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10 Things Pirates Did Right

Updated on February 24, 2016

Pirates have been the subject of great stories whether they are vilified or regarded as something more. The fact is pirates did many things right that feels way ahead of the times they lived in. Of course pirates will always be recognized for their crimes and ruthlessness they unleashed upon the seas, but it is also important to remember some of the philosophies that spread from piracy and the pirate code.

10) Lived Life Like It Was Their Last Day On Earth.


Pirates were known for spending their loot after a good score. Between food, drinking, and paid companionship pirates at port in their off time lived to the fullest they could. As with many soldiers and sailors life can be difficult and monotonous while at work. With tight living quarters and the stress of possible combat it is no wonder that pirates enjoyed some of the finer things in life when they could afford it. Some pirates considered their clothing and appearance to be just as valuable as their taste for rum and companionship. Hats and wigs played their part and contributed to the style of some pirates. Whether they were searching for wealth, freedom, or just enjoyed the idea of being a pirate, pirates viewed their down time as something special and took advantage of it to its fullest.

9) Democracy


Pirates were one of the first groups to use a democracy while governing and making decisions. Considering many pirates fled corrupt or abusive commanders it only makes sense that a vote would be used to help reduce any kind of authoritarian state on the ship. Although in times of battle the Captain had full authority of command. It perhaps is mystical as to how such a group could use a form of control that is currently considered one of the most evolved ideas in government today.

A code was developed among many pirates that ensured a set of rights. One of these rights included that every man be able to have a vote. The crew remained in control of the decisions and essentially maintained the real bulk of power. Pirates understood the value of each individual voice and used it to their advantage. This seems like an obvious principle to follow, but even today there are some organizations, including democracies, still trying to find balance.

8) Compensation For Injuries


Even in this current day and age we still have places that do not offer compensation for work related injuries. What seems like such a natural idea was indeed used by pirates. Pirates offered a special share of the loot to pay for injuries such as losing a leg or arm. This pool of wealth came from a community pile of money often saved for such a purpose. Many disabled pirates were still offered to help with tasks that were non physical in labor. Being protected, compensated and encouraged after a disability is something the modern era still is lagging behind in some locations. To think that a group of sea dogs could be so considerate has to make one wonder just how advanced they were in some social aspects.

7) The Changing Of Terrible Leaders


Imagine having a horrible boss who just doesn't do what is best for the group. We have all had one bad boss and most likely more than one. Wouldn't it be amazing to simply vote them out? Pirates did just that. Captains who fell into disfavor were quickly voted out. Depending on the particular awfulness of the captain this could range from assimilating back into the crew to being tossed overboard. What boss in existence today wouldn't change their attitude knowing that they could be pushed over the side of their "ship" for poor performance? In the end, one of the most important factors was results. If a captain wasn't risky enough or too timid to take a ship, it could mean less loot. Let's face it, we can all deal with a little bit of crap if we are paid well enough.

6) Pirates Knew How To Dual Wield


Most men and women are born with two hands hopefully! Why not use them both? The expression “armed to the teeth” came from a description of pirates who would be carrying several pistols strapped to their body with pistols in both hands and a sword or dagger between their teeth. The flintlock pistols of the day could not compete with modern firearms today and thus by carrying an extra pistol in their hands pirates were given better odds to have a successful shot. Considering that many pistols did not fire at all when required it was a good thing many pirates dual wielded various weapons including swords and grenades as well. Pirates were resourceful in battle knowing that the time it would take to reload a pistol or rifle would not be efficient in combat. Therefore many pirates chose to dual wield.

5) Pirates Took Pardons


During the Golden Age of Piracy many governing officials just did not know what to do to combat piracy. Pardons became a way to curb piracy. Many pirates exhausted from the chase chose to accept pardons and begin a new life enjoying their second chance. Pirates understood the inevitable and seized the opportunity to move on with their life. Not all pirates were responsible in their decisions though. Charles Vane was disgusted by the idea of retiring and accepting a pardon. He led a group of pirates with a similar mindset which eventually led to his end in Port Royal where he was hung. Although Captain Vane did not accept the pardon, he did have one of the most successful careers as pirate.

4) Explored The World


As with any profession at sea, people can become well traveled. Pirates were able to procure exotic pets, fruits, and learn customs throughout the world they pirated in. Many of us today must pay to travel or take a vacation. This was their job. For some, being a pirate just had an added benefit of traveling and seeing the world. Often one myth that survives is that pirates had parrots. To some extent this was true but they acquired many other exotic animals. During this time period many ideas and things were being shared among cultures. Exotic pets just happened to be one of the most valuable for trade.

3) Used Fear As A Tactic


One of the most infamous pirates of all time was Edward Teach, also known as, Blackbeard. Blackbeard was feared. One of the reasons he was feared is because of the numerous amounts of weapons he would carry. His attire and his beard left opponents bewildered to the point where some had claimed he was the devil. It is said that Blackbeard would put pieces of hemp in his beard and light it on fire. Other pirates used various tricks and tactics to employ fear. This in turn probably saved lives as many opposing crews and merchant vessels would surrender rather than risk what unknown abominations lurked in their imaginations. Winning a battle without firing a single shot sounds much more appealing than losing a portion of your crew for an unknown amount of loot.

2) Killed People In Creative Ways


Perhaps it was easier on the conscience, but pirates used marooning as a method to get rid of dead weight. Being marooned meant leaving someone on an island or coast with little to nothing to survive ensuring certain death. In some cases the marooned party was given some supplies to survive. Out of all the ways to kill someone this almost seems the most humane as it leaves a little bit of hope. Hope that one could survive on the island or be rescued which has certainly occurred before in many cases. Pirates were the chief practitioners of marooning and the words pirate and marooned go hand in hand.

1) Broke The Color Barrier


By now many can see how ahead of the times pirates were in some areas. Breaking the color barrier was no different. Pirates were among the first organizations to treat all crew as equals. No matter if you were black or white or one of the many other races encountered during their travels. A colleague protecting your back was an equal in terms of voting and loot share (depending on your job). Many slaves during the Golden Age of Piracy left their masters and became pirates after their ships were seized. Piracy left them at least a chance at living a free life with no other alternatives but to return back into slavery if captured. Many pirates viewed any non pirate as being a slave to the system therefore reducing all mankind as equal as long as you were part of the crew and part of the pirate code.


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