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Born in Port-au-Prince, in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (later Haiti) in 1771, You joined the army of Revolutionary France as an artillerist. He served in the French Republic's artillery corp. In 1802 he accompanied General Charles Leclerc to Santo Domingo to quell Toussaint Louverture's slave revolt. Yellow fever took the lives of many of the French soldiers including General Leclerc. Afterwards You went to New Orleans where he joined his half brothers Jean Lafitte and Pierre Lafitte, where he became the captain on the French Corsair Le Pandoure. He was nicknamed "Captain Dominique" by the French and "Johnness" by the Americans. He acquired quite a reputation for being very bold and daring. During the next few years he and his brothers became quite successful smugglers in the Louisiana bayous, and as privateers preyed on Spanish ships in the Gulf of Mexico, doing extensive damage to Spanish commerce in the gulf. On one occasion, a storm on the Mississippi River caused severe damage to the Pandoure and almost killed Captain You.
In July 1814 You was falsely convicted of piracy in the gulf, but the Americans failed to capture him. You was in the camp at Barataria when it was raided by the Americans in 1814, and was captured and put in jail along with other Baratarians. Jean Lafitte offered to help General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans in exchange for his crew and a pardon, and You was released. You was appointed commander of a company of artillery, which was composed of the best gunners drawn from Lafittes' ships. His men fought with such courage and effectiveness in the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815, that they were mentioned in General Andrew Jackson's general order of January 21 as "having shown uncommon gallantry and skill in the field". Due to this, all charges against the Baratarians and You were dropped. After the battle, You settled quietly in New Orleans where he became a politician and supporter of General Jackson. You died in New Orleans in 1830. He was given a military funeral paid for by the public.
His grave is found in the historic New Orleans St. Louis Number 2 Cemetery. With the words attributed to Jean Lafitte, his grave bears the simple yet expressive inscription of an honored fighting man, which clearly conveys his place as patriot, privateer, and loyal friend:
"Intrpide guerrier, sur la terre et sur l'onde,
Il sut, dans cent combats, signaler sa valeur
Et ce nouveau Bayard, sans reproche et sans peur
Aurait pu sans trembler, voir s'crouler le monde."
"Intrepid warrior on land and sea
In a hundred combats showed his valor
This new Bayard without reproach or fear
Could have witnessed the ending of the
World without trembling"