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“P” is for Piracy

“P” is for Piracy. Piracy flourished along the Carolina coast during the first thirty years of settlement and later during the “Golden Age of Piracy” [1716-1720]. Like merchants in all colonies, Charleston’s traders were accustomed to dealing with smugglers and welcomed the cheap goods and hard money that pirates brought. Among the most notorious buccaneers operating off Charleston were Blackbeard, Stede Bonnet, and Anne Bonney. In 1718, Blackbeard and Bonnet blockaded the port, seized ships, and hostages--eventually ransoming them for valuable medicines. A South Carolina fleet of armed sloops, under the command of Colonel William Rhett, set out in pursuit of Charles Vane, another pirate. Vane eluded the Carolinians, but they found Bonnet at Cape Fear. After a vicious battle, Bonnet and his crew were returned to Charleston where they were tried, convicted, and hanged for piracy.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.