On #yesterdaysdateinpiratehistory in 1718, Blackbeard began his infamous blockade of Charleston.
Blackbeard’s pirate fleet arrived off Charleston Bar, nine miles south of town, and seized the pilot boat before it could sail to town and raise an alarm. Then, they fanned their four vessels out across the approaches to the bar and waited for unsuspecting ships to sail into their trap.
Within the first few days they captured at least five vessels: two outbound to London, two inbound from England, and a tiny sloop, the William, headed home to Philadelphia.
The first of these captures, the 178-ton Crowley, had been headed out of the river, bound for London carrying some of the most distinguished citizens of Charleston. Blackbeard had them transferred over to the Queen Anne’s Revenge. They were interrogated thoroughly and then returned to the Crowley, where they were locked into the ship’s hold to await their fate.
Blackbeard and his crew convened and decided that they would request a ransom for their captives. If they were refused, they threatened to not only kill all the captives and burn their vessels, but also to sail into Charleston harbor, sink all the ships there, and attack the town itself.
Blackbeard sent a small group of pirates with their ransom request: a chest containing a list of medicines drawn up by their surgeon, with a total value of £400.
With the captives in the hold of the Crowley and several captured ships at anchor amongst the pirates, Blackbeard and his crew would now wait to hear whether the town would agree to his demand or be destroyed.
“When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”
John Maynard Keynes
“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”