Laffite, Jean

born 1780?, France
died 1825?

French pirate.

He led a band of privateers that preyed on Spanish ships and smuggled goods and slaves through New Orleans, where the group lived on islands south of the city. In the War of 1812 the British offered Laffite $30,000 for his allegiance in their planned attack on the city. He warned Louisiana officials of the attack but was not believed. He then offered his aid to Gen. Andrew Jackson, who accepted Laffite's help in the Battle of New Orleans. After the war Laffite returned to privateering against the Spanish.

Jean Laffite

The Bettmann Archive

* * *

▪ American pirate
Laffite also spelled  Lafitte  
born 1780?, France
died 1825?

      privateer and smuggler who interrupted his illicit adventures to fight heroically for the United States in defense of New Orleans in the War of 1812.

      Little is known of Laffite's early life, but by 1809 he and his brother Pierre apparently had established in New Orleans a blacksmith shop that reportedly served as a depot for smuggled goods and slaves brought ashore by a band of privateers. From 1810 to 1814 this group probably formed the nucleus for Laffite's illicit colony on the secluded islands of Barataria Bay south of the city. Holding privateer commissions from the republic of Cartagena (in modern Colombia), Laffite's group preyed on Spanish commerce, illegally disposing of its plunder through merchant connections on the mainland.

      Because Barataria Bay was an important approach to New Orleans, the British during the War of 1812 offered Laffite $30,000 and a captaincy in the Royal Navy for his allegiance. Laffite pretended to cooperate, then warned Louisiana officials of New Orleans' peril. Instead of believing him, Gov. W.C.C. Claiborne summoned the U.S. Army and Navy to wipe out the colony. Some of Laffite's ships were captured, but his business was not destroyed. Still protesting his loyalty to the U.S., Laffite next offered aid to the hard-pressed forces of Gen. Andrew Jackson (Jackson, Andrew) in defense of New Orleans if he and his men could be granted a full pardon. Jackson accepted, and in the Battle of New Orleans (December 1814–January 1815) the Baratarians, as Laffite and his men came to be known, fought with distinction. Jackson personally commended Laffite as “one of the ablest men” of the battle, and Pres. James Madison issued a public proclamation of pardon for the group.

      Nevertheless, after the war the pirate chief returned to his old ways, and in 1817, with nearly 1,000 followers, he organized a commune called Campeche on the island site of the future city of Galveston, Texas, where he served briefly as governor in 1819. From this depot he continued his privateering against the Spanish, and his men were commonly acknowledged as pirates. When several of his lieutenants attacked U.S. ships in 1820, official pressure was brought to bear on the operation. As a consequence, the following year Laffite suddenly picked a crew to man his favourite vessel, “The Pride,” burned the town, and sailed away—apparently continuing his depredations along the coast of Spanish America (the Spanish Main) for several more years.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Laffite,Jean — Laf·fite or La·fitte (lə fētʹ, lä ), Jean. 1780? 1826?. French pirate leader who aided U.S. troops in the War of 1812 in return for an official pardon for his crimes. * * * …   Universalium

  • Laffite, Jean — (¿1780?, Francia–¿1825?). Pirata francés. Dirigió a una banda de corsarios que atacaba a los mercantes españoles y entraba mercancías y esclavos de contrabando por Nueva Orleans, donde el grupo vivía en unas islas al sur de la ciudad. Durante la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Lafitte /Laffite, Jean —  (c. 1780–c. 1826) French pirate …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Jean Lafitte — [Bayona(?), Francia, †1780(?) 1826(?), (según investigaciones genealógicas realizadas por supuestos descendientes de Lafitte[1] 1774 1858)], fue un militar de la Guerra Anglo Estadounidense de 1812 y corsario que operó en las costas del Golfo de… …   Wikipedia Español

  • jean — jeaned, adj. /jeen/ or, for 1, Brit. formerly /jayn/, n. 1. Sometimes, jeans. a sturdy twilled fabric, usually of cotton. 2. jeans, (used with a pl. v.) a. See blue jeans. b. pants of various fabrics, styled or constructed like blue jeans. Cf.… …   Universalium

  • Jean — Fr. /zhahonn/ for 1, 2; /jeen/ for 3, n. 1. born 1921, Grand Duke of Luxembourg since 1964. 2. a male given name, form of John. 3. a female given name. * * * (as used in expressions) Jean François Gravelet Jean Boulogne Jean Baptiste Poquelin… …   Universalium

  • jean — altjean o yin/alt (voz inglesa) ► masculino Pantalón de tela muy resistente, generlamente de color, con costuras vistas. También jeans o yins para referirse a una sola prenda. * * * (as used in expressions) Agassiz, (Jean) Louis (Rodolphe)… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Laffite — noun French pirate who aided the United States in the War of 1812 and received an official pardon for his crimes (1780 1826) • Syn: ↑Lafitte, ↑Jean Laffite, ↑Jean Lafitte • Instance Hypernyms: ↑pirate, ↑buccaneer, ↑sea robber, ↑sea …   Useful english dictionary

  • Jean Laffite — Jean Lafitte Pour les articles homonymes, voir Lafitte …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jean Edouard Lafitte — Jean Lafitte Pour les articles homonymes, voir Lafitte …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.