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According to the newspaper account, the Beale Papers were written in 1819 through 1821. As the Decoded team tries to unravel this mystery, they first learn that there may be a connection between the Beale Papers and Edgar Allen Poe, who wrote a story, ′The Gold Bug′, which seems to follow the exact same plot. We learn that Poe most likely knew Thomas Jefferson while attending his college. But the team also discovers that the newspaper which published the story, and later a book, may have done so purely for publicity and improving sales. The publisher, John William Sherman, had written many dime novels in those days, often using historical incidents in his stories.

A cryptology expert, David Oxford, demonstrates the Beale code to the team, and also shares with them decoded versions of the other two Beale Papers using a standard code-breaking technique known as ′frequency′, solving a cipher based on the most commonly used letters. This leads us from Virginia, where everybody thought the treasure was buried, to New Orleans, which is where the other two papers say is the actual location. Historian Brad Andrews confirms to the team that there was indeed a man named Thomas Jefferson Beale, and shows an arrest warrant he issued for the notorious pirate, Jean Lafitte.

Lafitte was the scourge of the Gulf of Mexico, operating out of his stronghold at Barataria in the Mississippi Delta. Jean Lafitte is perhaps best known in American history for helping General Andrew Jackson defeat the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. So could the treasure of gold be the booty of Lafitte? Did Thomas Jefferson Beale steal or confiscate it himself? If so, then why bury it and then leave clues to its location? Nobody will know as the location indicated in the first and third Beale Papers is submerged under the Mississippi River now.

This is why I like the History Channel′s program, Brad Meltzer′s Decoded, as it sheds new light on the Declaration of Independence, making its history more alive and interesting. If you have not watched it yet then what are you waiting waiting for?