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Captain Kidd Conspiracy

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  • Roger Anderton
    Captain Kidd Conspiracy Captain Kidd is portrayed as a villainous pirate. But what seems to be the case is that he was actually a HERO, and there was a
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2003
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      Captain Kidd Conspiracy

      Captain Kidd is portrayed as a villainous pirate.

      But what seems to be the case is that he was actually a HERO, and there was a Conspiracy against him to blacken his name. He was made the scapegoat of People with Money; being blamed for the problems they encountered. And when he went to trial, all the witnesses conspired to lie against him.

      The usual Conspiracy methodology - smear the chosen victim to become the scapegoat.

      "One of the ironies of the Kidd story," says Zacks, "was that he was a man who fought hard to remain honourable but instead gained a reputation as one of history's great villains.

      HERO to VILLAIN at the convenience of those who squabble over money, and write the History to suit their convenience.

      Full article follows:

      Captain Kidd: pirate or man of honour?

      by Marcus Dunk,

      Daily Express Feb. 1, 2003

      Buried treasure, the skull and crossbones, Parrots and eyepatches. There is nothing quite like a pirate to evoke romantic images of swashbuckling in days gone by And of all the pirates who terrorised the high seas, none embodied this spirit quite like Captain Kidd.

      With his reputation as a ruthless buccaneer (not to mention the legends that have grown up concerning his missing treasure), Kidd has always been the ideal storybook villain, a bogeyman tailor-made to excite children and sear the faint of heart.

      But how accurate is this portrayal? Colourful as the image of a bloodthirsty cut-throat is, does it bear any resemblance to the real-Lfe Captain Kidd? It does not, according to author Richard Zacks, who has spent three years trawling through l7th-century documents, accounts and records to discover the truth about William Kidd.

      "I remember when I was a child reading about Captain Kidd and being fascinated," says Zacks. "But when I found out the unjust way he'd been treated, I felt outraged He has gone down in history as this vicious and bloodthirsty villain but that picture is far from the truth

      of who he was and of what he did." He found that the wicked seafarer and lawless pirate was, in fact, a reputable and respected New York sea captain who was actually commissioned by some of the wealthiest individuals in America and England (including William II) to track down pirates and confiscate their booty

      However, as Zacks discovered, within a few years Kidd was the unwitting victim of a huge conspiracy that saw those same backers turn against him. The Captain and his crew were hunted across the globe as renegades. An innocent man became a scapegoat for the greed and cowardice of the powerful and Captain Kidd went down in history as the reckless villain we now know.

      How his reputation was ruined is a tale that involves double-crosses, intrigue and more than its fair share of violent derring-do.

      According to legend, William Kidd was born the son of a minister in Greenock, Scotland, in 1645. Yet one of the most startling discoveries made by Zacks in the course of his research was that the future captain was actually born nine years later on January 22, 1654, in Dundee. Far from being a minister, his father was a sea captain who died when William was five. With the once-prosperous family reduced to poverty it was not long before William itching for adventure, had run off to sea.

      For nearly 30 years he lived a sea- faring existence, moving back and forth between ports and ships, mainly in Caribbean. Zacks believes that during this time Kidd may well have served under Captain Henry Morgan, the notorious buccaneer who was granted a knighthood for his relentless attacks on Spanish ships.

      Rather than being a pirate, however, Morgan (and eventually Kidd) was seen as a privateer ".A privateer was a kind of independent nautical mercenary," says Zacks, "commissioned by a government to attack ships of an enemy nation in exchange for a piece of the spoils."

      Although the distinction between privateer and pirate was often not a lot more than a legal technicality (despite having government sanction, the ships of privateers were often crewed by former pirates), the profession of privateer was generally seen as a respectable and, at times, patriotic position.

      On one voyage from England to New York, Captain Kidd and his warship, the Adventure Galley, came across a French fishing vessel off the coast of Newfoundland and, after firing a shot across its bows, the craft and its crew of four were captured. In one brief encounter, Kidd had managed to pay for his entire voyage:

      It seems clear that Kidd, like most others in his position, tiptoed between piracy and respectability in his privateering role. Whatever the case, by the 1690s he was one of the wealthiest and most influential members of New York society.

      Partly through his sailing and partly through the inheritance of his wife, the beautiful Sarah Bradley Cox, Kidd owned large areas of real estate in Manhattan, including a three - storey mansion on Wall Street where he lived with Sarah and daughter Sarah.

      Kidd himself was "defiantly independent, a hard taskmaster, ambitious, distrustful", says Zacks. "He was tough, hard drinking, honourable, sea - man who also happened to be quite witty If you read the accounts of his eventual trial, the man who comes across is very smart and very funny.

      Despite these independent attributes, in 1695 Kidd decided he wanted to serve in the Royal Navy and set sail for England. Instead of a military position, however, Kidd was commissioned by the Crown and by four of Britain's powerful men - the Earl of Shrewsbury, the Earl of Romney, Lord John Somers and Admiral Edward Russell - to traverse the globe, hunting pirates.

      Piracy had begun to get out of hand in many parts of the world, with sea scavengers proving a serious threat to England's burgeoning trade empire. In essence, Kidd's job was to steal from thieves and bring the booty back to his wealthy backers. What Kidd did not know was that instead of the winnings being distributed through official channels; these backers had arranged for the goods to go directly to themselves. It was this unique arrangement that would eventually cause Kidd's downfall.

      From the outset, Kidd's mission was mired in difficulties. To assemble a willing crew he had to rely mainly on former pirates - many of whom had friends and relatives who were serving on the pirate ships they were supposed to be chasing.

      Add to that both the Royal Navy and the powerful East India Company considered him an illegal interloper, and his expedition seemed destined for failure.

      "Let's look at the situation," says Zacks. "Kidd's mission is to go chase pirates - men who would rather die than surrender. He is to travel in a lone ship manned with a desperate

      crew, some of whom are former pirates. His ship's articles do not allow him to punish his crew, except by vote of the entire crew As a private man of war, he will be deeply distrusted by the Royal Navy; as a commercial rival, he will be despised by the English East India Company He is a Scot lording it over an English and Dutch crew

      "Once he rounds the Cape of Good Hope, he will find no welcome ports of call, except pirate ports. In the immense Indian Ocean of 28 million square miles he must find some of the five currently active European pirate ships. And he has a one year time limit and some of the most powerful men in the world waiting for him to return."

      Setting sail in 1696, Kidd was beset by difficulties. Storms, run-ins with vessels from the East India Company and sickness plagued his crew Although his shipmates enjoyed some success in recovering pirate treasure, they eventually mutinied. Meanwhile, back in England, the East India Company had managed to get Kidd officially declared a pirate and a wanted man.

      While on a stolen ship and with some of the treasure intact, Kidd discovered the shocking news in a tavern on Anguilla. "The news of being proclaimed pirates," he wrote, "put the crew into such consternation that they (afterward) sought all opportunities to run the ship upon some reef or shoal; lest I should carry her into some. English port."

      Convinced that it was a misunderstanding that could be easily cleared up, Kidd returned to America rather than hide. But when he stepped on shore he was arrested to be shipped to London and put on trial.

      Kidd's backers, frightened that they and the Crown would be implicated, refused to step forward to exonerate him despite his impassioned testimony to the House of Commons. At his trial the documents that would have cleared him mysteriously went missing and witness after witness perjured themselves testifying against him.

      "The aristocracy's big problem was the fact that Kidd did not return with any substantial treasure for them," says Zacks. "They wouldn't come forward to defend him."

      In May 1701, Kidd was found guilty of the charges laid against him and sentenced to death. "For my part, I am the innocentest Person of them all, only I have been sworn against by Perjured Persons," Kidd stated to the court when the sentence was given.

      On May 23, Kidd was taken from Newgate Prison to Execution Dock at Wapping, East London. Revellers lined the route, throwing food and dead cats covered in excrement at the condemned men.

      Kidd was roaring drunk and played up to the crowd. With the rope around his neck, he still refused to sober up (much to the consternation of the attending priest) but his demeanour changed when the rope snapped on the first execution attempt. He quickly sent love to his wife and daughter, and this time the rope held. For years afterwards his rotting body in a cage by the Thames served as a stark warning to any would-be pirate.

      "One of the ironies of the Kidd story," says Zacks, "was that he was a man who fought hard to remain honourable but instead gained a reputation as one of history's great villains.

      Pamphleteers and ballad writers began to blacken his name almost as soon as he was arrested and it's this distorted image of him that has been passed down to us today"

      But what about the treasure? Contrary to the myths of secret coves and islands where it was supposedly buried, Zack's research revealed that for years it sat gathering dust in an Admiralty warehouse before being auctioned off to the highest bidder.

      · The Pirate Hunter: The True Story Of Captain Kidd, by Richard Zacks, is published on Monday by Headline, price £17.99.

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