Swashbucklers await exhibit at FI

May 27, 2008 5:57:58 PM PDT
Hollywood may have made them anti-heroes, but the Franklin Institute plans to reveal the real history of pirates."Black" Sam Bellamy was a mean, old pirate from the early 18th century.

His ship was the Whydah Gally, a smallish, speedy vessel he pirated from British slave traders.

The Whydah sunk just off the coast of Cape Cod in 1717, during a fierce Nor'easter.

The story of the ship, and its crew, is now told in the Real Pirates exhibit, coming this weekend at the Franklin Institute.

An underwater explorer found the Whydah in 1984.

It is the first, and only, pirate ship ever discovered in North America.

The confirmation came when they read the inscription on its bell.

The bronze artifact is encased in a tank of freshwater, for preservation.

There are also canons, guns, coins and other treasure - all nearly 300 years old.

The Whydah remains in the Atlantic.

Pirates were ruthless, to be feared by many, but at the same time, they were also known to be humane, and in some cases, quite democratic.

Humane, because pirates would offer freedom to slaves on the stolen ships, provided they joined the crew.

And democratic, because the captain of the pirate ship would often be elected.

All this does not excuse their more typical campaigns of outright violence.

Real Pirates opens on Saturday, and runs until November at The Franklin.