Pirates should get some credit
for founding democracy in the New World
“Hollywood really has given pirates a bum rap with its image of bloodthirsty, one-eyed, peg-legged men who bury treasure and force people to walk the plank,” said Jason Acosta, a descenent of a pirate who did the research for his thesis in history at the University of Florida.
No, that's not Acosta. It's Captain Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean."
If you're enjoying a pirate movie this weekend, you should know that pirates practiced the same egalitarian principles as the Founding Fathers.
Like the American revolutionaries, pirates developed three branches of government with checks and balances. The ship captain was elected, just as the U.S. president; the pirate assembly was comparable to Congress; and the quartermaster resembled a judge in settling shipmate disputes and preventing the captain from overstepping his authority.
Colonists and pirates also were alike in emphasizing written laws, democratic representation and due process. All crew members were allowed to vote and ship charters had to be signed by every man on board.
These ideals grew out of both groups’ frustration at being mistreated by their leaders; the British forced the colonists to quarter troops and pay taxes, and captains on merchant ships beat their shipmen, starved them and paid less than promised.
“It’s no wonder that many sailors seized the opportunity to jump ship
and search for a better way of life, namely piracy, which offered better food, shorter work shifts and the power of the crew in decision-making,”
Read more here.