Heritage, Volume 4, Number 3, Winter 1986

message. Jean stated that the French
general suggested that the establishment,
which they had named Le Champ
d'Asile, would form a barrier "against the
ambitious designs of the United States."
On July 23, 1818, Jean Laffite sent a
messenger to warn Lallemand of an approaching
Spanish force. Around the
same time Jean suggested to Sedilla and
Fatio a plan for destroying the invaders.
This maneuver is an example of Laffite's
brillant ability in double-dealing. Should
Lallemand have come into power, Laffite
would have been rewarded for his help,
and should Spain expel the exiles, Laffite
would retain his favored position. Frightened
by rumors about the vast size of Arredondo's
force, Lallemand and his men
retreated to Galveston on July 24.
President James Monroe dispatched
General George Graham during the summer
of 1818 on a mission to present a
scheme to Laffite and Lallemand.
Graham expressed the United States'
anger over the pirating in the Gulf, which
was apparently based in Galveston. Laffite
then set forth the argument that he
maintained this important coastal post
for only two reasons: to offer asylum to
armed vessels of the Mexican revolution
and to fly to the aid of the United States if
needed. He reminded Graham that he
had shown his loyalty during the Battle of
New Orleans and that he always respected
ships flying the U.S. flag (a true
statement, although he couldn't always
control what ships his men attacked).
After ascertaining Lallemand's position,
Graham made an agreement with
both men, in which the two, along with
Aury, would unite their forces and hold
Galveston against the Spaniards in behalf
of the United States. They also would assist
the United States in taking possession
of the Texas coast. Both men agreed.
Graham was probably aware of Lallemand's
intentions but was hoping to
change his loyalties. It seems doubtful
that he was aware of Laffite's secret dealings
with Spain. Had he known about
Jean's spy relations, he probably would
have demanded immediate departure.
Nature chose this time to intervene,
however.
While Lallemand's group was still residing
at Galveston, the worst hurricane of
the century hit the island. During the
September storm, water flooded the island
three to four feet deep, and many
people of both groups were either drowned

Jean Laffite and his second wife Emma, ca. 1853.
Courtesy of Sam Houston Regional Research
Center.
or hurt. Jean was able to restore his
colony, but Lallemand's was completely
wrecked. Desperate and discouraged, the
Frenchmen-assisted by Laffite-returned
to New Orleans. So ended the
Napoleonic filibuster in Texas.
James Long, doctor, soldier of fortune,
and husband of Jane Long (who would be
known as the Mother of Texas) led 300
fighting men into Texas on June 8, 1819.
This was perhaps the most widely known
filibustering venture to take place in
Texas-and was the last. Long proclaimed
Texas a free and independent republic
and established a civil government
at Nacogdoches, announcing that he and
his men were throwing off the shackles of
Spain. He then sent a party of men to
Galveston to ask for the aid of Jean
Laffite.
They were received and treated with
great hospitality by the pirate but received
no aid. The reason Laffite gave for
declining Long's proposal was his disbelief
in the success of the enterprise. The real
reasons, no doubt, were that he sensed
rivalry in Long over control of the province
and that little money was to be
gained by the venture. He informed the
party that he had waged war with Spain
for eight years. He wished them success,
but reminded them that he had seen
three invasion failures previously-Gutierrez,
Mina and Aury, and Lallemandand
his aid had been of little effect.
Because Spanish Royalists were becoming
increasingly suspicious of Laffite, he
considered Long's invitation to unite the
Galveston establishment with Long's republic;
however he made no commit

ments except that he would assist "later"
after his brother returned with some of
his corsairs and munitions.
General Long, believing that a personal
application to the buccaneer would
meet with greater success, set out with
thirteen men to visit Galveston. Long's
meeting wih Laffite was unsuccessful;
Laffite told Dr. Long that no mixed group
of Mexican revolutionists, American
land seekers, and republican idealists
could win without a large, welldisciplined
army, which Long did not
have. Jean did, however, ask Long to
keep him informed of all his plans, activities,
and resources. After Long left, he informed
the Spanish intelligence officers
about the Texas liberation army.
Returning to Nacogdoches, Long
learned that the Spanish general Perez
had defeated his forces. After taking his
wife and child to Natchitoches, Louisiana,
Long went to Bolivar Point, where
some of his men had gathered to organize
another filibuster attempt. Long then
made a trip to Louisiana for supplies and
for his family, never knowing Jean had betrayed
him to Perez.
On April 6, 1820, he returned to the
peninsula on Galveston Bay. He found
that Laffite had supplied his men with
lumber, lead, building items, and some
gunpowder. True to his nature, Jean had
also contacted Pierre and the New Orleans
agents, suggesting a plan to defeat
Long's forces. Because the patience of the
United States government had run out, it
had demanded that Laffite and his men
leave the island. Some of the men had
attacked a U.S. ship and, although Jean
hung them, the government's wrath came
down. The very day that Dr. and Mrs,
Long landed across the bay, Jean Laffite
was preparing for evacuation. When
Laffite noticed the arrival of the Long
party, he sent a messenger over by rowboat,
inviting them to dine with him
aboard his ship. Long, rightly suspicious
of the pirate, declined, but Jane accepted.
Years later, Jane Long's impressions of
the buccaneer were written down by her
friend Mirabeau Lamar: "Laffite, forty at
the time, was an impeccable gentleman
who was polished, even graceful; six feet,
two inches tall, with dark curly hair,
swarthy complexion and eyes as vivid as
lightning and as black as ebony. There
was something noble and attractive in his
aspect in spite of its occasional severity;

13

Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 4, Number 3, Winter 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45440/. Accessed September 3, 2015.