Piracy and Privateering: Similarities and Differences

66 views 7 pages ~ 1753 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Piracy and Privateering

Piracy can be described as the unlawful act of obtaining cargo or any other valuable item from sea vessels. It can also encompass the invasion of a coastal area by robbers whose primary intention is to steal goods. On the other hand, privateering refers to the act whereby particular individuals or ships are commissioned to conduct a maritime warfare against some identified targets (Pennell, 2001).

Origins of Piracy

Incidences of piracy are believed to have started during the 14th century B.C when sailors could be ambushed by seas people along the Gulf of Aden, Gibraltar, and the Strait of Malacca. Some of the earliest known pirates and privateers included Jean Lafitte and Edward Teach. These individuals are historically recognized for their active involvement in robberies along the coastlines of Louisiana, West Indies, North Carolina and South Carolina. Even though they operated separately, their impacts on early trade have prompted for the discussion of the similarities and differences between them.

Jean Lafitte

Jean Lafitte was an early pirate who remained active in his piratical career throughout the 19th century. Even though he was born in France, Jean Lafitte conducted most of his duties in the Gulf of Mexico. It is believed that Lafitte moved to the USA in the early 1800s where he established a warehouse in New Orleans in 1805 (Gaylord, 2010). Together with his brother Pierre Lafitte, Jean Lafitte managed to move their warehouse to Barataria Bay in Louisiana. It is from this point where Pierre Lafitte and Jean Lafitte constructed a new port hence flourishing their smuggling business. These brothers also started engaging in piracy so as to supplement their sources of income. After the attack of Barataria Bay, the Lafitte brothers moved to Galveston Island in Texas where they started operating as spies for the Spanish administration (Gaylord, 2010). When Jean Lafitte was offered a royal pardon, he stopped engaging in piratical activities for a while. Later on, he was influenced into the tradition hence resulting in his death after a retaliatory attack wounded him while he was leading a crew to capture a Spanish vessel. Jean Lafitte has been portrayed in literature as a character in novels such as The Memoirs of Lafitte and Lafitte the Pirate. In addition, he has been featured in films like The Pride and The Buccaneer.

Edward Teach

Edward Teach operated as a pirate around the West Indies where he was famously known as Blackbeard. Even though there are conflicting theories about the early lifestyle of Edward Teach, most historians believe that he was a sailor during the period Queen Anne's War. It is also mentioned that Blackbeard proceeded to stay in the Bahamian Island where Captain Benjamin Hornigold made him the commander of one of his sloops which had been enslaved (Lee, 2006). From here, Edward Teach formed an alliance with other pirates who assisted him to blockade the ports found along North Carolina and South Carolina. Edward Teach was portrayed as a shrewd pirate who intimidated his team with fearsome appearance. Even though he was offered a royal pardon, Edward Teach was still actively engaged in piratical activities, hence gaining him more power and authority. At one point he managed to blockade Charles Town thus aggravating Alexander Spotswood, who coordinated an attack by sending Maynard and his crew to confront Edward Teach. It was during this conflict that Edward Teach and his crew were overpowered, resulting in his death when one of Maynard's soldiers sliced him with a knife.

Similarities between Jean Lafitte and Edward Teach

Both pirates held hostages and also engaged in maritime wars during their piratical career (Pennell, 2001). Jean Lafitte and his crew engaged in battles such as the final battle, War of 1812, and the Mexican War of Independence. At the same time, Jean Lafitte was holding hostages so that he could be given ransom before releasing the passenger on board. On the other hand, Edward Teach engaged in invasion wars to gain total control of the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina. Due to the need for rapidly enlarging his fleet, Edward Teach invaded Sint Eustatius, Samana Bay, and Charles Town where his team initiated a blockade. The pirate also held various hostages as a way of threatening the local government to meet his demands.

Jean Lafitte and Edward Teach were both pirates who smuggled goods from merchants (Pennell, 2001). From historical accounts, it is established that Jean Lafitte combined operations with his brother Pierre Lafitte to smuggle items from captive ships. They also managed to build a warehouse in Louisiana where they were storing all the stolen items before reselling them to other traders. In the same way, Edward Teach smuggled items from merchant ships such as Queen Anne's Revenge and Margaret then stored them in his warehouse in Bahamian Island.

Also, both pirates were loved by the local residents due to their philanthropic activities. Jean Lafitte was loved by many locals in Louisiana where he had built a warehouse while Edward Teach won the hearts of many residents in Jamaica and West Indies. Another peculiar similarity between these two pirates is that only a little information is known about their early lifestyles. Generally, it is believed that pirates would conceal their real identity by using fictitious names and false family networks. This idea would always protect their loved ones from any form of intimidation, legal consequence, or retaliatory attacks by rival groups.

Lastly, it is known that both Jean Lafitte and Edward Teach were pardoned for their piratical activities (Pennell, 2001). Even though these pirates had committed heinous crimes in the high seas, they were pardoned by the local authorities and given another chance to reevaluate their lifestyles. Jean Lafitte utilized this opportunity to cooperate with the Spanish authorities, hence becoming their spy. On the other hand, Edward Teach did not accept the offer and instead continued with his piratical activities.

Differences between Jean Lafitte and Edward Teach

The first difference between Jean Lafitte and Edward Teach is their nationality. While Jean Lafitte was a French national, Edward Teach's origin was traced to Britain. As such, these pirates had different backgrounds, beliefs, and methods of conducting their operations. Accordingly, they moved to occupy different regions during their piratical careers. Jean Lafitte moved to Louisiana where he established a warehouse for storing the items he had smuggled (Saxon, 1989). On the other hand, Edward Teach occupied West Indies and a greater section of the eastern coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina.

While still evaluating the mode of operations, it is mentioned that Edward Teach formed alliances and often used guns during his piratical career. He could engage any resisting individuals or authorities in a close-range battle, hence causing the death of many people involved (Parry, 2006). On the other hand, historical accounts do not explore the brutalities of Jean Lafitte because he probably did not use unreasonable force to smuggle his items. Even though he was also furious and commander of a piratical crew, Jean Lafitte still managed to leave most of his victims unharmed and in a stable condition.

In their operations, Jean Lafitte and Edward Teach seemed to have different missions. From the evaluation of the activities of these two pirates, it is clear that Jean Lafitte was only interested in accumulating wealth (Saxon, 1989). That is why he established a warehouse from where he would store valuable items which he had seized from the sea. On the other hand, Edward Teach was targeting ships so that he can enlarge his territory and gain authority in the entire coastline. He was consolidating his position along the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Indies as the most feared commander. His acts of brutality together with fearsome beards were meant to intimidate any person who could have thought of challenging his opinions.

While exercising authority and power, Jean Lafitte was reluctant because he was not the leader of his crew. As such, he was not ordained with power and command to control the activities of their alliance. On the other hand, Edward Teach showcased his authority and power by defying the maritime laws and instead, establishing a blockade in Charles Town. All the pirates under the control of Blackbeard were being instructed to capture every ship that was leaving or approaching this port. The standoff continued until Maynard managed to gain control of the port by tricking Edward Teach during a close battle, hence overpowering the pirates.

Another significant difference is demonstrated in the way these two pirates fought their last fights. Jean Lafitte was wounded and subsequently died after a failed attempt to capture a Spanish ship in Omoa, Honduras (Saxon, 1989). Unknowingly, the ship was equipped with loaded guns which were used to attack Lafitte's vessel called General Santander. On the other hand, Edward Teach died while defending himself from the integrated operations sponsored by Alexander Spotswood, who was the governor of Virginia during that period (Parry, 2006). The commander of this operation was Maynard who was skilled enough to manipulate Edward Teach, making him think that only a small army had been sent to attack him. However, when Maynard recalled his officers from the bottom of the ship, Edward Teach became psychologically defeated, hence losing focus during a close battle. This provided an opportunity for Maynard's soldiers to slay him with a sword.


Therefore, from this essay, it has been established that both Jean Lafitte and Edward Teach were career pirates who had established their territories in the high seas. However, Edward Teach's actions are more outstanding because he never relented in his operations. The pirate did not cooperate with any government for a favor. Instead, Edward Teach maintained his focus on enlarging his territory on the coasts of West Indies, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Even in his last battle, Edward Teach showcased his combat skills by returning fire against the battalion led by Maynard. This is in contrast to Jean Lafitte, who accepted a pardon and only focused his piratical activities on enriching himself with valuable items. However, the validity of these arguments cannot be ascertained because some of these historical theories are conflicting.


Gaylord, H. (2010, June 15). LAFFITE, JEAN. Retrieved from https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fla12

Lee, R. E. (2006). Blackbeard the pirate: A reappraisal of his life and times. Winston-Salem, NC, MA: J.F. Blair.

Parry, D. (2006). Blackbeard: The real pirate of the Caribbean. New York, NY: Thunders Mouth Press.

Pennell, C.R. (2001). Bandits at Sea: A Pirates Reader. New York: NYU Press

Saxon, L. (1989). Lafitte the pirate. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub.

November 13, 2023


Subject area:


Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Piracy
Verified writer

I needed an urgent paper that had to be done in 5 hours only. I kept looking for help, and it was Kelly who has helped me. Amazing attitude and stellar writing that contained no mistakes.

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro