The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940 Page: 471
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Why Jean Lafitte Became a Pirate
And if Juan Lafita had become hysterical, if he had no faith
left in anyone, it must be remembered that he was an active,
ambitious young man whose health had been broken by nearly
two years in a Spanish prison, and now he had nothing ahead
of him but poverty and loneliness in a strange land.
In July he was still in prison. It must have been about Sep-
tember, 1796, that he made his way to Vera Cruz, with his silver
watch, his box with the remnants of clothing in it on his saddle,
and riding a broken-down nag.
It was nearly twenty-five years later that he said, on leaving
Galveston for the last time, "I have carried on a war with Spain
but no other nation. I am at peace with the world except
What Lafita did during the fifteen years before he appeared in
Louisiana as Jean Lafitte, the terror of Spanish ships in the
Gulf of Mexico, we can only guess. Perhaps he got no farther
than the West Indies. Perhaps his elder cousin, Marcos Laborda,
became the "Marc Lafitte" who is sometimes identified with
Pierre." A lot of things can happen in fifteen years.
It might be argued that no definite proof has been given here
that the Juan Lafita of Mextitlan and the Jean Lafitte of Gal-
veston were the same man. But if they were not the same man,
then two men of the same name were born about the same time
in the same small region of the Pyrenees just on the border of
France and Spain; both of them had a Spanish mother and a
French father; both were at some time imprisoned in the Spanish
colonies. Also they both had a style in writing, and both had cer-
tain tricks of penmanship that (to one who is not an expert) look
very much alike. And sometimes, when Jean Lafitte was at
Galveston, near the close of his career, he carelessly signed his
name the old way."
lOThe United States Magazine and Democratic Review.
i2Lamar Papers, Texas State Archives, Nos. 19 and 24 (letters to James
Long). There are three entirely distinct signatures of Lafitte; but in one
place he signed himself "Jn Lafitta." No Frenchman would have abbre-
viated the first name thus.
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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/m1/507/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.