The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940 Page: 466
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
"It is generally thought," wrote William Bollaert, "that Jean
had been plundered at an early date and imprisoned by the old
Spaniards in some part of their colonies."
Little has been known about Lafitte's career before he became a
pirate. His close friend, Major Lafon, wrote that he was Spanish
on his mother's side and that he had relatives living on the
border of Spain and France.' But most of the tales about his
early life contradict each other. Even the stories he himself is
said to have told are contradictory, and it is hard to believe any
of them. Yet nearly all the creditable witnesses agree that some
time early in his career he was confined in a Spanish prison.
The story of that imprisonment has never been told before now.
Among the records of Spanish colonial times at Mexico City, there
is a file of documents dealing with the persecution, in 1795, of a
young man accused of a strange crime-but, in those days, a
serious one--the crime of having been born in France."
The small town of Mextitlin is a sleepy place in a mountain
valley between the City of Mexico and the tropical coast. The
damp winds that blow in from the Gulf soon rot everything but
the earthen walls and the tile roofs. And the people are as
languorous as the air that fans them.
But there was at least one very energetic young man living
there in 1795. They called him Juan Lafita. His uncle, Bernardo
de Miram6n, was the leading citizen, judge of the district--which
means that his authority was about as extensive as that of a federal
judge among us--and he was also proprietor of the local store.
eW. R. [William Bollaert], "Life of Jean Lafitte, the Pirate of the
Mexican Gulf," Littell's Living Age, XXXII, March 6, 1862, 433-446.
BThis article is based for the most part on documents that I found in
1937 while doing research for the National Park Service in Mexico City.
So far as I know, this material has never been used until now. It can be
found in the Archivo General, among the tomes of bound manuscripts
bearing the title Historia; it is in volume 502, which is labeled "Fran-
zeses," and the lengthy file or expediente concerning "Juan Lafita y
Miram6n" occupies fr. 151-26"2. After reading a little way, it seemed to
me that very likely this was the Lafitte later well known to Texas and
Louisiana history, even before I had found the supporting evidence in
Lafon and elsewhere. Among the papers in this file is a passport issued
to Lafita, his uncle, Miram6n, and his cousin, Marcos Laborda, at Cadiz,
on February 9, 1785. At this time Lafita's age was written down as 16.
Thus he would have been in his late forties and early fifties when he
made his reputation in the Gulf of Mexico. The fact that he has been
represented as a slightly younger man is of no consequence, since that
tradition is based on nothing but guesswork.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940, periodical, 1940; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101111/m1/502/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.