Lafayette - Friend of America
Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier (1757-1834)
Marquis de Lafayette
There is no doubt that the Marquis de Lafayette loved the
thirteen American states. It should be remembered by all Americans that,
without this young man's help, America would be an entirely different country.
"...Lafayette is a young man of royal birth, with liberal politics and
later called 'a canine appetite for fame.' Someone said he was
'a stature in
search of a pedestal.' But he was intoxicated with, [had] a
theoretical love of, liberty. It was theoretical because liberty
to may Europeans. [Lafayette] was a great romantic and
he fell in
love with America, the concept of America that the French had.
This wild new
world where you could start the world over, to use Tom
Scholar Richard Norton Smith
European adventurers, soldiers-of-fortune, and romantics like
Lafayette flocked to the Continental Army during the American Revolution.
A long list of European soldiers aided the Continental cause, including:
von Steuben, from Prussia,
who is credited with shaping Washington's
independent-minded army into a well-drilled machine.
Tadeusz Kosciuszko, the Polish patriot and engineer, who fought at
Saratoga and engineered the construction of fortifications around West Point.
another Pole, who was called "The Father of American Cavalry",
fought with Washington at Brandywine and Germantown. Killed at age 32
during Battle at Savannah.
Baron de Kalb, a German born soldier, arrived with Lafayette, served with Washington as Major General at
Valley Forge and then at the Battle of Camden where he was mortally wounded.
Gilbert du Motier was born on September 6, 1757 in Auvergne,
France. His father died when he was 2 years old and when his mother and
grandfather died 11 years later he inherited a large fortune. Lafayette,
who came from a long line of soldiers, studied at the Military Academy in
Versailles and became a captain in the French cavalry at age 16.
The Marquis was about 20 years old. He wanted
passionately to help and be a member of the American Continental Army.
With the recommendation of Silas Deane,
then serving as an Envoy to France,
Lafayette was granted a commission in the "Army of the United
States". But he was required to serve as a "volunteer"
without a command and at his own expense. Based on this commitment
Lafayette purchased a ship named La Victoire, and with Baron de Kalb enlisted several aides and
planned to secretly embark for America. On board ship with Lafayette was one of the
most skillful military map makers of the era, Michel Capitaine du Chesnoy.
At the insistence of the British ambassador to France, orders were issued to
seize his ship then fitting out at Bordeaux, and Lafayette himself was
arrested. But the ship had been sent to a neighboring Spanish port before
the orders for her seizure could be executed, and Lafayette escaped from his
guards in disguise. It was May, 1777 when he joined his ship and his
eleven chosen companions.
The total journey from France to America was to take several months -
from April to July of 1777. Though pursued by two British cruisers which
had been sent to intercept him, they landed near Georgetown, South Carolina and
had to make a nine hundred mile overland trek to Philadelphia.
Lafayette met General Washington at a dinner in
Philadelphia. He and the General must have immediately struck it off, for
on July 31st Lafayette was appointed by Congress a Major-General in the Army of
the United States.
Lafayette served in the battle of Brandywine, September 11th
1777, at Chad's Ford, Pennsylvania,
where he is wounded with a bullet through
his left leg.
The British General "Gentleman Johnny"
Burgoyne's surrender to General Horatio Gates at Saratoga on October 17, 1777
was the turning point of the American Revolution.
The colonial victory convinced the French that the Americans had a chance of
defeating Great Britain; France's traditional enemy.
In November of 1777, Lafayette led his
first independent command of a small reconnaissance force at Gloucester, New
Jersey and got the better of a skirmish against some Hessians. He
also had a command at White Marsh (December 5-8, 1777).
period, George Washington took a strong, personal liking to the young Frenchman,
who in turn held the American commander in high admiration. He referred to
Washington as his "adopted father" and took him as his avowed
In December 1777, Lafayette received command of the
Virginia Light Infantry.
He began the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge, but was sent to
Albany, New York to prepare for an invasion of Canada. The invasion was
canceled and he returned to Valley Forge, where he again succeeded in a small
operation at Barren Hill (May 1778). Lafayette performed with distinction
at the battle of Monmouth (June 28th 1778). He commanded two brigades near
Newport Rhode Island (July and August 1778) in the failed, first Franco-American
allied operation of the war.
Lafayette proved to be a good officer and a wise adviser, but
more important was his popularity with his own countrymen. It contributed
to the pro-American sentiment in France and to the signing of a treaty of
alliance with the colonies on February 6, 1778. He served a liaison
officer between the Americans and the comte d'Estaing, the French commander in
mid July of 1778.
In January 1779, Lafayette returned to France, where he
successfully persuaded the French to commit more military aid and to send a
military expedition to North America. So insistent was Lafayette for aid
to the Americans that one day Count de Maurepas said in the royal council: 'It
is fortunate for the King, that Lafayette does not take it in his head to strip
Versailles of its furniture, to send to his dear Americans; as his Majesty would
be unable to refuse it." In addition to governmental supplies
Lafayette purchased out of his private account a large amount of supplies for
the troops he would command upon his return to America.
Sailing in the French frigate Hermione on March 19, 1780 he
arrived in Boston 38 days later. He reported to Washington and then went
to Philadelphia to give representatives of his government certain official
papers. Count de Rochambeau's and his military expedition were due to
arrive in July. The coming of this help brought new hope to the
American cause. In the weeks which followed Washington and Rochambeau made
careful plans so that their campaign would bring definite success and Washington
hoped it would be the final victory for independence.
the meantime the British, under the command of General Cornwallis, invaded the
South in their endeavor to crush the war there. In the spring of 1781 Washington sent Lafayette, in command of American troops, to
Virginia to unite his forces with von Stuben. The young Marquis ended up facing the
much larger force of Cornwallis. In this Virginia Campaign of April-August
1781, Lafayette proved to be a good strategist in avoiding defeat while
harassing his formidable opponent to withdraw to Yorktown for
reinforcements. Lafayette commanded his American brigade at the siege of
Yorktown (September 1781).
The "Battle of the Virginia Capes" saw the French
Admiral de Grasse's 24 French ships of the line drive off the 19 British ships
under Admiral Graves in early September 1781, thus isolating the British forces
of Cornwallis at Yorktown.
As a result of brilliant efforts on the part of
American and the French fleet , Cornwallis was compelled to surrender on October
19, 1781 at Yorktown.
Rejoicing was manifested throughout the entire country with
gratitude given to the French for their timely help and particularly Lafayette
for his unselfish devotion to the American cause. Lafayette went to
General Washington to secure a leave of absence to return home to France.
In December of 1781, Lafayette sailed for France on the
American ship "Alliance". He was universally hailed as
"America's Marquis". To the French he was "the friend of
Washington" and "the hero of two worlds". Upon arrival in
France he received many honors and was promoted to the rank of marechal-de-camp
(major general) in the French Army by Louis XVI.
In late 1784, Lafayette returned to America and to Mount Vernon
on Washington's invitation. It was their last time together. While
here he was made a citizen of several states and urged constitutional reform to
strengthen the new government. He continued to advocate close
Franco-American ties, and on his return to France he worked to secure business
concessions for his adopted country.
Lafayette continued to be involved in liberal ideas working to
make France a constitutional monarchy. He envisioned a Declaration of the
Rights of Man and the Citizen. It was composed with help from Thomas
Jefferson and modeled after the American Declaration of Independence and the
constitutions of the American States. Lafayette tried but was unable to
influence a more moderate course in the French Revolution.
On July 14th 1789 a crowd stormed the Bastille in Paris and
freed the political prisoners. The next day King Louis named Lafayette as
Commander in Chief of the bourgeois militia of Paris. He organized the
militia into the Paris National Guard and gave it the blue, white and red
cockade that eventually became the French tricolor.
October 5th of the same year, the Palace of Versailles was invaded by a crowd
with intentions on the royal family. Lafayette troops saved King Louis XVI
and Queen Marie Antoinette from the mob.
When the Constitution of 1790 was finally adopted, Lafayette
retired from public life to his estate in La Grange, but in April, 1792 France
declares war against Austria. Lafayette was soon called to
service in the war with Austria and Prussia, being one of the three major
generals in command of the French forces.
August the French monarchy is overthrown and the Jacobins, the
extreme Revolutionist, attempted to displace him from his powerful position
because Lafayette intended to use his army to restore limited monarchy.
Fleeing to Belgium from the Jacobins, the General fell into the hands of the
Austrians. Claiming American citizenship was to no avail with the
Austrians. The next month, Lafayette's wife, Adrienne de Lafayette and two
daughters were arrested and confined at Chateau Chavaniac for over a year and a
For five years (1792 - 1797) Lafayette remained in Prussian and
Austrian jails, one year at Magdeburg and four years at Olmutz castle.
It is interesting that
Lafayette's wife, Adrienne and his two daughters, Anastasie and Virginie,
by their choice were imprisoned with him for
the last two years. In 1793 when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were
executed on the guillotine, Adrienne's family; her mother, sister and
grandmother who were of nobility and were
related to the king, were also executed. Lafayette's son, George, escaped
to America. Adrienne and his two daughters were taken to
the prison in Paris. Five days after the execution of Adrienne's family, the Reign of
Terror ended when Robespierre was sent to the guillotine. With the help of
the Ambassador to France, Gouverneur Morris and James Monroe, Adrienne and her
daughters were freed and went to Austria on October 1795 to plead for the
release of her husband.
Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor refused; whereupon
Adrienne asked to share, with her two daughters, her husbands prison cell.
The dungeon was damp, musty and rat-infested. Soon her daughters
were sick with infection and Adrienne was ill with blood poisoning. The
Emperor arranged for them to be taken to a hospital, but Adrienne refused and
remained with her husband for almost two years. In 1797 Napoleon secured his
Returning to France he found his personal fortune gone.
While he acknowledged Bonaparte's position, Lafayette declined any role in the
Emperor's regime and refused the Legion d'Honor, becoming a gentleman
farmer on his wife's estates. For a time he was an elected member of the
Chamber of Deputies, working for Napoleon's second abdication.
George Washington died December 14, 1799. When the sad
news reached France early in the year 1800, Napoleon decided to hold a memorial
service for Washington at Invalides, but Lafayette was not invited and Napoleon
ordered the orator not to refer to Lafayette in his oration. It was rather
a glorification of Napoleon than a memorial service to Washington.
However, Lafayette had his glorious memories of Washington and the friendship of
the great man.
On Christmas Eve, 1807 his wife, Adrienne de Noailles, died of
lead poisoning at
age 48 after 33 years of marriage to Lafayette. According to her wishes
Adrienne was buried in the little Picpus Cemetery in Paris. Knowing her
devotion, Lafayette promised never to remarry and he never did.
Lafayette continued to maintain strong ties with the United
States. Congress proclaimed him an honorary citizen in 1824 and President
Monroe invited him to tour the United States as its first official guest.
The "Nations Guest" was old and lame at the time but he visited every
one of the 24 states, greeted by large crowds. He was a reminder of the
glorious past, the "adoptive son" of George Washington, the last
surviving major general of the War of Independence and Europe's outstanding
contemporary opponent of monarchial tyranny. See
Fayetteville" page on this site.
House Chamber Portraits
A full length portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, the
first foreign dignitary to address a joint meeting of the Congress, was
presented to the House of Representatives by the French artist Ary Scheffer in
1824. The portrait is located to the left of the rostrum.
A portrait of George Washington hangs at the right of the
Speaker's rostrum. This portrait was commissioned in 1834 from American
artist John Vanderlyn as a companion to the portrait of the Marquis de
Lafayette knew and supped with the first seven presidents of
the United States - with Washington during the Revolutionary War, and on this
trip with John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy
Adams and the future president , Andrew Jackson. He was accompanied
by his son, George Washington Lafayette and his secretary, Auguste Levasseur,
who kept a daily journal of Lafayette's trip.
September 7, 1825, Lafayette and his company boarded the ship Brandywine for the
journey to France. The trip took 24 days. When he disembarked at La
Havre, cannons were fired and on October 9th when he reached his farm, La
Grange, he was feted at a gala party of 4,000.
Under the restored Bourbon monarchy, Lafayette was generally
politically inactive until the people were again oppressed. At the age of
73, he led the opposition to the king's restrictions on citizens' rights.
In 1830 he took part in his third revolution and once again became a kingmaker
in France. He commanded the Army of National Guards that drove Charles X
from France. He rejected the popular demand that he become president of
the new republic and helped make Louis Philippe the constitutional monarch of
France. Later he began to regret his support of Philippe and began his
support for a pure republic in France. To the end of his life, the great
general held firm for representative government in his country.
Lafayette died on May 20th 1834 at the age of 78 and was buried
next to his wife in the Le Jardin de Picpus Cemetery in
Paris. The soil that he brought back from Bunker Hill Monument was placed
around his casket.
The following text and photographs are taken from the blog,
A very nice description of the cemetery and the annual memorial for Lafayette.
A link to this blog is listed on this page.
Lafayette, We Were There
The Cimetiere de Picpus has to be one of the most tranquil outdoor spaces in
Paris. When strolling through the grounds, you have a sense of being
transported in time to a small village far from any booming metropolis. Yet it
is located a short walk from the Place de la Nation in the 12e arrondissement.
The private cemetery encompasses a 19th-century Chapel, a large expanse of
grass, fragrant boxwoods, and minuscule burial grounds (by Paris standards).
It is here that the Marquis de Lafayette is buried, in soil from Virginia
that he brought to France after his final visit to the young United States in
1825. It is at Lafayette's grave that the American flag has flown uninterrupted
in France, even during years of the Nazi occupation of Paris. It is here that
General Pershing's assistant, Stanton, pronounced the famous "Lafayette, nous
voilà!" on July 4, 1917, to proclaim the U.S. troops' arrival to support France
in the throes of a terrible World War I. It is here that Lafayette's wife
Adrienne was buried before him, in a spot chosen for its proximity to the mass
grave where her immediate family had been "buried" with hundreds of other nobles
beheaded in the French Revolution.
So it is fitting that each July 4 the American flag at Picpus Cemetery is
renewed amid great solemn and moving ceremony. At 11 AM, dignitaries
from the U.S. Embassy, the French Senate, the Mairie de Paris, the Society of
the Cincinnati, the Sons of the American Revolution, and Friends of Lafayette
and the general public -- both French and American -- gathered to pay tribute to
this hero of two worlds.
A U.S. Military Color Guard stood at attention while the French Garde
Nationale band played the "Star Spangled Banner." That
alone was a touching moment of transatlantic honor and friendship. The
Marseillaise followed, of course. In lieu of loud cheering, there was a
wave of emotion that reverberated among the spectators. The crowd, already
hushed, shared an official minute of silence. Brief speeches followed,
with placing of flowers on Lafayette's grave site. The U.S. Ambassador,
addressing the assembled group in French, was moved to tears as he spoke.
This is a momentous year in French-American relations, capped off by
celebrations of the 250th Anniversary of Lafayette's birth. In France and in the
U.S., he is a man to remember and revere. During all the political ups and downs
of the nearly two and a half centuries of friendship between our two nations, we
owe it to ourselves to remember that in the U.S. House of Representatives, there
are two larger-than-life portraits flanking the speaker's podium: Washington and
Perhaps the most permanent effect that Lafayette has had in
this country, beyond his heroism on the battlefield, is the number of places
named for him in the United States. The name "Lafayette" or
related names like "Fayette" are found almost 400 times in the United
A small town in North Carolina in 1783 was the first town named
Fayetteville in honor of the Revolutionary War hero. He visited his
namesake on March 4th and 5th, 1825, arriving from Raleigh and departing to
Cheraw, South Carolina.
Portrait of Lafayette by Baugnut
True republicanism is the sovereignty of the people....There
are natural and imprescriptible rights which an entire nation has no right to
--Lafayette in his last major speech, January 2, 1834
Lafayette's Coat of Arms
Cur Non - Why Not
Lafayettte and the State House
The following is taken from "Recollections of the Private Life of
General Lafayette" , Volume I, by Monsieur Jules Colquet, M.D., published
by Leavitt, Lord and Co., New York, in 1836. There are two volumes.
These volumes can be seen at the Cumberland County Library, North Carolina
Reference Department. We are very fortunate indeed to have these
valuable books by the French author and friend of Lafayette.
In Volume I is found the picture "View of Fayetteville", then the Capital of
North Carolina, which depicts the State House and several other buildings.
On page 178, of Volume I, first paragraph,
Above the bed is a painting, representing a meeting of
the superior officers of the American army, (Lafayette among the number,) and
the staff of General Rochambeau, at the siege of Yorktown. Of the
drawings, the most remarkable are - a view of the residence of John Adams, by
his granddaughter, Miss Eliza Quincy ; and Mr. Hancock's house, at Boston ;
Washington's house, (an engraving ;) and a view of Fayetteville, a small town,
situate on the western bank of the river Capefear, sketched in 1814, by M.
In 1814, my friend, M. H. Say, the son of the celebrated
economist, on his way from Charlestown to New York, passed by the capital of
North Carolina, to which the gratitude of America has given the name of
Fayetteville. The town was then by no means populous, and consisted only
of two large streets, in the form of a cross, at the meeting point of which, was
the governor's residence. The view of the country presented nothing
picturesque, but the name given to the town induced the young traveller to take
a sketch of it. On his return to France, thinking that such a mark of
attention might not be indifferent to the general, he had a frame made for his
sketch, (with a copy of which I present you,) and sent it to him. In 1818,
M. Say's brother-in-law, M. Compte, one of the editors of the Censeur
Europeen, was persecuted by the restoration, and found a hospitable shelter
a Lagrange. Lafayette wrote to M. H. Say, to invite him to spend a few
days at his country-seat. My friend accepted the invitation ; and one
morning, as he was on the point of taking a walk in the park, a servant apprized
him, that the general desired to see him. As soon as M. Say entered his
cabinet, Lafayette cordially pressed his hand, made him take a seat beside
himself, and said to him - "I have been deeply affected at seeing that you
thought of me in the United States. There is your drawing, which I have
kept near me. I shall probably never see the place itself, but you have,
at least, given me an idea of it." At that period, he little thought,
that, some years afterward, he should make a triumphal entry into that very town
On the occasion of his last visit to America, on his approach
to Fayetteville, although the weather was shocking, and the rain fell in
torrents, he said to Bastien, "We shall now see if M. Say has given a
correct representation of the town, of which he has sent me a
drawing." He immediately knew it from the recollection that he
preserved of the sketch ; on the correctness of which, he complimented the
author on his return to Paris.
Lafayette in Fayetteville
March 1825 - Lafayette Visits Fayetteville
19th-century North Carolina was not a place that international celebrities were
likely to visit. Lacking large and cosmopolitan cities and with a primarily
agricultural economy, North Carolina was well on its way to earning the
nickname, “the Rip Van Winkle state." So it was no small thing when North
Carolinians learned, in November 1824, about the impending visit of an aging
Frenchman with the impressive name of Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du
Motier, Marquis de Lafayette.
Lafayette's story would have been known to most Americans in 1824. Lafayette
was a young officer in the French Royal Army when he first learned of the
American Revolution in 1775. He was so inspired by the rebellion of the
colonists against what he saw as the tyrannical oppression of the British that
he left France to join the Continental Army. Lafayette began as a volunteer on
George Washington's staff and soon developed a close friendship with the
American General. With Washington's help and counsel, Lafayette rose to the rank
of Major-General, leading Continental forces in the successful battle at
Yorktown in 1781.
For the remainder of his life, Lafayette continued to fight and argue for
the principles of freedom and liberty that were behind the American Revolution.
When Lafayette accepted President James Monroe’s invitation to return to the
United States for the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the American
Revolution, he was the oldest living Revolutionary War Major-General.
After spending time in New England and Washington, D.C., Lafayette began his
long tour through the states, bringing him south through Virginia and eventually
to North Carolina. He stopped in Halifax, where the North Carolina delegation
that endorsed a declaration of independence from England met in 1776, and then
went to Raleigh, where he was received by Governor Hutchins Gordon Burton and
attended several dinners and balls in his honor. But by far the largest
reception for Lafayette awaited him in Fayetteville.
At the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, the citizens of Campbellton, in
Cumberland County, decided to show their appreciation to General Lafayette by
changing the name of their town to Fayetteville. It was the first of many
American towns to do so. There are now towns or cities named Fayetteville in
eight states, ten Lafayettes, and still others named LaGrange in honor of
Lafayette’s home in France (including LaGrange, North Carolina, in Lenoir
County). The weather was horrible when Lafayette and his entourage neared
Fayetteville in early March 1825, but the rain did nothing to dampen the
enthusiasm of the crowds. Lafayette’s secretary remembered the scene:
"On the 4th of March, we reached the pleasant little town of
Fayetteville, situated on the western shore of Cape Fear river. The weather
was excessively bad; the rain fell in torrents, yet the road for several
miles before we reached the place was crowded with men and boys on
horseback, and militia on foot; the streets of the town were filled with a
throng of ladies, in full dress, hastening across the little streams of
water, to approach the General's carriage, and so much occupied with the
pleasure of seeing him that they appeared almost insensible of the deluge
which threatened almost to swallow them up. This enthusiasm may be more
readily imagined, when it is recollected that it was expressed by the
inhabitants of a town founded, about forty years ago, to perpetuate the
remembrance of the services rendered by him whom they honored on that day."
Although he stayed in Fayetteville for only about 24 hours, Lafayette was
honored by several banquets and receptions, reviewed countless militia and state
troops, and had time to inspect the brand new Lafayette Hotel, hurried to
completion in time for his visit. As he prepared to depart for South Carolina,
Lafayette offered a toast to the town: “Fayetteville. – May it receive all the
encouragements and attain all the prosperity which are anticipated by the fond
and grateful wishes of its affectionate and respectful namesake.”
is located on the grounds of the present County Court House a State historical
marker with this inscription "Lafayette on March 4-5, 1825, was guest of
Fayetteville (named for him, 1783) staying at home of Duncan MacRae on site of
present Court House." There is a bronze tablet on the old Market
House with this inscription "Here Lafayette was welcomed, March 4,
Published in Fayetteville NC
Beginning in 1816
Found at the North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh NC
The Carolina Observer of March 10, 1825, gave a full account of
Lafayette's stay in Fayetteville on March 4th and 5th. He was accompanied
from Raleigh to Fayetteville by a military and official escort. It does
not appear where he spent the night on this trip from Raleigh to Fayetteville, a
distance of more than 60 miles nor does it appear where he spent the night on
his trip from Fayetteville to Cheraw, South Carolina, a distance of some 75
miles. The route to Fayetteville (from Raleigh) was by the old stage road
on the east side of Cape Fear River and the trip from Fayetteville (to Cheraw)
was what is now Wagram and Laurel Hill. The story from the Carolina
Observer is so interesting and appropriate for this volume that it is given
Fayetteville, N. C., Thursday, March 10, 1825
The pride of all hearts and the delight of all eyes, the
illustrious American General Lafayette, arrived here on Friday evening last.
We cannot pretend to give a regular correct detail of the scenes to which his
presence gave rise. The task is far above our ability. Such,
however, as is in our power, we must offer our readers:
The General entered the town about 5 o'clock... (and) proceeded amidst the
discharge of artillery, to the Town House, where several hundred hundred persons
were assembled, numbers of whom, though the rain continued to descend, as it had
done for several days, with little intermission, had patiently awaited the
approach of the General, regardless of every consideration of comfort or
health. When arrived in front of the Town House, where a spacious stage
had been erected for the occasion, the troops formed lines on each side of the
street, and the carriages, containing the General and suite, passed between them
to the east door of the House, here, alighting form his carriage, with the
gentlemen accompanying him, he was met by Judge Toomer, who, in behalf of the
Committee and citizens of Fayetteville, welcomed him in the following words,
pronounced in the forcible manner for which the Judge is so remarkable.
"General Lafayette: The Congress of the United
States, expressing the will of ten millions of people, invited you to our
shores, as ""the Guest of the Nation."" Your
arrival was hailed as an era in the annals of our country. Wherever you
were seen, you were greeted with acclamations. The 15th of August, in each
returning year, will be celebrated as a day of jubilee, by the sons of
freedom. Already has American genius consecrated your fame. History
has recorded the incidents of your eventful life: Oratory has portrayed your
character: and Poetry has sung your praise.
The Governor of North Carolina, anticipating the wishes of this constituents,
invited you to our state. The invitation was echoed from the mountains to
My fellow citizens, the inhabitants of Fayetteville, have, also, solicited the
honor of a visit. In their behalf, and as their organ, I bid you welcome
to our homes. Forty-three years ago, our fathers named this town, to
commemorate your achievements, and to express their gratitude. We receive
you, with joy and exultation, at our family altars, and request your
participation in our domestic comforts. We are plain republicans, and
cannot greet you with the pomp common on such occasions. Instead of
pageantry we offer you cordiality. We have no splendid arches, gilded
spires, or gorgeous palaces to present you, but we tender the hospitality of our
homes, and the grateful homage of devoted hearts.
Ingratitude in no longer the reproach of republics. The freemen of
America, when asked for their jewels, rejecting classic example, point not to
their sons, but to the surviving heroes of the Revolution.
Your, Sir, have been the steadfast friend of liberty, in every period of your
life. In youth, you fought the battles of freedom; in age, you advocated
the rights of man. You embarked your life and fortune on the tempestuous
sea of American liberty, when clouds and darkness portended the most fatal
disasters. Neither the admonitions of prudence, the precepts of wisdom,
nor the frowns of powers, could restrain you. Our Commissioners at the
Court of Versailles frankly represented to you the gloomy aspect of our affairs,
at that crisis, and advised you not to link your fortune with ours, in the
struggle for independence. Your Sovereign, also, interdicted your
participation in the contest. Notwithstanding all these adverse
circumstances, at the age of 19, such was the ardour of your devotion, you left
wealth and beauty, family and friends, influence and distinction, and all the
fascinations of the most polished Court, to encounter the perils of the deep,
and to brave the dangers of the tented field. Your embarkation quickly
sounded the tocsin of alarm, and the fleets of France and Great Britain were
ordered to pursue and arrest you; but, protected by the Genius of Liberty, you
escaped the eagerness of pursuit. Your ardent devotion to this sacred
cause, and your youthful enthusiasm, ""touched a nerve which vibrated
to the centre of Europe.""
The Southern States of the Union, Sir, have strong claims to your
affection. North Carolina is the birth-place of American
Independence. At Charlotte, in this State. Independence was first
conceived, and first declared. Although History may not have recorded this
fact, yet witnesses live to attest it; and we now have before us, in the
patriotic troop of Mecklenburg Cavalry, the sons of those heroes who made the
bold declaration, that we were, and should be free and independent. South
Carolina was the place of your first landing in America. Virginia was the
theatre of your youthful glory. Forty-eight years have elapsed since you
passed through this State to join the Army of Revolution. You
distinterestedly lavished your treasure, and shed your blood in the hollowed
contest; and, by the influence of your high example, you consecrated the
principles for which our ancestors contended. The heights of Brandywine
witnessed your valour, and your sufferings; and on the plains of Yorktown you
obtained a wreath of laurel, which encircles your brow with unfading
verdure. Never, never can we forget the youthful stranger who, in the
darkest hour of adversity, so generously flew to our succour, and so gallantly
fought the battle of freedom.
The names of Washington, Lafayette, and Hamilton, will ever be dear to American
patriotism; and let it be remembered, that Washington and Hamilton fought for
country and for home; Lafayette for Liberty alone.
Your ardent devotion to the rights of man was sealed with your blood in America,
and attested by your sufferings in Europe. Your love of liberty exposed
you to the persecution of tyranny, and you were cast into the dungeon of Olmutz;
but incarceration could not extinguish the sacred flame which fired your
bosom. An American youth, of chivalrous feelings, aided in an attempt to
rescue you from imprisonment; - the attempt was abortive. Oppression
riveted her chains, and rendered your confinement more oppressive. Amid
all the vicissitudes of your fortune, it is gratifying to us to recollect, that
your sufferings always excited the sympathy, and, on this occasion, induced the
meditation of your friend and compatriot, the illustrious Washington.
Nature has lavished her choicest gifts on my native state. We have a
salubrious climate, fertile soil, and numerous rivers, susceptible of the
highest improvement. I fear, Sir, your anticipations may not
have been realized. We have neglected to improve our advantages; we have
relied too much on the bounty of the Parent of every good. But the spirit
of Internal Improvement is, at length, awakened: North Carolina may look
forward with pride and pleasure to her destiny. We place our confidence in
the liberality and exertions of succeeding Legislatures. Colleges will be
endowed; the arts and sciences will be patronized; roads will be made; rivers
will be opened; our resources will be annually developed; and Fayetteville, at
some future day, may be worthy of the distinguished name it bears. You
have just left, in the capitol of our state, the statue of Washington, the
master-piece of Canova. Would to God that you could have visited the
University of North Carolina. These, Sir, are monuments of an enlightened
liberality, in which we indulge a generous pride.
The darkness of error is vanishing before the light of truth. The
doctrines of divine right and passive obedience are viewed as relics of ancient
barbarism. Our political institutions are founded on the sovereignty of
the people, from whom all power is derived; and here the jargon of legitimacy is
not understood. We recognize no Holy Alliance, save that of religion and
virtue, liberty and science. The sun of freedom is extending the sphere of
his genial influence; South America is ""regenerated and
disenthralled;"" the thrones of Europe are supported by Bayonets, and
must totter to their fall; and the genius of our country is ready to hail the
spirit of ""universal emancipation.""
Sir, in behalf of my townsmen, I welcome you to our homes."
To which the General replied as follows:
"Sir: At every step of my progress through the
United States, I am called to enjoy the emotions arising from patriotic feelings
and endearing recollections, from the sight of the improvements I witness, and
from the affectionate welcomes I have the happiness to receive - Those
sentiments, Sir, are particularly excited when, upon entering the interesting
and prosperous town which has done me the honor to adopt my name, I can at once
admire its actual progress and anticipate its future destinies; convinced as I
am that the generous and enlightened people of North Carolina will continue all
assistance to improve the natural advantages of Fayetteville and make it more
and more useful to the State.
Your kind allusions to past times, your flattering commendation of my personal
services in our common cause, your remembrance of my particular state and
connexions, and particularly of my obligations to my gallant Carolinian
deliverer, call for my most grateful thanks. The spirit of independence
early evinced by the fathers of the young friends who so kindly accompany me, is
highly honorable to that part of the Union. I cordially join in your
wishes for the universal emancipation of mankind; and beg you, my dear Sir, and
the citizens of Fayetteville, to accept the tribute of my deep and lively
gratitude for your so very honourable and gratifying reception."
At the conclusion of the answer, the multitude assembled
expressed their admiration by three hearty cheers.
The General was now conducted to the State Banking House, the
residence of Duncan Mac Rae, Esq., which had been politely tendered by him for
the General's use. Here female taste and ingenuity had exerted themselves
to concentrate every thing neat and elegant; every thing calculated to delight
the eye, or minister to the comfort of the distinguished guest.
After a few moments spent in the house, the General appeared in
the balcony, beneath which the people and the military had assembled. He
remained a few minutes, and was saluted by the military, who, when he retired,
were marched to their respective places of rendezvous, and discharged, after an
extremely arduous day's duty, which they performed so well as to elicit the
highest encomiums. They were under arms nearly the whole day, and, though
the mud and water were six inches deep in the streets, no deviation from
military order was seen, but all was animation and cheerfulness.
The General then, with the Governor, and several Committees,
and some the oldest citizens of the town, sat down to dinner.
About 9 o'clock the General made his appearance in the Ball
room of the new Lafayette Hotel, where the rooms were crowded with ladies and
gentlemen, to the number, we believe, of between 3 and 400. The display of
beauty and fashion which the fair sex presented was splendid beyond
compare. The rooms, too, were decorated in the most tasteful manner, under
the direction of some patriotic young ladies, with evergreens and flowers,
gracefully hung in festoons.
The General was here presented to the ladies and gentlemen
present, and took each affectionately by the hand. He then remained about
two hours, and conversed with all who approached him, when he retired, after 11
o'clock. The dancing continued till 3, at which hour the company generally
had retired to their homes.
On Saturday morning, for the first time in several days, the
sun rose in all his brilliancy, and continued to beam on us with the warmth of
spring, during the whole day.
The General received a visit, this morning, from Mr. Isham
Blake, of this town, who was one of his body guard at Yorktown. The scene
which took place is said to have been affecting in the extreme, forbidding all
attempt at description.
Early in the morning the various uniform companies of this
town, and the Mecklenburg troop, were paraded, and , at 11 o'clock, were
reviewed by Gen. Lafayette, who expressed his high satisfaction with their
military appearance, and regret that they had undergone so much fatigue on the
The review over, the General returned, at 12 o'clock at his
lodgings, where, agreeably to a previous annunciation of the Committee of
Arrangements, he received a large number of ladies and gentlemen who waited on
him, all eager again to press the hand and enjoy the society of their
guest. The company, after partaking of refreshments, which were served in
great profusion, and remaining about an hour, took leave of the General, who
with a warm pressure of the hand of each, thanked them for the attentions they
had shown him.
The General, then, agreeable to invitation, visited the Lodge,
where he was addressed by Major Strange, in behalf of the Fraternity, and
returned a neat and appropriate reply. He then partook of refreshments
with the members.
At 3 o'clock, (the General being under the necessity of
departing in the afternoon) about 150 gentlemen sat down to dinner, provided by
Capt. Taber, at the Lafayette Hotel. Judge Toomer presided, assisted by
Major Strange. On the right of the President sat General Lafayette, and on
the left Governor Burton. We have been able to procure a few of the toast
given from the Chair on this occasion, which follow:
The Memory of Washington - He was a friend of
The Nation's Guest - The only surviving Major General
of the Revolution.
When this toast was drank, Gen. Lafayette rose and expressed
his thanks for the welcome he had met with from the citizens of
Fayetteville. He proposed the following toast:
Fayetteville - May it receive all encouragements, and
obtain all the prosperity, which are anticipated by the fond and grateful
wishes of its affectionate and respectful namesake.
Memory of Hamilton - He gathered laurels with
Lafayette, in the field of York.
Gen. Lafayette - The chieftain fights for the hearts
and altars of his clan - the patriot for his country's rights - but let us drink
to the health of the philanthropic hero, whose devotion to liberty is not confined by
climes nor by countries.
The company rose form the table between 4 and 5 o'clock.
He was here and is gone, though his stay was too short for our
wishes, his visit can never be forgotten. The 24 hours during which he
remained, will be remembered by the citizens of this town, as a season in which
the purest incense of the heart was offered at the shrine of virtue and patriotism.
It was a period, the happiness of which may be imagined, not described.
I am obliged to the Lawhead Press of Athens, Ohio, and to Edgar
Ewing Barton, the author, for permission to use the above account. Mr.
Brandon's book "A Pilgrimage of Liberty" covers Lafayette's visit to
fourteen states. It may be secured direct from the author at Oxford, Ohio.
The information contained in this web page has been compiled from many sources,
including other web sites. Credit is therefore given to others who have
spent their time and effort.
Appreciation is also given to the Cumberland County Public Library, NC
Historical Department, and its staff.
Acknowledgement is given to the book
"The story of Fayetteville and the Upper Cape Fear" by John A. Oates,
published by Fayetteville Woman's Club, 1950. The above account of
Lafayette's visit to Fayetteville is taken in text from Mr. Oates
celebrates Marquis de Lafayette's 250th Birthday
Clicking on banner will take you to the
official Fayetteville Birthday Party website for Lafayette
To see the 3 day schedule, click on thumbnail photo
American Friends of
Lafayette Society of
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Bienvenue sur le site
du chateau-musee Lafayette
Virginia Campaign of 1781
Marquis de Lafayette
Travel in America Documented
The Merci Lafayette French and
American Alliance for Liberty
From Albert Knute Oberst, JD
Chers Amis de Lafayette et le French and American Alliance for Peace,
Pere Noel et tout les French will be bringing a magnificant/awesome
gift to America in just a few months. The French have been working
tres tres durement (hard) for over 15 years to build the Hermione. The
Hermione will be visiting USA in about 18 months. This greatest of symbols
of the French and American Alliance for our Peace will be docking
in Yorktown. We must recall the first Hermione landed in Boston
in 1780 with Lafayette bringing the great news that the French shall
support our Revolution.
Please help us to be prepared to give the frigate Hermione
greatest welcome. Let us show our appreciation to the French for
this greatest of gesture (geste) of deep affection for our alliance
that started in France in the late 1700s. It was in 1783 with the
Treaty of Paris that showed the French support for our Nation.
Please open the web site above and view the video to understand
how dedicate and how hard these French ship builders have been
working for all these years. I was there in 2002 when it was just
a mere stucture of wood. Now look at the current accomplishment.
C'est tres tres grand ettonement (astonishment).
Vive Lafayette vive les French and American Alliance!!
The latest information regarding the L'Hermione Project :
April 28, 2014Bonjour Monsieur Thomas-Lescouzeres et tout les
Today's date on April 28,1780 the Hermione arrived in Boston at
John Hancock's wharf in Boston to a great reception with a huge crowd
of well wishers, fire works, cheers and bonfires. " Vive France, Lafayette,
et L' Hermione.
Merci beaucoup! L' Hermione c'est epatante, formidable.
Merci Lafayette French et American Alliance pour Liberte'
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2014 16:08:39 +0200
Subject: L'Hermione 1997/2014.
En 4 minutes, retrouvez les grandes étapes
du projet Hermione en attendant les premiers essais en mer en septembre.
A bientôt à bord!
Pascal Lescouzères(Délégué Hermione).
Translation: In 4
minutes, find the main stages of
Hermione project until
the first sea trials
See you on board!
Below is a link to several videos
depicting the building of this beautiful frigate.
Become a member of the Association that manages the Hermione Project
Have your name of the sails of the Hermione