Aaron Smith – Pirate? [Part Three: Questions]

July 30, 2010

We have this picture of Aaron Smith from his narrative The Atrocities of the Pirates.  Smith was the poor victim of pirates, the wimpy man who was bullied into committing various atrocities (including killing other men, albeit pirates), the just man who was unfairly put on trial by his peers.

Then we have the opposing image of Smith as painted by the Times of London articles.  Aaron Smith is an eloquent and influential public speaker – an ability which requires a fair measure of intelligence and confidence.  Aaron Smith is burly (albeit honest looking!), so he’s hardly the small, wimpy character from the narrative.

Even more revealing are his tendencies of:

  • violent outbursts – on two different occasions he viciously assaulted men.
  • disrespect for authority – no fear in court, whether on trial for life or assault.  He received additional fines for his behaviour in/out of the courtroom.
  • being involved in ‘shifty’ business schemes – comparative to ‘loan-sharking’.  Also a potential smuggler.

We have these two diametrically opposed views of Aaron Smith, somewhere in between lies the real Aaron Smith.  I don’t know if he set out to be a pirate.  I don’t know if he took advantage of the opportunity to make some money when he was in the company of the pirates.  I don’t know if he was the victim he claimed to be.

All I have are these various voices speaking out from 140-170 odd years ago.

Who was Aaron Smith?


Aaron Smith – Pirate? [Part Two: The Trials]

July 30, 2010

Now begins an investigation into the life and nature of Aaron Smith.  Below are actual contemporary newspaper articles pertaining to Aaron Smith.  These articles go well beyond Aaron’s experiences on the pirate ship Zephyr.  As you will see, there is a definite pattern of violent behaviour.

The Trials of Aaron Smith:

December 21, 1823 – Piracy & murder – acquitted.  This was the first trial which resulted from the events contained in The Atrocities of the Pirates (Industry & Vittoria).

July 15 1829 – 2nd piracy trial – acquitted  This was the second trial which resulted from the events in The Atrocities of the Pirates.  Smith was recognized by a victim of the 3rd shipped he assisted in sacking (Dutch – Prevoyante).

July 22 1842 – Smith linked to a fraud trial – referred to as “an atrocious swindler.”

???? 1848 – Smith brought up on warrant for assaulting Richard Owen.  Read this article.

April 5 1850 – civil trial – Smith sues man (Heath) for recovery of 300 pounds on Bill of Exchange.  The defendant claimed that Smith altered the acceptance of the original bill without his consent.  Additionally, the altered bill was never presented to Heath.  It seems that Smith has taken up the profession of a ‘bill discounter’ (basically equates to modern-day pay-day-loan services).

December 10 1850 – Smith v. Cooke – libel suit launched by Smith as a result of a series of letters which appeared in the Times of London between June & July 1850.  Cooke accused Smith of being a ‘pirate’ (essentially stating that Smith ‘got away with murder’.”  Smith ultimately wins the suit – using the duress defense which was successful at two previous piracy trials.

July 30 1852 – Smith brought up on another warrant for assaulting an omnibus driver.  Read this article.

And then this little snippet from the July 30 1852 Times of London:

February 17 1855 – Smith v. Chubb & others.  Smith (as bill discounter) brings civil action to “recover damages for negligence in not investigating the title of one Edward Hughes to certain property, which he mortgaged to the plaintiff (Smith) as a security for certain loans of money.”  It didn’t work out for Smith in this case.  Read the comments of the judge and jury.

August 1 1859 – Smith v. Bird.  Smith brings action against Bird to recover funds against a bill of exchange.  Bird claims Smith isn’t the bona fide holder of the bill.  There’s a long story as to how the bill landed in Smith’s hands.  In the end, the jury found in favour of Smith.  However, here’s a little clip of the article, which contains some discourse between Smith and the defense attorney.

Then there’s a couple of articles from March 8 & 23 1861:

Please continue onto Aaron Smith (Part Three).

Aaron Smith – Pirate? [Part One: The Atrocities of Pirates]

July 30, 2010

There are many notorious characters poking their nefarious heads out of our history books; from Saddam Hussein to Blue Beard and beyond.  But none have attracted so little attention as a brutish British sailor from the early 19th century.

I’d never heard of him before someone brought him to my attention.  How about you?  Have you ever heard of (Capt.) Aaron Smith before?

No?  Not surprised.

Well, Aaron Smith was accused of being a pirate and murderer.  His first trial took place at the Admiralty Sessions of the Old Baileys on (or around) December 21, 1823.

It’s a long and complicated story (which I will be getting into), but he used duress or compulsion as his defense.  Essentially, he stated he was forced to commit piratical crimes (including murder).

His accusers testified otherwise.  However, Smith’s testimony resonated with the jury and he won the day (and his life!).

It wasn’t enough for Smith to walk away a free man.  A year later, he published the account of his experiences in the novel The Atrocities of Pirates (1824).

In the novel, Smith makes several opportunities to insult and/or impugn his accusers.  These insults would sow the seeds of conflict between Smith and his primary accuser (Capt. William Cooke), which would climax in an 1850 civil suit (we’ll get to that).

Here is Smith’s version of events (in a nutshell) as published in Atrocities of Pirates:

  1. He was hired as Chief Mate on merchant ship Zephyr (which would be sailing from Jamaica to England during the summer of 1822.  The Zephyr Captain was a man named Lumsden (or Lumsdale, as seen in Times of London articles).
  2. The Zephyr was raided by pirates who were based on the north-east corner of Cuba.
  3. Smith was ‘abducted’ by the pirates.  The pirate captain needed a competent navigator.
  4. Smith lived under constant threat of death at the hand of the maniacal pirate captain.
  5. He witnessed other pirates being tortured & murdered.  He claimed to have been tortured on numerous occasions.  The most serious torture involved having gun powder detonated around his legs, causing extensive burns.
  6. He admits to participating (orchestrating) the murder of 8 pirates, but it was in self-defense.
  7. He admits to assisting (being the lead raider) in the seizure of three ships & crews.  The British INDUSTRY (Capt. Cooke’s vessel), the British Vittoria & the Dutch PREYOVANTE.
  8. Smith claims to have saved Cooke’s life from the pirate captain.  He then slams Cooke for being a liar and coward.  Challenges Cooke to produce any real evidence that he (Smith) was a pirate.  Cooke would not respond publicly to this accusation/challenge until 1850.
  9. Smith escaped his captivity only to be apprehended by Spanish (Cuban) authorities and handed over to the British for trial.

A few observations I had after reading Atrocities of Pirates:

  1. My mental image of Smith was of a small, somewhat defenseless man who was very easily bullied.  This image was corroborated by three other independent sources who also read the book.
  2. Smith could do anything (mend sails, navigate, ship doctor including surgeries, speak several languages, etc.).  He appears to be like a master of all trades.
  3. Smith admits to being armed and assaulting a man with a cutlass (sword) while on board the pirate ship.
  4. The story was too perfect in a dramatic sense – the love interest, the mutiny on the pirate ship, the plots to escape (failed and successful).  It fits too cleanly in the dramatic paradigm to be wholly truthful.

From subsequent reading – I came across several things which dashed my initial impression of Aaron Smith.

First, and probably most important – Aaron Smith was a large, burly man – considered intimidating.  Smith was more than capable of defending himself than he would have you believe.  In fact, it seems that Smith’s motto in life was the ‘best self-defense is a good offense”, as he was subject to violent outbursts.

The more I read about the actual Aaron Smith – what he had to say, what people had to say about him, what he did, etc., the less I believed his account of events.

Was Smith a victim of pirates or was he, himself, a pirate?  No one knows for certain – and this is what makes Smith such a compelling character in history..

I think he was a pirate and a master craftsman of lies.  However, there is fertile ground upon which to build an argument to the contrary.

Check out Part Two of Aaron Smith for contemporary newspaper articles pertaining to Aaron Smith.  Pretty cool (if you were to ask me!).

The Days of Our Weeks.

January 2, 2008

A play on words occurs to me.  What if Saturday was a derivative of Satyr’s Day?

The Satyrs roamed the woods and mountains of Greece as male companions of Dionysus & Pan.  Satyrs are often associated with sex-drive and were depicted with uncontrollable erections.  In the least, this speculation sounds like a reasonable basis for understanding the purpose of Saturday night.

Funny, right?!  Well then, what do the names of days mean & where do they come from?  I researched the answer (briefly).

Sunday = Day of the Sun: Hemera Heliou (Greek) – Dies Solis (Roman/latin) – Sunnandaeg (Germanic).

Monday = Day of the Moon: Selenes Hemera (Greek) – Lunae Dies (Roman/latin) – Monandaeg (Germanic).

Tuesday = Day of War: Areos Hemera (Greek) – Dies Martis (Roman/latin) – Tiwesdaeg (Germanic).

Wednesday = Day of Art / Poetry: Dies Mercurii (Roman/latin) – Wodnesdaeg (Germanic).

Thursday = Day of Storm / Reckoning: Dios Hemera (Greek) – Jovis Dies (Roman/latin) – Purresdaeg (Germanic).

Friday = Day of Love: Aphrodites Hemera (Greek) – Dies Veneris (Roman/latin) – Frigedaeg (Germanic).

Saturday = Day of Harvest / Reaping: Kronou Hemera (Greek) – Saturni Dies (Roman/latin) – Saeterdaeg (Germanic).

Here are the various gods associated with each day:

Sunday – the sun

Monday – the moon

Tuesday – Ares, Mars, Tiu (gods of war)

Wednesday – Mercury, Odin (gods associated with communication, wisdom, poetry)

Thursday – Zeus, Jupiter, Thor (gods of thunder)

Friday – Aphrodite, Venus, Frigga (Freya) (goddesses of love & fertility)

Saturday – Cronus, Saturn (titan/god associated with the harvest)

Everything follows the same pattern – Greek, Roman, then Germanic.  More importantly, there are no references to conventional religious figures.  Mind you, almost all mythology is astrological (astronomical) in source and orientation.

Sunday = The Sun

Monday = The Moon

Tuesday = Mars

Wednesday = Mercury

Thursday = Jupiter

Friday = Venus

Saturday = Saturn

These are the primary interstellar bodies which were visible to our two-thousand plus year old ancestors.  These are the big-movers in our historic skies, the masters of our ancient galaxy.  So powerful and influential, that all the world’s mythologies are rooted within them, the greatest personalities have been attributed to them and our future is (astrologically) bound with them.

These are the days of our weeks.

What Happened to Hitler’s Nose?

September 18, 2007

Hitler the hypocrite idealized an Aryan ideal (blonde hair, blue eyes – blah, blah, blah) and encouraged women to have children, plenty of them.  As a matter of fact, couples with lots of children were rewarded and those who could not or did not conceive were fined (punished).  But Hitler himself would not father any children for fear that he did not live up to the Aryan ideal he so zealously believed.

Hitler led a eugenics program which sterilized hundreds of thousands of mentally or terminally ill Germans.  Sterilization quickly became medically endorsed murder.  The claim was to reduce the burden on a healthy German State.  The other part of the equation was the purification of Aryan blood – they hoped to rid themselves of disease through a 600 year campaign of eradication.


This is a picture of Hitler around 1939 (not 100% sure) – I don’t know who he’s sitting with.  The picture below is Hitler in 1945.  Looking good, eh?!


Hitler is 56 years old in this photo.  His shoulders are hunched over.  His chest looks like it collapsed.  He had an uncontrollable twitch in his right arm.  He could barely use his right hand.  His face is sallow.  It looks like he aged about fifty years in only five.  But what happened to his nose?

Here’s the kicker.  A recent idea is that Hitler was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.  There has been long speculation about syphilis.  Either way, Hitler would not have survived his own eugenics program.

Adolf Hitler would become one of the last victims of said eugenics program with a self administered dose of poison.

And the world was rid of his disease.

Mangling Mengele

September 13, 2007

One of my primary reading subjects is history.  I find the history of conflict very compelling.  My main area of interest is the Second World War, with a specific focus on the Third Reich. 

I’ve read a lot about the National Socialists (NSDAP), the Wehrmacht, Abwehr, Luftwaffe, Schutzstaffel (SS).  I’ve read about the Nazi war strategy and it’s failures.  I’ve read about the Concentration Camps, the Einsatzgruppen (travelling murder squads). 

I’ve read about such notables as Himmler, Hitler, Goebbels, Goring and so on. I knew these men were an abomination.  I knew the Third Reich is a horrible stain in the history of humanity. I did not fully comprehend how completely disgusting these people were.  I still don’t fully appreciate it. 

However, my recent reading concerning doctors, medicine and science in the Third Reich has made me realize how much more I need to learn, how much more disgust I need to cultivate. 

The Nazis, without a doubt, are the worst collection of people to have ever united on this planet. Last night, I became a little more intimate with the story of Josef Mengele.  josef-mengele-1935.jpgHe was supposed to have been the camp physician at Auschwitz-Birkenau, but he did nothing to help anyone. He considered himself both a doctor & a geneticist…he was neither.  

His every action was contrary to the Hippocratic Oath.  His every experiment was a slap in the face of scientific method (empiricism). He experimented on twins.   If you want to use twins for genetic experimentation, they need to be identical twins.  Fraternal twins are no more twins than you and one of your older/younger siblings, insofar as you do not share ‘identical’ DNA.  This was known in the late 30s (before Mengele’s experiments).  Mengele did not always use identical twins.  In fact, he didn’t even always use fraternal twins.  There was at least one occurrence of brothers (9 month age difference) being experimented on. 

The specifics of some of his experiments are so disgusting that I do not want to relate them here.  In general, he would treat one of the twins poorly & leave the other one alone.  Then, he’d have them both killed and dissected in order to discover if there were any differences in their bodies, organs, etc. 

In one extreme example, he wanted to see if he could manufacture Siamese twins and had two children stitched together.  They died during the procedure. vernichtung-18.jpg Did Mengele contribute anything to the advancement of science? Unequivocally NO.  Most of his notes and records were destroyed for fear that they were a death sentence. 

Mengele fled Germany and the Allies at the conclusion of the war.  He was able to live out his natural life without any punishment for his crimes against humanity.   In the end, he was unrepentant.  He claimed to have “never personally harmed anyone in his life.” 

Mengele had concentration camp prisoners with medical training perform all his ‘surgeries’, which they would not have done without the threat of death from Mengele.  Personal responsibility (liability) is clear-cut everywhere but in his sick mind. 

Where is the justice in this world?

Kill, Beat & Steal.

September 10, 2007

It occurred to me last night that any philosophy based on speculation is, at it’s most basic foundation,  a religion, insofar as it requires faith from the subscriber.

How is Kierkegaard’s existentialism different from Buddha’s Four Noble Truths?  Or Nietzsche’s Superman from Jesus Christ, Mohammed, or David?  All of these are ideas, the product of a general need to make sense of things.

Our realities are primarily based on speculation and faith.  We don’t know very much and it frightens us or we’re blissfully ignorant.  I don’t which is worse.  I’m often of the frame of mind where I seek & destroy my ignorance.  But this is the funny thing about ignorance – you don’t know what you don’t know.  You don’t know if what you know is right.  You can’t believe anyone.  Everything is subjective and most people live by ‘survival of the fittest’, so you had better look out for yourself.

Neo-conservatism, liberalism, fascism, communism – there’s a long list of political philosophies, all of them are based on social control (or lack thereof, laisse-faire!).  There are so many ideas to believe in.  Yet, experience has shown that none of them actually work.  Why?  We are inherently uncontrollable.  Fear is the only thing that can pacify us.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Kennedy knew what he was talking about.  It was a direct reference to government use of fear (psychological operations) to exert control over populations.  Manufactured fear.  Fear is the one and only social control which ever really had any historic success, but it doesn’t usually last long and the end is violent for the scare mongerers.  When people are frightened for long periods of time, they have a tendency to stockpile anger and there comes a point when a critical mass of people boil over.

So fear doesn’t really work either, but it’s the best of a motley lot!

There are certain things we all agree upon, regardless of where we’re from.  It is unpleasant when someone in your family is killed.  It is unpleasant when you or someone in your family is maltreated.  It is unpleasant when you or someone in your family are robbed.  Everything else is open to regional (individual) interpretation.

How do you correct the historical injustices which resulted from killing, beating and stealing?  I don’t know.

But there’s another thing to consider.  The nucleus does not survive without the sound functioning of the cell.  The cell does not survive without the sound functioning of the host organism.  The host organism does not survive without the sound functioning of it’s environment.

There is a balance in the Universe.  We have to find it and maintain it.