The Journey of Christopher Newport

The Journey of Christopher Newport - Fitzhugh Amanda...

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Fitzhugh Amanda Fitzhugh ULLC 223-3 FINAL Professor Bunch April 20, 2007 The Forgotten Past of Piracy When people think of pirates, most likely the first few stereotypes that come to mind include peg legs, hooks, bushy beards, parrots, walking the plank, and rum. Pirates were common criminals, people who plundered on the sea or waterways, and were often viewed as malicious murderers who liked to torture their victims. Although Privateer Captain Christopher Newport fit the stereotype of a pirate with a hook for an arm, he was in no way considered a feared criminal of the seas. Beginning with the efforts of Christopher Newport and the settlement of Jamestown, it is evident that piracy has played a foremost role in the formation of the colonial New World that is still present today. Born in 1561 England, Newport became a British sailor who later became a London privateer raiding Spanish freighters off and on in the Caribbean. A privateer was an individual who captained a private ship authorized by a country's government by Letters of Marquee to attack foreign shipping. A privateer was strictly entitled to attack enemy vessels during wartime. States, however, often encouraged attacks on opposing powers while at peace or on neutral vessels during time of war, blurring the line between privateering and piracy . Almost all pirates had labored as merchant seamen, Royal Navy sailors, or privateer men (Rediker 206). 1
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Not all privateering adventures were successful, where crews sailed away with large amounts of goods and treasures. During one of many of his privateering adventures, Newport encountered one of his largest struggles; when Newport and his crew encountered two treasure ships heading towards Havana. Although he was a privateer, Newport did anything he could to seize the two ships, a maneuver that mainly pirates were known for. In the bitter struggle between the treasure ships, five of Newport's crew men were killed and he himself lost his right arm (Andrews 30). Newport, along with his crew paid a heavy price during this struggle, considering both treasure ships sank before Newport's crew could unload the silver and other precious materials. Newport undertook thirteen years of privateering, where the majority was spent as Captain aboard the Margaret of London. The costs of the Margaret ’s ventures were financed by a group of wealthy London merchants hoping to gain a significant return from prize money earned from enemy vessels. These London merchants ended up making a good investment, taking into account that in 1592 Newport took the greatest English plunder of the Century when he captured the Spanish ship Madre De Dois. The plunder of this ship amounted to over half a million pounds of goods including sugars, spices, jewels, and slaves (Andrews 31). Because Newport worked as a privateer, the plunder was shared with the English Admiralty, who displayed great trust in Newport and his honesty. With the large amount of plunder he always gained while out at sea, Newport never cheated the Engilsh royalty with
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The Journey of Christopher Newport - Fitzhugh Amanda...

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