The Early History of Galveston. 7
when he left Galveston for Yucatan in 1820. He never wore a uniform but
twice, and dressed as a gentleman. He controlled his men with kindness,
fairness and firmness, conquering several mutinies. He was simply the
head of his government, and chief advisor, having a council of officers that
directed the expenses and finances of the camp. He treated the Indians
with great fairness, and did not fight any battles with them. He punished
his officers and men who robbed plantations and American vessels, hanging
several on the small island then east of Galveston proper. He did not wait.
for the American sloop Lynx to punish his lieutenant, Brown, as historians
tell you, but Brown was hanging up when the Lynx arrived. Lafitte was
visited by Milam, Colonel Gaines, Colonel Hall, Captain GCraham, Randall
Jones, the Bowie brothers, Lieutenant Kearney, and Lieutenant McIntosh,
all of whom spoke in high praise of him, as did Dr. and Mrs. Long.
/-in 1818 a severe storm ruined Lafitte's camp, wrecking his fort and residence,
the Red House, and creating havoc in his fleet. Spain was then
diverting her trade from the gulf, trading with Mexico via the Pacific.
Lafitte's colony was discouraged, as few prizes came in, and the monetary
loss from the storm was great. General L'Allemande, with one hundred
men from a colony, came to Lafitte's camp. They had started a vineyard
on the Trinity which failed. Lafitte gave them permission to camp, and
they repaired the former fort of Mina at Fourteenth and A. Captain Graham
came to investigate this camp-the Secretary of War of the United States
had the authority to do so, and he sent Graham
Spain was making urgent complaints, fearing L'Allemande, a noted
French artillery general, worse than Lafitte. Graham and Lafitte agreed
on a year's time to wind up the affairs of the settlement. Lafitte was ready
to quit, but some of his men were not. When the Enterprise arrived the
camp was in poor shape. Many of the men had already left, there having
been but five prizes brought in the last six months. The Enterprise, Lieutenant
Kearney, was a United States vessel, probably sent to remind
Lafitte of his former promise. There was no force used, and none,
offered, as Lafitte had seven or eight vessels, and could easily have captured
the Enterprise. His men now were induced to disband, and Lafitte
kept the Pride and distributed the other vessels among them. All effects
were likewise divided, and the torch applied to the huts and buildings of
the settlement. General Long desired the arsenal and dockyard, but Lafitte
was unwilling for any one to continue his camp. On May 12, 1820, the Pride
stole out of the harbor at night. %afitte had surrounded himself with his
best men, suspecting treachery. Some of the men on the other privateers
believed Lafitte had a private fortune on the Pride which they wanted to
seize. Lafitte, however, gave them the slip. The privateers went into business
for themselves, mostly as pirates, giving Lafitte the reputation of
pirate long after he had abandoned the enterprise on Galveston Island.
The history of these vessels, with one exception, does not belong to Galveston
so it is included in the life and history of Lafitte.
Lafitte died in Yucatan in 1826. He was not a hero by any means, but
-a fearless, far-sighted and gentlemanly man in his particular line of business.
Smuggling and slave-dealing were not considered dishonorable in the
early part of the last century; nor were the acts of the privateers as bad
Dyer, Joseph O. The early history of Galveston, by Dr. J. O. Dyer. Galveston, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24651/. Accessed March 2, 2015.