Monday, September 06, 2010

In Memoriam: The Marquis de Lafayette

One of only six people to ever earn honorary US citizenship, Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, served with distinction on the winning side of two of the 18th Century's notable revolutions. In neither - American or French - did he receive any pay.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBorn in the Auvergne region of France on this day in 1757, Lafayette was 19 when he first arrived in the United States, having already served five years in the French army.

Lafayette presented himself to the Continental Congress to offer his services, and before his 20th birthday received a commission as a Major-General. He was injured at Brandywine in 1777 (his first engagement in the war) but fought on until the siege of Yorktown in 1781, which signaled both the end of the Revolution and thus his American military career.

A lifelong friend of George Washington (who actually adopted him), Lafayette renounced his title in June 1790, during the French Revolution. By the time he died, in 1834, there were memorials to him throughout France and the United States, many of the ones in the US being the names of towns.

Although he was not the only French national to serve the United States during its revolution (General Rochambeau also served with distinction), Lafayette may be the most-remembered. The stamp shown was issued on the occasion of Lafayette's bicentennial in 1957. The story of his remarkable friendship with George Washington is told in David A. Clary's illuminating book Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution.

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Seumas Gagne said...

Sometimes I envy what was possible in a younger world - before we had so many rules and norms to keep us all safe and mediocre.

michael sean morris said...

200 years ago people founded cities; try and do that today!