Jean Lafitte

American Pirate

Born: Unknown

Died: 1821

Known more as a businessman than a seaman, Jean Lafitte associated with government officials and elegant women. Believed to have been born in France, Jean Lafitte lived and owned a shop in New Orleans with his brother. Operating out of Barataria Bay, south of New Orleans, Lafitte led a band of pirates and privateers.

With 10 or so vessels, Lafitte’s crew raided American, British and Spanish ships. Although arrested by the governor, Lafitte never showed up for the trial. The governor offered $750 for his capture, and in turn, Lafitte offered double that for the capture of the governor. As seen throughout many coastal ports and towns, many in New Orleans traded with Lafitte’s band of pirates.

In 1814, British officials offered Lafitte financial rewards and other items if he would help in their attack on New Orleans. Lafitte notified local officials who ignored his warning. Several weeks later, a small British naval fleet attacked. Lafitte and his crew slipped out of town before the attack.

Later that year, General Andrew Jackson agreed to accept Lafitte’s help in fighting the British. In payment for his help, he and his crew were pardoned for their crimes but lost their pirate haven in Barataria Bay.

Because of the increased Naval activity, Lafitte and his crew sailed towards Spanish occupied province of Texas. He took over Galveston and based his pirating activities from there. After sinking an American merchantman, an American warship visited Galveston and Lafitte agreed to leave, not before burning the settlement. Jean Lafitte and his brother continued pirating from Central American ports until his death around 1821.

Some interesting (yet random) facts about Lafitte:
  • Lafitte attacked American, British and Spanish shipping in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • When the Governor of Louisiana offered a reward of 750 dollars for Lafitte’s capture, Lafitte turned around and offered a reward of $1500 for the capture of the governor.

  • Fought along side American naval fleets against the British. Took over and occupied Galveston.

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