Lafayette – Hero of Two Worlds
Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, the marquis de Lafayette (called Gilbert by his friends) was a French nobleman who, in 1777 at the age of 19, defied his king by sailing to America in to fight in the Revolutionary War against England. His bravery and leadership in the field, his loyalty to General George Washington, his generosity in spending most of his personal wealth on the American cause, and his success in persuading the French king to send soldiers and money were decisive factors in America’s victory. Lafayette’s brilliant command of the Virginia army enabled him to corner General Cornwallis at Yorktown and proved to be the turning point of the Revolutionary War. Upon returning to France Lafayette continued to fight for freedom. In 1824-1825 he returned to the United States on a grand tour as “The Nation’s Guest.” Fayetteville, North Carolina, was the first town named for him and the only one that he personally visited.
Want to know more? Check out the links to the right.
Still curious? City Center Gallery and Books (112 Hay St, Fayetteville, NC 28301 (910) 678-8899) has an extensive selection of books about Lafayette. There’s even a comic book that was specially commissioned for Lafayette’s 250th birthday in 2007!
Would you like to have someone talk to your school or organization about Lafayette or the Lafayette Society?
Vive la Liberté!
For the 2007 Lafayette Birthday Celebration, the Committee of Arrangements commissioned composer Jenni Brandon of Long Beach, California, to write a piece commemorating the life and values of Lafayette. Vive la Liberté incorporates words from Lafayette’s letters and writings that distill his hopes for the new nation: “Liberty now has a country!”
Lafayette and Slavery
By Hank Parfitt, President of the Lafayette Society
In the United States, much of our understanding of Lafayette’s importance as a historical figure is focused on his roles as a military leader in the American Revolution and as a negotiator with France, our ally. Certainly, Americans should never forget the youthful French nobleman who came to our country’s aid as we struggled for independence. His contributions to mankind, however, extend far beyond his exploits in this country. It was after his return to France that Lafayette began his lifelong journey as an advocate for human rights and dignity.