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AURY, LOUIS MICHEL

AURY, LOUIS MICHEL (ca. 1788–1821). Louis Michel Aury, pirate, was born in Paris about 1788. He served in the French navy and on French privateers from 1802 or 1803 until 1810, when accumulation of prize money enabled him to become master of his own vessels. He sailed from a North Carolina port with a Venezuelan commission in April 1813 and reached Cartagena in May. In August 1813 he was given command over the Granadine Republic's privateer schooners, a service that ended in January 1816, when he reached Aux Cayes, Haiti, after successfully running the Spanish blockade of Cartagena.

At Aux Cayes Aury quarreled with Simón Bolívar and transferred his services to a group of New Orleans associates who were planning a Mexican rebel port on the Texas coast, an invasion of the Provincias Internas, and attacks on Mexican Royalist ports, all part of the Mexican revolt against Spain. Aury left Aux Cayes on June 4 and captured several vessels en route to the Belize, where he arrived on July 17. Then he went on to Galveston. Most of the prize vessels and cargo were lost or damaged in efforts to sail into the harbor. Haitian sailors mutinied on the night of September 7, wounded Aury, and sailed to Haiti with considerable booty. Aid from New Orleans arrived within two or three days. José Manuel de Herrera, Mexican rebel envoy, proclaimed Galveston a port of the Mexican republic, made Aury resident commissioner, and raised the rebel flag on September 13, 1816.

Aury's privateers cruised the Gulf looking for prizes. Of the many that came to Galveston, one carried a cargo of specie and indigo worth about $778,000. Cargoes condemned at Galveston went through New Orleans customs in unlabeled bales or were smuggled into Louisiana.

Aury's settlement of shacks on the Galveston sand was far from peaceful. Henry Perry, who commanded troops sent by the New Orleans associates for the invasion of Texas, refused obedience to Aury. Another disturbing incident was the arrival, on November 22, 1816, of Francisco Xavier Mina with his filibustering expedition. Aury, disconcerted by Mina's appearance, at first refused to cooperate, but Perry and others forced him to change his attitude. Then Mina quarreled with his New Orleans associates, who severed connections with him and with Aury; the latter's services were no longer needed after the plans to invade New Spain were dropped. Aury then decided to convoy the Mina expedition to the Santander River. The fleet left Galveston on April 7, 1817, providing Jean Laffite with an opportunity to undermine the skeleton "government" left on the island. Aury returned from his trip and tried to establish himself at Matagorda Bay. After failing in this effort he went back to Galveston, where he remained until July 21. In preceding weeks, the Laffite brothers, Jean and Pierre, had gained a strong hold on the nondescript inhabitants of Galveston. Aury resigned his commission to rule Galveston Island on July 31, 1817. He then sailed to the Florida coast, where he joined Gregor McGregor, authorized agent of the rebel colonies of Venezuela, New Grenada (Colombia), Mexico, and La Plata (Argentina), in attacking Spanish Florida from Amelia Island. After numerous disappointments, he captured Old Providence Island on July 4, 1818. From that headquarters he participated in several unsuccessful attempts to aid the republican cause. He probably died at Old Providence on August 30, 1821, though some sources state that he was living in Havana in 1845.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Lancaster E. Dabney, "Louis Aury: The First Governor of Texas under the Mexican Republic," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 42 (October 1938). Harry Van Demark, "Pirates of the Gulf," Texas Magazine, May 1910. Harris Gaylord Warren, The Sword Was Their Passport: A History of American Filibustering in the Mexican Revolution (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1943).

Harris Gaylord Warren

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Harris Gaylord Warren, "AURY, LOUIS MICHEL," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fau04), accessed April 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.