There was Teach, the bloody pirate, with his black beard curling on his breast.
Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster
In his short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, Benet has Satan conjure up the damned souls of 12 villains from American history to serve as a jury in the case of Satan v. Jabez Stone. Only seven of these entities are named. This is the seventh in a series giving brief biographies of these men. Go here to read the biography of Simon Girty, here to read the “biography” of the Reverend John Smeet, here to read the biography of Major Walter Butler, here to read the biography of Thomas Morton here to read the biography of King Philip, and here to read the biography of Governor Thomas Dale. Our final member of the jury of the damned is Edward Teach, better known to history as Blackbeard.
It is odd that Blackbeard is almost the only pirate from the colorful Age of Piracy in the Sixteenth-Eighteenth centuries that most members of the general public could name, because he had a very short career, only two years, and was much less successful than many pirates, for example Henry Morgan, who achieved a knighthood and the office of Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica.
Teach was probably born in Bristol, England in 1680. He may have served as a privateer in Queen Anne’s War. In 1716 the pirate Benjamin Hornigold placed Teach in command of a sloop, and together the duo committed numerous acts of piracy. In 1717 Teach captured a French merchant ship, renamed her Queen Anne’s Revenge and armed her with 40 guns, a formidable armament for a pirate ship. His fame began to spread. His nickname, Blackbeard, came from the long black beard he wore. Teach adopted a fearsome personae in order to overawe the crews of the ships that he captured. He lit fuses dangling from beneath his cap to enhance his image as a completely ruthless pirate.