25 Although Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, lies in water roughly one mile from the Beaufort Inlet, Duffus does not believe the legend that Beaufort’s historic Hammock House belonged to Blackbeard. “There’s no evidence that Blackbeard even set foot on what people now call Carteret County,” he says. “The notion that he had a house there is simply absurd.” Duffus’ research uncovered that Blackbeard did set foot in Bath, North Carolina’s oldest town. But anyone clinging to the ide-alized www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com WBM “Pirates of the Caribbean” notion of pirates as swashbuck-ling heroes will be disap-pointed in his purpose there. “I traveled to court-houses in North Carolina and looked at property deeds. Those documents reveal that Blackbeard’s true treasure wasn’t gold or silver, but it was African slaves,” Duffus says. “This is an aspect of history that a lot of historians don’t want people to know, that pirates were involved with the slave trade. There were slaves on Blackbeard’s ship that helped with the transportation of slaves. They had a level of freedom we don’t necessarily associate with slavery. Blackbeard and his crew brought 60 slaves to Bath in the summer of 1718. Back then, there was no slave market in North Carolina. Those people would have had to travel to a market in South Carolina or Virginia to purchase slaves. My findings are rather provocative and controversial.” Blackbeard was also made famous by his blockade of the port of Charleston. “Once Blackbeard’s men needed medicines that could only be found in Charleston,” says Wilmington-based historian Jack Fryar, who has written more than 20 books about North Carolina and Cape Fear history. “To get what he needed, he blockaded the harbor and took the leading citizens hostage aboard his ship. He said if anyone tried to stop him from getting what he wanted, he’d kill the husbands and fathers on board.” Maritime historian Baylus Brooks says despite the Hollywood stereotype of pirates plundering towns and villages, many colonists depended on pirates to supply them with household goods. “Our ancestors would have really appreciated pirates because they brought them things they wouldn’t normally have,” he says. “When you’re not used to sugar and someone brings it to you, it’s a novelty. Spices were gen-erally hard to get ahold of.” Brooks says the pirates would steal the goods from ships en route to Europe from the Caribbean and bring them to colonists at discounted prices. “They were business men,” Brooks says. “People in colonial ports were happy to see them come in.” Slow-burning fuses in his beard and under his hat are one of the many myths surrounding Blackbeard. Historians do agree that the notorious pirate did blockade Charleston harbor, seen in this landscape by Thomas Leitch, painted in 1774.
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