In Colin Woodward’s book The Republic of Pirates he frames the appeal of the pirates life between 1715 and 1725. While Hollywood has long painted a rum stained portrait and more contemporary reporting deals with ransoms for cargo ship crews, the 18th century appeal of piracy did not arise from such base levels.
Pirates of this ‘golden era’, “undertook nothing less than a social and political revolt. They were sailors, indentured servants, and runaway slaves rebelling against their oppressors: captains, ship owners, and the autocrats of the great slave plantations of America and the West Indies.”
Consider these contrasts between the “sailors” and the “pirates” of the time:
Sailors were often nothing more than indentured servants to their respective crowns. They stood to gain little personally from the empires they dutifully served under threat of death. And to cap matters they lived in near squalor for months, even years at a time.
Pirates on the other hand ran their ships democratically. They elected and deposed captains with popular vote. They had what might be considered profit sharing plans by virtue of equal sharing of plunder. Some pirates even provided disability benefits for their crews.
Do you like the boat you’re in? Maybe you’ve got a little pirate in you after all. Aye!