often has the effect of sandblasting themisdeeds of its colorful characters and
making them appear more intriguing than evil. Nowadays, visitors to New Orleans seeing the Lafitte name everywhere - there's
even a national historic park named after Jean Lafitte - might think the Lafitte
brothers were the French Quarter's first Royal Street antique dealers.
they were pirates - responsible for attacks and plunder of many early Louisiana
settlers and citizens, including children, who were aboard the ships these privateers
boarded. One of the most profitable illegal cargoes which they traded was slaves,
seized from masters and resold in the markets in New Orleans.
Jean and Pierre Lafitte were known to have been in New Orleans
as early as 1805, some say that they were natives of Marseilles, France, while
others claim that they hailed from Port au Prince in Santo Domingo.
author and historian George Washington Cable states that the brothers claimed
the Bordeaux region of France as their birthplace circa 1780-85 in order to be
entitled to French privateer's credentials, This may be true, since the eldest
Lafitte brother, Alexandre, known as Dominique You, was the famed diminutive artillery
officer of Napoleon.
in Louisiana, the pirate's base of operations was in Barataria Bay, near New Orleans,
inland from Grand Isle, and within striking distance of the Gulf Coast, made trading
ships made their entrances and exists from the Mississippi River.
Barataria was a thriving community with 32 armed warships, more ships than there
was in the entire American navy at the start of the War of 1812.
Andrew Jackson enlisted aid of Jean Lafitte and his brothers
in fighting the British at the Battle of New Orleans, after which the men were
pardoned of piracy charges.
The Lafittes went right back to piracy. By
1818, they had established a colony of privateers off the coast of Galveston,
where it is though that Jean became a spy for Spain.
regarding Jean Lafitte's final resting place flows as freely as beer
on St. Patrick's Day.
The latest theory, based on the recent discovery
of a "diary," is that when the camp in Galveston was destroyed by a
hurricane, Lafitte married and moved up to Alton, Illinois. There he became passionate
about furthering the cause of the working man.
He was even supposed to have contributed
some of the money he had once robbed from the rich to aid the work of Karl Marx.
All that is known for certain is that Lafitte's Brother Pierre died in Missouri
in 1844 and was buried in St. Louis. Pierre's children have been quoted as saying
that their "esteemed" uncle changed his name to Jon Lafflin and dropped
out of sight.
information usually falls on deaf ears. Napoleonic groupies are convinced that
the Emperor, John Paul Jones, and the pirates Lafitte are buried together in Lafitte
Cemetery on Bayou Barataria.
Another American historical group erected
a monument to the pirate in 1976 at a grave-site at the village of Dzilam de Bravo,
near Merida, on the Yucatan peninsula. They believe that Jean died of yellow fever
off the coast of Yucatan in 1826.