Since the RedState Deoartment of History lives in Flyover Country, it’s a bit on the chilly side this weekend. As such, we are searching for new and inventive ways to keep warm.
One of the ways that has been time-honored throughout history to stay warm is to consume alcohol, particularly whiskey. Since most whiskies offend our delicate palates, department staff was looking for a better way to warm our insides while maintaining the level of taste to which we have become accustomed.
In line with today’s anniversary, we settled on rum. For it was on this day in 1671 that Captain Henry Morgan attacked Panama City with his band of privateers.
At the time, Panama was a possession of Spain, and since the nations were at war at the time, Morgan was issued a letter of marque to take Spanish shipping, and plunder its treasure, along the Spanish Main. Morgan left Jamaica bound for Panama as a result.
Morgan was operating under a commission from the governor and rejected the idea that he was a pirate. However, his actions at the time suggested otherwise.
Morgan and his 300 raiders engaged approximately 1600 defenders, 1200 of which were Spanish troops, outside the city. The Spaniards were inexperienced and disorganized and the governor’s decision to release oxen and bulls onto the battlefield boomeranged spectacularly when they were spooked by the gunfire from Morgan’s men and trampled the Spaniards by accident.
After resoundingly defeating the Spaniards, Morgan entered the city only to find it virtually destroyed by the locals, with much of Panama’s wealth removed. As such, the raid was only a partial success in terms of financial viability.
But worse had happened. While Morgan was gone, the English and Spanish had signed a peace treaty, making Morgan’s raid a breach of that peace. Upon his return to Jamaica, he was placed in arrest and sent back to London to placate the Spaniards.
However, Morgan proved extremely popular once he returned home. Londoners were under no obligation to befriend Spain simply because peace had been agreed, so it was quickly clear that nothing whatsoever was going to happen to Morgan.
In fact, King Charles II treated Morgan as a hero, and what do heroes who steal money from other people do in their next jobs?
Exactly. Morgan entered government.
Charles made Morgan the Deputy Governor of Jamaica and gave him a knighthood. He was also, perhaps ironically, ordered to eradicate piracy from Jamaica, but kept up his friendly relationships with his old privateer friends even as he worked in Jamaican politics.
Morgan seemed at least as interested in frequenting the local watering holes than in helping run the administration, and as such he fell into declining health, passing in 1688, with an amnesty declared for his funeral so pirates and privateers could attend without being arrested.
However, there was one other notable event that affected Morgan after his death. In 1692, an earthquake hit Jamaica, with two-thirds of the city of Port Royal sliding into the sea as a result. Part of the affected area contained Morgan’s grave, which has never since been located.
He lived quite a colorful life, and as the Department staff remembered the pirate, they did so with a glass of Captain Morgan — named for him by the Seagram Company in 1944.
Happy Sunday and enjoy today’s open thread!