The folks as liquor giant Diageo were no dummies for picking Captain Morgan as a mascot for their best-selling rum brand. The swarthy buccaneer with his boot resting on a keg of rum looks like a pretty raucous dude, and his maniacal smile and rakish wardrobe have launched a flotilla of successful marketing campaigns. The current one celebrates the good captain's birthday, for example. "After a lifetime of creating legendary times and being the life of the party," says the press release, "fun-loving celebration icon Captain Morgan is ready to commemorate the most special of occasions on May 15—his 375-ish birthday."
Life of the party? Legendary times? Aw hell, it's just marketing, right? Because a quick peek into the history books reveals that the real Captain Morgan's idea of a good time went a wee bit past your typical frat bash. A Welsh privateer on the payroll of the British, Henry Morgan was in fact the terror of the Caribbean. Rape and murder were customary tactics in his efforts to rout the Spanish from the islands. Morgan used captured priests and nuns as human shields as he scaled the walls of Porto Bello in 1668. When Morgan sacked the city of Maracaibo, his men amused themselves by torturing the locals until they paid up. The real Captain Morgan was, in the words of Jamaican historian Clinton Black, a man "who could drink and whore with the best of them in many a den of murder."
OK, so he's not exactly a choir boy. At the very least, we can be assured that Henry Morgan would never have settled for cheap rum. Cheers, dude.
—Posted by Robert Klara