Charleston (Charles Town) was founded on the banks of the Ashley and Cooper rivers in the 1600's. Charlestonwas and is major sea port in North America. (South Carolina) It is sometimes hard to associate it with the Caribbean, but it was a port of call for Blackbeard and at one time found piracy economically beneficial. It could be considered the Northern border for piracy in the Caribbean. Charleston also had a very active smuggling trade during its colonial days and even later during prohibition in the 1920s.
Charleston ran hot and cold with piracy, depending on the Governor of the time. For the most part, however, pirates were not welcome. Charleston most important pirate moment was the blockading of the city by Blackbeard. Blackbeard kidnapped several notable people from Charleston and held them for ransom, not for money but for medicine. Because of poor hygiene, poor diet, bad living condition, and a tendency to rumming and whoring, pirates would often needed medicine more than money. When the chest of medicine was brought to Blackbeard he released the prisoners.
Another important pirate operating around Charleston was William Lewis. The Charleston governor most responsible for ridding the town of piracy was Robert Johnson. governor Johnson dispatched pirate hunter, Colonel William Rhett with the command of two ships, the Henry and the Sea Nymph. Rhett managed to chase Vane out of Charleston's water. Rhett captured Stede Bonnet who was eventually hanged on November 1718 along with 30 members of his crew. This marked an end to piracy as a problem in Charleston.
Despite the end of piracy, smuggling continued for some time. Charleston was a major port for smuggling during both the American War of Independence and during the Civil War. It was also a destination for rum-runners during prohibition.
It is also rumored that Anne Bonny was smuggled from Jamaica to Charleston by wealthy relatives who paid a ransom for her release. It is believed that she then married a rich landowner and lived out her life.
Click map to enlarge in new window