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Aug. 23, 2021

Chesapeake Bay Pirates & the 19th Century Oyster Wars

In Chesapeake Bay in the late 19th century, oyster harvesting was a big business. There were so many oyster harvesters harvesting so many oysters that the legislatures of Maryland and Virginia had to start regulating who could harvest oysters and how they could do so. Creating the regulations was the easy part; enforcing them was much harder. The illegal harvesting of oysters by oyster pirates continued, even after the creation of the Maryland State Oyster Police Force in 1868 and a similar force in Virginia in 1884. 

The first of the Oyster Wars was in Virginia in 1882 when Governor William E. Cameron himself joined the expedition to raid the pirates. The first raid was a success, but Cameron quickly learned that pirates wouldn’t stay defeated for long, and the oyster wars continued. By the late 1880s the Oyster Wars turned deadly.

The Oyster Wars remained an important part of Chesapeake Bay history all the way until the “official” end of the Oyster Wars in 1959, although even that may have not truly been the end.

In this episode, Kelly briefly tells the story of the Oyster Wars and (with a little help from her son, Arthur, interviews Jamie Goodall, author of Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay: From the Colonial Era to the Oyster Wars.

Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. Episode image: “The oyster war in Chesapeake Bay,” Drawing by Schell and Hogan. Harper's Weekly, Mar. 1, 1884, p. 136. Library of Congress.

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Kelly Therese Pollock 0:00

This is Unsung History, the podcast where we discuss people and events in American history that haven't always received a lot of attention. I'm your host, Kelly Therese Pollock. I'll start each episode with a brief introduction to the topic, and then talk to someone who knows a lot more than I do. Be sure to subscribe to Unsung History on your favorite podcasting app, so you never miss an episode. And please tell your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, maybe even strangers to listen too.


Today's episode is about pirates. Specifically the pirates in the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Wars in the 19th century. My idea of what a pirate is admittedly is based on the 1990 made for TV adaptation of Treasure Island, starring Christian Bale and based on the 1883 novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. I was 12 in 1990 when the movie came out, and no depiction of pirates I've seen since then, has changed at all my conception of what they are. But it turns out the pirates weren't just in the Caribbean in the 18th century. They were operating along the eastern coast of the US in the late 19th century too. Residents along the Chesapeake Bay region in Maryland and Virginia made their living largely on the water, especially harvesting and selling oysters. The waters off of Maryland are especially well suited for growing oysters. In 1830, the Maryland government passed laws that said only Maryland residents could harvest oysters in order to stop the flow of New Englanders coming down to enter the oyster trade. Maryland also prohibited the dredging of oysters, which is when boats would harvest oysters in deep waters with large basket scoops. Those who violated these laws were pirates. More legislation was passed by 1865. But it was up to the local authorities to patrol, something they were ill equipped to do. in 1868, Maryland fixed that problem by creating the state Oyster Police Force. Unfortunately, pirates weren't dissuaded from harvesting oysters by the creation of the force, which set up the Chesapeake Bay for the Oyster Wars.


The first oyster war, though, took place in Virginia, and was waged by Virginia Governor William E. Cameron after scientific studies conducted by US naval officer Francis Winslow showed that the Chesapeake Bay oysters were in danger of over harvesting. In 1880, Virginia also outlawed dredging, but the legislation was largely ignored. In February 1882, Cameron joined a crew on the Victoria J Peed to go after the pirates, with long range guns set up on the shore and the second ship, the Louisa, on hand to assist. Using a ruse where they pretended to have a disabled ship, Cameron's ships managed to capture all seven of the pirate vessels they found that first day. The first raid was a success. But by the end of 1882, most of the pirates were back out at work dredging in Virginia waters again. So in February 1883, Cameron set out again, this time with a flagship called the Pamlico and with three newspaper reporters on board to see the raids. This time, Cameron was much less successful. After losing over 50 oyster pirate ships and capturing only one, Cameron thought he could make an easy attack on a pirate vessel called the Dancing Molly, whose crew was onshore gathering wood. Unfortunately for Cameron, the captain's wife and daughters were still on board and were able to escape with the Dancing Molly into Maryland waters. The newspaper reporters witnessed the debacle and included it in their dispatches. Cameron didn't have much more success in the water after that, but he did convince lawmakers in 1884 that the oyster piracy was causing real economic damage to Virginia, and they established an agency to administer a naval police force, taking a page from Maryland's book.


In February 1888, Captain George W. Clarke of the Maryland Oyster Navy ordered the pirate oyster schooner Albert Nickel to surrender. When the Albert Nickel refused, Clark's men fired warning shots, and the pirates returned fire. In the 10 minute gunfight that ensued, the Pirate Captain William Frank Whitehouse was killed. It was the first death caused by the Oyster Navy, but it wouldn't be the last, as the Oyster Wars turned more deadly in the late 1880s and into the 1890s. By 1892 and 1893, the warnings about over harvesting of oysters were proving true. And both Maryland and Virginia had to take further steps to regulate the industry, including by leasing oyster beds, which was unpopular among the oyster harvesters. In the early 20th century, several years of bad weather, including a hurricane in 1933, disrupted the oyster trade, as did World Wars One and Two, and rum-running during Prohibition. In the 1950s there was another mini oyster boom, leading to the official end of the Oyster Wars. In April 1959, three friends were out dredging late at night when they were caught by the Chief Inspector of the Tidewater Fisheries Commission, Howard Shenton. In the ensuing scuffle, Shenton's men open fire on the unarmed dredging ship, killing Berkeley Muse, a respected community leader in Colonial Beach, Virginia, just over the border. The community of Colonial Beach was outraged, and the Maryland Oyster Navy was disbanded.


To help us understand more about the Oyster Wars and about Atlantic pirates in general, I'm speaking now with Jamie Goodall, author of The Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay: From the Colonial Era to the Oyster Wars, where you can read much more about the events of the Oyster Wars and the pirates in these stories. She is also author of National Geographic's Pirates: Shipwrecks, Conquests and Their Lasting Legacy. My seven year old Arthur also helped with the last few questions in this interview.


Hi, Jamie, thanks so much for joining me today to talk about pirates.


Jamie Goodall 7:03

Well, thank you so much for having me.


Kelly Therese Pollock 7:04

Yeah. So I wanted to start by just asking kind of how you got interested. I mean, everyone's interested in pirates, I suppose. But how you got interested in sort of actually studying/researching/writing about pirates?


Jamie Goodall 7:16

Well, it's funny because I never really thought about pirates before. It wasn't something that I was interested in as a kid. I was more into like, the fantasy realm as a child. So Guinevere, we used to pretend to be one Guinevere all the time. In my Master's program, I took a European imperialism course. And I was kind of bored with it. And we had a final project. And we had to write on just any aspect of imperialism. And I got to thinking I had come across a quote where somebody had compared Sir Francis Drake and Sir Henry Morgan, and they essentially called Morgan England's second, Drake. And I wanted to know more about that comparison, because in my mind, they were two very different individuals. And so I wrote my paper on that. And that was the paper I used to apply to PhD programs. And the woman who would become my advisor asked if I was interested in writing about pirates sort of long-term. And I was like, well, I hadn't thought about it. But sure, why not. And it just sort of went from there.


Kelly Therese Pollock 8:18

There are much worse things to end up having to thinking about and write about for a long time.


Jamie Goodall 8:24



Kelly Therese Pollock 8:25

So one thing that interests me about pirates, and I'm always interested in sort of what sources there are, what, you know, how people do their research, but I would guess that at least some pirates didn't keep very good records. Maybe purposely didn't keep very good records. So I'm wondering, and of course, you'd have looked at all sorts of different kinds of pirates in different time periods. But you know, what, what those records look like? What sorts of things you and other researchers have been able to find out, you know, how you do that research and what the limitations of those records might be.


Jamie Goodall 9:01

Right. So there are a lot of limitations when it comes to studying piracy because as you noted, pirates purposely are not keeping records Plausible deniability is is very important in their line of work. So a lot of the records that we have tend to be government records, so correspondences between governors or different types of memorandums that would come out from the government, or letters from Governors to the Board of Trade and plantations. So those are sort of the primary records that we have to work with. The other two major sets that we have to work with are pirate trial transcripts. There are a lot of those out there actually. And a lot of them were published because people were so fascinated by pirates at the time. So these were become sort of like bestsellers, and then letters between merchants or merchant records where they kept records of who they traded with or who they were attacked by. So those are our primary records. You can use Captain Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates, but you have to sort of take that with a grain of salt, because he did make up a lot of stuff. But he was a contemporary. And there are some things that he talks about that we have been able to validate with other records. But we also know he made up pirates or he embellished stories, because, of course, he was interested in selling his books. So yeah, so those are the the main types of records that we might work with.


Kelly Therese Pollock 10:34

So, and this is true of other populations as well, but it sounds like most of what we know about pirates comes from the people who were opposed to the pirates in a sense, and that not much of it comes from that population itself.


Jamie Goodall 10:47

Yes, absolutely. what little we do get from pirates tends to be their transcripts from like their depositions. And of course, they're professing their innocence. So you're not getting a whole lot of information about their activities that way, unfortunately. So some pirates were a little more forthcoming about their activities. Blackbeard, for example, had no problem with people knowing exactly what he was doing and and how he was doing it. Captain Kidd also was pretty forthcoming. Although for Kidd, he claimed he was a privateer, so he didn't feel any shame or concern about what he had done, because he felt like he was on the legal side of things. And so we learned a lot about his activities, just because he was pretty open about that.


Kelly Therese Pollock 11:33

Well, that leads very nicely into my next question, which is, who is a pirate? How do we decide who's a pirate? You know? It seems like especially for a lot of the time period that, that we're really talking about when we think about pirates. You know, laws are changing quickly. It's not always clear. And you know, if they're out on the ship, they don't know if a law has changed, or if land has changed hands, or there's a war going on things like that. So what's the sort of working definition of pirate but then also, you know, where is there tension in that where some people maybe don't think of themselves as pirates? Or do or you know, how we think about that?


Jamie Goodall 12:14

Absolutely, yeah, laws were changing so quickly, a lot of times, and because these conflicts between the European powers, some of them lasted for years, and some of them did not. And so, you know, the Spanish might be your enemy one day, and the next there's peace between England and Spain. And so now, you know, what you're doing is technically illegal. So a basic definition of a pirate would be a commerce raider that operates primarily on the water. It doesn't mean that the water is their sole location because we know pirates were very adept at land based operations as well. But basically a commerce raider on the water. And we use that because it sort of speaks to what their primary goal was, which was to disrupt trade, and to seize commercial goods for themselves. And really, the only thing that separates a pirate from a privateer is perspective, and a letter of marque, which was a commission given to them by either the crown or their local colonial governor, which gave them permission to disrupt trade; they just simply used private vessels to do that. They were not military vessels by any means. So really, their jobs were exactly the same. So it just depended on who you were. Of course, for England, their privateers, they viewed them as honorable and patriotic, and they were upholding the ideals of the crown. But the Spanish viewed them as pirates. So, you know, which are they? And it really depends on whose side you're on, honestly.


Kelly Therese Pollock 13:57

Yeah, I was, as I was reading your book, there were a lot of moments where it was like this was considered a legal raid, or, you know, and, and it seems especially complicated if people are putting up flags of a different country to sort of claim that their boat is actually one thing when it's another and, you know. It just seems like, there were probably a lot of times that people sort of crossed a line one way or the other, maybe not even meaning to maybe they started to and said, Okay, fine, I'll just keep doing this. But it's not quite as cut and dry as like a movie about pirates might make us think that it is.


Jamie Goodall 14:33

Oh, definitely. Yeah, the lines are very blurred.


Kelly Therese Pollock 14:36

Yeah. That's, that's really fascinating. And I think, is probably the thing that I found most interesting in sort of reading your book about pirates, thinking about pirates is is this way that that the the lines are blurry and the the people's perceptions of where the line is is blurry, as that I think is fascinating. I think another thing that I sort of isn't like the sort of movie version I think of as pirates, if I'm thinking about like Treasure Island or something, is that there were so many pirates along the American coast. I think I had never considered that that was the case that it was, you know, like in the Chesapeake Bay that you're describing, and that it happened so late that, you know, this isn't just a thing that happened in like the 17th century and was done. So as, as you were sort of honing in on this book to write the the Chesapeake Bay pirate book. Were there things that surprised you, as you were sort of learning about piracy and how common and frequent it was all along the Atlantic Coast of the US?


Jamie Goodall 15:47

I think the thing that surprised me the most was just how long piracy lasted, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay. And I think it's because I didn't think of piracy in respect to the American Revolution and the American Civil War. In particular, the for the Confederates, of course, they didn't have much of a Navy at all. And so to them, they were privateers. But to the United States they were pirates, of course. And Lincoln issued a proclamation stating as much; he was like, absolutely, if you were caught, you are a pirate, and you'll be tried by the standards of the time. But also the Oyster Wars, right, the that we did, I never learned about the Oyster Wars growing up. And I mean, part of that might be because I didn't grew up in Maryland. But even people I know who grew up in Maryland said that they didn't learn about that in school. And so they're really interested in it. And the fact that people were pirating oysters all the way until the 1960s, essentially, and I heard from somebody who stated that he had evidence that it lasted even longer than that. But the official Oyster Wars had come to a close in 1959. But that people were still pirating oysters into the 80s and 90s.


Kelly Therese Pollock 17:02

That is just wild. And I think, you know, people who eat oysters, probably never think about how is this obtained? Was it legally or illegally? And you know what? Yeah, what that looks like. So I want to talk about the Dancing Molly, because this is just like the coolest story ever. So can you talk a little bit about this story? I think one of the things that's interesting, of course, is just that there are women; when you think about pirates, you don't think about women at all. You don't think about wives and daughters and that, but then also that it seems like the the people who who largely are probably against pirates are sort of like cheering on this the ship and cheering on these women to escape from the law. Can you just talk some about that story and sort of the the fascinating things that can tell us about? I was gonna say like, pirate PR.


Jamie Goodall 17:58

So the Dancing Molly is probably my favorite story that I came across when I was researching for that book. And it is because it's the only piece of evidence I had for women being involved in piracy in the Chesapeake Bay. I'm absolutely certain that there were more women involved. We just don't have the records for them. But it also speaks to the fact that pirates, we tend to visualize them as these solo individuals who are just tied to the water, and they have no ties to land. And they're just these swashbuckling bachelors, if you will. And in reality, a lot of them actually had families; they had wives and children; they had ties to their local communities. And so the Dancing Molly really speaks to that, because here you have these men who are out pirating oysters, and they're off gathering timber for their other commerce raiding activities, and the Captain has left his wife and daughters on the ship. And here comes Governor Cameron thinking this is gonna be a really easy raid, right, that they left the ship abandon. And here are these men on shore, so they're not going to be able to escape. And lo and behold, there are people on board and they happen to be women and Cameron's like, Oh, well, still, it'll be super easy because they're women. And the women are like, haha, we're actually excellent seafarers. And so they were able to get the ship going and maneuver away from Governor Cameron's forces and cross jurisdictional waters from Virginia into Maryland. And of course, there are these Virginians on shore, who, like you mentioned are typically sort of against piracy because it affects their livelihoods. But when they see that it's women who are escaping the law, they're sort of like enamored by this. And they're cheering for this pirate's wife and daughters to like, get over and away from the governor. And so, again, you see just this connection between pirates and family and the role that women can play in this traditionally masculine realm.


Kelly Therese Pollock 20:07

Yeah. Oh, such a fantastic story. And I just I love that Governor Cameron is like, I'm gonna bring the press on this boat with me so I can show how wonderful I am, get PR for myself, and then of course, it turns on him because the press is right there front row seat to see that these women can escape him. I mean, Governor Cameron in general seems like a fascinating figure that, you know, he's, he's the governor and he goes, goes in sort of captains these ships, or goes along on them at least, to try to capture pirates. And to, you know, I assume that most governors don't do this sort of thing that they send other people out to do it.


Jamie Goodall 20:49

Yeah, he's definitely a much more hands on governor then than your typical governor.


Kelly Therese Pollock 20:53

Yes, perhaps wanted to be a pirate himself. And I wanted to talk to sort of about different different kinds of writing, because that's something that, that you do so well. So you obviously wrote a dissertation as a PhD student, which is a very particular style of research and writing. And but then you've written, you know, this, the Chesapeake Bay pirate book, which is for us sort of a more general audience. But you've also written those really interesting National Geographic bookazine, which my kids love, which is yet a third kind of style of writing style of presentation of material. Can you talk some about writing in those different styles, thinking about how to write in those different styles? And, you know, I, I know a lot of doctoral students who are sort of thinking ahead and thinking academic careers might, you know, there aren't that many of them nowadays. And, and maybe that isn't what I want to do. You know, are there ways that sort of as graduate students, they can be thinking about ahead toward publishing in different ways, you know, obviously, the dissertation still has to be done the way their committee wants it to be done, but sort of how to think about more of a public history approach to writing.


Jamie Goodall 22:13

Yeah, I was fortunate because I did my master's degree in public history with a focus on museum studies, which has its own very particular style of writing. And I've just always had a fascination with writing for a general audience. My doctoral advisor even said that a lot of times my dissertation came across much more generalized than it's supposed to. So I had a lot of difficulty with the academic side of writing. But I think one of the major things is, if you're interested in writing beyond the Academy, you really need to read beyond the Academy. So for me, I read a bunch of National Geographic bookazines, before I wrote my own, just to get a sense of what it is that National Geographic preferred, as far as writing styles go, how much information you can include and, and how you can present it. Because for these bookazines, what stressed me out the most is there's no citations, right? So you have to be very cautious about your writing and making sure that when you're referencing other people's work, that you're really putting it into your own words, because they know you're not coming up with this all on your own. But you don't want to be accused of plagiarism, right, which is still very different from writing for a trade press with has another different sort of general audience. And so for me, the biggest thing was just reading in those realms and getting a sense of what those audiences preferred. And what makes the most sense for those audiences and keeping those audiences in mind while I was writing. And also, you know, when I was writing my Chesapeake Bay book, I didn't just have some of my academic friends read through it and give me their thoughts. I also had, like my mom, and other sort of like, general audience, people that I knew, read through it as well, so that they could give me that perspective. Before I submitted it for publication.


Kelly Therese Pollock 24:16

I remember when I wrote my master's thesis, I sent it to my parents to read and to of course, it was very acadecmic-y. And my dad came back and she said, are you sure that "posit" is a word? And I was like, Yes, it is. Okay. Because you're not going to be able to help me with this text. But yeah, that's good advice for general audience that finding people who are part of the general public, you know, it makes sense to have them read it. I love that in the in the bookazine, the sort of graphic presentation too. Obviously, there's lots of pictures and things but even like having little like call-out sections where you can talk about Blackbeard in you know, sort of a little box text, I think that makes it so interesting, especially for kids but frankly for adults to to have those sort of. It's not necessarily a thing, you have to just read straight through, that you can sort of flip through and be like, Oh, I'm gonna read this section now. Is that a difficult style to sort of learn to do to instead of just sort of a straight narrative to have those sort of different sections and think about sort of what, what a text is even gonna look like?


Jamie Goodall 25:22

Yeah, so for National Geographic, they have sort of a template that you use to do the actual construction of the narrative. And you start with an outline, and then you go in, and you sort of flesh that outline out. And so it is a very awkward way of writing because you're not just going into a word processor and typing out your words, and going from, you know, topic to topic, you're really like, breaking it down into little tiny pieces and, and writing that way. And so it was a little difficult at first for me to sort of wrap my head around how to, to really write this. But I found that even in my doctoral dissertation, I didn't write it from beginning to end, I didn't write it in a in a sort of straight flow, I wrote it piece by piece. And so I sort of took that in mind when I was working on the the bookazine. And that really helped me out. And I think a lot of graduate students do that they they write piece by piece, based on where the evidence takes them, or based on what they have available to them. And so I think, if you take that mindset with you, writing for National Geographic is not as difficult as it could be. Yeah.


Kelly Therese Pollock 26:41

Well, it's, the end result is great. So whatever it took to get there, I certainly appreciate it. So I am gonna turn the mic over to my seven year old son, Arthur, now because he has a couple of questions about pirates.


Arthur 26:59

What is your favorite pirate?


Jamie Goodall 27:02

My favorite pirate is a man named Stede Bonnet. And he's really interesting, because he wasn't a pirate to begin with. He was actually a very famous merchant. And he was very wealthy, and he was married and he had children. And he decided that he was tired of that lifestyle. So he left his wife and children behind. He bought a boat, which is a terrible way to become a pirate, you want to steal a boat, you don't want to buy a boat. He also hired a crew as opposed to sort of press ganging a crew into his service. So of course, the crew expected him to continue to pay them. So they didn't have incentive to really rob any ships. And so he was sort of the worst pirate in Atlantic history. But he's just my favorite because of how bad he really was at what he was doing,


Kelly Therese Pollock 27:53

Arthur, do you think you'd be a good pirate or a bad pirate?


Arthur 27:57

A good pirate. I even made a picture of a pirate.


Jamie Goodall 28:02

Oh that's, amazing. I love that.


Kelly Therese Pollock 28:05

He just drew this while while he was listening to us talk. Alright, so do you have another question, honey?


Arthur 28:11

Do pirates really speak the way they did.


Kelly Therese Pollock 28:16

So like, what, can you talk about what you think of a pirate talking like?


Arthur 28:20

Arrr, matey!


Jamie Goodall 28:23

Unfortunately, they didn't talk like that. What we think of as pirates speaking with the Arrr and matey and Shiver Me Timbers, that actually comes from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, particularly the 1950s version. with Robert Newton. He took his Western English accent and exaggerated it. And that sort of became the hallmark of how pirates talked. He carried that in from Treasure Island to a movie he did on Blackbeard. And so people just sort of replicated it after that. And really, they would have talked just like any other sailors, so they would have had sailor lingo, but it just wouldn't have been what we think of as pirate speak.


Kelly Therese Pollock 29:11

Arthur, do you have a favorite pirate?


Arthur 29:14



Kelly Therese Pollock 29:15

Why do you like Blackbeard?


Arthur 29:17

I don't know. I just like him.


Jamie Goodall 29:20

I have a fun story about Blackbeard, actually, it's very quick. So Blackbeard's crew was very sick. And he needed to get medicine. So while he was off the coast of South Carolina, he saw his ship which had the most prominent men from Charleston on it. And he decided to take that ship and hold those men for ransom. And he sent a letter to the governor and said: Send me a chest of these medications, and I will release these gentlemen back to you. So the governor of course knows Blackbeard is this very vicious pirate and so he's like, yes, he sends the medicine and Blackbeard is good on his word, but he has a reputation to uphold. So he sends the men back to shore. But he makes some row themselves back to shore and they're naked.


Kelly Therese Pollock 30:08

That's a pretty great story. Is there anything else that you want to make sure that we talked about or that people think about when they're thinking about pirates?


Jamie Goodall 30:21

I think one of the things is just to remember that for all the romanticization that we've done to pirates and, and how glorified they've become as these Robin Hoods of the seas, that really, a lot of them were not very good guys. That they, you know, even if they had wives and children, their activities were pretty brutal. And they were known to torture people and, and kill people. And so just remembering that, for all their flaws, they were pretty complicated human beings.


Kelly Therese Pollock 30:55

Yeah. So if people want to read your books, how can they get them?


Jamie Goodall 31:01

So you can find Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay on Amazon, through a company called Indiebound, which will help you find a local indie store that may have it or who will order it for you. Or you can get a direct from the press through Arcadia Publishing. If you want the National Geographic bookazine I think most magazine places have put it away now because it was a summer edition. But you can find it on Amazon still.


Kelly Therese Pollock 31:28

All right. Excellent. I recommend them both. They're fun reads. And you you already have ideas for your your next several books. I think


Jamie Goodall 31:38

I do. I'm finishing up a book that should be out next year on Pirates of the Mid Atlantic, which focuses on New York and Pennsylvania specifically. And then I just got a contract to write a book about Black Sam Bellamy and Pirates of Massachusetts. And I am about to get a contract, I think, to write a book about taverns and cocktails in Virginia.


Kelly Therese Pollock 32:01

Excellent. Well, I look forward to those as well. So Jamie, thank you so much. This was a really fun week for me to research before talking to you. And it was a fun conversation. So thank you so much.


Jamie Goodall 32:13

Well, thank you. I had a great time.


Teddy 32:15

Thanks for listening to Unsung History. You can find the sources used for this episode at To the best of our knowledge all audio and images used by Unsung History are in the public domain or are used with permission. You can find us on Twitter, or Instagram @Unsung__History or on Facebook at Unsung History Podcast. To contact us with questions or episode suggestions, please email If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review and tell your friends.


Transcribed by

Jamie L. H. GoodallProfile Photo

Jamie L. H. Goodall

My name is Jamie Goodall and I am a staff historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C. All views expressed on my website are my own and are not reflective of my employer, the U.S. Army, or the Department of Defense. I am the author of Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay: From the Colonial Era to the Oyster Wars (The History Press, 2020) and National Geographic’s Pirates: Shipwrecks, Conquests, and their Lasting Legacy (Summer 2021). I am currently under contract with the History Press to produce a monograph on piracy in the mid-Atlantic due out in 2022. And I’ve contracted with the History Press to produce a biographical account of the pirate Black Sam Bellamy due out in 2023.

Formerly I was Assistant Professor of History at Stevenson University in Baltimore, Maryland where I taught courses on a wide variety of historical subjects, including American and World History surveys, Intro to Public History, and Pirates of the Caribbean among many others.

I wish I could remember the exact moment I decided to enter the historical profession, but the truth is, a love of history has been with me since before I can remember. I recall mentally devouring my mother’s old Time Life books on ancient Egypt and Rome. As fond as I am of the fiction genre, I was always that weird kid whose nose was stuck in a non-fiction book–and it was usually a history book. It was a long and windy road that brought me to the PhD in history, but history has been the underlying theme of everything I’ve done.