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Jean Lafitte was a French pirate and privateer who operated in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century. He and his older brother Pierre spelled their last name Laffite, but English language documents of the time used "Lafitte". This has become the common spelling in the United States, including places named after him.

Lafitte is believed to have been born either in Basque-France or the French colony of Saint-Domingue. By 1805, he was operating a warehouse in New Orleans to help disperse the goods smuggled by his brother Pierre Lafitte. The United States government passed the Embargo Act of 1807, so the Lafittes moved their operations to an island in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. By 1810, their new port had become very successful; the Lafittes had a profitable smuggling operation and also started to engage in piracy.

Despite Lafitte warning the other Baratarians of a possible military attack on their base of operations, a United States naval force successfully invaded in September 1814 and captured most of his fleet. Later, in return for a legal pardon, Lafitte and his fleet helped General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans during the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812, as British forces sought access to the Mississippi River. After securing victory, Jackson paid tribute to the Lafitte brothers' efforts, as well as those of their fellow privateers, in despatches.

The Lafittes subsequently became spies for the Spanish during the Mexican War of Independence. In 1817, Jean founded a new colony on Galveston Island named Campeche, which at its height earned millions of dollars annually from stolen or smuggled coin and goods. Lafitte continued attacking merchant ships as a pirate around Central American ports until he died in 1823. Speculation about his life and death continues among historians....
 
 
Jean Lafitte was a French pirate and privateer who operated in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century. He and his older brother Pierre spelled their last name Laffite, but English language documents of the time used "Lafitte". This has become the common spelling in the United States, including places named after him.

Lafitte is believed to have been born either in Basque-France or the French colony of Saint-Domingue. By 1805, he was operating a warehouse in New Orleans to help disperse the goods smuggled by his brother Pierre Lafitte. The United States government passed the Embargo Act of 1807, so the Lafittes moved their operations to an island in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. By 1810, their new port had become very successful; the Lafittes had a profitable smuggling operation and also started to engage in piracy.

Despite Lafitte warning the other Baratarians of a possible military attack on their base of operations, a United States naval force successfully invaded in September 1814 and captured most of his fleet. Later, in return for a legal pardon, Lafitte and his fleet helped General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans during the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812, as British forces sought access to the Mississippi River. After securing victory, Jackson paid tribute to the Lafitte brothers' efforts, as well as those of their fellow privateers, in despatches.

The Lafittes subsequently became spies for the Spanish during the Mexican War of Independence. In 1817, Jean founded a new colony on Galveston Island named Campeche, which at its height earned millions of dollars annually from stolen or smuggled coin and goods. Lafitte continued attacking merchant ships as a pirate around Central American ports until he died in 1823. Speculation about his life and death continues among historians....

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