When the fledgling U.S.A.'s second war with Britain, the War of 1812, started in the year from which it took it's name the U.S. and her navy began handing out letters of marque against the enemy. There is no limit to the number of privateering commissions a country at war can legally issue and the U.S., with a navy consisting of mostly sloops and schooners, wasn't shy about the process.
Down in old New Orleans, Louisiana had just become a state and the Naval Station, established in 1809 by Commodore David Porter, was giving letters of marque away like dentists gave out gum when I was a kid. I frequently see historians scratching their metaphorical heads about why the Laffite brothers didn't get in line for a commission or two. Shows how much research they've done.
First of all the Laffites had valid commissions from Cartagena. Sure, that government still wasn't recognized by half the countries in the world but tell Jean that and he would have laughed condescendingly I'm quite certain. Second, and perhaps more importantly, both Jean and Pierre had outstanding warrants for their arrest at the time. Walking in to the Cabildo, then the seat of the navy, army, state and local government and gendarmerie, would have ended in an indefinite stay in a cozy 8' by 8' cell in the Calabozo. The Laffites were probably certifiable but they weren't stupid.
There was a renowned Baratarian, however, with a squeaky clean record and a knack for prize taking who decided to sign up with the U.S. That lucky Captain was none other than my own dear Uncle Renato Beluche. At the time he was sailing a beautiful schooner he named Spy. She was fast first and foremost and particularly so when handled by her gifted Captain. The U.S. was lucky to have him. And he was lucky to escape the English in the Bay of Biscay a year later. Luck was all the motto that man needed.
So imagine my delight, as a lover of Baratarian privateers and a proud descendant of Beluche, when I found the replica letter of marque pictured at the header. Signed and endorsed by James Madison, it is virtually an exact copy of the kind of commission Beluche would have been given for Spy. How cool is that?
You can own a letter of marque just like it - and plug in your own ship's name, captain's name, etc. - simply by clicking over to Pirate Documents.com and telling them what you want. Rather like my Uncle did with the U.S. government. They have commissions from other times and places too so if you'd rather be Drake or Morgan, go for it. It's a wonderful site that I found because I'm a pretty lucky daughter of a privateer.
And now for the meta (nice segue, Pauline!). This is the 200th post here at Triple P and as you can see, I spent last night blinging out the blog a little for this occasion. I also want to take a moment to acknowledge all of you out there in Internet-land who keep me going, keep me honest and make me so happy.
First a big thank you to those of you who have bravely staked your claim to a place among the Brethren of the Coast. From first to last I appreciate each and every one of the people who publicly follow Triple P. You all are the best!
Second, many thanks for all comments past and future. I've been told I don't know what the hell I'm talking about, asked for further information, challenged and enlightened and it is all 100% appreciated. Keep 'em coming.
Third, I want to acknowledge some amazing folks who include Triple P on their links pages and blog lists. Click on over and spend some time with some knowledgeable, talented and truly amazing people:
The Pirate Guys at International Talk Like A Pirate Day have this site on their links page now. Triple P can be found under "Other Kindred Souls" and that's made of awesome.
Cindy Vallar has included Triple P in her History of Maritime Piracy links. Find me under "Treasure Troves: outstanding gateways to pirate info". I get four out of five piratical thumbs up.
Mike Burleson is an expert on all things military and a great writer. His New Wars website includes Triple P under "Research" as well as linking back to many of my posts. You are pretty cool, Mike.
The amazingly talented Munin at Munin's Sketch Blog keeps track of Triple P, too. If I ever get to be one of "those" authors, Munin will be the only artist doing my book covers.
Jessica at Miss Novelistic, a thoughtful and eye-catching blog about writing and reading historical fiction, recommends Triple P "...when your nose isn't stuck in a gripping novel". Thank you for the high praise. I can't wait to read your novels.
The terrific researchers and writers over at Two Nerdy History Girls put Triple P on their "Blogs we read" list yesterday. To say I'm flattered is an understatement.
Denis, the king of questionable cinema who writes so entertainingly about it at The Horror!?, frequently includes Triple P on his FriendFeed. Now if I could just get him to add his Lovecraftian avatar to the Brethren of the Coast...
Finally, the local Alaska Grown includes Triple P under "Other Family Blogs" and I'm proud to be there.
If I've missed anyone (and I'm certain I have) it's through forgetfulness and not spite. Leave me a comment and jog my memory. I'll edit this thing post haste.
That's enough of that, I know, but I want to be clear that I really do appreciate your support. I'll keep the seafaring adventures coming if you'll keep coming back for more, mates. Thankee indeed.