The Pirates Laffite, somewhere in the Gulf of Honduras. Coincidentally, this Gulf is also the final resting place of the "prince of seadogs" Francis Drake.
The above, aside from that part about Drake, is still a controversial statement among Laffite scholars largely due to the so called "Journal of Jean Lafitte" which we have discussed here at Triple P on more than one occasion. Although the journal has yet to be authenticated, many scholars continue to cling to its assertion that Laffite somehow escaped the Santander - leaving his men, one assumes, rather spinelessly to face the navy ships - recovered from his wounds on land, made his way back to the U.S., took on a new identity and settled down to farm corn in Iowa. I'll say no more about the absurdity of that statement other than to point out that General Santander's confrontation with pirate hunters was documented in the press shortly after it occurred while the journal does not mention it - or even the ship for that matter - at all.
We may know a lot about Laffite's life - and much more now than we did prior to Davis' incredibly well researched book - but his appearance and mannerisms have not come down to us. No contemporary portrait of the man exists (save the above, which is highly questionable) and the Laffite legend has built up a hard crust on the actual personality of the man.
Returning to Davis, here then is a nice description of what people remembered of Jean Laffite when he was the Commandant of his operation on modern Galveston island:
If Jean Laffite showed any difference in his dealings with people, it was that he treated his subordinates with a coolness approaching the aloof, while visitors got a warm welcome. He spoke good English, with an accent that left no doubt as to his Bordeaux nativity, and which [Warren] Hall found gave additional zest to his impressive conversational skill...
Hall found Laffite "always affable, but perfectly impenetrable." Gaines thought much the same, finding Laffite gentlemanly, sober, and thoughtful, but distant from his subordinates, rarely smiling. He had the manner and bearing of a leader, and relied on his personality and prestige to maintain control, though he occasionally wore a brace of pistols on his belt when he thought it lent weight to his authority. He did not brook disobedience, and could punish malefactors severely, but apparently with the sort of rude equitability that even the roughest men respected...
Clearly Laffite was a man in his element around the less than savory types that might be drawn to a distant outpost of misfits and miscreants. And from that capability to make the dregs of humanity fall in line and at the same time appear both elegant and eloquent to the ostensibly more refined, came a significant portion of the legend we now know.
Header: Alleged portrait of Jean Laffite drawn by a sailor named Lacassinier who claimed to have known both Jean and Pierre at Galveston circa 1819; originally published in the Galveston Daily News September, 1926