Jean Lafitte

Jean Lafitte, or Laffite, c.1780-c.1826, was a Louisiana privateer and smuggler who helped U.S. forces in the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the WAR OF 1812. About 1810 he and his men settled in the area of Barataria Bay, near New Orleans, and preyed on Spanish ships in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1814 the British attempted to buy Lafitte's aid in attacking New Orleans. Instead he passed their plans onto the Americans and helped Andrew Jackson defend the city in January 1815. Lafitte later returned to privateering.

Lafitte was not a native of Louisiana. He was born in Southwest France and moved with his family to Santo Domingo in the early 1800's. He and his is family were forced to leave after a slave uprising, and LaFitte found work as a blacksmith in New Orleans. He fought valiantly in the Battle of New Orleans and was a proud and devoted advocate of the exiled French emporer, Napoleon.

Though no one knows for sure, many scholars believe that Lafitte took up residence on the Southwest Louisiana coast for several years toward the end of his life. It is said that Lafitte's schooner was finally sunk by a United States gunboat and now lies in its underwater grave at Shell Beach.

Bibliography: De Grummond, Jane Lucas, The Baratararians and The Battle of New Orleans (1961).

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
New Orleans, Louisiana

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve contains Barataria, located south of New Orleans and featuring trails and canoe tours; Chalmette, the scene of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans; the New Orleans Unit, interpreting the ethnic population of the Delta; and the Acadian Unit, which interprets Acadian culture and history.

Mailing address:

Superintendent, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, 365 Canal St., Suite 3080, New Orleans, LA 70130-1142 Telephone: 504-589-3882, ext. 108


The Park Headquarters is at 365 Canal St., Suite 3080, in New Orlean's French Quarter. Additional visitor centers are: Acadian Cultural Center, Lafayette; Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center, Thibodaux; Prairie Acadian Cultural Center, Eunice; Barataria Preserve Unit, Marrero; Chalmette Unit, Chalmette; and the New Orleans Unit, New Orleans. The closest airport is in New Orleans, 10 miles (16.1 km). Amtrak serves New Orleans, Shriever (Thibodaux) and Lafayette.

Visitor activities:

Interpretive talks, exhibits, films, demonstrations and walks. Visitor Center operations vary from unit to unit. Please call the Park Headquarters for detailed information. The Park is closed on Dec. 25, and the Headquarters office and New Orleans Visitor Center are closed on Mardi Gras Day. Interpretive RAILS programs are conducted on board Amtrak's "Sunset Limited" between New Orleans and Lafayette and on the "City of New Orleans" between New Orleans and Jackson, MS, during the summer.

Permits, fees and liabilities:

No permits or fees. Vehicles are restricted to parking areas and designated roads.


Visitor centers and most walks are accessible.

Camping and lodging:

Overnight accommodations are available in New Orleans and Lafayette.

Food and supplies:

Available in New Orleans and Lafayette.

First aid/Hospital:

First aid and hospitals are available in New Orleans. Dial 911 FREE from any Pay Phone!!

General information:

For information on each unit, call: Acadian Unit, 318-232-0789; Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center, 504-448-1375; Prairie Acadian Cultural Center, 318-457-8490; Barataria Preserve Unit, 504-589-2330; Chalmette Unit, 504-589-4430; and the New Orleans Unit, 504-589-2636. Call 504-589-3882, ext. 102, for information on the RAILS/Amtrak program.

Chalmette Unit established as Chalmette Monument and Grounds March 4, 1907; transferred from the War Department Aug. 10, 1933; established as Chalmette National Historical Park Aug. 10, 1939; redesignated and incorporated with other units Nov. 10, 1978; new park authorized Nov. 10, 1978.

City of Jean Lafitte Tourist Commission

2654 Jean Lafitte Blvd., Lafitte, La. 70067 Ph: 1-800-689-3525

Twenty miles from New Orleans, a small Cajun village stretches along Bayou Barataria. Many travelers visit New Orleans Louisiana but only the lucky few discover the magical beauty and many tourist attractions of Jean Lafitte, only 30 minutes from the French Quarter.