Home Today's Reason to Drink May 23: Captain Kidd Meets His Fate

May 23: Captain Kidd Meets His Fate

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On this day in 1701, Captain William Kidd, the notorious pirate, was hung by the neck until dead in front of a large jeering crowd in London. He was drunk as a lord but, and this may surprise you, not by choice. Kidd was one of those rare birds: an abstemious pirate. Which got him in a lot of trouble. First, his crew didn’t like him because was mean and sober all the time and was quick to cut off the rum ration. He never cut loose with them, he never built that necessary camaraderie, so the crew was in a constant state of near mutiny. Second, he was captured during a stately dinner, after his host pressured him to drink several brandy toasts, which quickly incapacitated Kidd because he hadn’t developed a proper pirate’s tolerance for booze. After being shipped back to England and found guilty, his jailers, knowing he was a teetotaler, forced him to guzzle rum and brandy before parading him to the gallows. Just for fun. The rope broke the first time they hung him, so they dragged him from the mud below the gallows and strung him up again, successfully this time. So what’s the lesson here? If you’re going to be a pirate, get your drinking game on. It can only help.