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The Taking of Teach the Pirate
by Benjamin Franklin - 1719

One of Ben Franklin's earliest writings, The Taking of Teach the Pirate (also called The Downfall of Piracy) was written by a twelve year old Ben upon hearing of the news of the killing of Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard the Pirate, who had stolen from shipping vessels and coastal towns along the east coast of North America and the East Indies for several years. The poem recounts the last hours of Blackbeard's life as he fought against Lieutenant Robert Maynard and his sailors. Sent out to capture the loathed pirate by Alexander Spotswood, Royal Governor of Virginia, Lieutenant Maynard cornered Blackbeard at Ocracoke Island off the coast of North Carolina. After a short battle on the morning of November 22, 1718, Blackbeard was dead, his severed head proudly displayed from the HMS Jane, as Lieutenant Maynard sailed home to claim the prize for killing such a despised soul.

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Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin

The Taking of Teach the Pirate

Will you hear of a bloody Battle, Lately fought upon the Seas, It will make your Ears to rattle, And your Admiration cease; Have you heard of Teach the Rover, And his Knavery on the Main; How of Gold he was a Lover, How he lov'd all ill got Gain.

When the Act of Grace appeared, Captain Teach with all his Men, Unto Carolina steered, Where they kindly us'd him then; There he marry'd to a Lady, And gave her five hundred Pound, But to her he prov'd unsteady, For he soon march'd off the Ground.

And returned, as I tell you, To his Robbery as before, Burning, sinking Ships of value, Filling them with Purple Gore; When he was at Carolina, There the Governor did send, To the Governor of Virginia, That he might assistance lend.

Then the Man of War's Commander, Two small Sloops he fitted out, Fifty Men he put on board, Sir, Who resolv'd to stand it out: The Lieutenant he commanded both the Sloops, and you shall hear, How before he landed, He suppress'd them without Fear.

Valiant Maynard as he sailed, Soon the Pirate did espy, With his Trumpet he then hailed, And to him they did reply: Captain Teach is our Commander, Maynard said, he is the Man, Whom I am resolv'd to hang Sir, Let him do the best he can.

Teach reply'd unto Maynard, You no Quarters here shall see, But be hang'd on the Main-yard, You and all your Company; Maynard said, I none desire, Of such Knaves as thee and thine, None I'll give, Teach then replyed, My Boys, give me a Glass of Wine.

He took the Glass, and drank Damnation, Unto Maynard and his Crew; To himself and Generation, Then the Glass away he threw; Brave Maynard was resolv'd to have him, Tho' he'd Cannons nine or ten: Teach a broadside quickly gave him, Killing sixteen valiant Men.

Maynard boarded him, and to it They fell with Sword and Pistol too; They had Courage, and did show it, Killing the Pirate's Crew. Teach and Maynard on the Quarter, Fought it out most manfully, Maynard's Sword did cut him shorter, Losing his Head, he there did die.

Every Sailor fought while he Sir, Power had to weild [sic] the Sword, Not a Coward could you see Sir, Fear was driven from aboard: Wounded Men on both Sides fell Sir, 'Twas a doleful Sight to see, Nothing could their Courage quell Sir, O, they fought courageously.

When the bloody Fight was over, We're inform'd by a Letter writ, Teach's Head was made a Cover, To the Jack Staff of the Ship: Thus they sailed to Virginia, And when they the Story told, How they kill'd the Pirates many, They'd Applause from young and old.

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