Dominique You

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The Corsair of the Gulf

After a residence in our midst, covering a period of nearly twenty two years, there died in this city, on the 15th of November, 1830, a man who, despite the criminal record of his early career, and the obloquy once attached to his reputation, achieved glory for himself, nobly redeemed a tainted name, and at his death received public obsequies due only to heroes and public benefactors. This man was Dominique You, the Corsair of the Gulf, the terror of the Caribbean Sea.

His life was a romance - a series of daring deeds. He was born in the Island of St. Domingo, in the town of Port au Prince, and from boyhood was a rover on the sea. Finding himself in France at the time of the Revolution, he took part in the several engagements that preceded the establishment of the Consulate, and, being an expert artillerist, accompanied Leclerc, Napoleon's brother-in-law, in his ill-fated expedition against the revolted negroes of Hayti, in 1802.


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After the return of the discomfited army to France, he engaged in privateering on his own account, but, finding this occupation unprofitable and expensive, he came to this city, where he soon found employment under Jean and Pierre Lafitte, the world-known reputed pirates, whose favorite lieutenant he soon became. He was nick-named Capitame Dominique by the French, though Jannot was the nom de guerre he had assumed. This alias is usually affixed to his name in court records. His courage was proverbial. At the time Venezuela declared her independence, You as granted letters of marque from the insurgent patriots, and inflicted terrible damage on Spanish commerce. His name became one of terror to the proud Dons, and it is more than likely that, in his new born zeal for the infant Republic, he occasionally mistook neutrals for enemies. For several years he took part in the unlawful operations of the brothers Lafitte, such as the importation of slaves from the West Indies and the introduction of contraband goods unlawfully obtained, until in July, 1814, he was indicted by a United States Grand Jury for piracies committed in the Gulf. He succeeded in evading arrest. When Commodore Patterson afterwards made his successful raid on the establishment of the Baratarians, scattered their clans to the winds and seized all of their warships, You found a refuge in the swamps of the interior ; but, when the English invaded the soil of Louisiana, after spurning their seductive offers, he at once proffered his services to the Government, which were accepted after some hesitation. His daring in that memorable campaign constitutes one of the most glorious pages of our State history.


Pardoned by a special proclamation of President Madison, he turned away from the path of crime, and engaged in peaceful pursuits. His example was imitated by many of his former companions, who forsook their predatory habits and became useful and honorable members of society. Several took wives among us, having left descendants who are now living in our midst. You was never wedded. In later years he occasionally drifted into politics, and, from the fact that he was alwayS a staunch supporter of his veteran chief, I must suppose he was a "Jackson Democrat."

He died at his residence, at the comer of Love and Mandeville streets, at the age of fifty-five years, in a state of poverty bordering on penury. Too proud to ask lor assistance from any of the friends who would have promptly and cheerfully relieved his pressing wants, he bore his adverse fate with a resigned spirit. It was only when death had seized him in its relentless grasp that his old comrades and the public generally became aware of his straitened circumstances. The members of the City Council, upon being apprized of the fact, resolved to pay the sacred debt of gratitude which the country owed him, and ordered, in the name of the corporation of New Orleans, extensive preparations for his intennent. In this testimonial of honor the whole Legion, a model military organization of uniformed companies, to the success of which the deceased had greatly contributed during his lifetime, turned out to a man and made an imposing pageant. On the day set apart for the funeral, every bank and business house was closed, the flags of our shipping and public buildings, even those of the foreign consuls, were displayed at half-mast, while the salvos of the Orleans Artillery, of whom he was one of the original founders, rang out a last requiem over his memory.


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He was buried in the old St. Louis cemetery in the centre aisle of which, near the gate, is now to be seen his well-kept tomb, upon which an epitaph in French commemorates his virtues and valor - "Sur la terre et sur l'onde."

# NEW ORLEANS AS IT WAS
EPISODES OF LOUISIANA LIFE
By Henry C. Castellanos, 1895
SECOND EDITION., The L. Graham Co., Ltd. Publishers, 715-17-19-21 Perdido Street, New Orleans 1905

Storyville, New Orleans Red-Light District 1897-1917


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