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Captain Blood Day, 2008

September 19, 2008
It was not until two months later - on the 19th of September, if
you must have the actual date - that Peter Blood was brought to
trial, upon a charge of high treason.  We know that he was not
guilty of this; but we need not doubt that he was quite capable
of it by the time he was indicted.  Those two months of inhuman,
unspeakable imprisonment had moved his mind to a cold and deadly
hatred of King James and his representatives.  It says something
for his fortitude that in all the circumstances he should still
have had a mind at all.  Yet, terrible as was the position of this
entirely innocent man, he had cause for thankfulness on two counts.
The first of these was that he should have been brought to trial at
all; the second, that his trial took place on the date named, and
not a day earlier.  In the very delay which exacerbated him lay -
although he did not realize it - his only chance of avoiding the
gallows.

Yup, it’s that time of year again. If you talk like a pirate today, try to talk like the right pirate.

This quote is from the part of the book that has the most basis in historical fact. The trails — known as the Bloody Assizes — held after the Monmouth Rebellion were presided over by Judge George Jeffries — known as the Hanging Judge. By all accounts, Jeffries was pretty indiscriminate about who he sentences to death. Basically, he thought that if someone had arrested the prisoner, they must have had a reason to do so, and presumably one that meant the prisoner deserved to die. I’m only three weeks into this logic course I’m taking, but I’m pretty sure that’s fallacious.

Anyway, the significance of September 19th is that, while the people sentenced to death on each day preceding that had their sentences quickly carried out, the people sentenced on and after that date were sent as slaves to the West Indies instead. Which gives Peter Blood a chance to escape and become a pirate and the hero of one of the most enjoyable adventure novels ever written.

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