Henry Morgan

Pirate, English Privateer, & Governor of Jamaica

Born: c. 1635

Died: 1688

Morgan's origins and early career are fairly obscure.

He was probably a member of the expedition that in 1655 seized Jamaica from the Spanish and converted it into an English colony.  He also may have participated in an expedition against Cuba in 1662; and during the second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667), he was second in command of the buccaneers operating against Dutch colonies in the Caribbean.

Selected commander of the buccaneers in 1668, Morgan quickly captured Puerto Principe, Cuba, and--in an extraordinarily daring move--stormed and sacked the well-fortified city of Portobello on the Isthmus of Panama. In 1669 he made a successful raid on wealthy Spanish settlements around Lake Maracaibo on the coast of Venezuela. Finally, in August 1670 Morgan, with 36 ships and nearly 2,000 buccaneers, set out to capture Panama, one of the chief cities of Spain's American empire. Crossing the Isthmus of Panama, he defeated a large Spanish force (Jan. 18, 1671) and entered the city, which burned to the ground while his men were looting it. On the return journey he deserted his followers and absconded with most of the booty.

Because Morgan's raid on Panama had taken place after the conclusion of a peace between England and Spain, he was arrested and transported to London (April 1672). Nevertheless, relations with Spain quickly deteriorated, and in 1674 King Charles II knighted Morgan and sent him out again as deputy governor of Jamaica, where he lived as a wealthy and respected planter until his death.

An exaggerated account of Morgan's exploits, written by one of his crew, created his popular reputation as a bloodthirsty pirate.

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