Boggs accused a high colonial official, Daniel Caldwell, and one other infamous pirate, Ma Chow Wong, of working collectively in secret to guard every others’ pursuits. Boggs claimed that Wong derived his energy from Caldwell’s safety racket, and Caldwell profited handsomely financially — and professionally — in return. Caldwell reportedly turned over different pirates to regulation enforcement so he might rise within the colony’s skilled ranks.
George Wingrove Cooke, The Instances’ Particular Correspondent in China, who coated the trial, dismissed Boggs’ allegations out of hand in his reporting.
However Hong Kong Lawyer Basic T. Chisholm Anstey toook them extra significantly, as he was tasked by the governor with investigating corruption upon his arrival in 1856.
That probe grew to become considered one of Hong Kong’s earliest main corruption scandals involving official wrongdoing. Numerous adopted — the colony was notoriously rife with corruption till the Nineteen Seventies, when the federal government fashioned its Unbiased Fee Towards Corruption (ICAC), an company credited with reviving Hong Kong’s repute for stopping corruption and authorities malfeasance.
Whereas the Caldwell affair and Boggs’ position in it pressured the colonial authorities to acknowledge the scourge of piracy, piracy itself was not new.
Pirates, by that time, had already been crusing all through southeast China for tons of of years.
Ransom and opium
The arrival of the British retailers in East Asia made piracy a very profitable business due to simply how a lot opium was being bought to mainland China. Issues got here to a head within the nineteenth century.
China on the time was dominated by the Qing dynasty, whose leaders have been deeply mistrustful of foreigners and abroad commerce. The empire restricted most overseas commerce to Canton, and even evacuated villages from alongside the coast to cease influential, anti-Qing parts primarily based in Taiwan from fomenting dissent.
However as overseas retailers flocked to Canton within the seventeenth century and delivery routes to the remainder of Asia handed by means of the South China Sea, simply south of the town, the chance for piracy grew.
Whereas many pirates merely raided opium clippers and bought their contraband, ransom was additionally huge enterprise — it was much more worthwhile than theft, in accordance with some specialists. Buddies, household and enterprise associates of victims usually paid up shortly as a result of the pirates roaming the South China Seas had a repute for cruelty and grisly violence. Based on a historical past of pirates printed by a British captain named A.G. Course in 1966, Boggs allegedly of lower up the physique of 1 rich prisoner to insure that colleagues or family members paid to free the remainder of the folks he held captive paid up. Nevertheless, Boggs was by no means convicted for that crime.
British sailor John Turner additionally wrote about these brutal techniques after being held hostage on board a pirate ship in 1806. Taylor, the chief mate of a British ship known as the Tay, was kidnapped in December that 12 months, whereas crusing close to Hong Kong and Macao after which held for ransom.
He watched horror because the pirates nailed a fellow captive’s ft to the ship’s deck whereas the prisoner was nonetheless alive. After plunging the 2 giant nails by means of the opposite prisoner’s ft, the pirates beat the person with whips till he started vomiting blood. The sufferer was left on deck for a short while after,
The captive was then taken ashore, however whether or not he was alive or useless on the time, Taylor did not say. It would not matter. When the pirates reached dry land, the person was “lower to items.”
Taylor would go on to spend about five-and-a-half months within the captivity earlier than his ransom was paid and his freedom was secured. Many extra sailors would reside by means of related ordeals.
‘That good-looking boy’
Boggs was hardly essentially the most notorious of the pirates crusing in Chinese language waters throughout the nineteenth century.
However Boggs captured the general public’s creativeness as a result of he was a younger American with boyish attractiveness accused of grisly violence — together with single-handedly killing 15 males on board one ship, whereas forcing the remaining overboard, in accordance with Cooke, the Instances journalist.
“It appeared not possible that that good-looking boy may very well be the pirate whose title had been for 3 years related with the boldest and bloodiest acts of piracy,” Cooke wrote. “It was a face of female magnificence. Not a down upon the higher lip; giant lustrous eyes; a mouth the smile of which could woo (a) coy maiden; prosperous black hair, not carelessly parted; palms so small and so delicately white that they’d create a sensation in Belgravia.”
It’s unclear is how — or why — Boggs ended up in China.
However by the early nineteenth century, what is obvious is that the British needed him locked up, and have been providing a 1,200-dollar reward to take action. But who captured Boggs remains to be in dispute.
Captain Course’s historical past says one other American named William Henry “Bully” Hayes, an opium smuggler, was answerable for capturing Boggs close to Shanghai — and fetching the reward. Transcripts from Boggs’ trial printed in native Hong Kong papers, nonetheless, quote the sworn testimony of Police Constable Charles Barker, who stated he arrested Boggs at a bar on Bonham Strand in June 1857, in what’s now Sheung Wan, considered one of Hong Kong’s hip neighborhoods widespread with expatriates.
Both means, in 1857,then reportedly in his mid-20s, he confronted trial for piracy and homicide.
One witness stated he noticed Boggs participate in a pirate raid on an opium boat wherein 24 males have been killed, in accordance with the trial notes. The American was convicted of piracy however acquitted of homicide as a result of nobody might show Boggs fired a deadly shot, regardless of a number of witnesses seeing Boggs firing at a person clinging to a rope tied to a ship.
Cooke, the reporter from the Instances, alleged that jury was additionally “moved by his (Boggs’) youth and braveness.”
Cooke’s dispatch from the trial was picked up and printed by periodicals throughout america. Whereas audiences internationally have been little doubt drawn to the story’s dashing and harmful essential character, Cooke stated he coated it as a result of “this topic of piracy is of nice significance.”
“The place I now write there are 200 junks (Chinese language ships) mendacity within the harbor earlier than me, and each considered one of them is armed with two heavy weapons — some have 12,” Cooke wrote. “In all probability one quarter of those are pirates, who reside principally by piracy, and undertake the coasting commerce solely as a canopy to their actual career.”
Cooke did not take Boggs’ accusations of a authorities conspiracy significantly. He stated Boggs’ protection was “false” and claimed the killing of the 15 males had been confirmed.
Anstey, the lawyer common, disagreed.
“It was a most scandalous scene,” Anstey wrote to the Duke of Newcastle, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in 1859, “particularly as a result of the demeanor of Mr. Caldwell beneath the infliction was clearly that of a responsible man.”
Caldwell on the time was Registrar Basic and protector of the Chinese language in Hong Kong, a place that gave him ample alternative to work with, and maybe even exploit, the native inhabitants. These positions meant Caldwell suggested the governor on home affairs and affairs referring to the native Chinese language inhabitants.
Anstey believed Boggs’ claims have been “too circumstantial to be solely false” and thought it was his “responsibility to signify the scandal which had occurred in court docket.”
What adopted was a three-year-long tit-for-tat, with Anstey and Caldwell accusing the opposite of wrongdoing. Caldwell known as Anstey a vindictive monomaniac focusing on him beneath the guise of stamping out corruption.
Anstey accused a lot of the Hong Kong colonial authorities of protecting up for Caldwell, and in his letter to the Duke — which Antsey self-published in a pamphlet for the general public to learn — argued that the fee tasked with investing Caldwell was staffed together with his supporters and that the report they filed failed to handle the totality of Caldwell’s wrongdoing.
Prejudice was nearly definitely an element. Caldwell had spent numerous time in Asia and was one of many few British males in Hong Kong on the time to marry an area girl. Anstey known as her a “harlot” and Caldwell a “pirate” throughout a Legislative Council assembly.
Although his revelations have been nonetheless upending in Hong Kong politics, Boggs was lengthy passed by that time.
Boggs slowly light into historical past after his return to the US, whereas Anstey died in Bombay in 1873.