October 24, 2007


Photo credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

This is Pirate Week at Goat Rope. If this is your first visit, please click on the earlier entries.

As mentioned yesterday, pirates of the Golden Age (1715-1725) were folk heroes to many members of the lower classes--including sailors in the Royal Navy and in merchant vessels, many of whom would voluntarily join them given the chance. According to Colin Woodard, author of The Republic of Pirates,

They were sailors, indentured servants, and runaway slaves rebelling against their oppressors: captains, ship owners, and the autocrats of the great slave plantations of America and the West Indies.

Consider the lot of a sailor on a merchant vessel. In Woodard's words,

Merchants were compelled to adopt aggressive tactics to fill their crews. Some hired "spirits," or men who, in the words of sailor Edward Barlow, went about inns and taverns looking to "entice any who they think are country people or strangers...or any who they think are out of place and cannot get work and are walking idly about the streets."

The spirits promised good wages and cash in advance but wound up keeping several months of the sailor's wages as a commission. Some captains relied on "crimps" who took advantage of drunkards or indebted people or resorted to outright kidnapping. Once on board, the sailors were legally obliged to serve until the end of a voyage that could last for months or years.

The Royal Navy offered worse pay and harsher punishments and often resorted to press gangs that would round up any seaman or unfortunate soul they could find to meet the quote of men.

As we'll see tomorrow, the conditions aboard ship were pretty terrible.

I don't know about y'all, but I'm about ready to take the pirate oath...

MEGAN WILLIAMS SPEAKS. Here's an interview by AP with Megan Williams.

KANT WOULD CALL THIS "HETERONOMY." It appears some folks at the (WV) State Journal, a business paper sometimes more ideological than commercial, have adopted the position that because the coal industry might be inconvenienced if the human contribution to global warming was acknowledged it therefore isn't happening. Meanwhile, check this out.

IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN according to this Business Week article.

BAD MEDICINE. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the decline in family incomes will have serious health impacts in this country.

ALONG THOSE LINES, here's a briefing paper by the Economic Policy Institute on the impact of globalization in its current form on wages for US workers.

MORE ON BOOK BANNING. According to this Gazette piece, author Pat Conroy has responded to efforts to ban his books from AP classes in Kanawha County. Here's his letter to the editor.


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