Winter Lecture – Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay: The Oyster Wars

Winter Lecture – Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay: The Oyster Wars


It has been over 150 years since the establishment of Maryland’s “Oyster Navy,” a forerunner of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police. It was a necessary establishment for dealing with a lucrative, competitive, and sometimes deadly industry.

In the early-19th century, Maryland and Virginia began passing a series of laws to regulate and limit oyster catching. Anyone who violated these oyster laws became known in the press and by the public as “oyster pirates.” Many dared to thwart the government’s attempts, like the women of the Dancing Molly, the crew of the Palo Alto, and the notorious Cannon Family led by patriarch H.P. “Pirate Chief” Cannon.

The Oyster Wars took a final deadly turn in April 1959 with the murder of Berkeley Muse, a well-respected community leader in Colonial Beach, Virginia (located on the border of Southern Maryland).

Presenter: Dr. Jamie L.H. Goodall | Historian & Author 

About the Presenter: Dr. Jamie L.H. Goodall is a historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History.* She has a PhD in History from The Ohio State University with specializations in Atlantic World, Early American, and Military histories. She is also a first-generation college student. Her publications include a National Geographic bookazine on global piracy, Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay: From the Colonial Era to the Oyster Wars, and Pirate and Privateers from Long Island Sound to Delaware Bay. She lives in Northern Virginia with her spouse and two Boxer pups, Thomas Jefferson (TJ) and John Tyler (JT).

*The views expressed here are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the values or beliefs of the U.S. Army/TRADOC, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

About the Series: 

The Annapolis Maritime Museum holds its annual Winter Lecture Series over eight consecutive Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. from mid-January through early March. You will be challenged to question and to learn by engaging speakers on diverse topics including maritime history, local history, science and maritime art.

The 2023 series will be held in person at the Museum Campus (723 Second Street Annapolis, MD 21403). Pre-registration is strongly suggested, space is limited. Registration fee of $10 per person at the door – first come, first served. Free admission for First Mate ($150) and above. 

Location: Museum Campus - 723 Second Street Annapolis, Maryland 21403
Date: February 9, 2023
Duration: 1.5 Hours