In celebration of Black History Month, we’re taking a look at one of the most famous Pirates of African Heritage during the Golden Age of Piracy - Black Caesar. A pirate known for his “huge size, immense strength and keen intelligence”.
According to traditional accounts, Black Caesar was a prominent African war chieftain, before slave traders hoodwinked and captured him. But before the slave ship could make port at Florida, Caesar and his befriended sailor took advantage of a threatening oncoming hurricane to make a fearless escape into the longboats for their survival.
As a means to survive, Caesar and the sailor posed as shipwrecked sailors in their longboat to passing ships, black mailing vessels for supplies and ammunition, and threatening to sink the ship if they refused. A ploy they used for many years, making a sizeable amount of treasure which was buried on Elliot Key. However, their alliance came to an end as Caesar killed his longtime friend in a duel fighting over a woman they had brought back from a looted ship.
As time went on, Black Caesar began taking on more pirates and soon was able to attack ships on the open sea. He and his crew were often able to avoid capture by running into Caesar Creek and other inlets between Elliot and Old Rhodes Key and onto the Mangrove islands. It is thought that he and his men buried 26 bars of silver on the island, although no treasure has ever been found.
Eventually Caesar left Biscayne Bay to join Blackbeard to serve as his lieutenant on his flagship, 'Queen Anne's Revenge'. In 1718, after Blackbeard's legendary death battling with Lieutenant Robert Maynard, Caesar was attempting to set off the powder magazine as per Blackbeard's instructions in case of his defeat, but he was stopped, tackled down and restrained by several of Maynard's sailors. Here he was eventually taken prisoner by Virginian colonial authorities, and was convicted of piracy and hanged in Williamsburg, Virginia.
To this day, Caesar’s Rock, one of three islands located north of Key Largo, is named in his honour, and is the present-day site of his original headquarters.