In Pirate101, it all started when we needed to produce the awful Marleymite food for the Rajah army. The Rajah soldiers refused to fight well if they were fed quite tasty food. Apparently they fight better when they're angry and their stomach full of foul flavoring food. We found out that one of the ingredients was Yeast Extract. We were told that Black Jean LaFitte stole it all! We had to fight him and well.. Steal it back. Or uhmm, take it back. Hey don't blame me, I'm a pirate! But why would Black Jean LaFitte would need Yeast Extract for, we will never know.
But did you know that there was an actual smuggler and pirate named Jean LaFitte? Jean Lafitte was an actual French-American pirate and privateer in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th Century. His French last name is actually Laffite, but the English spelled it as Lafitte which stuck. There's many theories where he was born. Some say France, some say New Orleans, some say New York of United States which sounded pretty far fetched to be honest. But one says that he was probably born in Haiti which was a French colony back then which makes the most sense.
In the early years of his life, there's not much known about his life then. But he was suspected to be used to being on ships of trade owned by his father who was a trader. When the United States started to decide that they wanted to bar all ships from docking at foreign ports, Jean decided to go into the smuggling business with his younger brother, Pierre. He was pretty successful, but he wasn't satisfied being just a broker.
He and his brother decided to become a pirate by buying a schnooner along with hiring a ship captain and started capturing ships at sea. But he was a pretty nice pirate. He would treat his own crew well and often returned captured ships to their original owners. He was able to gain hundreds of thousands of dollars of profit from his successful raids at sea.
But it also started a love and hate relationship between the Lafitte brothers and the United States. At first they were angry at the brothers, so they set out to capture them which was partly successful. They were able to capture Pierre who promptly landed in jail. Then the British approached Jean offering him land, money and prestige if he joined them. But Jean was loyal to the United States and refused. He told the United States what happened and that if they were forgive their crimes, he was willing to help them instead. After this, Pierre was able to "escape" jail and join his brother back at sea.
It didn't end there. They were still angry at him and sent out people to capture them. They kept failing until one day General Andrew Jackson was told that this was not a good idea. So when he arrived in New Orleans, he met with the Lafittes who agreed to serve the US Army if their crew was pardoned. General Jackson granted his request. Many of Lafitte's men joined the New Orleans militia or sailors to man the ships. LaFitte was even able to help defend the area of the Mississippi River when he realized that the line of defense was too short. He was able to extend it which actually helped the United States. Because of this, General Jackson had high praise for the brothers and had them pardoned.
Even after the war between the United States and Great Britian was over, the LaFitte brothers went back to the smuggling business for more than 20 years. But what ended his life was one ship battle with heavily armored Spanish Privateers or warships that he mistakenly thought were simple ships. He was buried at sea.
But there still remains rumors of buried treasure in Galveston and along coastal Louisiana which was never proven. His legacy still lives on though.
In Lake Charles, Louisiana, there is a festival that celebrates in the LaFitte name called "Contraband Days" which is held during the first two weeks of May every year. It is said that over 200,000 people have attended which is pretty amazing. It is said that back in the day, LaFitte would come to the area often and hide contraband somewhere. So every year, they start the festival off by having a pirate ship bombardment to "take control of the city" then "Jean LaFitte" and his rowdy crew overruns the local militia's cannons. Then finally they would raise their "Jolly Roger" flag and capture the mayor at sword point, forcing him to walk the plank into the waters of Lake Charles. Many celebrations are filled with competitions such as crawfish races, bed races and even bathtub races! There are also speedboat races of course. Not only that, you can come to expect Cajun food, fireworks, carnival and all of the good things that even the real Jean LaFitte would loved!
This is one festival I would love to attend someday. How about you?
Jean LaFitte: A Real History Reviewed by The Fabulous K on Monday, March 09, 2015 Rating: