Joshua B. Howard
"The Most Abandoned Sett of Wretches:" North Carolina's Privateering Efforts during the American Revolution, 1776-1783.
(Under the direction of Dr. Carl E. Swanson) Department of History, June 2004.
Privateers played a major role in the outcome of the American Revolution by providing otherwise unattainable war materials and damaging the logistical capabilities of the British military. Historians, however, have traditionally neglected the privateers in the southern states in favor of those from New England and the Middle Colonies. Some scholars have claimed that no North Carolina privateers even operated.
This thesis argues that North Carolinians outfitted, commanded, and sailed onboard a number of privateers and letter of Marques during the Revolutionary War. The analysis first examines the state's merchant class on the eve of conflict, illustrating that the financial and political support for privateering existed among the state's businessmen. Secondly, it illustrates the collapse of the state's navy, and examines the privateersmen and their vessels that sailed from North Carolina ports. Finally, the thesis examines the success of professionals and amateurs, arguing that those owners and captains who had business experience succeeded far more often than those without such skills.