The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940 Page: 467
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Why Jean Lafitte Became a Pirate
Lafita clerked in the store, kept accounts, and even took over the
administration of justice when his uncle was away. No doubt he
settled the squabbles of the natives and passed judgment on their
misdemeanors from behind a counter piled up with calicoes, sugar,
rum, and lace. And still he found time to do a little farming
on his uncle's ranch, "in order to improve his position," as he
It happened that in these years the rulers of Spain were badly
frightened by the triumphs of the French Revolution. The Span-
iards of the upper classes were -accustomed to regard their way
of government as sacred and immutable, like the Church or like
Heaven itself. And when they feared that this system was in
danger of annihilation, they forgot the austere principles of jus-
tice that had slowly been built through centuries into Spanish law.
Panicky bureaucrats thought they saw spies and agitators on all
sides. Their dismay at the prospect of being swept away along
with everything that they considered right and holy could be
relieved only by the persecution of everything that was French.
In all the Spanish dominions Frenchmen were treated as so-
called "dangerous" minorities have always been treated, even in
our own times.
In Mexico the Viceroy ordered that all Frenchmen should be
deported-after their property had first been taken away from
them, of course. The officer who directed the persecution, Pedro
Valonzuela, was well qualified for the work he had to do.
People were carted off to prison, accused of being Frenchmen,
because they spoke in a foreign tongue, because they laughed
during Mass, or because they did not go to Mass at all. Men
were arrested who claimed that they did not even understand
French; their protests were ignored; they were kept in filthy
prisons and finally shipped out of the country.
It was an ideal opportunity for men with a malicious or envious
turn of mind. The tax collector in the town of Mextitlan was an
elderly Spaniard named L6pez Malo who evidently hated the judge,
Bernardo de Miram6n, because he was not only a rival office-
holder but excessively well-to-do.
The Viceroy had issued an order to all judges, instructing them
to make a list of the foreigners living in their district. L6pez
Malo informed the Viceroy (in January, 1795) that Miram6n
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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/m1/503/: accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.