Real Pirates in Philadelphia

May 28, 2008 4:16:19 AM PDT
A new, traveling exhibit is set to open in Philadelphia this weekend, and it was designed by the people who brought us King Tut."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 Insitute.

Mark Lach is the exhibition designer. He also designed the King Tut and Titanic exhibits.

Barry Clifford, 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 - all on display at the Real Pirates exhibit.

The Whydah remains at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean near Cape Cod.

Pirates were ruthless people, 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 outright violence.

Real Pirates opens on Saturday, Mary 31st, and runs until November.

Pirate fans old and young are expected to attend.

Watch our 6abc special to learn more about the Real Pirates Exhibit at the Franklin Institute. The program airs on Saturday, June 28th at 7 pm.

Click here to learn more about Real Pirates