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The Wealth of a Nation: Blackbeard’s Legacy

Blackbeard and his fleet sail the Atlantic coast and Caribbean capturing many ships and enriching themselves.  Andrew Morgan from Virginia, Blackbeard’s gunner, invests his shares with a banker in Philadelphia. Andrew visits friends in Virginia and agrees to bring along young Benjamin Harrison on one of his spring voyages. Ben is eighteen, has just completed his studies, and has been promised in marriage to a daughter of King Carter of Virginia.

Ben witnesses Blackbeard’s election as captain and impresses Blackbeard with his education and family background. Blackbeard allows him to become assistant navigator on his ship and Ben is included, along with the navigator, in meetings of the ship’s officers. When they get to the Bahamas, Ben, who has made enemies, duels with the previous assistant navigator.  He also meets the governor of Jamaica and becomes aware of the dangers awaiting Blackbeard and other privateers.

Upon their return to the mainland Andrew marries his banker’s daughter and is present when Blackbeard blockades Charles Towne harbor.  Ben, who has received a small ship from Blackbeard for his hard work at sea, returns to Virginia and is elected burgess.

Ben meets Governor Spotswood and participates in Spotswood’s fall in Virginia politics.  Ben also learns of Spotswood’s plan to murder Blackbeard and travels to Ocracoke trying to warn the captain. There, from another ship, he witnesses Blackbeard’s assassination at the hands of Spotswood’s hired killers.

Andrew and Ben live through the aftermath: trials, executions, political recrimination from London and North Carolina, Spotswood’s seizure of large tracts of property, and Spotswood’s eventual replacement as governor. This is followed by marriages, new families, new businesses, the growth of trade and manufacturing, and fond memories of Blackbeard.

Book Reviews: "The Wealth of a Nation: Blackbeard's Legacy"

Blackbeard’s Legacy, covering the years 1710 to 1722, continues the narrative of personal and political rivalries rampant among the prominent tobacco growers and various political figures in Williamsburg. This volume, however, entertains readers with its focus on the rise of piracy along our eastern coast. With the pacing of an adventure story Captain Thatch, aka Blackbeard, plies his lucrative trade along the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas. We learn a good deal of surprising information about that esoteric trade. Many pirates were formerly privateers fighting for Queen Anne in her struggle with Spain. As England was impoverished by the long war, the Royal Navy released most of the privateers with nothing but a thank you, and perhaps not even that.

Never mind. These experienced sea captains continued to trade and carry goods without the bother of ‘getting licenses and paying customs.’ In fact, the citizens of our coastal towns of Virginia and the Carolinas seemingly found no objection to the great influx of goods supplied by pirates. Though little can be verified about the actual Blackbeard, the author’s research uncovered enough information about piracy to enliven scenes aboard ship. Who knew, for example, that the crews elected their captains, and the captains themselves campaigned seriously for their position? Or that the crews were hired on in a type of employment contract specifying a pre-arranged portion of the booty taken from the hapless merchant ships unfortunate enough to fall in the way of Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s ship.

This fictionalized Blackbeard has a definite swashbuckling demeanor. He is surrounded by loyal comrades including young Benjamin Harrison IV whose forebears appeared in earlier works. Now a recent graduate of William and Mary, Ben speaks four languages and knows higher math which earns him a place aboard Queen Anne’s Revenge as apprentice navigator. Ben Harrison comports himself as any super hero of the day would: carrying knives in his boots, sword fighting in contests of honor, and finally retiring to Williamsburg to marry and take up his political legacy in the House of Burgesses. Along the way, he forms a close friendship with the gunner Andrew Morgan whose courtship and romance add another human touch.

Political life in the early 18th century offered its own drama. Author McLennan does not ignore the struggles between Williamsburg’s representatives in the House of Burgesses and the unpopular Governor Spotswood who worked diligently to the task of amassing sufficient funds to build a governor’s palace in Williamsburg. The parallel stories of the piracy along our eastern coast, the larger than life Blackbeard and political machinations of the period offer the kind of history lesson all can enjoy.

Blackbeard’s Legacy by Barbara McLennan, the third book of historical fiction that began with The Wealth of Jamestown.
– Reviewed by Ann Skelton, Chesapeake Style Magazine, Warsaw, VA

 

It’s not often you get to re-live a childhood fantasy and learn something new and exciting at the same time. But Barbara McLennan’s Blackbeard’s Legacy allows you to do just that! Her third in a series of critically acclaimed historical novels takes us once again into the drama-filled world of early Virginia and rivets us there with engaging facts and colorful dialogue, but this time riding the waves with Blackbeard.

 Who among us as a child hadn’t fashioned themselves a pirate and sailed the bounding main in search of gold? Blackbeard’s Legacy is a chance to do it again, only this time with an adult’s appreciation of a great story, well told!

 It was always with a tinge of sheepishness that I played the role of Blackbeard in childhood games because of the myth of him as a scoundrel and a rogue. What we learn in this exciting new telling of his bigger than life story is that Blackbeard is also a consummate entrepreneur and international trader who amassed a fleet of forty ships, and figuratively “crossed swords” with the leading bankers, politicians and judges of his day.

 McLennan must have had fun writing about Blackbeard because it shines through on every page. Sign on as a hand on the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and sail through an exciting trip with this pirate of fame and fortune. It won’t make you a kid again, but it’s the next best thing!

 – Dr. Rick Oliver, author, educator and entrepreneur (and reformed pirate!) is the author of eight books and more than fifty articles on technology and business. He is founder and CEO of American Sentinel University, Denver, Colorado.

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