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 what 
            Jefferson 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
            rather theoretical love of, liberty.  It was theoretical because liberty
            wasn't known 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
            Paine's phrase."

           Scholar Richard Norton Smith

 Spirit of 76

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:                                                         


Baron von Steuben, from Prussia,  von Steubenwho 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.


And Pulaski Casimir Pulaski, 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.

de Kalb  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.


Lafayette 1777Gilbert 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,   Lafayette, de Kalb, 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.

George Washington by Peale  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).    During this 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 model. 

   In December 1777, Lafayette received command of the Virginia Light Infantry.

Lafayette                                                                                                            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   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. 



In 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).  Lafayette - Yorktown     


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.

French Fleet

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.



Mount Vernon

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.


Louis XVI    Marie AntoinetteOn 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.  In 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 half.


For five years (1792 - 1797) Lafayette remained in Prussian and Austrian jails, one year at Magdeburg and four years at Olmutz castle.   

The Prisoner of Olmütz


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   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 release.

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.


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.


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.

BirthplaceLa GrangeOn 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, Polly-Vous Francais. 
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.

Lafayette's grave

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 Lafayette.










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 States.

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 violate.

--Lafayette in his last major speech, January 2, 1834


Lafayette's Coat of Arms
Cur Non - Why Not



Lafayette 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. Horace Say.
     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

Early 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.”

There 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, 1825."



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 in full.


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 the coast.
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 preceding day.

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 Lafayette.
    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 book. 


Historic Fayetteville 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




Interesting Links:

American Friends of Lafayette

Lafayette Society of Fayetteville, North Carolina

Bienvenue sur le site du chateau-musee Lafayette

The Lafayette Collection

Hermione Project   

Lafayette's Virginia Campaign of 1781

Lafayette Web Page        

The Marquis de Lafayette

Lafayette's Travel in America Documented

Lafayette's Cartographer

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.
     Hermione Project  

 Please help us to be prepared to give the frigate Hermione the
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, 2014

Bonjour Monsieur Thomas-Lescouzeres et tout les personne avec
        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'
              Al@  Delegue

Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2014 16:08:39 +0200
From: thomaslescouzeres@orange.fr
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 in September.
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

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