Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pirates in In Pursuit

Gasparilla Festival in Tampa, Florida
I thought I would introduce some of the characters in In Pursuit to you. Let's start with the pirate Henri Caesar (Black Caesar) According to Wikipedia Henri Caesar was allegedly born to a slave family kept by a French plantation owner known as Arnaut. He worked as a houseboy on the estate and, as a young man, worked in the lumberyard. He was apparently mistreated by the supervisor and later killed the man during the slave insurrection, torturing him with a saw. Joining the rebel forces led by Dutty Boukman and Toussaint Louverture, he remained with the revolution until its independence from France in 1804, when he left to try his luck at sea. Based in Port-de-Paix, he captured a Spanish ship in 1805 and soon began attacking small villages and lone vessels near Cuba and the Bahamas. Adopting the name Black Caesar, he was very successful during his piratical career before his disappearance in 1830. Although his fate is unrecorded, he most likely fled the area after President Andrew Jackson ordered an expedition against pirates active on the Florida coast after its purchase by the United States in 1828. There is one story of his capture in west Florida and, taken to Key West, was tied to a tree and burned to death. The widow of a preacher, whose eyes had been burned out under torture from Black Caesar, had been used to light the fire.[1]

He is supposed to have buried between $2 and $6 million at several locations throughout the Caribbean including Pine Island, White Horse Key, Marco Island, Elliot Key and Sanibel Island, although none has ever been recovered. He is said to have been associated with another pirate, Jose Gaspar or Gasparilla, however his existence is doubted among historians.

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