Out of all the figures of military genius and political strategy that have so far graced planet Earth it is the pirate Henry Morgan that I most respect and understand. I see him as the father of the liberty movement in America as his exploits in the book The Buccaneers of America launched John Locke and many philosophers to follow a path that would eventually become The Declaration of Independence. Welsh buccaneer Henry Morgan, at age 36, captured Panama City in violation of Anglo-Spanish treaty. Morgan stood trial held for the crime in the Tower of London but King Charles II of England forgave him, and then knighted him. The King then made him lieutenant-governor of Jamaica in 1674.  When people ask me why I honor a much darker version of the Tea Party flag such as the one displayed on the bottom of all my postings and is flown at every meeting that members of Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom conducts it is because of my fondness for Henry Morgan and his brilliant strategies which launched mankind to create the first democracies human kind has ever seen. His exploits chronicled so well in Alexander O. Exquemelin’s classic controversial book are nearly as grandiose as those shown in the marketing videos for the Captain Morgan Rum Company who routinely explores Morgan’s life in mythologies built upon his legends as seen in the video below.
I see the modern Tea Party struggling with nearly the same problems in 2013 that Henry Morgan struggled with in 1659 when England under King Charles II through Tortuga Governor Elias Watts gave Morgan Privateer status. A privateer in international law is a term applied to a privately owned armed vessel whose owners are commissioned by a nation to carry on naval warfare. Such naval commissions or authorizations are called letters of marque. Privateering is distinguished from piracy, which is carried out without enlistment by a government. The practice of privateering preceded the creation of national navies. During the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century), European states having few or no warships hired merchant vessels for hostile purposes. Privateering was carried on during the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the War of 1812 (1812-1815). During the American Civil War (1861-1865) the Confederacy engaged in privateering. At the Hague Conference of 1922 to 1923, participating countries issued a joint declaration against the use of privateers in aerial warfare. The modern Tea Party was given by the Republican Party a kind of letter of marque to attack the establishment of the Democratic Party in much the same way that England wished to conduct war with Spain in 1670—without actually declaring war against a rival country that was actually engaging in public displays of civility. Once Spain had seen the hardest lessons of Henry Morgan’s swashbuckling antics all over the Caribbean they pleaded with King Charles II to reign in the charismatic buccaneer. This is what Republicans have done after the election of Barack Obama just prior to the fiscal cliff negotiations in December of 2012, they turned their back on the Tea Party as Republicans attempted to get their “privateers” in the Tea Party movement to fall into line of party rule. In short, they expected Tea Party members to do as the King commanded. The king in the modern case for Ohio was John Kasich, and at the national level John Boehner with Karl Rove trying to noticeably carry the Republican Party to a more progressive position to win votes away from Democrats in the next election.
Well, that wasn’t acceptable to modern Tea Party members just as it wasn’t acceptable in Henry Morgan’s time. When word came down to Morgan’s ears that England had made peace with Spain he chose to ignore the information. He had other plans, and he had maintained a small pirate army in Jamaica at the city of sin called Port Royal which he kept perpetually starving for gold by encouraging the pirates there to blow all their earnings on massive amounts of liquor, wild sexual orgies, and lifestyles that put the fuses of their lives out by age 32. I do not agree with the way the pirates conducted their lives with lawless morality. I do not like the constant pursuit of didactic human pleasures common with a pirate’s life in 1671 Jamaica. I do not support intoxication of the mind in any form, so in regard to Henry Morgan’s strategy of nurturing the entire town of Port Royal into a pirate haven of debauchery I disagree with him vehemently. But he had a very good reason for keeping the pirates perpetually hungry…………he wanted them to be ready for battle to pillage more military targets on a moment’s notice, and if they were fat, dumb, and happy, they would not be willing to risk their life and limb to serve under Morgan’s command. As a result, democracy was born on the decks of Morgan’s pirate ships.
For the first time in human history sailors from the King’s army served in closed quarters with slaves recently escaped landing from Africa. All men were equal on the deck of a pirate ship including the captain, and the philosophy that would shape American government was born. Such a thing is easily taken for granted in hindsight, but before this period no human being anywhere on Earth valued personal freedom more than the pirates who raided with Henry Morgan. They were an invention of his personal strategies. I would give Francs Drake and Francos L’Olonnas equal credit if not for the added ability of Morgan to gain the ear of King Charles II by making the England sovereign extremely wealthy. Morgan managed his fate from the lowliest prostitute of Port Royal to the highest office in the world at the time and he did it across an ocean that took over three months to cross one way. Alone, Henry Morgan brought all of Europe to its knees and eating out of his hand with swashbuckling antics that are shockingly brilliant even by modern standards. A small sense of Henry Morgan’s impact on history can be seen in the below short documentary by a group of underwater archeologists who believe they have found Morgan’s sunken 22 gun flag ship The Satisfaction. The documentary is funded in part by Captain Morgan Rum to research their iconic namesake for the benefits of capitalism. Without such funding, archeological exploits like this simply do not happen.
The King of England had negotiated peace with France and Spain and withdrew their “letters of marque” in an attempt to gain control of the rapidly escalating chaos of Jamaica. The amount of money that was flowing through Port Royal, primarily into the pockets of prostitutes were nearly equal to the national incomes of most countries, so Charles II had to get it under control. Now the privateers who had been operating under Morgan’s leadership with privateer status were considered pirates across the world since no nation would back them. But the freedom that such men tasted as privateers in Morgan’s military antics for England—without the formality of naval discipline–had shown itself difficult to suppress. Men and women of all ages, races, and financial backgrounds had declared themselves equal on the decks of pirate ships for nearly 50 years after Morgan’s time. This became the period explored romantically in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride and films. This freedom movement would be further refined by Thomas Jefferson a hundred years later in his Declaration of Independence. While scholarship served as the swords of America’s Founding Fathers the idea of freedom had been captured on paper by John Locke, with the severed heads of many Spanish soldiers by Henry Morgan. The grandsons of such pirates settled into legitimate businesses in Boston, New York and Philadelphia to start the Sons of Liberty who would use similar tactics as what Morgan employed to rid themselves of English rule.
Click here to see the Henry Morgan/John Locke connection in what appears to be evidence Locke’s Treatise on Civil Government was being shaped on observations made of Morgan’s Jamaica. (Page 84 of Admiral Sir Henry Morgan: King of the Buccaneers.)
Long before the Republicans in the modern age abandoned the modern Tea Party—which was created by The Sons of Liberty back in 1773—I saw the writing on the wall. Republicans were preparing to abandon the Tea Party by withdrawing their “letters of margue.” This is when I started to use my own variation of the black, “Don’t Tread On Me” pirate flag, instead of the standard Tea Party Gadsden flag. The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the snake are the words “Don’t Tread On Me.” The flag was designed by and is named after American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden. It was also used by the Continental Marines as an early motto flag, along with the Moultrie Flag. Gadsden also presented a copy of this flag to the Congress of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina. This was recorded in the South Carolina congressional journals on February 9, 1776:
Col. Gadsden presented to the Congress an elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American Navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattlesnake in the middle in the attitude of going to strike and these words underneath, “Don’t tread on me.”
For my use, Gadsden’s flag was not aggressive enough for the tasks before us in the modern age. Knowing that Republicans would pull away from the Tea Party eventually I kept my personal distance from the movement as I chronicled in a previous article where Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom members enshrined themselves in my new version of the Gladsden flag that was my silent nod to Henry Morgan. I planned take the type of strategies Henry Morgan utilized to bring freedom back to America, so I thought the black flag was more appropriate to the 2013 circumstances.
History does repeat itself and once understood courses can be changed. Henry Morgan understood history, and the minds of man, and was able to use them to shape the craving for freedom that would eventually free slaves in The United States and pave the way for the greatest nation on Earth. I credit Henry Morgan with much of that responsibility because if not for him, human beings may have quickly allowed themselves to become suppressed under the foot of ruthless and greedy monarchs as they had for all of human history up to that point. Even the simple, peaceful process of electing Presidents in America was started by pirates following Morgan’s lead of electing ship captains to head up each voyage. If the captain proved to be insufficient, the pirates un-elected him and a new captain was put in place. As barbaric as the pirates were in the start, the shift in human philosophy had seismic ramifications that would percolate throughout history delivering us to the struggles of the modern age. The pirate is so important to the idea of freedom that even Ayn Rand had a very important pirate in her great classic novel Atlas Shrugged with the dashing Ragnar Danneskjöld. Ragnar was a philosopher who became a privateer under John Galt’s strategy of choking off resources to parasitic socialism returning America to a fictional era of freedom. Alone Danneskjöld defied the might of the United States Navy and of all the People’s Navies of the world to be, as he famously said, “the friend of the friendless.” Like the fictional Ragnar and the actual Henry Morgan, the pirate flag flown at the end of my postings, and off my front porch is a “friend of the friendless.” The friendless are those who have been spat upon by the Republican Party and other orthodox political machines. The black flag calls out to them and lets them know that philosophically speaking, there is safe harbor within its borders. It also means that when it comes to defeating the enemies of freedom, unconventional tactics are useful, and needed. Like Henry Morgan’s time, politicians will turn on a moment’s notice and work against privateers casting them into piracy by simply withdrawing their endorsement. What actions might have been done under orthodox government one day might be called piracy the next—but what is consistent is always the desire for freedom in a human being. It is in understanding this very simple idea that Henry Morgan was a genius who went from destroying the impregnable Spanish city of Panama, avoiding jail for war crimes, winning the first libel lawsuit in history and making the King of England rich beyond his wildest dreams becoming an official “knight” of the English crown in the process. But Morgan’s greatest feat of all was in planting the seeds of liberty in America through the pirates who traveled on his ships and would bring an idea to mankind that no country, no individual, no organization had ever contemplated—the idea of real and true freedom for all men and women everywhere.
The next time dear reader you have the opportunity to sip on a bottle of Captain Morgan Rum, take a swig and think of Henry Morgan whose likeness graces the label. He is the father of freedom as any human being who has ever tasted it understands it. It is because of Morgan that there is a United States at all, a nation born from rebellion and the greatest threat to dictators currently the world over. My black flag is the message to the threats of freedom that imposition will not be tolerated whether functioning under a letter of marque or under the rogue status of pirate—the loyalty that the Tea Party movement stands for is not loyalty to any party—but to the idea of freedom that was invented in Port Royal, Jamaica in 1671 by Henry Morgan and his wild and woolly band of swashbuckling pirates. Take a drink and toast the black flag declaring to the world, “DON’T TREAD ON ME!”
The People’s Chronology is licensed from Henry Holt and Company, Inc. Copyright © 1995, 1996 by James Trager. All rights reserved.