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National Geographic Expedition Week


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Shipwreck! Captain Kidd and the Quedah Merchant
Investigating the Quedagh Merchant

Investigating the Quedagh Merchant

National Geographic (c) 2008

Captain William Kidd was both a privateer and a pirate: the distinction was an important one, one that ended Kidd's life. As a privateer working for the British, Kidd was permitted--no, no, he was encouraged--to raid ships belonging to certain companies and certain countries. In the late 16th century, he was among the best privateers in the world. But he made a mistake.

Sailing in the Red Sea, he captured the Quedah Merchant, an Armenian-owned ship with multinational backers--including the British East Indies. By stealing her, Kidd became a pirate--but he wasn't aware he had crossed into piracy until he had sailed the Quedah Merchant into the Caribbean. When he discovered what he had done, he scuttled the Quedah Merchant off Catalina Island and rushed off to apologize to his king. Bad idea.

The video Shipwreck! includes Captain Kidd's history and information about the discovery of the wreck of the Quedah Merchant and her cargo off Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic.

More Resources

Shipwreck! Captain Kidd, Official page on National Geographic, November 2008, includes video and more images.

  • Buy the Shipwreck! video from NatGeo
  • William Kidd bio

    Benton, Lauren. 2005. Legal Spaces of Empire: Piracy and the Origins of Ocean Regionalism. Comparative Studies in Society and History 47:700-724

    Capo, Fran and Frank Borzellieri. 2006 The Notorious Captain Kidd. pp. 13-18 in It Happened in New York. Globe Pequot. Google books.

    Hamilton, Sue L. 2007. Captain Kidd. ABDO Publishing Co.

    Skowronek, Russell K. and Charles R. Ewen (editors). 2006. X Marks the Spot: The Archaeology of Piracy. University Press of Florida, Gainesville

    Zacks, R. 2003. The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd. Hyperion Press, New York.

    Shipwreck - Captain Kidd will premiere on Tuesday, November 16, 2008, 8 pm ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel. Check local listings.

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