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Pirates in America
Punishments and the Pirate's Code of Conduct
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Pirates and their Discipline
Despite their cruel and unusual nature, pirates had extremely disciplined and organized ships. Of course, this meant that there had to be a list of rules, known as the Pirate's Code of Conduct, found on an eighteenth century ship.

1. Every man shall obey civil command; the Captain shall have one full share and a half in all prizes; the Master, Carpenter, Boatswain and Gunner shall have one share and quarter.
2. If any man shall offer to run away, or keep any secret from the Company, he shall be maroon'd with one bottle of powder, one bottle of water, one small arm and shot.
3. If any man shall steal any Thing in the Company, or game, to the value of a Piece of Eight, he shall be maroon'd or shot.
4. If at any time we should meet another Marrooner, that man shall sign his Articles without the consent of our Company, shall suffer punishment as Captain and Company see fit.
5. That man that shall strike another while these Articles are in force shall receive Mose's Law (40 strikes on one's back) on the Bare Back.
6. The man that shall not keep his arms clean, fit for an engagement or otherwise, shall be cut off from his share and punished as the Captain and Company see fit.
7. If any Man shall lose a joint in time of an engagement he shall have 400 pieces of eight, if a limb, 800.
8. If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that Man that offers to to meddle with her, without her consent, shall suffer present death.


Peter Pan and Captain Hook
Disney's Peter Pan, 1953

Pirate Punishments
- Flogging with the cat o'nine tails
- Tying to the mast
- Marooning
- Slavery
- Walking the plank
- Dunking from the Yard Arm
- Keelhauling
Flogging was very popular especially in the seventeenth century, and was sometimes outlawed on pirate ships.
One instance of tying to the mast was described in a 1726 newspaper article called "The Tryal of Captain Jeane". A young boy sailing under Captain Jeane was accused of stealing rum, and was consequently whipped and pickled in brine. For the next nine days, his arms and legs were extended and tied to the mast. Not mollified, the Captain had him untied and trampled upon him. When his crew refused to do the same, Captain Jeane was hung.
Marooning was rather popular among the pirates. You would be abandoned on an island with only a firearm or a knife. On rare occasions would you receive fresh water and food.
Being sold into slavery was beneficial to the ship and pirates, who would receive the money and do with as they pleased.
Walking the plank was actually not as common as people today believe. As the Outer Banks Pirate's Map says, it was much quicker just to push someone overboard.
Dunking from the Yard Arm is pretty self explanatory- it was when a sailor was attached to a spar and then dunked into the ocean as many times as the captain saw fit.
Keelhauling was very popular and very dreaded. A sailor would be tied to a rope attached to both sides of the ship, pushed overboard and dragged under the hull. If he were brought up on the other side, he would be ridiculed and then pushed back under. The same kind of rope was used for scraping barnacles off the bottom of the ship.