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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chestnut Neck, Privateering and Terrorism

I had a prior post on Chestnut Neck, noting the role of foreign officers in the Continental Army.  This post takes a different look at the affair, which was the result of privateering activity by the Americans.  Jack Coggins, in Ships and Seamen of the American Revolution, notes that "[i]n a sense, a privateer was little more than a licensed pirate." Authorized by the Continental Congress, during the Revolution, privateers accounted for 800 commissioned vessels, far outnumbering the 198 commissioned vessels in the United States navy.


Here we see the view from Chestnut Neck across the Mullica River at the Jersey shore.

The Battle of Chestnut Neck makes us consider the rule of law and terrorism in the context of another time.    It has been suggested that the British deemed themselves, as we might put it today, to be fighting state-sponsored terrorism.  In an article on this topic, Professor Jesse Lemisch of John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York has written that "[p]rivateers were denounced by the British in ways that resonate with the denunciation of terrorists that we hear these days." 
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