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Pirates, Merchants, Settlers, and Slaves

Pirates, Merchants, Settlers, and Slaves: Colonial America and the Indo-Atlantic World

Kevin P. McDonald
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Pirates, Merchants, Settlers, and Slaves
    Book Description:

    In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, more than a thousand pirates poured from the Atlantic into the Indian Ocean. There, according to Kevin P. McDonald, they helped launch an informal trade network that spanned the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds, connecting the North American colonies with the rich markets of the East Indies. Rather than conducting their commerce through chartered companies based in London or Lisbon, colonial merchants in New York entered into an alliance with Euro-American pirates based in Madagascar.Pirates, Merchants, Settlers, and Slavesexplores the resulting global trade network located on the peripheries of world empires and shows the illicit ways American colonists met the consumer demand for slaves and East India goods. The book reveals that pirates played a significant yet misunderstood role in this period and that seafaring slaves were both commodities and essential components in the Indo-Atlantic maritime networks.Enlivened by stories of Indo-Atlantic sailors and cargoes that included textiles, spices, jewels and precious metals, chinaware, alcohol, and drugs, this book links previously isolated themes of piracy, colonialism, slavery, transoceanic networks, and cross-cultural interactions and extends the boundaries of traditional Atlantic, national, world, and colonial histories.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95878-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Kevin P. McDonald
  5. [Maps]
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Introduction: The Indo-Atlantic World
    (pp. 1-11)

    In 1694, Captain Thomas Tew, an infamous Anglo-American pirate, was observed riding comfortably in the open coach of New York’s only six-horse carriage with Benjamin Fletcher, the colonel-governor of the colony. Captain Tew, a Rhode Island native, had recently returned from a profitable pirating venture based in Madagascar, ten thousand miles away in the Indian Ocean, and his appearance in New York should have raised some officials’ eyebrows. The pirate and the governor, cavorting through the crooked streets and exchanging gifts, were in fact keenly observed by many of the seaport’s inhabitants, including its numerous slaves. The pirate, later accompanied...

  7. CHAPTER 1 The Spectrum of Piracy
    (pp. 12-36)

    Western accounts of pirates and piracy, ranging from the fantastical to the historical and everywhere in between, have been recorded since antiquity, when trading vessels were first constructed to move people and goods via waterways. By definition, a pirate was, and is, a person or ship that plunders or robs at sea. Pirates plundered periodically throughout the ancient Aegean, but it was Roman jurisprudence that first characterized the watery brigands ashostes humani generis,“enemies of all mankind,” in a bid to protect a claim of imperial sovereignty upon the seas that linked their cross-continental empire. This legal designation, notably...

  8. CHAPTER 2 New York Merchants and the Indo-Atlantic Trade
    (pp. 37-60)

    Historians have long established that by the middle of the eighteenth century, the tumultuous seas of the North Atlantic had been transformed by and large into an English pond.¹ What many of these historians fail to stress, however, is that before this impressive transformation took place, the North Atlantic, and its extensive western littoral, were contested spaces among the expanding European states and the indigenous coastal peoples. On the western edge of this vast North Atlantic region, situated at the northern end of a grand and deep harbor, was the island of Manhattes, bounded to the west by the great...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Utopian Dreamers and Colonial Disasters
    (pp. 61-80)

    In the early modern era, overseas colonization projects dreamed up in Europe were often accompanied by promotional literature cloaked in the sanguine garb of classic utopian ideals. Many of these colonizing schemes, and the attendant literature, focused on territories situated in the “New World” of the Americas, such as Virginia and New England.¹ Not all utopian dreams however, were confined to the Atlantic basin. One region in particular, just beyond the Atlantic littoral, continued to beguile European schemers over the course of the early modern era: the island of Madagascar. Situated in the western Indian Ocean beyond the Cape of...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Pirate-Settlers of Madagascar
    (pp. 81-98)

    Atlantic voyagers to the Indian Ocean frequently commented on the heavy surf and tumultuous seas while rounding the Cape of Good Hope, which the Portuguese suggestively christened the “Cape of Storms.” Many a ship’s log has an entry to the effect that “a great swell came in from the sea . . .” The colossal waves were caused by the collision of two massive ocean basins and the “roaring forties,” the persistent westerly gale-force winds that helped propel Atlantic vessels into the region—but also might wreck them. Pirates were akin to the great groundswells that arrived annually in the...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Seafaring Slaves and Freedom in the Indo-Atlantic World
    (pp. 99-122)

    Sometime in 1694, a “very tall” and “remarkable” mulatto named Calico Jack, a seafaring slave, slipped away from his owner’s plantation on the Upper Mills at Philipsburg Manor. Jack initiated his escape on the Pocantico, a tributary of the Hudson River just north of New York City, and traveled eastward along the Long Island Sound. Jack’s owner, Frederick Philipse, tracked him to Stratford, Connecticut, a small port town on the northern coast of the Sound, where the trail disappeared. Philipse was convinced that Jack had continued navigating to Rhode Island, where he would have utilized his considerable maritime knowledge and...

  12. Conclusion: Specters of the Indo-Atlantic World
    (pp. 123-130)

    By the end of the eighteenth century, a truly Indo-Atlantic world emerged, connecting the North and South Atlantic basins with the western Indian Ocean. Like the Atlantic and Mediterranean worlds in earlier times, this interoceanic region was integrated by an armed trading and raiding model and marked by the establishment of the plantation complex system. The plantations were most extensively developed in the Mascarene islands, which by this time resembled the tropical islands of the Caribbean, with massive sugar plantations owned by Euro-American planters and worked by tens of thousands of African slave laborers. As the previous chapter illustrates, the...

  13. Appendix 1. Slave Trade Ships in Madagascar, 1663–1747
    (pp. 131-140)
  14. Appendix 2. Ships at Madagascar, 1689–1730
    (pp. 141-144)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 145-170)
    (pp. 171-196)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 197-206)