Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution
Robert H. Patton. New York: Pantheon Books, 2008. 275 pp. Illus. Notes. Bib. Index. $26.
This well-written book tells of the "legalized pirates" commissioned by the Continental Congress to raid, plunder, and carry as much enemy loot as possible back to America. Robert Patton, grandson of the famous World War II general, has done great work to bring this story to life.
It was a risky business that Thomas Jefferson hoped would "distress the British trade in every part of the world." The book focuses on the far-flung geographical areas that thrived on privateering, from Massachusetts and Canada to the West Indies and England.
Naval hero John Paul Jones was initially "disgusted" that privateering was used to support the war. But eventually, even that iconic figure apparently was tempted by the enormous profits to be gained.