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Biography of Edward "Blackbeard" Teach


Biography of Edward "Blackbeard" Teach

Blackbeard's Flag

Blackbeard's Flag

Blackbeard had a distinctive flag. It featured a white, horned skeleton on a black background holding a spear, which was pointing at a red heart. There are red "blood drops" near the heart. The skeleton is holding a glass, toasting the devil. The skeleton obviously stands for death - for enemy crews who put up a fight. The speared heart meant that no quarter would be asked or given. Blackbeard's flag was designed to intimidate opposing ship crews into surrendering without a fight, and it probably did!

Raiding the Spanish

In the late part of 1717 and early part of 1718, Blackbeard and Bonnet went south to raid Spanish shipping off of Mexico and Central America. Reports from the time indicate that the Spanish were aware of "the Great Devil" off the coast of Veracruz who was terrorizing their shipping lanes. They did well in the region, and by spring of 1718, he had several ships and close to 700 men when they arrived in Nassau to split up the plunder.

Blackbeard Blockades Charleston

Blackbeard realized that he could use his reputation to greater gain. In April of 1718, he sailed north to Charleston, then a thriving English colony. He set up right outside Charleston harbor, capturing any ships that tried to enter or leave. He took many of the passengers aboard these ships prisoner. The population, realizing that none other than Blackbeard himself was off their shores, was terrified. He sent messengers to the town, demanding a ransom for his prisoners: a well-stocked chest of medicine, as good as gold to a pirate at the time. The people of Charleston happily sent it and Blackbeard left after about a week.

Breaking up of the Company

Near the middle of 1718, Blackbeard decided he needed a break from piracy. He devised a plan to get away with as much of his loot as possible. He "accidentally" grounded the Queen Anne's Revenge and one of his sloops off the coast of North Carolina. He left the Revenge there, and transferred all of the loot to the fourth and last ship of his fleet, leaving most of his men behind. Stede Bonnet, who had gone to unsuccessfully seek a pardon, returned to find that Blackbeard had absconded with all the loot. Bonnet rescued the men and set off in search of Blackbeard, but never found him (which was probably just as well for the inept Bonnet).

Blackbeard and Eden

Blackbeard and some 20 other pirates then went to see Charles Eden, the Governor of North Carolina, where they accepted the King's Pardon. In secret, however, Blackbeard and the crooked governor had made a deal. These two men realized that working together, they could steal far more than they could alone. Eden agreed to officially license Blackbeard's remaining vessel, the Adventure, as a war prize. Blackbeard and his men lived in a nearby inlet, from which they occasionally sallied forth to attack passing ships. Blackbeard even married a young local girl. On one occasion, the pirates took a French ship loaded with cocoa and sugar: they sailed it to North Carolina, claimed they had found it afloat and abandoned, and shared the spoils with the governor and his top advisors. It was a crooked partnership that looked to enrich both men.

Blackbeard and Vane

In October of 1718, Charles Vane, leader of those pirates who had rejected Governor Woodes Rogers' offer of a royal pardon, sailed north in search of Blackbeard, who he found on Ocracoke Island. Vane hoped to convince the legendary pirate to join him and reclaim the Caribbean as a lawless pirate kingdom. Blackbeard, who had a good thing going, politely declined. Vane did not take it personally and Vane, Blackbeard and their crews partied for a rum-soaked week on the shores of Ocracoke.

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