Lafayette, French Hero of American Liberty, Returns –
Join us to welcome him back!

 

Help us commemorate and celebrate the bicentennial of Lafayette’s visit to Fayetteville, NC – the only place named for him that he personally visited!

Tuesday afternoon, March 4 – Join the throngs welcoming Lafayette as he enters town in a horse-drawn carriage, accompanied by his son George Washington Lafayette and Hutchins Burton, the governor of North Carolina in 1825.  The Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry will march beside him in uniform as his bodyguard, just as they did in 1825.

Tuesday evening, March 4 – Dance the evening away at a formal ball held in Lafayette’s honor. (Regency attire is encouraged but not required.)  Dance master Charles Steplively of Virginia will be on hand to guide you through the steps, accompanied by live period music performed by Syllabub.

Wednesday, March 5 – Explore Fayetteville’s Lafayette Trail:  see the Liberty Point Resolves (Fayetteville’s own “declaration of independence”), documents and 200 year-old souvenirs related to Lafayette’s visit, Lafayette’s 1825 carriage, the four-poster bed he slept in, and other sights and sites related to Lafayette! Then head a little north of downtown to see the Methodist University Lafayette Collection on display at Davis Memorial Library.

Wednesday evening, March 5 – Enjoy an elegant dinner featuring a menu typical of the period enhanced with live music.  Be entertained by the dramatic portrayal of scenes from Lafayette’s visit to Fayetteville, directed by Fayetteville State University theatre professor (and Sweet Tea Shakespeare founder) Jeremy Fiebig.

Thursday morning, March 6 – American Friends of Lafayette/Lafayette society members-only event at Methodist University.

 Need a Reservation? Stay Tuned!

We have already received emails from people wanting to go ahead and register to attend the Fayetteville events! Some have even booked a room! Well, good news! We will have a link on this page to online reservation services for the Lafayette Costume Ball and the Farewell Dinner and we will also have a list of preferred hotels.

All of that will go live on June 30 and you can find it right here!

More about the celebration in Fayetteville…

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.

TravelStorys

Explore Lafayette’s visit to North Carolina with this interactive video tour.  You can take a virtual tour of each location by clicking on the white arrow on the “Lafayette in North Carolina” video below, moving the map (scroll south to see Fayetteville), and then clicking on the story sites on the map. You can also enjoy the tour on location by downloading the TravelStorys app for free. The audio, text, and images will launch automatically as you approach each story site.

 

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.

 

 

 

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, president of Fayetteville’s 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!

Lafayette Society President Hank Parfitt, County Commissioner Glenn Adams, Mayor Mitch Colvin, General Lafayette, and Julien Ischer h Colvin, and national Lafayette Trail organizer Julien Ischer standing in front of the Lafayette Statue in Cross Creek Park.
Lafayette Society President Hank Parfitt, County Commissioner Glenn Adams, Mayor Mitch Colvin, General Lafayette, and Julien Ischer welcome guests to the marker dedication.
Five men unveiling the Lafayette Trail marker in Cross Creek Park
County Commissioner Glenn Adams, General Lafayette, Lafayette Society Vice President Bud Lafferty, Mayor Mitch Colvin, and national Lafayette Trail organizer Julien Ischer unveil Fayetteville's Lafayette Trail marker.
The Lafayette Trail marker in Cross Creek Park at sundown.
The Pomeroy Foundation is generously funding the installation of these historical markers.

 

Why did Lafayette keep this drawing of Fayetteville over his bed in France?

Find out more here!