Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-4-2022

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Jesse Cromwell

Second Advisor

Susan Stearns

Third Advisor

Noell Wilson

Relational Format



While study of the eighteenth-century Caribbean has traditionally focused on the stark separation between the European empires of the region, this thesis seeks to reveal privateering’s role as an important force in creating what has come to be referred to as the trans-imperial or trans-national Caribbean. This will be based in an analysis of the legal structure of British privateering as a means of both drawing attention to the practice’s intrinsically legalistic nature as well as highlighting the fact that this regional creation was a result of colonists working within imperial guidelines as much as it was an act of implicit rebellion. This is to say that the connective nature of prize taking arose both from aspects of the legal structure that defined it as well as the unlawful (but widely accepted) activities that it facilitated, most notably contraband trade. In addition to better connecting denizens of the region separated by imperial boundaries, privateering also played a major role in separating the region from direct imperial rule. This can be seen most clearly in the heavy use of letters of marque by newly independent states in the region during the early-to-mid nineteenth-century. This thesis seeks to synthesize research done on privateering’s impact as a military, political, and commercial tool to present its importance in defining the social fabric of the region during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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