On this day Edward Teach aka as the pirate Blackbeard was trapped and murdered. He was only active for two short years but his legend remains and he is the most famous pirate of all time.

On a sunny winter day some three centuries ago, British warships fired their cannons in celebration as Lieutenant Robert Maynard sailed up the James River upon his return to Virginia.

Any questions as to the success of his covert mission to subdue one of history’s most notorious pirates were answered at the sight of the pungent trophy dangling from the bowsprit of Maynard’s ship—the severed, decomposing head of Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.

It was only months earlier that Blackbeard had vowed to abandon his life as a sea bandit. Just weeks after striking fear throughout the American colonies by blockading Charleston, South Carolina, with his four-ship flotilla in May 1718, the pirate traveled up the Atlantic coastline to the North Carolina capital of Bath and pledged to give up his plunderous ways while appealing to Governor Charles Eden for a King’s Pardon.

Blackbeard fell victim to a trap.

After anchoring off the southern tip of Ocracoke Island the night before, Maynard ordered his two ships to advance on Blackbeard on the morning of November 22, 1718. The Virginian expedition quickly lost the element of surprise, however, when both the Ranger and the Jane ran aground. Blackbeard attempted to make a run for it out of the channel, but the British managed to extricate the Jane and pull within shouting distance of the pirates. “At our first salutation,” Maynard recounted, Blackbeard “drank damnation to me and my men, whom he styled sniveling puppies, saying, he would neither give nor take quarter.”

In death, the legend of Blackbeard was born.

Blackbeard may have died, but his legend quickly gained a life of its own. “Blackbeard was neither a particularly successful pirate in terms of treasure plundered, nor was he the fierce rogue he is made out to be,” Dolin says. “During his short turn on history's stage, less than two years’ time, he rarely used violence. Yet, he is often portrayed as a ruthless, even murderous character who terrorized his foes.” Full Story

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