The Lafayette Birthday Celebrations are back in full swing for 2022!
North Carolina will once again celebrate the birthday of Revolutionary War hero Lafayette on the weekend after Labor Day. The official celebration takes place September 8-10 in Fayetteville, which was founded as Cross Creek in 1755 and renamed in 1783 by the North Carolina Assembly to honor the famous Frenchman. Fayetteville is the first city named for Lafayette and the only namesake city that he visited, even though he visited scores of cities and towns on his Farewell Tour of 1824-1825.
Festivities begin at 7:00pm on Thursday evening September 8 at First Presbyterian Church on Ann Street with the ever-popular French Music Concert by Gail Morfesis and Friends. This concert features easy-to-listen-to classical music that celebrates the long friendship between France and America. It will include French compositions inspired by American jazz and a name-that-tune number for fun audience participation. Running time for the concert will be under an hour and a half so that members of the audience can stay after and meet the musicians. Tickets for the concert are $15 per person and $10 for students. Online ticket sales have now closed but tickets are still available at the door, or in advance in person or by phone from City Center Gallery & Books (112 Hay Street in Downtown Fayetteville, 910-678-8899).
On Friday September 9 at 2pm, Dr. Daniel Stewart and Fayetteville Technical Community College will host a lecture by Dr. William Link entitled “Frank Porter Graham and the Rise of Modern North Carolina.” Graham was born in Fayetteville and went on to become President of the University of North Carolina in the 1930’s and a New Deal consultant to FDR. Graham advocated for progress in racial equality and education, even though his efforts were often stymied by North Carolina’s segregationist legislatures of the Jim Crow era. The Lafayette Society encourages the study of history, even that of modern times, especially as it relates to ideals practiced by and promoted by Lafayette. Lafayette was an advocate for emancipation and equal rights and, like Graham, occupied the middle ground from which position he tried to reconcile opposing viewpoints. Dr. Link recently retired as the Richard J. Milbauer Professor of History at the University of Florida. His biography on Graham, just published in November of 2021, will be available for purchase and signing. The event will be in the Multipurpose Room of the Tony Rand Student Center at FTCC and admission is free.
At Methodist University on Friday, September 9, archives librarian Arleen Fields will present “The Lafayette Legacy” at Davis Memorial Library. The event will begin at 6pm with a reception featuring North Carolina barbecue. During that time, guests will have the opportunity to view all of the items in the Dillman Lafayette Collection, most of which date from Lafayette’s 1824-1825 tour of the United States as “The Nation’s Guest.” At 7:00pm, Ms. Fields will discuss the legacy left by Gene Dillman, and share practical ways that attendees can care for their photographs, letters, and other documents in order to leave a physical legacy for their own families and communities. Admission is free. For more information, call 910-630-7412.
The Lafayette Trail Tour will take place Saturday morning September 10 from 8:30 to 11:00am, starting with coffee and croissants at 8:00am at the Museum of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry (F.I.L.I.) on Burgess Street in Historic Downtown Fayetteville. Accompanied by Major Bruce Daws, guests will see the actual carriage that Lafayette rode into town and visit places he visited in 1825. Major Daws’ fact-filled commentary is enlightening and entertaining. Portions of this unique tour will include rides on the Coldwell-Banker Trolley and some walking. It concludes with cake and ice cream at the Day of Living History at Lafayette Plaza in Cross Creek Park. Tickets are $20 per person. Space is limited to just 33 participants and advance reservations are required. Online ticket sales are now closed, but seats are still available! Call or stop by City Center Gallery & Books at 112 Hay Street, 910-678-8899 to get your tickets.
From 10am-2pm on Saturday September 10, “Camp Lafayette” will be set up for a day of living history in Cross Creek Park between Green Street and Ann Street on both sides of “The Creek.” This is a fun and educational event for the whole family. There will be performances by the Fife and Drum Corps, costumed re-enactors demonstrating various aspects of daily life in the Revolutionary War era, a musket demonstration, and hands-on activities for the kids, A food truck will be on site and there will be FREE birthday cake at 1pm while it lasts. Cooling tents will be set up onsite.
Have Lunch with Lafayette!
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the treasures of the Lafayette Collection at Methodist University, learn the backstory of Lafayette (Fayetteville’s worthy namesake!), and enjoy a discussion about “Everybody’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman” followed by a catered lunch.
Saturday, April 30, 2022
10 am – 1 pm
Davis Memorial Library, Methodist University
For more information, email the Lafayette Society or call 910-630-7412.
Lafayette and Brandywine at the F.I.L.I.
Join us on Thursday, May 12 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. as Bruce Mowday, author of Lafayette at Brandywine: the Making of an American Hero, talks about Lafayette and his first trial under fire. After the presentation, enjoy light refreshments and a book signing with the author.
Copies of Mr. Mowday’s book are available at City Center Gallery and Books (112 Hay St., downtown Fayetteville) at the discounted price of $20 for SAR, FILI, and Lafayette Society members. Copies of the book will also be available for purchase the night of the event.
The event will be held at the F.I.L.I. Armory and Museum (210 Burgess St., downtown Fayetteville) and is hosted by the Lafayette Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, and the Lafayette Society.
Due to space limitations, this free event is limited to current SAR, FILI, and Lafayette Society members.
Please Join Us For Our Annual Meeting!
After a two-year hiatus, we’re back to having a face-to-face event! The luncheon/social/meeting on Sunday, March 6th, 2022 at SkyView on Hay (in Downtown Fayetteville), kicks off at 12:30 pm with a buffet featuring French toast, sausage, and other breakfast treats, with a short program following at 1:15 pm. Come visit with friends that you haven’t seen in a few years, meet the new Lafayette Society president, and hear about all the exciting things that your Society has been up to (in spite of COVID-19 limitations) and plans to do this year!
Please let us know by Monday, February 21st, that you’ll be joining us! You can register and pay here, or call 910-630-7412 to let us know to expect you. We hope to see you on March 6th!
The Lafayette Birthday Celebration returned in 2021!
- A concert of French music on Thursday night at Hay Street United Methodist Church (Sept. 9 – 7:30 pm)
- The dedication of a new section of Lafayette Plaza in Cross Creek park on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 12 – 2:00 pm)
All events were open to the public.
Lafayette Society Members Attend AFL Annual Meeting
in Virginia’s Historic Colonial Region
Fayetteville’s Lafayette Society was well-represented at this year’s annual meeting of the American Friends of Lafayette!
With mask mandates lifted for fully vaccinated folks and things slowly returning to normal (whatever that may mean these days!), many traditional AFL events such as the business meeting and the Friday night dinner were held as usual. The AFL planners were caught somewhat off guard, however. They were expecting about 50 attendees and ended up with 89 – the second largest annual meeting ever! When the meeting was being planned, the state of public health by June was still uncertain, and so most of the activities consisted of walking tours rather than bus tours or indoor events. Attendees visited Lafayette-related sites in Gloucester, Yorktown, Suffolk, Portsmouth, and Williamsburg.
A special treat was a side trip from Suffolk to the village of Somerton located just 3 miles from the North Carolina line. Lafayette stopped here on his way to North Carolina during his Farewell Tour in 1825. An impromptu reception and lavish banquet were arranged for him at the 18th-century Washington Smith Ordinary (tavern). The current owners of the house, whose family has farmed the land there for over 200 years, extended an invitation to AFL members to tour this historic building that remains much in its original state. This was a unique opportunity, made possible only through the AFL.
[Click on the pictures to see larger images.]
In Portsmouth, Mayor Shannon Glover (left) presented a plaque to AFL President Alan Hoffman before the group set off on a walking tour of colonial Portsmouth led by Mary Veale and the Colonials, a local troupe of costumed interpreters.
Sunday morning Abbey Evans, AFL membership chair, and Mark Schneider, Colonial Williamsburg’s Lafayette reenactor, lead us on a tour of Lafayette’s Williamsburg. Abbey was gracious enough to allow us to post her brochure here on our website – if you’re planning a visit to colonial Williamsburg, it’s a great guide to the Lafayette-related sites in the town!
- Download the PDF (don’t try to print from your internet browser) and then open the file with Adobe Acrobat Reader.
- Pages to print = All
- Page sizing and Handling = Fit
- Print on both sides of paper (Flip on short edge)
- Orientation = Landscape
Next year’s AFL meeting will be held in West Point, NY – and attendees will actually be lodged at the Thayer Hotel on the grounds of the military academy. Don’t miss the chance to learn some history in the company of really fun folks!
Visit the American Friends of Lafayette website to learn more!
The Illustrated Journal of Jean-Baptiste Antoine de Verger
To celebrate Lafayette’s March 1825 visit to Fayetteville, the Lafayette Society of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and the American Friends of Lafayette hosted an online presentation on Friday, March 5, 2021, about Jean-Baptiste Antoine de Verger, a French lieutenant who served with General Rochambeau during the American Revolutionary War. De Verger kept a detailed diary of his experiences and observations of colonial America, camp life in the French Army, and eyewitness accounts of battles with British regulars. There are even two specific references to our hero, Lafayette! De Verger made several remarkable watercolor illustrations in his diary, including one of the earliest images of a Black soldier in a combat role in the Continental Army.
De Verger’s diary was acquired by the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection at Brown University and it remains one of their more unique and most frequently consulted items. Andrew Woelflein, Presiding Trustee of the Collection and Brown alumnus, talks about this rare historical artifact and its author. Link to the presentation is below!
Fayetteville’s Charles Chesnutt: African American Author in the Jim Crow Era on February 25, 2021
Link to the presentation is above!
As part of the Global Studies Lecture Series at Fayetteville State University (FSU), the Lafayette Society hosted an online presentation on Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932), our nation’s first successful African American author, on Thursday February 25 from 7pm-8pm. His novels deal with issues of racial identity, color and class prejudice, and the often-violent suppression of the rights and personal freedoms of African Americans. Chesnutt grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, during Reconstruction and his experiences there provided material for the controversial novels and short stories he wrote after he moved to Cleveland, Ohio.
The Lafayette Society started an endowment at FSU for “the Study of the Age of Revolutions, Emancipation, and Civil Rights” in 2018. Proceeds from the endowment will be used for continued educational programming, speaker fees, student grants, and faculty support. Until the endowment is fully funded, the Lafayette Society itself has been sponsoring a speaker every year in February. To learn how you can help support the Lafayette Endowment at FSU, go to the “Outreach” tab on this website.
Dr. Rob Taber will moderate the panel discussion on February 25. He is a history professor at FSU and co-advisor of the Black History Scholars Association. Joining him will be four experts on Chesnutt – Dr. Blanche Curry, Joshua James, Dr. Maria Orban, and Nicholle Young. They will discuss Chesnutt’s racial themes, his connections to Fayetteville and literary merit, and recent research findings.
Lafayette Birthday Celebration 2020
Lafayette persevered, and so did we!
The Lafayette Society and the City of Fayetteville, North Carolina, once again celebrated the birth of our namesake, the Marquis de Lafayette – but in an appropriate, CDC-compliant manner! Many of our activities were cancelled, some were virtual, and several took place as usual but with COVID-safe precautions.
2020 has been a complicated, fractious, tumultuous year thanks to the pandemic and economic, climatologic, and social/political upheavals. When Lafayette returned to visit America as The Nation’s Guest in 1824, the political landscape was also very divisive –the Presidential election that year had to be decided in the House of Representatives! The visit by this last surviving Major General of the Revolutionary War served as an antidote to this county’s political divide. He praised us for our industry, economic growth, and democratic institutions, which he saw as the fruits of our struggle for freedom from Great Britain. He helped us see that this freedom was achieved because of a unity of spirit and effort. In turn, America admired without reservation this noble Frenchman who had come to our aid fifty years before and who had devoted his entire life to freedom and human rights.
In that spirit, we chose the mature Lafayette for our poster this year, at the age when he visited America in 1824-25. This is the image of a leader who showed respect for others and treated all with fairness, surely an important message for our troubled times. (The life-sized portrait by Ary Scheffer hangs in the House of Representatives, on the viewer’s right of the Speaker’s podium. George Washington’s portrait, of course, is on the left).
and no Artifacts
In the past, the Lafayette Birthday Celebration has kicked off with an event at Methodist University called “Arias and Artifacts.” This event typically included an exhibit from the Lafayette Collection at Davis Memorial Library followed by a short concert of French music performed by professional musicians and vocalists.
This year, the “Artifacts” portion was cancelled, but “Arias” took place in a virtual format on September 3 on Hay Street Live, an Arts Council program streamed on YouTube and Facebook. Featured performers included Dr. Gail Morfesis, opera singer Alina Cherkasova, the woodwind ensemble Bella Venti, and the Thiriot Family. Over 400 people logged in to watch the show on Facebook, shattering all previous virtual attendance records for Hay Street Live!
The Arts Council incorporates live “commercial breaks” and interviews with special guests into Hay Street Live. General Lafayette probably didn’t have the pleasure of enjoying a “Highsmith mimosa” in 1825 but he certainly enjoyed one in 2020! The mimosas have become a tradition at the Lafayette Society’s annual meeting and luncheon social held on the first Sunday of March.
Lecture at FTCC
On Thursday, September 10, Fayetteville Technical Community College presented “A Sanctuary for the Rights of Mankind: Lafayette and Human Rights” by Diane Shaw, College Archivist and Special Collections Curator at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania for 30 years. Ms. Shaw, a recognized authority on the life and times of Lafayette, has written many articles about his opposition to slavery and support of equal rights for all.
Ms. Shaw gave the audience an in-depth look at Lafayette’s embrace of the antislavery movement, a passion that grew out of his experiences in the American Revolution and continued throughout his life. She also spoke of his efforts preceding the French Revolution to restore civil rights to French Protestants and Jews, his friendship for Native Americans, his support for women writers and reformers, and his opposition to solitary confinement and the death penalty.
Although in-person attendance was limited by state guidelines, Ms. Shaw’s talk was streamed live on the FTCC You tube channel. Also, the audio was streamed live on radio station WIDU, whose audience is largely African-American. You can watch the lecture on FTCC’s YouTube page.
The Lafayette Trail Tour
The popular Lafayette Trail bus/walking tour led by city historian and FILI member Bruce Daws was cancelled this year because of COVID. As an alternative, the Lafayette Society produced a series of short videos featuring sites that Lafayette visited in March of 1825. Lafayette interpreter Stan Seay visited the grave of Revolutionary War patriot Gabriel DuBrutz. DuBrutz was a member of the French fleet that prevented the escape of British General Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. He returned to America later and settled in Fayetteville, where he married and became a very successful merchant and land-owner. He also cultivated grapes for Bordeaux wine with seeds from the family vineyard in France. Our Lafayette also visited Liberty Point, where fifty-five Cumberland County patriots signed the Liberty Point Resolves on June 20, 1775, a full year before the Declaration of Independence.