“I go so far as to say that I do not regret having been his prisoner for some time… He is not a bandit, not a murderer, but a patriot forced into acts of brigandage to save his native soil and his people from the yoke of tyranny.” Ion Hanford Perdicaris
During the spring political campaign of 1904, in an effort to bolster his chances to be an elected president after assuming that office from his assassinated predecessor William McKinley–Theodore Roosevelt sent several Marine companies and a squadron of naval warships steaming toward the North African port of Tangier in order to rescue the abducted American playboy Ion Perdicaris from the clutches of Mulai Ahmed er Raisuni (the leader of the Jebala tribal confederacy in Morocco) and referred to by many of his detractors as “The last of the Barbary Pirates.”
The celebrated hero of San Juan Hill would use the incident to prove to both his party and the public the effectiveness of his “Big Stick Philosophy” when asserting United States power abroad. But for anyone who has been following Ken Burns’ latest documentary film about the Roosevelts, it is clear that Teddy, like so many overly ambitious politicians, was willing to forego some truth when trying to influence public opinion. As it turned out, the P resident learned early on that the supposed victim in the affair was not even an American citizen. Mr. Perdicaris had given up his US passport many years earlier so that he could firmly reestablish his Greek citizenship.That fact remained hidden from the American people until the 1930s. Furthermore, while government officials blustered that they wanted Perdicaris alive or Raisuni dead, the captor and his captive had already established a respectable friendship, and the so-called “Last of the Barbary Pirates” had vowed that no harm would befall Ion Perdicaris while he was in his care.
Ultimately, Perdicaris was set free after the United States Government secretly prodded France and England to put pressure on the Sultan of Morocco to cede to the financial and political demands of Mulai Ahmed er Raisuni. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, his release was viewed as being the outcome of some very tough and well-orchestrated gunboat diplomacy. And as is so often the case when trying to decipher the dealings of mankind, it was difficult to distinguish between the villains and the virtuous.
But for you more principled pirates that are attempting to transcend the behaviors of those less than seaworthy scalawags in Washington, we offer the following revised code of ethics.
- Always put your best peg-leg forward.
- Press your pantaloons.
- Compliment the fit and finish of your shipmate’s puffy shirt.
- Never fly your Jolly Roger above the Stars and Stripes.
- Buy the next round of Grog.
- Extend your hook to one in need.
- Stand on the side of your shipmate’s good eye.
- Share your booty with the less fortunate.
- And always let your parrot have the last word!
Wishing all of our fellow buccaneers a most bountiful Talk Like a Pirate Day!
Click or strike the colors to view some past musings about the day.
Posted by: Chris Poh