Democratic Outlaws

This essay has a total of 1107 words and 5 pages.


Democratic Outlaws




 DEMOCRATIC OUTLAWS ?

Pirates, the outlaws of the sea. If like me, the first idea that comes to mind regarding
pirates is a group of raiding and plundering individuals. This is due to today’s society glamorizing
the pirates as fascinating characters. Historically, not much written information has been left
behind. The pirates did not leave ship logs or accounts of plunders, because it could be used to
incriminate them. Society today has invented the pirates to fit a romantic mold. Therefore, we
grew up thinking of treasure hunts, sea battles, sword fights and plank walkers, when in actuality
the pirates of old were loathed by society. During the Golden Age of Piracy, during the 17th and
18th centuries, pirates were regarded as common criminals of the seas without thought to
democracy/justice or civility. In short, the pirates had no decency. However, is there some truth
to the glamorized legends? Could the legendary characters have upheld the same ideals? In the
course of the semester, we have learned some of the truths behind the glamorized pirate facade.
Throughout life I have seen that good is more often than not overshadowed by bad. I decided to
give these characters the benefit of the doubt and do some investigating. In this essay, I will
attempt to prove that human decency among the pirates could have existed.
Civility is one trait rarely associated with pirates. Why should civility be associated as a
trait of pirates? After all, pirates raid, plunder, steal, rape, drink and swear. Civilized people do
not participate in lowly, unlawful behavior. Pirates were know to be excessive drunks, ruthless
killers, indulgers of women and unruly individuals. In defense of pirate civility, I must point out
a few examples. Lord Byron’s “The Corsair” is an excellent example of pirate decency. Conrad,
Byron’s hero and captain of a pirate crew, shows remarkable civility for a pirate. While “The
Corsair” is a fictional work, many of the pirate tales, as in other fictional works, derive from
actual occurrences. While Conrad’s crew is toasting spirts and carousing about, he remains
composed. “Ne’er for his lip the purplng cup they fill, That goblet passes him untasted still . . .
But while he shuns the grosser joys of sense, His mind seems nourished by that abstinence”
(Byron 152). Conrad does not overindulge and does not become unruly. Conrad does not kill
unnecessarily and when forced to kill, it is in defense. Conrad does not ravage women. He is
married but loves only one.
Jean Lafitte is a factual example of civility. Lafitte was a pirate masked in gentleman’s
clothing. It is said, Lafitte hobb-knobbed with high society. The majority of the descriptions of
Lafitte portray him as well dressed, well mannered and well spoken, as a gentleman should be.
Lafitte was also a patriot playing a significant role in the Battle of New Orleans, in which he
received honors.
Democracy/Justice among the pirates is another unlikely topic to ponder when thinking of
pirates. How can outlaws be democratic or just? The pirates bluntly disregarded the law when
raiding and plundering. However, within the pirate community, was a democratic structure. The
community had its own way of government and enforcing justice. Life amongst the pirates in the
17th and 18th centuries was more democratic than those of most countries. Esquemeling’s
Continues for 3 more pages >>