Privateer do NOT mean the same thing, even though the terms are often
Pirate – a pirate in general,
only has his own agenda in mind, attacking any ship, regardless of
nationality. Simply, someone who robs from others at sea, and acts beyond
the law. During the North American Colonial time, under Admiralty law,
any crime committed below the low-tide mark around the shores and rives
could be classed as an act of piracy.
Buccaneer – a buccaneer was
originally the name given to French woodsmen on Hispaniola during the
early 1600s. Derived from the French word boucan (barbecue), because of
the way they smoked their meat. Many early Buccaneers were Spanish
fugitives who had a hatred for that nationality, leading them to prey
upon passing Spanish ships during the mid-1600s. Later, the term was
applied to English and French raiders who acted as semi-legalized
pirates throughout the Spanish Main.
Privateer – a privateer was a
man or ship specifically under contract to a government, allowing them
to attack enemy ships during wartime. This contract was called a
“Letter of Marque,” or “Papers”, which entitled the government
to a share of the profits in return for the letter’s issuance (usually
20% of the value of ship and cargo). Essentially, a privateer was a
pirate with a license who did not attack his own people.
The reason for these terms being
used interchangeably, is primarily due to the fact
that….well…..pirates where not considered the most honest or
trustworthy of folk. It is claimed that all were simply pirates, and
that pirates would change sides whenever it suited them, making any
“papers” they carried merely a scapegoat for their deviant nature.