirate attacks still occurred in the Atlantic.


After the British Royal Navy and the US navy, put an end of the last serious pirate threats in the Caribbean. The seas had become a safer place, allowing the effects, products, and ideas of the Industrial Revolution to spread quicker. The Golden Age of piracy came and went, but piracy still existed, and carried on through the 1800s. Still to this day pirate acts occur, but not to the extent of the 1700s and the 1800s.

Blackbeard's take on a Life of Piracy