Bahamas Pirates

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After the devastating earthquake destroyed the former pirate stronghold of Port Royal, Jamaica, most of the major pirating operations moved to the island of New Providence in the Bahamas. New Providence was a perfect location for pirating due to its close proximity to Spanish ship routes, abundant natural resources, and major sources of timber. The island was full of hidden inlets and limestone caves that provided pirates with perfect locations to surprise attack unsuspecting treasure ships, places to hide when pursued, and places to store their booty. Because the island had recently been abandoned by British military forces, many famous pirates such as Blackbeard, Calico Jack, and Samuel Bellamy visited the island to repair and refit their ships. In 1715, the pirate Henry Jennings and his crew moved their operations to the New Providence. Jennings, who had made a fortune plundering Spanish treasure ships, invested a large portion of his gold in the island, making it a haven for hundreds of pirating outfits. Jennings became the unofficial mayor of New Providence, and typical pirate activities such as smuggling and plundering made it the new capital of the pirating world.

Soon enough, however, British forces under governor Woodes Rogers began to crack down on pirate operations in the islands. Rogers offered royal pardons for pirates who would accept them. Many pirates refused the pardon, and pirating continued to thrive in the Bahamas for some time. Eventually, Rogers began contracting former pirates to hunt those that refused pardons. Those that were captured were sent straight to the gallows to be hanged. By the 1720’s and 1730’s, Rogers’ plan had succeeded and pirating in the entire Caribbean declined.