Saturday, June 18, 2016

Mark G. Hanna's "Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740"

Mark G. Hanna is associate professor of history at the University of California, San Diego, where he is the Associate Director of the Institute of Arts and Humanities. His new book, Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740, recently won the 2016 Frederick Jackson Turner Award for best first book in American history from the Organization of American Historians as well as the 2016 John Lyman Book Award, and honorable mention for books on U.S. Maritime History from the North American Society of Oceanic History.

Hanna applied the “Page 99 Test” to Pirate Nests and reported the following:
From page 99:
Soon more colonial captains without commissions began to seize Dutch ships and then peaceable French vessels, bringing the prizes back to Rhode Island. The entire Hull family faced charges when John, the mint master, was discovered to have invested his Pine Tree Shillings into the Swallow ‘under the command of Edward Hull, pirate.’ Dutch owners sued the Hull family during the fall of 1653. At the trial, John produced letters proving their attempts to stop Edward from going astray. John was acquitted, and Edward fled to England.
This short excerpt from page 99 encapsulates many of the themes from my book about the support of global piracy on the peripheries of the British Empire from 1590 to 1740. John Hull was a well-known and very well-respected New England Puritan. We do not typically associate Puritans with piracy but many considered attacks upon the Catholic antichrist that reaped Spanish silver a literal godsend in communities without a local medium of exchange. Amid the turmoil of the English Civil War, Hull built a mint where he melted down pieces of eight brought by sea marauders and transformed them into the iconic Pine Tree Shillings, British America’s first coinage. Piracy can not subsist without the active support from communities on land who helped fit out ships, man their crews, buy their plunder, provide legal protection, or present the former pirates the opportunity to settle down with their ill gotten gains. Although John Hull could rest assured that his own community of Puritans supported pirates who preyed upon technically allied Catholics far in the Caribbean, they feared the marauding performed by John’s brother Edward against local Dutch and French shipping might lead to retaliation.
Learn more about Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740 at the University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue