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Jean Laffite’s Espionage Mission

Jean Laffite was a well-known smuggler and privateer (considered a pirate by some) who operated in the Gulf of Mexico. A hero of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, Laffite undertook a secret espionage expedition in 1816 that traversed the Missouri Territory (later the Arkansas Territory) on behalf of the Spanish. Lafitte was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in November 1815 at the same time that his friend, architect Arsene Latour, was in town to supervise the proofing and printing of Historical Memoir of the War in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814–1815. As a Spanish agent interested in Spain’s territory north and west of the Louisiana Purchase, Latour may have been instrumental in convincing the impoverished Lafitte to join him …