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José Gaspar, also known by his nickname Gasparilla (supposedly lived c. 1756 – 1821), is an apocryphal Spanish pirate, the "Last of the Buccaneers," who is claimed to have roamed and plundered across the Gulf of Mexico and the Spanish Main from his base in southwest Florida. Details about his early life, motivations, and piratical exploits differ in different tellings. However, the various versions agree that he was a remarkably active pirate during Florida's second Spanish period (which spanned from 1783 until 1821), that he amassed a huge fortune by taking many prizes and ransoming many hostages, and that he died by leaping from his ship rather than face capture by the U.S. Navy, leaving behind an enormous and as-yet undiscovered treasure.

Though the pirate Gaspar is a popular figure in Florida folklore, there is no evidence that he actually existed. No contemporaneous mention of his life or exploits have been found in Spanish or American ship logs, court records, newspapers, or other archives, and no physical artifacts linked to Gaspar have been discovered in the area where he supposedly established his "pirate kingdom." The earliest known written mention of José Gaspar was a short biography included in an early 1900s promotional brochure for the Gasparilla Inn on Gasparilla Island at Charlotte Harbor, the author of which freely admitted that his dramatic tale was a work of fiction "without a true fact in it". Subsequent retellings of the Gaspar legend are based upon this fanciful account, including the accidental inclusion of José Gaspar in a 1923 book on real pirates that has caused ongoing confusion about his historical authenticity.

José Gaspar's legend is celebrated in Tampa, Florida during the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival, which was first held in 1904....
 
 
José Gaspar, also known by his nickname Gasparilla (supposedly lived c. 1756 – 1821), is an apocryphal Spanish pirate, the "Last of the Buccaneers," who is claimed to have roamed and plundered across the Gulf of Mexico and the Spanish Main from his base in southwest Florida. Details about his early life, motivations, and piratical exploits differ in different tellings. However, the various versions agree that he was a remarkably active pirate during Florida's second Spanish period (which spanned from 1783 until 1821), that he amassed a huge fortune by taking many prizes and ransoming many hostages, and that he died by leaping from his ship rather than face capture by the U.S. Navy, leaving behind an enormous and as-yet undiscovered treasure.

Though the pirate Gaspar is a popular figure in Florida folklore, there is no evidence that he actually existed. No contemporaneous mention of his life or exploits have been found in Spanish or American ship logs, court records, newspapers, or other archives, and no physical artifacts linked to Gaspar have been discovered in the area where he supposedly established his "pirate kingdom." The earliest known written mention of José Gaspar was a short biography included in an early 1900s promotional brochure for the Gasparilla Inn on Gasparilla Island at Charlotte Harbor, the author of which freely admitted that his dramatic tale was a work of fiction "without a true fact in it". Subsequent retellings of the Gaspar legend are based upon this fanciful account, including the accidental inclusion of José Gaspar in a 1923 book on real pirates that has caused ongoing confusion about his historical authenticity.

José Gaspar's legend is celebrated in Tampa, Florida during the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival, which was first held in 1904....

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