I will not be talking like a pirate on International Talk Like a Pirate Day — yet I have a suggestion for Talk Like a Pirate Evening. Tonight, why not curl up in your treasure den with a cup of rum, your favorite gentleman/gentlewoman volunteer (topless, natch), and a copy of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer?
I can’t resist the marketing opportunity but I do disagree with the association often made between pirates and privateers. Pirates were bound solely by the covenants they made with each other. American privateers like Smedley were regulated not only by the ship’s articles between the men but also by the rules of Congress. Privateers had to post bond to obtain their commission, and violating the rules of conduct — torture, stripping prisoners of their personal belongings, ransacking the cargo — meant loss of the bond and vulnerability to lawsuits from the aggrieved. While not directly analogous, Revolutionary privateers had more in common with the Minutemen or a posse comitatus than with Blackbeard.
The above painting is A Portrait of Things to Come by Marc Davis, a Disney imagineer. It hangs inside the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland and depicts Scarlett, the redhead on the auction block whom guests meet later in the ride, subsequent to her going on the account. It’s a pirate’s life for her.