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?