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Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution

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Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

They were legalized pirates empowered by the Continental Congress to raid and plunder, at their own considerable risk, as much enemy trade as they could successfully haul back to Americas shores; they played a central role in Americans struggle for independence and later turned their seafaring talents to the slave trade; embodying the conflict between enterprise and morality central to the American psyche.

In Patriot Pirates, Robert H. Patton, grandson of the battlefield genius of World War II, writes that during Americas Revolutionary War, what began in 1775 as a New England fad--converting civilian vessels to fast-sailing warships, and defying the Royal Navys overwhelming firepower to snatch its merchant shipping--became a massive seaborne insurgency that ravaged the British economy and helped to win Americas independence. More than two thousand privately owned warships were commissioned by Congress to prey on enemy transports, seize them by force, and sell the cargoes for prize money to be divided among the privateers officers, crewmen, and owners.

Patton writes how privateering engaged all levels of Revolutionary life, from the dockyards to the assembly halls; how it gave rise to an often cutthroat network of agents who sold captured goods and sparked wild speculation in purchased shares in privateer ventures, enabling sailors to make more money in a month than they might otherwise earn in a year.

As one naval historian has observed, “The great battles of the American Revolution were fought on land, but independence was won at sea.”

Benjamin Franklin, then serving at his diplomatic post in Paris, secretly encouraged the sale of captured goods in France, a calculated violation of neutrality agreements between France and Britain, in the hopes that the two countries would come to blows and help take the pressure off American fighters.

Patton writes about those whose aggressive speculation in privateering promoted the war effort: Robert Morris--a financier of the Revolution, signer of the Declaration of Independence, member of the Continental Congress who helped to fund George Washingtons army, later tried (and acquitted) for corruption when his deals with foreign merchants and privateers came to light, and emerged from the war as one of Americas wealthiest men . . . William Bingham… John R. Livingston--scion of a well-connected New York family who made no apologies for exploiting the war for profit, calling it “a means of making my fortune.” He worried that peace would break out too soon. (“If it takes place without a proper warning,” said Livingston, “it may ruin us.”) Vast fortunes made through privateering survive to this day, among them those of the Peabodys, Cabots, and Lowell's of Massachusetts, and the Derbys and Browns of Rhode Island.

A revelation of Americas War of Independence, a sweeping tale of maritime rebel-entrepreneurs bent on personal profit as well as national freedom.

Review:

When Americans think of the Founding Fathers, they generally imagine virtuous types such as George Washington, John Adams or James Madison (Thomas Jefferson, consort of Sally Hemings, is a more morally ambiguous figure). They certainly do not devote attention to the likes of John Brown, a war profiteer whose traffic in slaves is still a source of embarrassment for the Rhode Island university that bears... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

Patton explores an overlooked aspect of America's War of Independence--that of its citizen privateers, legalized sea rovers who raided British trade ships throughout the Atlantic and who were decisive in cracking Britain's wartime resolve. Illustrated.

About the Author

Robert H. Patton graduated from Brown University and Northwestern University. He is the author of The Pattons: A Personal History of an American Family. Patton lives with his wife and family in Darien, Connecticut.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375422843
Author:
Patton, Robert
Publisher:
Pantheon
Author:
Patton, Robert H.
Subject:
History
Subject:
United States - Revolutionary War
Subject:
Military - Naval
Subject:
Maritime History
Subject:
Franklin, Benjamin
Subject:
France Foreign relations United States.
Subject:
United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
Copyright:
Series Volume:
The Privateer War fo
Publication Date:
20080520
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
17 BandW ILLS. THROUGHOUT
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.55 x 6.7 x 1.1 in 1.4 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » American Revolution
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » US History » Revolution and Constitution Era
Transportation » Nautical » Pirates

Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution Used Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780375422843 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Patton explores an overlooked aspect of America's War of Independence--that of its citizen privateers, legalized sea rovers who raided British trade ships throughout the Atlantic and who were decisive in cracking Britain's wartime resolve. Illustrated.
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