Edward Teach (c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who prowled the waters of the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies during the early 18th century. His name was derived from his thick black beard and fearsome appearance. He is pictured with lit fuses in his beard to frighten his enemies.
Teach came on the pirate scene in 1716 when he joined the crew of Benjamin Hornigold, a pirate who operated from the Caribbean island of New Providence. When they took a merchantman, Teach took command and renamed her the Queen Anne’s Revenge. The next two years were spent terrorizing the East Coast.
When Hornigold took the pardon offered to pirates by the English government, Teach and the other pirates joined to continue their pirating activities which included blockading the port of Charleston. He ransomed some of his hostages for medical supplies and sailed on his way after releasing the hostages unharmed. Soon afterwards, he ran his ship aground on a sandbar, removed his treasure from his ship and accepted a royal pardon from Governor Eden of North Carolina. Teach, who had married fourteen times on at sea, married for real and settled in North Carolina.
He was soon back to pirating. When he joined with another pirate, Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia feared they would set up a base to disrupt shipping. Spotswood sent ships at his own expense to attack them. The Governor’s men tricked Blackbeard and his men into boarding their ship and attacked in force. Lieutenant Robert Maynard fought Blackbeard hand-to-hand with swords but was forced to shoot the pirate. Others attacked until Blackbeard finally fell with a reported five gunshot wounds and twenty sword wounds. He was decapitated and his head mounted on the Governor’s ship.
Tomorrow: Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” Speech Rita Bay