This project examines how the definitions of “crime,” “criminals,” “licit,” and “illicit behavior” were used in the 18th-century Atlantic World. For the purpose of this study, I used pirates as a case study. The findings in my research show that the ideas of crime came from Puritan economic and moral standards that dominated the North American colonies. In my research I discovered that news articles and opinions focused heavily on the illicit behavior of pirates. No crime could be reported without mention of their heavy drinking, cursing, and bawdy behavior. In addition to looking at the pirate, this project also looks at societal standards and what constituted acceptable, moral behavior. Their actions of drinking, cursing, and swearing went against common moral tracts that were printed and circulated in order to ensure a common code of behavior. Murder and robbery were offenses punishable by death due to biblical influences, which dictated Commandments that specifically ordered execution to take place. To support my argument that religious ideas shaped the social construction of crime, I first look at early modern laws and codes of behaviors and then analyze the reactions to pirates.
|Keywords:||Crime, Society, Religion, History, North America, Atlantic World, 18th Century, Piracy, Pirates, Colonial America, Legal History, Maritime History, Social History, Journalism|
Graduate Student, History Department, California State University, Northridge, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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