Photo credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.
Welcome to Pirate Week at Goat Rope. If this is your first visit, please click on the earlier entries.
As mentioned previously, compared to the miserable lot of sailors on Royal Navy or merchant vessels, pirates of the Golden Age (1715-1725) did pretty good. They elected their leaders democratically, made decisions in councils, shared their loot fairly and even provided benefits for those injured in the line of...well, piracy. They were often viewed as folk heroes among the lower classes.
By contrast, "legitimate" sailors, military or commercial were typically viewed as little better than common criminals. Samuel Johnson once said that their lot was similar to that of a prisoner, with the added possibility of drowning.
The work was extremely dangerous. Falling from masts or sails, getting swept overboard, hernias or other injuries from straining with cargo were only a few of the possibilities. And don't forget constant exposure to the elements, overcrowding, filthy conditions, bad food, widespread diseases and floggings or beatings from tyrannical captains, and disappearing wages.
Colin Woodard, author of The Republic of Pirates describes conditions for sailors in merchant vessels thus:
They slept in densely packed rows of hammocks in this dark and poorly ventilated space, which reeked of bilge water and unwashed flesh. Lice, rats, and cockroaches swarmed the vessel, spreading diseases like typhus, typhoid, and the plague. Gottleib Mittleberger, who crossed the Atlantic in 1750, reported that the cabins were a place of "stench, fumes, horror, vomiting, many kinds of sea-sickness, fever, dysentery, headache, heat, consumption, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouth rot and the like, all of which come from old and sharply salted food and meat, also from very bad and foul water, so that many die miserably."
You can see why the Jolly Roger looked pretty good.
A SMALLER ARK. According to this estimate, global climate change could result in mass extinctions.
MEANWHILE BACK AT THE STRIP MINE... Bush administration rule changes for mountaintop removal mining caused some controversy at a public hearing yesterday.
THE PLOT THICKENS. Out of state groups have plans for a protest regarding the Megan Williams case, a move some local organizations, such as the WV NAACP and the Logan County Improvement League, do not support. Things are already heating up.
MAUREEN DOWD ROCKS ON. Here's one of my favorite columnists on the Bush administration's race for yet another war. I love the lead:
Dick Cheney’s craziness used to influence foreign policy.
Now it is foreign policy.
HERE'S A SWITCH. Don Blankenship is dropping lawsuit against political opponents.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED