Lafayette, French Hero of American Liberty, Returns –
Join us to welcome him back!
– “Count me in! I’m ready to donate now and have my gift amplified through GivingTuesday matching funds!”
About the Bicentennial
On March 4-5, 2025, Fayetteville will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the visit to our city by the Marquis de Lafayette, who fought alongside George Washington in the American Revolution and was an international symbol of freedom and human rights. These events are part of the national bicentennial celebration of Lafayette’s “Farewell Tour” of 1824-25, when President James Monroe persuaded him to return to visit America.
The “Farewell Tour” coincided with the 50th anniversary of our nation’s founding and the country was in a patriotic mood. Lafayette was the last surviving major general of the American Revolution and he was enormously popular. For many towns, it was the “event of the century.” In the larger cities like Boston, New York, or Philadelphia, crowds of 100,000 and more gathered just to get a glimpse of Lafayette, numbers that in modern times are associated with international rock stars.
The bicentennial celebration of the Farewell Tour begins in New York City in August of 2024. This will kick off a “rolling celebration,” as each city holds events on the exact dates they occurred. These will be immersive “living history” events with authentic costuming, music, dance, and other performances to replicate as faithfully as possible exactly what it must have felt like to be there two hundred years ago.
The celebration in Fayetteville, North Carolina, will take place on March 4-5, 2025. It will include a grand procession led by Lafayette and his entourage in an open carriage, a period costume ball, and a dinner party with live theatrical performances that portray various scenes from his visit. Fayetteville was the very first city named for Lafayette (in 1783) and the only namesake city he visited, facts that will elevate this to one of the nation’s premier celebrations. The local planning committee has partnered with Fayetteville’s Lafayette Society, but it also includes numerous other community organizations.
The American Friends of Lafayette (AFL) is coordinating the Farewell Tour bicentennial on the national level. They have designated Fayetteville as a “premier bicentennial site.” Chuck Schwam, AFL Chief Operating Officer, said “There is no more important location than Fayetteville, North Carolina… we expect thousands to descend upon Fayetteville for the purpose of commemorating, celebrating, and educating.”
Indeed, the celebration will be fun but also educational, with symbolic connections to the past. Two hundred years ago, there were social and political divisions in our country not unlike the present. President Monroe saw Lafayette as a unifying force for America in 1824-25 and he can be a unifying force again. Indeed, his ideals and life story make him the perfect role model for our Nation on the eve of its 250th birthday.
You can make these plans a reality by donating to
the Lafayette Society during Cumberland Community Foundation’s
If you make your donation between November 20-29, your gift will be amplified by the Cumberland Community Foundation (CCF) with a proportionate match.*
There are many ways to give!
- By check. In order to qualify for the match:
– your check must be made out to “CCF”
– the memo line must say “GivingTuesday-Lafayette Society”
– and it must be received after 9 am on November 20 but before 5 pm on November 29.
– mail to: Cumberland Community Foundation, Attn: GivingTuesday, PO Box 2345, Fayetteville, NC 28302
– or drop off between between November 20-29 at the Cumberland Community Foundation offices at the back of their building at 308 Green Street (Fayetteville, NC 28301). If dropping off after business hours, use the mail slot in the front door.
- Through appreciated securities, IRA distribution, or donor-advised funds. If you are interested in donating this way, call CCF at 910-483-4449 as soon as possible, as these transactions will take several days to arrange and process.
Regardless of how you give, or how much you give, please know how very much we appreciate your generosity. With your help, we will make sure this is the kind of high-quality event that Lafayette and our community deserve.
*Matching funds are made possible by Will Gillis, Elizbeth “Beth” Keeney, Ray and Daphne Manning, Carol and Sammy Short, Fayetteville New Car Dealers Association, Healy Wholesale, Unrestricted Endowment Funds of CCF, and anonymous donors.
The American Friends of Lafayette, founded in 1931 at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania to honor the memory of Lafayette, is a national organization with over 500 members in 35 states. This organization will coordinate the Farewell Tour on the national level. They have partnered with Fayetteville, North Carolina, and will highlight our celebration, an honor accorded only to 8 other cities out of hundreds of celebrations. For more information about the national celebration, please visit www.lafayette200.org.
Check out the video below to find out what Lafayette’s thinking about his return visit:
The bicentennial celebration was the main topic of discussion at the annual meeting of the American Friends of Lafayette in LaGrange, GA, in June 2023. Gwen Melton, secretary of the Lafayette Society board of directors, and her husband Ken are pictured here with two ladies dressed as if they are expecting Lafayette himself to visit them!
For a listing by location or by dates of the cities that Lafayette visited during his Farewell Tour, visit the website for The Lafayette Trail. This computer mapping project, founded by Frenchman Julien Icher, traces Lafayette’s travels across America in 1824-25. The AFL supervised the project during its founding between 2017-2019 and supported it with numerous donations. Later, Julien coordinated the installation of Lafayette Trail signs as physical corollaries of the computer maps. The signs were donated by the Pomeroy Foundation of New York. In 2021, Fayetteville became one of the first cities awarded a sign. Check out the video below to learn more about Fayetteville and our marker!