Jean Laffite

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Jean Lafitte

Jean Laffite , also Lafitte (* around 1780 France ; † 1826 , USA or Yucatán ) was a French privateer .


Laffite was born the second son of an aristocrat . During the French Revolution , his family fled to Hispaniola , where revolts and civil wars were also raging. After the slave revolts and the proclamation of the state of Haiti in 1804, the brothers Jean and Pierre emigrated to the USA.

Just four years later, the Laffites were regarded as feared privateers who, with ten ships and 1,000 men , captured American, British and Spanish merchant ships in the Caribbean and smuggled the booty from the island of Grande Terre in Barataria Bay to New Orleans . Governor William Claiborne's attempts to drive Laffite out of his “Kingdom of Barataria” failed miserably - when he offered a premium of 750 dollars on Laffite's head, it offered twice as much for Claiborne's life. Laffite's planned expansion to the Texas coast was halted by the British attack on the lower Mississippi region - he fought alongside General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, regaining his legality. The battlefield at Chalmette and part of the marshland between Baratia and New Orleans are now protected and can be visited as parts of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park.

After he was denied the reproduction of his confiscated property in Washington, he returned to New Orleans in 1816 and ended his brief existence in legality. He began to work on plans for a dock on the Texas coast that would serve as a port for privateers and a base in raids on Texas. In 1817, Laffite drove the notorious pirate Louis Michel Aury from Galveston Island , which became the center of smuggling, piracy and the slave trade. The United States relied on pirates for a second time when, on behalf of President Monroe, George Graham asked the Laffite brothers for assistance in driving the French and Spanish from Texas in 1818 - they refused, and Texas was annexed to Mexico .

The Laffite brothers left Galveston around 1820 because Jean's intrigues alienated any friend and Pierre's work had become worthless for the Spanish secret service. They burned Galveston and moved to Mugeres Island , where Jean ambushed ships until his death in 1825. Although Pierre Laffite was the older and busier of the brothers, Jean Laffite became the hero of many heroic tales.


The Battle of New Orleans was the model for the film The Buccaneer (1938) (German: " The Buccaneer of Louisiana"). Directed by Cecil B. DeMille ; Fredric March played Laffite, Hugh Sothern played General Jackson. In 1958 DeMille was supposed to do a remake . When he fell ill, his son-in-law Anthony Quinn , who had a supporting role in 1938, stepped in. The main actors were Yul Brynner (Laffite) and Charlton Heston (General Jackson). Lorne Greene, later known as Ben Cartwright , played a supporting role . The remake was shown in German cinemas as "The King of Privateers ".

In The Last Buccaneer (1950), Paul Henreid played Jean Laffite.

Web links

Commons : Jean Lafitte  - collection of images, videos and audio files