Jean Baptiste Lafitte was believed to be born either in France or Saint-Domingue, in the year 1776. He would sometimes spell his name as Jean Laffite. He was a privateer and pirate, and mostly sailed in the Gulf of Mexico, near North America and Cuba during the early stages of the 19th Century.

Jean Lafitte the Pirate and Privateer

He use to own a warehouse in New Orleans around 1805, where he used to distribute the smuggled goods brought by his less famous older brother Pierre Lafitte. After US government passed the Embargo Act of 1807, the Lafitte brothers had to relocate their business to an island within Baratria Bay, where their new port was flourishing by 1810.

Dispute over Place of Birth:

Like most pirates of his time, there are scarce and contradictory records about Jean Lafitte’s origin and birthplace. Lafitte makes a claim in one of the documents that he was born in Bordeaux, France in 1780, while at another time both the Lafitte brothers claimed to have been born in Bayonne, a city in Southwestern France. While documents also present the north-western French cities of Brest and St. Malo as his birthplace.

Jack C. Ramsey who was the biographer of Lafitte writes, “this was a convenient time to be a native of France, a claim that provided protection from the enforcement of American law.” Whereas there have also been claims that Lafitte was born in Ordun in Northern Spain, or Westchester in New York.

Saint-Domingue

According to Ramsey, Lafitte was born in Saint-Domingue, which was a French colony in the Caribbean Islands, today known as Republic of Haiti. During the 18th century, it was a common practice for children of landowners of French background living in Saint-Domingue to resettle near the Mississippi River, in Louisiana, which was also under the occupation of the French government. Records of years around 1765 in the state of Louisiana, also mention names of families with the surname of ‘Lafitte’.

Ramsey states that some time during the decade of 1780, Jean Lafitte, accompanied by his elder brother and his widowed mother, went to New Orleans, Louisiana. His mother married Pedro Aubry, an American merchant in 1784. Jean stayed along with the family, while his elder brother Pierre was raised by extended family in some place else.

As Lafitte spent more time around New Orleans, he is described to contain “a more accurate knowledge of every inlet from the Gulf than any other man”. His elder brother joined the privateers who worked from Saint-Domingue and had the powers to issue letters of marquee. These letters were like an official warrant that authorized the agents to search and destroy any goods which belonged to outlaws or pirates. Jean used to help Pierre in dispersing the smuggled goods. It is also recorded that he used to run a successful warehouse on the Royal Street by the year 1805.

France:

William C.Davis, another biographer of Jean Lafitte describes his childhood in a different manner. According to his writings, Jean was born in or around Pauillac in France. His father Pierre Lafitte,was a known sailor, and his mother was Marguerite Desteil, the second wife of Pierre. The couple had a large family comprising six children, with at least three daughters.

He reports that Jean was perhaps born in the year 1782, but he was baptized four years later in 1786. Pierre Lafitte had another son, who was also named Pierre, whose mother was Marie LaGrange, his first wife, who most probably died while giving him birth. Davis writes that both the Lafitte brothers had been provided with basic education.

Despite the confession that the information about Lafitte’s early life was inaccurate and insufficient, William Davis believes that Jean Lafitte spent his early childhood sailing on the ships of his father, who was a famous trader. Whereas, Davis states that Jean’s brother Pierre was present in Saint-Domingue in the later years of 1790s and and early years of 1800s. Due to the Haitian Revolution, the only successful slave rebellion in that era, Pierre escaped to New Orleans in 1803.

There were reports of several people by the name of ‘Captain Lafitte’ operating in New Orleans by the year 1806, and most likely Jean Lafitte was one of them.

Barataria:

After Louisiana became a part of United States of America in 1806, the government moved to enforce the Embargo Act of 1807, which prohibited US ships and vessels to dock at foreign seaports. This posed a threat to the smuggling done by the Lafitte brothers, and they decided to find another location from where they could safely deliver smuggled goods to local traders. They decided to operate from the quiet island of Barataria located in the Barataria Bay. As Barataria Island was located beyond a small passage between Grand Isle and Grand Terre, which were two barrier islands, merchants could come and go for smuggling unnoticed. Being far from the naval base, the smuggled goods were sent to New Orleans through barges and small boats used by African fishermen, known as pirogues.

While Pierre acted as a silent partner remaining in the background, it was Jean who mostly looked after the work of recruiting privateers and dispatching stolen goods to New Orleans. By 1810, this became a central point for smuggling in that region and groups of sailors used to come there and worked in warehouses until they got picked up as privateers. But sending goods from the port to traders through swamps often took weeks, and Lafitte was unhappy with this delay.

In 1812, Jean Lafitte decided to hold auctions at a memorial mound halfway between New Orleans and Grand Terre, known as the Temple. Unhappy with their present roles, in the October of 1812, Lafitte brothers decided to hire a captain and started sailing in a schooner as privateers, but without any official commission. Their first success came in January 1813, when they captured a Spanish hermaphrodite brig or brig-schooner with 77 slaves on board. The Lafittes named this ship as ‘Dorada’, started using it as a privateer and earned a handsom amount of $18000 by the sale of slaves and some cargo found on the ship. After a few weeks, they successfully captured another schooner with goods worth $9000, but they returned the ship to its captain as it was not suitable for privateering. Accounts like this gave rise to the reputation that Jean Lafitte and his crew used to treat captives kindly, often returning their vessels.

Lafittes soon captured their third ship named, La Diligente, loaded with fourteen-pounded canons, while they captured their fourth schooner with the help of Dorada and renamed it as Petit Milan. They stripped the guns from their first schooner and loaded them on the newly captured ship. Now Jean Lafitte and his men sailed the seas with three ships, and William Davis descrbies it as , “one of the largest privately owned corsair fleets operatig on the coast, and the most versatile”.

Lafitte brothers used to send their ships to New Orleans, and delivered goods legally, making a list of the smuggled items waiting at the Barataria Bay. Then they would send ships to Lafourche Bayou, where they loaded the smuggled items and then sent them to New Orleans through legal passage. Custom officials were usually not very concerned about goods going out from New Orleans ;therefore, they seldom checked the authenticity of Lafitte’s manifest lists.

Shifting Attitudes:

In September of the year 1810, the first US Governor of Louisiana, William C. C. Claiborne took a leave, and Thomas B. Robertson took charge as acting governor. Robertson was aware of the illegal activities undertaken by Lafitte, and used to describe his men as, “brigands who infest our coast and overrun our country”. But the citizens of New Orleans did not share the same emotions, in fact, they were thankful to Lafitte for delivering luxuries to them, which were prohibited by Embargo. Once Claiborne returned from leave, he did not take much action against Lafitte and his men.

United States started war against Britain on June 18, 1812, but as it did not have sufficient naval power, it started issuing letters of marquee to private ship owners who owned armed ships. These letters entitled them to capture foreign ships and submit their booty to the government of United States. Six letters were presented from New Orleans, and the recipients were those who worked with Lafitte on Barataria Bay. Smugglers often contained letters of marquee from different countries, enabling them to set their hands on goods from many countries. The booty captured from British ships was duly given to United States government, but goods captured from elsewhere were delivered to New Orleans through the Barataria operation.

Due to these smuggling activities, the revenue collected by customs officers was getting less and Authorities were bent on stopping the Barataria smuggling activities. The US government was pushed to proceed with legal action, as they did not have sufficient naval army. John R.Gymes, District Attorney of United states charged Lafitte with “violation of the revenue law” on November 10, 1812. After three days, 40 armed men went to Barataria Bay and captured Jean Lafitte, Pierre Lafitte, 25 unarmed men and contraband worth thousands of dollars. The smugglers were released after bonds were filled, but later they refused to present themselves for a trial.

After these legal charges, Jean Lafitte decided to register himself as the captain of Le Brig Goelette la Diligente on March 1814, for a supposed journey to New York. Biographer Ramsey says that the purpose of this journey was to “establish…[Lafitte] as a privateering captain”. Soon afterwards, Lafitte received a letter of marquee from Caratgena, but he never sent any booty there, rather he continued to operate through Barataria Bay.

As Lafitte continued to break the law, Governor Claiborne showed his deep anger and issued a proclamation in Nile’s Weekly Register as “banditti … who act in contravention of the laws of the United States … to the evident prejudice of the revenue of the federal government”. In the month of October, an ambush was planned against Lafitte’s men, but they got away with all their contraband, and left one officer injured. While in the very next month, the governor declared a reward of $500 for any person who would capture Lafitte, but after a few days, similar handbills were distributed all over New Orleans in the name of Jean Lafitte, offering the same reward for the arrest of Governor Claiborne. But Lafitte’s biographer, Ramsey writes, “it is unlikely [the handbills] originated with him”. After the offers for rewards were made, Lafitte wrote a personal letter to Claiborne in which he rebutted the piracy charges.

After successfully auctioning goods at Temple, Lafitte decided to hold another auction outside New Orleans in January 1814. But Authorities were determined to stop his illegal activities, and sent revenue officers to catch Lafitte. After exchange of intense gun fires, one of the officers was killed while two were injured and Lafitte escaped unharmed. Apart from the officials, the common merchants from New Orleans were also angered by this auction, as he was offering goods directly to customers at lower prices, with them having no chance of making profits.

At this explicit insult of law, Claiborne appealed to the newly formed state legislature to order an armed militia to “disperse those desperate men on Lake Barataria whose piracies have rendered our shores a terror to neutral flags”. The legislature created a committee to analyze the situation, but despite all the efforts, no army was raised as most of the constituents also required the smuggled goods. But when one of the renowned merchants of New Orleans testified against Pierre Lafitte, authorities successfully persuaded a grand jury to charge him for “having knowingly and wittingly aided and assisted, procured, commanded, counselled, and advised persons to commit acts of piracy”. Pierre was caught and jailed on these charges.

War of 1819:

British offer:

Despite Pierre being imprisoned, Jean continued on his exploits as a smuggler. The British Navy intensified the patrolling in the Gulf of Mexico in the next few months, and by the month of August they had established a naval base at Pensacola. On September 3, 1814, a British ship HMS Sophie had a confrontation with a ship that was returning to Barataria with smuggled goods. After firing several shots, HMS Sophie could not pursue the smugglers further, as they grounded on a shallow water. The British ship decided to hang a white flag, and started following them on a dinghy with many officers. Jean Lafitte and some of his men rowed to meet the British company half way.

The commander of HMS Sophie, Captain Nicholas Lockyer had been given the instructions to visit the “Commandent of the Baratarians”, while he was accompanied by Captain McWilliams from British Army who had a package to deliver to Lafitte. The Baratarians invited the British to come to their island, and Lafitte disclosed his true identity to the Englishmen, after they had set foot on the island and were surrounded by dozens of his men.

Some of the sailors wanted to kill the British officials, but Lafitte intervened and even appointed guards outside his house to tackle anyone who tries to enter. Captain McWilliams presented Lafitte with his package which contained two letters, the first one being from King George III, offering British citizenship and property in American colonies to Baratarians if they agreed to help the British in war against United States, and would return any goods captured from Spanish ships in the recent past. It was also mentioned that in case Lafitte and his men declined this offer, they would be completely destroyed by British Army. The second letter was written by one of the higher authorities of Captain McWilliams who asked Lafitte to agree to this offer.

Jean Lafitte had the feeling that United States would win this war, and that he had a better chance to defeat the American revenue officers rather than killing British troops. But reports had also come to his notice in the past months that Untied States was planning an attack over Barartaria under the command of Commodore Daniel Patterson, as US government was convinced that the Baratarian smugglers were going to aid the British Navy during this war. Lafitte felt the need to persuade the American authorities that he meant no harm to United States.

Jean Lafitte initially responded by promising support of few men to Brisitsh Navy and requested a period of 15 days to consider the King’s offer. Soon after Lafitte sent copies of this letter to Jean Blanque, a member of the state legislature who had spent money on the operations in Barataria. Lafitte reminded Blanque in a personal note about the imprisonment of his brother Pierre, and wrote his wish that he should be released earlier than his term. He also sent a personal letter to the Governor of New Orleans, Claiborne and wrote, “I am the stray sheep, wishing to return to the sheepfold … If you were thoroughly acquainted with the nature of my offenses, I should appear to you much less guilty, and still worthy to discharge the duties of a good citizen.” Lafitte also promised of complete support from his men in the defense of New Orleans. After he had sent these writings, within two days, Pierre Lafitte managed to “escape” from the jail.

American Invasion:

Despite the fact that Lafitte promised his loyalty to Untied States, on September 13 Commodore Daniel Patterson on board USS Carolina sailed for Barataria, accompanied by gunboats and a tender, for servicing the fleet. His fleet anchored at Grand Terre and started the attack against 10 armed privateers by mid morning, but after sometime Lafitte and his men gave up and fled, burning many of their ships. Patterson and his soldiers grounded on Barataria and faced little resistance. They captured 80 Baratarians, along with six schooners, one felucca, one brig, 20 cannons and contraband worth $500,000. But despite this complete defeat, Lafitte managed to escape. Patterson set on his return with his fleet and the captured ships on September 23, and this achievement was published and acclaimed by Nile’s Weekly Register as, “a major conquest for the United States”. While the Weekly described Lafitte as, “a man who, for about two years past, has been famous for crimes that the civilized world wars against. … [He] is supposed to have captured one hundred vessels of all nations, and certainly murdered the crews of all that he took, for no one has ever escaped him”.

As was the common tradition in those days, Patterson claimed a portion of the profits from the captured ships in the court of law. Lafitte’s attorney argued that the captured vessels had flown the flag of Cartagena, which enjoyed peacful relations with United States, while one of the Baratarians smuggler testified that they never had any plans to attack America, but were only trying to escape. The jury passed the judgment that the profits of sold goods should be awarded to Paterrson, but the ownership of the ships was unsettled and they remained under the control of the US Marshall.

In appreciation of the letter written by Lafitte in which he promised complete support, Governer Claiborne wrote to Richard Rush, the the US Attorney General, to offer pardon to the Baratarians. He explained, “esteemed honest … [and] sympathy for these offenders is certainly more or less felt by many of the Louisianans”. Soon after Claiborne wrote a similar message to General Andrew Jackson, the future President of United States. Ramsey describes that the message implied that “Patterson had destroyed a potential first line of defense for Louisiana”. Jackson replied to this letter saying, “I ask you, Louisianans, can we place any confidence in the honor of men who have courted an alliance with pirates and robbers”.

Battle Of New Orleans:

As Andrew Jackson came to New Orleans on December 1, he found out that the defensive measures for the city were totally insufficient, as it would be guarded by only two ships and 1000 untrained soldiers. The ships were short of crew, and most Baratarians who were still free, were not willing to serve on them, as they were angry at the American government’s attack on their island.

In the mid of December, Andrew Jackson and Jean Lafitte met, and Lafitte promised to help in defending New Orleans if he and other Baratarians be offered a pardon from the government. Jackson accepted this offer, and on December 19, the state legislature passed a resolution that offered a pardon to Lafitte and other Baratarian sailors. After this passed resolution, Lafitte urged his men to help defend New Orleans, and many of them became part of the militia, while others created three artillery companies.

The advance units of the British Navy reached the Mississippi River on December 23, but Jean Lafitte sensed that the line of defense for New Orleans for very short, putting American troops in a potentially vulnerable position, as the British could surround them. Lafitte requested an extension of the line of defense into a swamp which was located close by; this request was immediately obliged by Andrew Jackson. On December 28, American lines were being fired at by the British Army, but two of the former lieutenants of Lafitte, Renato Beluche and Dominique Youx repulsed the enemy, as they headed an assault by an artillery crew.

Daniel Patterson highly praised the efforts of the Baratarian sailors who were part of the crew of a US naval ship, and described that their command on artillery weapons was much superior to the British.

Andrew Jackson’s Praise for Lafitte:

As the battle continued, the Baratarian gunners operating on both land and sea, continued to attract great acclimation from all quarters. Andrew Jackson gave a statement on January 21, in which he praised his soldiers, gave special emphasis on the role of the canoneers, and “Captains Dominique and Beluche, lately commanding privateers of Barataria with part of their former crews and many brave citizens of New Orleans, were stationed at Nos. 3 and 4”.

Jackson also praised the role of the Lafitte brothers as they had “exhibited the same courage and fidelity”. Jackson also asked for full pardoning of the Lafitte brothers and the rest of the Baratarian sailors, which was officially issued on February 6.

Galveston:

In the later half of 1815 and the earlier half of 1816, Jean Lafitte and his brother Pierre Lafitte acted as spies for Spain during the Mexican War of Independence, a conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spainsh colonial army. The Lafitte brothers were collectively called ‘Number Thirteen’. Pierre used to give information to Spanish Authorities about the ongoings in New Orleans. Jean, on the other hand, went to Galveston Island, a small barrier island off the coast of Spanish Texas. Galveston Island was the base of a French born privateer Louis-Michel Aury, who claimed to be a Mexican revolutionary, and was commissioned by Mexican Manuel de Herrera to capture Mexico.

The Pirate, Privateer Jean Lafitte

The Pirate, Privateer Jean Lafitte


During the year 1817, many other revolutionaries had started to gather in Galveston Island, and had designs to maintain it as the central point from where they could win liberation from Spanish occupation. Aury had a small fleet of about 15 ships and 500 men, and he left with all of them to support Mexican General Mina. Lafitte went to the Island in March 1817, and when the leaders including Aury left, he completely controlled the island and appointed his officers. Lafitte journeyed to New Orleans on April 18, to report his exploits to the Spanish. He returned back to the island with the duty to make weekly reports about the happenings.

Aury soon had a dispute with the Mexican General Mina and returned to Galveston Island on May 14 to find that it had been completely taken over by Lafitte. Jean Lafitte had the plans of transforming this new base into another Barataria, as it was also in a protected location and United States had no authority here.

Lafitte destroyed the existing houses and constructed stronger buildings in order to improve his new base. His ships flew the Mexican flag, but he did not take part in any revolutionary operations, as he feared a Spanish attack. Within a year, his colony grew to about 200 men and many women. Lafitte personally interviewed any people who intended to join him, and asked them to take an oath of total loyalty towards him.

The headquarters of Lafitte’s activies was a two-story building facing the harbor where ships used to land. As it was surrounded by a moat and was painted red, it got the name, ‘Maison Rouge’. His usual business was held aboard his ship, ‘The Pride’ which was also his residence. Lafitte had issued fake letters of marquee to all the ships which sailed from Galveston Island, which seemingly entitled them to attack ships from any country.

United States passed a new law in April 1818, which barred the import of any slaves into any of its port. But the law was badly written, leaving behind a few loopholes for Lafitte and other smugglers to exploit. This law implicitly allowed attacks on any foreign ships carrying slaves. It was also declared that any slave that was handed over to the authorities will be sold inside America and half of the amount will go to the capturer. Jean Lafitte collaborated with Jim and Rezin Bowie to profit from slaves trade.

Lafitte and his men used to attack slaves ships to capture slaves, while smugglers used to hand them over to the authorities in Louisiana, and claimed half of the profits. While another member of the smugglers used to purchase the slaves at the auction, and was the legal owner, able to sell them again.

Testing Times on Galveston Island:

Native American tribesmen, Karankawas used to reside on the Galveston Island, and they occasionally had encounters with Lafitte which resulted in great losses to the natives. Once hundreds of tribesmen attacked Lafitte’s base to save one of their captured woman, and also killed five of Lafitte’s people, but the fight resulted in the death of most of the native men.

The island was also struck by a powerful hurricane in the month of September, annihilating most of the buildings, killing many men and destroying four ships.

Around the year 1820, Jean Lafitte married Medeline Regaud, presumably the daughter or widow of a colonist from France who died in an expedition to Galveston. USS Enterprise was sent to remove Lafitte from Galveston Island, after some of his pirates attacked an American ship. But Lafitte decided to leave the island without any resisitence either in 1821 or 1822. He left aboard ‘The Pride’ and burnt his fortress and other buildings, while it is also speculated that he was accompanied by a great treasure.

Only the foundation of Maison Rouge was left, which is now at 1417 Avenue A, close to Galveston Wharf.

Later Years:

On May 7, 1921, Lafitte and his crew left Galveston Island with three ships, while he was also accompanied by his mullato mistress and an infant child. Most of hie crew members were under the impression that Lafitte had a valid commission, but the name of the country which had issued it was not clear. After two weeks, they captured a Spanish ship, which they set sail to Galveston in the hope that Longs would smuggle the cargo to New Orleans. But Lafitte’s men buried the goods and ran aground the ship. This situation was spotted by American patrolling ships, and they unearthed the goods after investigations and arrested some of the men who were later charged of piracy. The remainder of the crew members, returned to Lafitte, and then he finally disclosed that he did not have any valid commission, and that they would be sailing on the sea as pirates.

About half of the crew refused to sail as pirates, after which Lafitte offered them to leave with General Victoria, his largest brig. But that very night Lafitte’s remaining men destroyed the masts of General Victoria, forcing the disgruntled crew members to stay with Lafitte.

Lafitte along with his men, continued to capture Spanish ships on the Gulf of Mexico and often returned to barrier islands and Galveston islands to receive supplies from Pierre or to leave goods to be smuggled. As the number of pirates were declining in the Gulf of Mexico, the Louisiana congressioanl delegation demanded the US government stop Lafitte. Soon more ships from the US Navy were sent to capture and stop Lafitte from piracy.

In the year 1821, in either October or November, Lafitte and his crewmen were ambushed as he was engaged in trying to ransom back a recently captured ship. After managing to get away, Lafitte and his crew was captured and jailed, but his imprisonment was short lived, as he escaped, presumably with external aid, on February 13. Over the period of few months, Lafitte managed to create a safe base along the coast of Cuba, by offering a bribe of a portion of the profits to the Cuban authorities. But after attacking an American ship, he was once again captured and handed over to the authorities, but incidentally, he was immediately let go.

Soon after Lafitte and his pirates started attacking Cuban ships carrying goods, which inflamed the Cuban officials, and they had prohibited any sea raiding by the end 1822. As Colombia was issuing commissions to past privateers to join its newly formed navy, in june 1822, Lafitte applied with them for a commission and got it successfully. He was also given General Santander, a 40-ton schooner. Now Lafitte sailed as a legal privateer for the first time in his life, and had the entitlement to capture Spanish ships.

In 1822, Lafitte hit the American press as he reportedly escorted an American schooner to safety, through a dangerous region and also provided them with extra supplies. In February 1823, Lafitte and his men attacked two Spanish ships under the mistake that they were unarmed merchant vessels. The Spanish warships retaliated and Lafitte got wounded during the battle. He died on February 5, just before the break of dawn and was buried at the Gulf of Honduras. Only two obituaries could be found for Jean Lafitte, Gaceta de Cartajena published that “the loss of this brave naval official is moving”, where as there was no obituary written in any of the American newspapers.

Legacy:

Biographer William Davis thinks that it was a blessing that Lafitte had departed for good, as during 1825 piracy had been obliterated from the Gulf of Mexico, and “the new world of the Gulf simply had no room for [his] kind”. There were many stories about the death of Jean Lafitte, but none had any evidence to be supported. One rumor suggested that he had assumed a new name after departing from Galveston Island and disappeared, while some believe that his own men may have killed him. People also thought that Lafitte rescued Napoleon Bonaparte and both died in Louisiana together.

In the year 1843, Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar, the second President of the Republic of Texas, inquired into many of these rumors and found no evidence of Lafitte’s death, but he believed that it was most likely that he had died. By that period, Lafitte’s only son, Jean Pierre Lafitte, had also died due to an epidemic outbreak in New Orleans in 1832.

In his writings, Ramsay compares the number of legends associated with Jean Lafitte with figures like King Arthur and Robin Hood. There are also many stories about the treasures Lafitte buried in many places including areas along the Louisiana coast. In 1919, a person was given a sentence of six years for fraud, after he took thousands of dollars from others by falsely claiming that he knew where Lafitte had buried a treasure.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve was named so, commemorating Lafitte, while a small fishing village close to Barataria Bayou has also been named after him.

Since the year 1957, citizens of Lake Charles, Louisiana celebrate a Festival named ‘Contraband Days’, in remembrance of Jean Lafitte and his alleged buried treasures near Lake Charles and Contraband Bayou. In the first two weeks of the month of May, Actors and young enthusiasts gather to play as Lafitte and his men, sailing the city’s lake and kidnaping the Mayor of the city, pushing him to ‘walk the plank’. Although, there are no evidences which support any such happening, there are unconfirmed stories of Lafitte’s buried treasures near the lake.

Books And Biographies:

There have been many fictional novels based on Lafitte the first of which was The Memoirs of Lafitte, or The Baratarian Pirate; a Narrative Founded on Fact (1826). Most people also assumed that Lord Byron’s famous poem, ‘The Corsair’ which sold 10,000 copies on its intial day of release, was also inspired from Lafitte. By the year 1840, Lafitte was normally regarded as , “as a fatal lothario with women, and a cold-blooded murderer of men who yet observed some forms of honor”.

The first serious effort to write a biography depicting the life of Jean Lafitte was Historical Sketch of Pierre and Jean Lafitte, the Famous Smugglers of Louisiana ,published on 1883 and written by Charles Gayarre. Many other authors followed suit and wrote biographies on the life of Jean Lafitte.

The famous Movie, ‘The Buccaneer [1938]’ by Cecil B. DeMille, was created on the basis of a book written by Lyle Saxon in 1930.

Louisiana based writer, Stanley Arthur wrote Jean Laffite, Gentleman Rover, which was based on a journal claimed by John Andrechyne Laflin to be written by the hand of Lafitte and kept by him during the period of 1845 to 1850. After failing to authenticate the claim in 1948, Laflin approached Stanley Arthur with the journal. Laflin published an English translation of the document, and sold it to a document dealer in 1969.

Experts declared the document to be real, as the paper and ink used were originated back to middle of the 19th Century. But after it was handed over to Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, it was open for a scientific analysis for the first time, and similarities between the handwriting of Laflin and the one used in the journal were found out. It is widely accpeted in history that this journal was a fake document, where as there are also reports that Laflin was accused of producing fake letters from some other prominent personalities such US President Abraham Linclon, Davy Crocket and Andrew Jackson.


Further reading and DVDs on Jean Lafitte



Cash For Test Strips