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Episode 37: Louisiana: The Notorious Pirate Who Saved America

podcast Oct 06, 2021

In this solo episode, Sharon shares the story of Jean Lafitte. Jean was a Louisiana blacksmith, and when the United States passed the Embargo Act in the early 1800s, Jean and his brother turned to smuggling goods to make a living. The smuggling escalated to full-on piracy and the brothers were instrumental in getting goods to U.S. citizens and helping the US Navy. Sharon goes into detail about Jean’s role in the War of 1812 and the importance of the Louisiana Purchase.

Link to Full Episode:

3 Biggest Takeaways:

  • If the United States had not purchased Louisiana, the US would have looked very different. One of the most essential elements of the purchase was control of the Mississippi River. Sharon goes into detail about how the Louisiana Purchase happened and if Thomas Jefferson even had the authority to do so. Around the time of the purchase, it is speculated that Jean Lafitte arrived in the United States from France.
  • Jean Lafitte and his brother started their careers in the United States as blacksmiths, but when the United States enforced an embargo, Jean and his brother began smuggling goods, which led to them becoming pirates with an entire fleet of ships and an army of their own men. Before the War of 1812, Jean was approached by the British navy to fight against the United States, but Jean used this information to get his brother out of jail and then fight for the United States. Sharon shares details of a little-known Battle of New Orleans, where Lafitte’s men helped lead the US Navy to victory.
  • Little is known about what ended up happening to Jean Lafitte. He left the United States, became a spy for Spain, and founded a community in Galveston, Texas. He was an incredibly wealthy man, making $2 million dollars a year in 1818. It is speculated that he died on the seas being a pirate. His story lives on, and homage is paid to him at Disney. 

This Episode Will Teach You:

  • History of Jean Lafitte 
  • Importance of the Louisiana Purchase 
  • Details on the War of 1812 
  • Jean Lafitte’s army of men 
  • How Jean Lafitte was instrumental in the war 
  • Tails of Jean’s later life 
  • How Jean is remembered today

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