A remarkable, separately issued, and extremely rare 1825 broadside map by Nathaniel and Simeon Smith Jocelyn of New Haven, Connecticut, responding to the last great outbreak of West Indian piracy between 1817 and 1825. It responds with gratitude to the defending American West Indies Squadron and horror at the acts of piracy in the West indies. The lengthy text along both sides expresses horror at the depredations of the West Indies pirates and gratitude to the American West Indies Squadron sent to restore order. Seamen and merchants out of Connecticut, who were then heavily invested in the West Indies trade, would have been particularly receptive to its passionate message.
The map covers all of the West Indies and the Caribbean, extending from northern Florida to the Republic of Colombia and from Guatemala and the Yucatán to the Windward Isles. The focus is the Greater Antilles, particular the area between Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands where the cartographer as noted the presence of 'freebooters.' The places identified in the text, Foxardo (Fujardo), Saint Thomas, and Matanzas, are noted. Although initially the map bears some structural resemblance to the maps issued with Carey and Lea's 1823 <i>A Complete Historical, Chronological, and Geographical American Atlas</i>, it is in fact an unrelated production. Carey and Lea's architecture of wide text filled borders clearly inspired the Jocelyn brothers, the content with regard to both the map and the surrounding text is completely unrelated. The present broadside is also far larger.The Return of Piracy
Until about 1817, most West Indian pirates were actually privateers, bearing Letters of Marque. These were essentially licenses to capture enemy merchant ships and confiscate their goods – an act that would otherwise have constituted piracy and called down international retribution. Letters of Marque became particularly significant and easily acquired during the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), when inter-European rivalries played out in far reaching colonies and encouraged free action against enemy interests.
The Letters of Marque system had certain advantages. First, they somewhat regulated an industry that would otherwise have been chaos. Pirates like Jean Lafitte, who bore and had the right to issue Letters of Marque, were seen not as criminals, but as national heroes. Second, sized goods could be legitimately sold and trafficked in officially sanctioned marketplaces. Third, neutral parties, such as the United States, could trade freely and had no need to fear pirate attack. This had the effect of creating a huge industry, both on land and at sea, that thrived on the spoils of privateers.
This situation was not to last. From about 1810, the Spanish Empire in America began a painful process of dissolution. Rebellions throughout South America, Mexico, and the West Indies resulted in Spain loosing most of its New World territory by 1817. By that time, only two West Indian islands, Puerto Rico and Cuba, both economically and politically on the edge of collapse, remained under tenuous Spanish sovereignty. By 1816, with Napoleon defeated and Spain in a precarious position with regard to its remaining colonies, the Spanish crown stopped issuing Letters of Marque. Spanish privateers were suddenly unemployed, and Spanish colonial towns reliant on privateer trade faced financial ruin. Many former privateers, seeing little differentiation between the two, switched to outright piracy. They also made deals with the officials in small towns and markets throughout the West Indies, but particularly in Puerto Rico and the surrounding small islands, to fence their pirated goods. The change meant that no nation's shipping was off limits and the new wave of piracy threatened not only political enemies, but all West Indies trade. In response, President John Quincy Adams dispatched the U.S West Indian Squadron to defend American interests.
This map's chronology of 'piratical depredations and barbarities'
against American shipping, occupying the lower margins of the map, covers attacks from 1818 to 1825, but the rise in piracy more accurately dates to about 1817. To the left and right are side panels describing the 1824 'Foxardo Affair,' and the 1822 death of Lieutenant William Howard Allen of the U.S.S. Alligator, respectively.The Foxardo Affair
The account of the Foxardo Affair describes and supports the unsanctioned 1824 American retaliatory attack on the Puerto Rican town of Fujardo. The most active West Indian pirate was then the Criollo
Roberto Cofresí y Ramírez de Arellano (June 17, 1791 - March 29, 1825). Cofresí's second-in-command, Bibián Hernández Morales, attacked the Danish colony of Saint Thomas, plundering about $5000 of goods from the American owned store of Cabot, Bailey and Company. Hearing of the attack on an American interest, Lieutenant Charles T. Platt of the West Indies Squadron embarked onboard the Beagle
in pursuit of the pirates. They were unable to overtake the pirate fleet, but they were able to follow the pirates to the town of Fujardo. Dressing in plain clothes, so as not to insight an international incident, Platt made his way into town where he addressed the mayor, Francisco Caro. Caro was shown a letter by Cabot, Bailey and Company officer Juan Campos describing the robbery. Unimpressed, Caro arrested Platt and ordered a search of the Beagle
. While eventually allowed to go free, Platt and the crew of the Beagle
recognized the arrest and search were mere subterfuges so that the stolen booty could be moved out of Fujardo.
Back in Saint Thomas, Platt brought the issue before his commander, Commodore David Porter, a naval hero of the War of 1812 for his epic voyage in the Essex. Porter agreed that Fujardo Mayor Francisco Caro was doubtless in cahoots with Cofresí's band and was offended at his treatment of an American Naval officer. Moreover, Porter was further incensed at new intelligence that Cabot, Bailey and Company officer Juan Campos had purchased the stolen goods – suggesting that he was in fact a double agent in league with Caro and Cofresí.
Porter launched an unsanctioned punitive expedition against Fujardo with a flotilla that included the John Adams
, the Grampus
and the Beagle
. Arriving in Fajardo on November 14, 1824, Porter demanded an explanation from the mayor and threatened the town with 'total destruction' if ignored. Taking his demand for an attack, the Spanish officials at Fujardo began arming their cannons. In turn, Porter, believing he was about to be bombarded, ordered his marines to take the battery and proceed towards town, which he found heavily defended. Both sides recognized that they were close to precipitating an international diplomatic incident. To prevent potential war between the United States and Spain, the Mayor of Fujardo and his officers apologized to Porter, Platt, and the American Navy in general.
The American ambassador in Saint Thomas was aghast at Porter's unsanctioned action and, attempting to prevent war, placed him under court martial. The Spanish officials, for their part, recognized the Caro and Campos' complicity with El Pirata Cofresí
, and removed them from their offices. War was narrowly avoided.
In the United States, particularly in Connecticut, Porter's actions were admired as a heroic defense of American business interests in the West Indies. With six years of vicious piracy behind them, and the American government seemingly incapable or unwilling to take decisive actions to defend American shipping, Porter appealed as an unfairly maligned hero. As described on this map,
…our countrymen have fully maintained their character for good conduct; and from the ardor and enthusiasm manifested by everyone to share the anticipated dangers of the expedition, there is little reason to doubt that, had they met a worthy foe, new laurels would be added to those which already flourish in perennial verdure around the brows of the gallant officer who commanded the expedition.The Death of Captain Allen
The text to th right of the map details events related to the death of American West Indian Squadron Lieutenant William Howard Allen (July 8, 1790 - November 9, 1822),), commander of the schooner USS <i>Alligator</i>. When Allen arrived in Havana in November of 1822, he received intelligence that a gang of pirates had captured merchant vessels and American citizens in the Bay of Le Juapo, near Matanzas, Cuba. He immediately set out to rescue the hostages and bring the pirates to justice. In the ensuing battle, wherein the pirates were defeated, the hostages rescued, and the captured ships liberated, Allen received mortal wounds and died shortly thereafter.
Allan was a war hero from his actions in the War of 1812, and a gentleman of respectable means from Hudson New York. His death captured the imagination of the nation, particularly in the Northeast. In his home town of Hudson New York, crowded city hall meetings and town-wide eulogy services were held. His remains were repatriated to the United Sates on the Grampus
which, moored in the Hudson River, gave the hero's funerary procession to Hudson a cannon salute.
Allen's death focused American attention outbreak in piracy in the West Indies, forcing the government into more decisive action. Shortly after the incident, Secretary of the Navy Smith Thompson authorized Commodore Porter to procure new vessels for the squadron and ordered an expansion of American naval presence in the area. Allen's sacrifice was the beginning of the end of Caribbean piracy.The Last Caribbean Pirate
During the period addressed by the timeline on this map, the most active Caribbean pirate was the afore mentioned Roberto Cofresí y Ramírez de Arellano, better known as El Pirata Cofresí. Cofresí and his men were responsible for many of the acts of piracy referenced on this chart. A rather unique character, Cofresí was born into a noble criollo
family in Puerto Rico that had been hit hard by the destabilization of Spain's American empire. With little to lose, Cofresí turned to piracy, was most active from about 1820, and gained a Robin Hoodlike reputation. He also focused his piratical acts on foreign and international shipping, avoiding and generally not harming criollos
like himself. Despite the success of the American West Indian Squadron, which by 1825 had significantly reduced piracy in the region, Cofresí remained active and elusive – the last substantial pirate threat in the Caribbean. An international manhunt ensued and Cofresí's flotilla, led by the Anne
, was finally captured. Cofresí was sent to trial in San Juan wherein he was declared guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad. Cofresí's last words were reportedly, 'I have killed hundreds with my own hands, and I know how to die. Fire!'
With the capture of the Anne
and Cofresí's execution, piracy declined throughout the West Indies. The last pirate attack identified on this map's catalog is in March of 1825, the very month that Cofresí was captured and executed. His death marked the end of an era and he is considered to be the last successful Caribbean pirate. Unusual Printing Technique
An unusual two stage printing technique was used to produce the map. Iis printed on woven paper, as one would expect from the period. The central map and the surrounding text blocks were printed separately. The map itself is a lithograph, thus one of the earliest examples of American lithography – which is no surprise given that the printer, Converse, controlled one of the largest and most advanced printing operations in the United States. The surrounding text and the outer border, which are slightly skewed from the central map, are printed in letterpress, probably setup as a single large printing block. The map was engraved by activists Simeon Smith Jocelyn and Nathaniel Jocelyn under the imprint of N. and S. S. Jocelyn. It was published by Monson and Company and printed by Sherman Converse, both of New Haven, Connecticut. We have provided biographies for both Jocelyn brothers and Converse, but of Monson, we have found no trace. It may be significant that Converse grew up in the town of Monson, Massachusetts, and studied at the Monson Academy, so perhaps there is a yet to be determined connection. Census
This separate issue broadside map is extremely rare. We find no record of another having appeared on the antiquarian market and are aware of but three other surviving examples, at Yale University, the Connecticut Historical Society, and the University of Texas at Arlington.