This Day in US Military History (17 October)

1814Marines and Sailors landed on Grand Terre Island, Louisiana, to punish pirates. Pirate leader, Jean Lafitte’s activities threatened to monopolize the city’s import trade. New Orleans merchants goaded the new American governor, William C. C. Claiborne, into accusing him of piracy and posting a $500 reward. Lafitte made Claiborne a laughingstock with his own offer of $1500 for Claiborne’s capture, and to rub it in he hired District Attorney John R. Grymes as his counselor (for a reported $10,000). Lafitte would not be bought, bribed, or intimidated. In 1814 the British offered him $30,000 and a Royal Navy commission to help them capture New Orleans. The buccaneer turned them down and informed Claiborne of his wish to become a citizen and to give Claiborne his support, if his privateer followers were pardoned for all past crimes. Claiborne was ready to relent when the American Navy swooped down on the Grand Terre base and destroyed it. Fortunately for the infant United States, General Andrew Jackson sought out the buccaneer and agreed to honor his request.

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