​Almanac: Captain Kidd

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: July 6th, 1699, 315 years ago today . . . the day the "Yo-Ho-Ho"-ing came to a halt.

For that was the day the notorious Captain Kidd was arrested in Boston for piracy and murder.

William Kidd had started out on the right side of the law, with a commission from King William III to command a private man-of-war . . . an armed ship that was not officially a part of the Royal Navy.

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Charles Laughton (center) starred in the 1945 film, "Captain Kidd," which also featured John Carradine, Gilbert Roland, Abner Biberman and Sheldon Leonard.
United Artists
In exchange for bringing "pirates, freebooters, and sea rovers to justice," Kidd and his crew (and his wealthy private backers) would be allowed to keep most of whatever treasure he seized.

But after several months aboard their ship, the Adventure Galley, Kidd and his crew turned pirate themselves, attacking and looting virtually every ship they encountered.

His seagoing exploits quickly became the stuff of legend, portrayed (with some artistic license) in the 1945 film "Captain Kidd," with Charles Laughton in the starring role.

Apparently believing his wealthy patrons would protect him from piracy charges, Kidd arrived in Boston in the summer of 1699, where he was arrested and shipped to London to stand trial.

His claims that his near-mutinous crew forced him into piracy availed him not, and on May 23, 1701, Captain Kidd was hanged . . . his body tarred and hung by chains on the bank of the Thames as a warning to other sailors.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, and his wife Chirlane McCray march during the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, June 21, 2014.
Tina Fineberg/AP
The debate over the extent of Captain Kidd's guilt goes on to this day, as does the pop culture glamorization of those swashbuckling times . . . most recently at last month's Coney Island Mermaid Parade, where New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, of all people, posed as a pirate for a day.

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