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Blackbeard’s Spirit Lives On In North Carolina Town Of Beaufort

At the Beaufort waterfront, some pirates can still be seen (above) enjoying some music near the waterfront at the Dockhouse Restaurant and Bar.  Meanwhile, pleasure craft and serious fishing boats are plentiful at the docks.  Photos by The Raleigh Telegram.

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Blackbeard’s Spirit Lives On In North Carolina Town Of Beaufort

 

By Bryan LeClaire, The Raleigh Telegram

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

 

RALEIGH - An exhibit opening at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort will showcase the time that the notorious pirate Edward Teach - more popularly known as Blackbeard -spent in the state.

 

Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, ran aground near Beaufort on June 10 1718, leaving behind a wealth of artifacts. In commemoration of that event, the museum chose this year’s anniversary to open the exhibit.

 

After his ship ran aground, Blackbeard continued his buccaneering, spending about six months using the North Carolina coast as his base of operations. Evidence suggests that he may have done so with the blessing of Governor Charles Eden and Tobias Knight, secretary of the colony.

 

Spoils from Blackbeard’s seaway robbery, including highly prized sugar, were discovered in Knight’s barn, prompting the secretary’s trial for collusion, in which he was acquitted.

 

“North Carolina was a backwater area then,” said Dave Moore, curator of nautical archaeology at the museum. “It was mostly dirt farmers and fisherman. To a certain extent the locals appreciated some of the goods that pirates were bringing into the colony.”

 

Finds from the Queen Anne’s Revenge that will be on display in Beaufort include pieces of the ship’s hull, ammunition, cannons and trade beads, which slavers would have used to trade for African slaves.

 

Although Blackbeard did not traffic in slaves, he had captured the Queen Anne’s Revenge when it was a French slave ship named La Concorde.

 

One of the more colorful objects that the museum has to offer is a tapered lead tube that would have been served as a toilet, allowing waste to fall from the side of the ship into the sea. The tube was found in the stern of the ship, near the captain’s quarters.

 

“It’s the only artifact that we can point to and say that it’s something Blackbeard may have used,” said Moore.

 

It is likely that the entire pirate crew would have shared the “head.”

 

“These pirates were very democratic,” said Moore. “They did things very differently to get away from the harsh discipline of naval captains.”

 

Many sailors took to a life of piracy because they deserted posts in various navies or in the merchant marine or were pressed into service by other pirates. They would have relished the relative freedom of a pirate’s life, says Moore.

 

“These pirates voted on everything: where they were heading, what ships they would go after,” he said. “The only time the captain had full-on, total control was in the midst of battle. The walls were torn out for communal living. They were trying to get away from a hierarchy with someone in charge.”

 

A true asset to the North Carolina coast, the Queen Anne’s Revenge will yield treasure for years to come.

 

“The artifacts in the exhibit are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Moore. “We’ve only excavated half the site. Of that, 50 percent of the material has been recovered.”

Moore estimates that several hundred thousand artifacts are left to be unearthed and cleaned up for eventual display.

 

What: Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge

 

Where: North Carolina Maritime Museum

315 Front St.

Beaufort, NC 28516

 

When: June 11 - Ongoing

 

 

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