Captain Sir Henry Morgan
Born : 1635?Morgan's origins and early
career are obscure. He was probably a member of the expedition that in 1655
seized Jamaica from the Spanish and converted it into an English colony. He may
have participated in an expedition against Cuba in 1662; and during the second
Anglo-Dutch War (1665-67), he was second in command of the buccaneers operating
against Dutch colonies in the Caribbean.
Died : 1688
Selected commander of the
buccaneers in 1668, Morgan quickly captured Puerto Principe, Cuba, and--in an
extraordinarily daring move--stormed and sacked the well-fortified city of
Portobelo on the Isthmus of Panama. In 1669 he made a successful raid on wealthy
Spanish settlements around Lake Maracaibo on the coast of Venezuela.
Finally, in August 1670 Morgan, with 36 ships and nearly 2,000
buccaneers, set out to capture Panama, one of the chief cities of Spain's
American empire. Crossing the Isthmus of Panama, he defeated a large Spanish
force (Jan. 18, 1671) and entered the city, which burned to the ground while his
men were looting it. On the return journey he deserted his followers and
absconded with most of the booty.
Because Morgan's raid on Panama had
taken place after the conclusion of a peace between England and Spain, he was
arrested and transported to London (April 1672). Nevertheless, relations with
Spain quickly deteriorated, and in 1674 King Charles II knighted Morgan and sent
him out again as deputy governor of Jamaica, where he lived as a wealthy and
respected planter until his death.
An exaggerated account of Morgan's
exploits, written by one of his crew, created his popular reputation as a