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A Biography of Jean Laffite

Author: Krzysztof Wilczynski

Jean Laffite, thought to have been born in France, was more of a businessman than seafarer. Along with his brother, Laffite practiced pirating and privateering out of Barataria Bay, south of New Orleans. With over 10 vessels he and his crew raided among others, British, American, and Spanish vessels. Due to his frequent trips to various worldwide coastal ports, many in New Orleans traded with his band of pirates.

Laffite was renown for working his way out of trouble, when arrested by a certain governor, he failed to show up at the trial. The governor set a bounty for him at $750, in return, Laffite offered double that price for the capture of the governor.

British officials offered Laffite monetary rewards among others, in 1814, in return for his help in their attack on New Orleans. Laffite notified New Orleans officials, who paid no head to his warnings. A few weeks later a small Naval fleet attacked, before which Laffite and his crew slipped out of town. Later that same year, General Andrew Jackson accepted Laffites aid in combat with the British. In return for his help, he and his crew were pardoned for their maritime crimes, but lost their pirate privileges in Barataria Bay.

During an increase in naval activity, Laffite and his crew sailed towards Spanish occupied territory of Texas. He took over Galveston, from where he established his pirating activities. Being run out of Galveston, he left, but only after burning the entire settlement. With his brother, Laffite continued pirating around Central American ports until he died around 1821.


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