October 12, 2009

A French Pirate in League with the Americans

Since I love to write about life in the 1800s, and I have written a pirate book, I thought I'd combine the two topics and tell you about a real-life pirate.

One of the most fascinating rogues in the New World was a buccaneer named Jean Lafitte. He was viewed by many in a variety of ways--gallant, guileful, heroic, and treacherous.
During his career, he opposed the Spanish, frustrated the British, and finally so annoyed the Americans that they banned him from U. S. waters.

His early years were spent in France, but he went to the Caribbean island of Martinique, where he eloped with the ward of a Spanish official. After that official annuled the marriage and imprisoned Lafitte, the girl committed suicide. Lafitte came out of prison plotting revenge on the Spanish.

He arrived in New Orleans in 1804. At that time, the town was a haven for pirates and cutthroats. My book, Pirate's Prize, is set during this period, and my characters visited New Orleans.

Lafitte and the other smugglers and pirates preyed on Spanish galleons in the Gulf of Mexico. During the War of 1812, the British offeredLafitte a commission in the Royal Navy so he could aid in the attack on New Orleans.

Instead, Lafitte informed the Louisiana governor of the coming invation. During the ensuing battle, Lafitte and his cohorts fought so valiantly for the United States that President Madison pardoned him for all past crimes.

Lafitte then set up his base on Galveston Island and continued to attack Spanish ships in the Gulf of Mexico. His campaign against them virtually swept the Spanish from the area. In addition to these activities, Lafitte was also a slave trader.

The United States claimed Galveston Island as its own, and having Lafitte there soon became a thorn in the side of the U. S. Navy. In 1821, a warship put into Galveston harbor to oust Lafitte from the island. He was given 60 days to leave.

When they returned, the pirate held a lavish banquet for the Americans, telling them that he was at peace with everyone but the Spanish. His men then set fire to their town, and Lafitte set sail for Yucatan. No one really ever saw him again, but his ships kept giving his enemies misery.

Historians surmise that he lived about five more years on the Yucatan.

Information gathered from The Spanish West one of the Time Life The Old West series, copyright 1979.

If you will leave a comment, you will be in the drawing for one of five copies of Pirate's Prize. The drawing will take place October 20.

13 comments:

Rebecca Royce said...

This was a great blog. I'm so glad you promo'd it on Facebook so I could find you.

Great job.

Rebecca

putaruffleonit said...

I love pirate books and Barbour. Thanks for this opportunity.

Anita Reaves

Renee said...

Thank you for writing this blog! I had never heard of this pirate, and he definitely fit the bill of scalawag pirate, didn't he?

Also, thanks for writing great stories! I love reading them. :)

Jennifer Fleming

Jules said...

Pirates are amazing! But it's hard to get past the stealing and plundering they did, isn't it? I'd love to read what you did with a pirate story. (I've only begun reading this blog)

Tina Dee Books said...

Lena! This is the one my husband read and really liked! And if it doesn't have intergalactic space battles, alien races, and blasters, or dwarfs and wizards & dragons, he usually won't touch it. LOL!

He said Pirates Prize was really good.

Don't enter me in the contest--I'll just 'borrow' DH copy (that used to be mine...)

Judy said...

I've always been fascinated with pirates and their exploits. Thanks for a great read about Lafitte!

evan said...

Yours is a nice precis of Lafitte's difficulties being taken seriously during a particularly unsettled period among the contending powers in North America! Whereas Eighteenth Century "pirates" were essentially democratic revolutionaries reacting to harsh conditions at sea, in your telling by the Battle of New Orleans, Lafitte's piracy can better be seen as motivated by his well-earned resentment of personal insult and injury at the hands of nettlesome functionaries and diplomats.

April said...

Great post. Please enter me. Blessings

tarenn98[at]yahoo[dot]com

Edna said...

Please enter me into the drawing for "Pirate's Prize"

May God bless and your new site looks great, it let me leave a comment as you know the first time I got on here it blocked me and said I could never get back on. Oh well sometimes even the internet lets us know we are not wanted, ha ha

mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

Brenda said...

The book sounds fabulous!

I would love to read it!

Janice Olson said...

Lena,
Excellent post. I enjoyed learning a little more about Jean Lafitte. An interesting character.

Blessings,
Janice

Anonymous said...

I would love to read Pirate's Prize. Definately a different genre than westerns! I love the Horatio Hornblower books, so maybe I can read without getting seasick!
Michelle S
darmi@sdplains.com

Brenda said...

I would love to read the book!

dancealert at aol dot com