American Pirates–The Constitution Allows It!

I know this is not gaming related, but it was such a tasty bit of trivia I had to post it.   I was reading an article about the Somali pirate issue over at and they American Pirates!

mentioned an obscure section of America’s constitution as a possible solution. Privateers!

Here are the key sections of Article 1 that defines Congress’s powers:

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water

The key section is the “letters of marque and reprisal” tidbit. For those not willing to read the wikipedia entry, a “marque” is a government document that allows private individuals to man ships and wage war on enemy vessels, in the vein of Captain Kidd and Sir Francis Drake.  Historically it was quite a lucrative profession.

Actually, I was mistaken. This is a great adventuring hook for a modern campaign. A naval campaign with the PCs as modern-day privateers, protecting the high-seas.  Reality in a game just makes it more fun.

The American constitution, more than just free speech!

Trask, The Last  Tyromancer



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.

2 thoughts on “American Pirates–The Constitution Allows It!

  • July 14, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    The interesting thing about ‘letters of marque and reprisal’ is that the very concept of ‘privateer’ requires privately owned armed merchantmen.

  • July 15, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Now if only we would take the honorable route and end the piracy issue like the marines used to do it.

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