The Full Wiki

General Lafayette: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

6 September 1757 – 20 May 1834 (aged 76)
Gilbert du Motier Marquis de Lafayette.jpg
Marquis de La Fayette Signature.svg
Place of birth Chavaniac, France
Place of death Paris, France
Resting place Picpus Cemetery
Allegiance France
United States of America
Rank Major-general insignia.svg Major General (US)
Maréchal de camp (France)
Battles/wars American Revolutionary War
Relations Wife: Marie Adrienne Françoise de Noailles

Uncle: Jacques-Roch
Son: Georges Washington (1779-1849)
Daughters: Anastasie (1777-1863)
Virginie (1782-1849)

Other work Politician
Estates General (Auvergne)
Member of the National Assembly

Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette (or Lafayette) (6 September 1757 – 20 May 1834) was a French aristocrat and military officer born in the province of Auvergne in south central France. Lafayette was a general in the American Revolutionary War and a leader of the Garde Nationale during the French Revolution.

In the American Revolution, Lafayette served in the Continental Army under George Washington. Wounded during the Battle of Brandywine, he still managed to organize a successful retreat. He served with distinction in the Battle of Rhode Island. In the middle of the war, he returned to France to negotiate an increased French commitment. On his return, he blocked troops led by Cornwallis at Yorktown while the armies of Washington and Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, prepared for battle against the British.

Back in France in 1788, Lafayette was called to the Assembly of Notables to respond to the fiscal crisis. Lafayette proposed a meeting of the French Estates-General, where representatives from the three traditional classes of French society — the clergy, the nobility and the commoners — met. He served as vice president of the resulting body and presented a draft of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Lafayette was appointed commander-in-chief of the French (Garde nationale) National Guard in response to violence leading up to the French Revolution. During the Revolution, Lafayette attempted to maintain order, for which he ultimately was persecuted by the Jacobins. In 1791, as the radical factions in the Revolution grew in power, Lafayette tried to flee to the United States through the Dutch Republic. He was captured by Austrians and served nearly five years in prison.

Lafayette returned to France after Bonaparte freed him from an Austrian prison in 1797. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies under the Charter of 1815, during the Hundred Days. With the Bourbon Restoration, Lafayette became a liberal member of the Chamber of Deputies in 1815, a position he held until his death. In 1824, President James Monroe invited Lafayette to the United States as the "nation's guest"; during the trip, he would visit all of the then twenty-four states. For his contributions to the American Revolution, many cities and monuments throughout the United States bear his name (Fayetteville, North Carolina was the only one of those he actually visited in person), and he was the first person granted honorary United States citizenship. During France's July Revolution of 1830 Lafayette declined an offer to become the French dictator; instead he supported Louis-Philippe's bid as a constitutional monarch. Lafayette died on 20 May 1834, and is buried in Picpus Cemetery in Paris, under soil from Revolutionary War battlefield Bunker Hill.



Young Marquis de Lafayette

Lafayette was born on 6 September 1757 to Michel Louis Christophe Roch Gilbert Paulette du Motier, marquis de La Fayette, colonel aux Grenadiers de France, and Marie Louise Jolie de La Rivière, at the château de Chavaniac, in Chavaniac, near Le Puy-en-Velay, in the modern department of Haute-Loire.[1] His full name is rarely used; instead he is often referred to as the marquis de La Fayette or Lafayette. Biographer Louis Gottschalk asserted that Lafayette indifferently spelled his name both Lafayette and LaFayette.[2]

Lafayette's lineage appears to be one of the oldest in Auvergne. In this area members of the family were known for their contempt for danger. [3] Lafayette's ancestor, Marshal of France Gilbert de La Fayette III, was a companion-at-arms who led Joan of Arc's army in Orléans. His great-grandfather was the comte de La Rivière, a former lieutenant general in the Royal Armées. According to legend, another ancestor acquired the Crown of Thorns during the 6th Crusade.[4] Lafayette's uncle Jacques-Roch died fighting the Austrians and left the marquis title to Lafayette's father.[5]

Lafayette's father, struck by a cannonball at the Battle of Minden in Westphalia, died on 1 August 1759.[6] Lafayette became Lord of Chavaniac, but the estate went to his mother. Lafayette's mother and his maternal grandfather, marquis de La Rivière, died, on 3 April and 24 April 1770 respectively, leaving Lafayette an income of 25,000 livres. Upon the death of an uncle, the 12-year-old Lafayette inherited a handsome yearly sum of 120,000 livres.[6] Lafayette was raised by his paternal grandmother, Mme de Chavaniac, who had brought the château into the family with her dowry. Also in the household were Mme de Chavaniac's daughters Madeleine de Motier, and Charlotte Guérin, the baronne de Chavaniac.[5]

Education and marriage

Madame de Lafayette

Lafayette's mother decided that the family's heir necessitated proper schooling in Paris rather than at-home tutoring by the Abbé Fayon. Hence, at the age of eleven, he entered the Collège du Plessis, a school for boys of the aristocracy.[7][8] He studied military matters at the Versailles Academy and, on 9 April 1771, was commissioned as a sous-lieutenant (second Lieutenant) in the Mousquetaires.[9][10] The Mousquetaires program was eventually dismantled due to the high cost of running operations and the growing concern for spending. This was met with positive and negative opinions by the aristocracy. The Musketeers were often used for protection of the royalty. [11]

Through an arranged marriage, he wed Marie Adrienne Françoise de Noailles, the daughter of the wealthy Jean-Paul-François, 5th duc de Noailles. On 14 March 1774, Louis XV signed the marriage contract, and the wedding took place on 11 April; Lafayette's father-in-law gave him a dowry of 400,000 livres, the rank of captain, and command of a company in the Noailles Dragoons Regiment.[12]

Departure from France


Joining the American War

In 1775, Lafayette took part in his unit's annual training in Metz, where he met Charles-François, comte de Broglie, the Army of the East's commander and a superior. When the Duke of Gloucester, King George III's brother and colonial policy critic, travelled through the region, he was invited to dinner with de Broglie and his men.[4] Lafayette wrote in his memoirs that at this dinner when he

...first learned of that quarrel, my heart was enlisted and I thought only of joining the colors.[13]

Lafayette returned to Paris in the fall and participated in sociétés de pensée (thinking groups) that discussed French involvement in the American Revolution. At these meetings, a frequent speaker, Abbé Guillaume Raynal emphasised the "rights of man". He criticised the nobility, the clergy and the practice of slavery. The monarchy banned Raynal from speaking, and he expressed his views secretly in the Masonic Lodges of which Lafayette was a member.[14]

On 7 December 1776, Lafayette arranged through Silas Deane, an American agent in Paris, to enter the American service as a major general.[15] Lafayette visited his uncle Marquis de Noailles, the Ambassador to Britain, as he promised.[16] During a ball at Lord George Germain's, he met Lord Rawdon,[17] met Sir Henry Clinton at the Opera, and met Lord Shelburne at breakfast.[18] However, Lafayette refused to toast King George, and left after three weeks.[19] In 1777, the French government granted the American military one million livres in supplies after Minister Charles Gravier pressed for French involvement. De Broglie intrigued with his old subordinate, German Johann de Kalb, (who had previously done a reconnaissance of America), to send French officers to fight alongside the Americans, (and perhaps set up a French generalissimo).[20] De Broglie approached Gravier, suggesting assistance to the American revolutionaries. De Broglie then presented Lafayette, who had been placed on the reserve list, to de Kalb.[21]

Departure for America

Going back to Paris, Lafayette found that the Continental Congress did not have the money for his voyage; hence he acquired the sailing ship La Victoire himself.[19] The king officially forbade him to leave after British spies discovered his plan, and issued an order for Lafayette to join his father-in-law's regiment in Marseille,[22] disobedience of which would be punishable by imprisonment. The British ambassador ordered the seizure of the ship Lafayette was fitting out at Bordeaux, and Lafayette was threatened with arrest.[22][23][24] He eluded capture disguised as a courier, and travelled to Spain. On 20 April 1777, he sailed for America with eleven companions,[25] leaving his pregnant wife in France.[9] The ship's captain intended to stop in the West Indies to sell cargo; however Lafayette, fearful of arrest, bought the cargo to avoid docking at the islands.[22] He landed on North Island near Georgetown, South Carolina, on 13 June 1777.[19][26]

American Revolution

Painting of two men on horses talking to a sentry
Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge

On arrival, Lafayette met Major Benjamin Huger, with whom he stayed for two weeks before departing on the thirty-two day journey to Philadelphia. In Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress delayed Lafayette's commission, as they had tired of "French glory seekers" and other men sent by Silas Deane. Congress, impressed by Lafayette's offer to serve without pay, commissioned the rank of major-general on 31 July 1777.[27] The commission, however, became effective on that date, not from his original agreement with Deane. In addition, he was not assigned a unit; he nearly returned home for this reason.[28][29]

Benjamin Franklin, however, wrote George Washington recommending acceptance of Lafayette as his aide-de-camp, hoping it would influence France to commit more aid.[30] Washington accepted, and Lafayette met him at Moland House in Bucks County, Pennsylvania on 10 August 1777.[31] When Washington expressed embarrassment to show a French officer the state of their camp and troops, Lafayette responded, "I am here to learn, not to teach."[32] He became a member of Washington's staff, although confusion existed regarding his status. Congress regarded his commission as honorary, while he considered himself a full-fledged commander who would be given control of a division, when Washington deemed him prepared. To address this, Washington told Lafayette that a division would not be possible as he was of foreign birth; however, Washington said that he would be happy to hold him in confidence as "friend and father".[33]

Brandywine, Albany, and the Conway Cabal

Lafayette wounded at the battle of Brandywine

Lafayette's first battle was at Brandywine on 11 September 1777, which was lost.[34] After the British outflanked the Americans, Washington acquiesced to a request by Lafayette to join General John Sullivan. Upon his arrival, Lafayette went with the Third Pennsylvania Brigade, under Brigadier Thomas Conway and attempted to rally the unit to face the attack. In face of the British and Hessian numeric superiority, Lafayette was shot in the leg. During the American retreat, Lafayette created a control point allowing a more orderly retreat before being treated for his wound.[35] After the battle, Washington cited him for "bravery and military ardour" and, recommended him for the command of a division in a letter to Congress.[19]

Lafayette returned to the field in December after two months of rest, and received command of Major General Adam Stephen's division.[36] He assisted General Nathanael Greene in reconnaissance of British positions in New Jersey; with 300 soldiers, he defeated a numerically superior Hessian force in Gloucester on 24 November 1777.[37]

He returned to Valley Forge for the winter, where the Horatio Gates led War Board asked him to prepare an invasion of Canada from Albany, New York. Thomas Conway hoped to replace Washington with Gates, who had been successful in the Battle of Saratoga. He concocted a plot known as the Conway Cabal which separated Washington from Lafayette, one of Washington's firmest supporters.[29] Lafayette alerted Washington of his suspicions about the plot before leaving.[38] When Lafayette arrived in Albany, he found too few men to mount a Canadian invasion in the winter. He wrote to Washington of the situation, and made plans to return to Valley Forge. Before departing, he recruited the Oneida tribe, who referred to Lafayette as Kayewla (fearsome horseman), to the American side.[19] In Valley Forge, he vocally criticised the War Board's decision to attempt an invasion of Canada in the winter. The Continental Congress agreed and Gates was removed from the Board.[39] Meanwhile, treaties signed by America and France were made public in March 1778, and France formally recognised American independence.[4]

Barren Hill, Monmouth and Rhode Island

Map of the battle of Barren Hill

After France entered the war, the Americans tried to sense what the British forces' reaction would be. On 18 May 1778, Washington dispatched Lafayette with a 2,200 man force to reconnoitre near Barren Hill, Pennsylvania. The next day, the British heard that Lafayette had made camp nearby and sent 5,000 men to capture him for his symbolic value representing the Franco-American alliance. On 20 May, General Howe led a further 6,000 soldiers and ordered an attack on Lafayette's left flank. The flank scattered, and Lafayette organised a retreat while the British remained indecisive. To feign numerical superiority, he ordered men to appear from the woods on an outcropping known as Barren Hill (now Lafayette Hill) and to fire upon the British periodically.[40] Lafayette's troops simultaneously escaped via a sunken road.[41] Lafayette was then able to cross Matson's Ford with the remainder of his force.[42]

Unable to trap Lafayette, the British resumed their march north from Philadelphia to New York; the Continental Army, including Lafayette, followed and finally attacked at the Monmouth Courthouse.[4] At Monmouth, Washington appointed General Lee to lead the attacking force. On 28 June, Lee moved against the British flank; however, soon after fighting began, he began acting strangely. Lafayette sent a message to Washington to urge him to the front; upon his arrival he found Lee's men in retreat. Washington was able to rally the American force and repel two British attacks. Due to the day's heat, fighting ended early and the British withdrew in the night.[43]

The French fleet arrived in America on 8 July 1778 under Admiral d'Estaing, with whom General Washington planned to attack Newport, Rhode Island. Lafayette and General Greene were sent with a 3,000-man force to participate in the attack. Lafayette wanted to control a joint Franco-American force in the attack but was rebuffed. On 9 August, the American force attacked the British without consulting d'Estaing. When the Americans asked the admiral to leave his fleet in Narragansett Bay, d'Estaing refused and attacked the British under Lord Howe.[1] The attack dispersed the British fleet, but a storm damaged the French ships.[19]

D'Estaing moved his ships north to Boston for repairs. When the fleet arrived, Bostonians rioted because they considered the French departure from Newport a desertion. John Hancock and Lafayette were dispatched to calm the situation, and then Lafayette returned to Newport to prepare for the retreat made necessary by d'Estaing's departure. For these actions, Lafayette was cited by the Continental Congress for "gallantry, skill and prudence". However he realised that the Boston riot might undermine the Franco-American alliance in France, so he requested and was given permission to return to France.[19]

Lafayette (by Cyrus Edwin Dallin 1889)

Return to France

In February 1779, Lafayette returned to Paris. For disobeying the king by going to America, he was placed under house arrest for two weeks. Nevertheless, his return was triumphant.[19] Benjamin Franklin's grandson presented him with a 4,800 livre gold-encrusted sword commissioned by the Continental Congress, and the king asked to see him.[44] Louis XVI, pleased with the soldier after Lafayette proposed schemes for attacking the British, restored his position in the dragoons. Lafayette used his position to lobby for more French aid to America. Working with Franklin, Lafayette secured another 6,000 soldiers to be commanded by General Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau.[19]

Lafayette received news that Adrienne had borne him a son, Georges Washington Lafayette.[45] After his son's birth, he pushed for additional commitments of support from France for the American Revolutionary War. He ordered new uniforms and arranged for the fleet's departure. Before returning to America, Lafayette and the French force learned that they would be operating under American command, with Washington in control of military operations. In March 1780, Lafayette gave power of attorney to business manager Jacques-Philippe Grattepain-Morizot and Adrienne,[46] and left France, departing for the Americas aboard the Hermione,[47] from the harbour of Rochefort. He arrived in Boston on 28 April carrying the then secret news that he had secured French reinforcements (5,500 men and 5 frigates) for George Washington.

Virginia and Yorktown

A map of key sites in the Battle of Yorktown

Lafayette returned to America in May 1781 and was sent to Virginia to defend against Benedict Arnold and to replace Baron von Steuben.[48][49] Lafayette evaded Cornwallis' attempts to capture him in Richmond.[49] In June, Cornwallis received orders from London to proceed to the Chesapeake Bay and to oversee construction of a port, in preparation of an attack on Philadelphia.[49] As the British column travelled, Lafayette followed in a bold show of force that encouraged new recruits. In June, Lafayette's men were joined by forces under General (Mad) Anthony Wayne. Soldiers deserted both leaders; Wayne executed six for desertion. Lafayette offered to release his men from service because of the great danger ahead; all of his men remained.[50]

On 4 July, the British decamped at Williamsburg and prepared to cross the James River. Cornwallis sent only an advance guard across the river, with intentions to trap, should Lafayette attack. Lafayette ordered Wayne to strike on 6 July with roughly 800 soldiers. Wayne found himself vastly outnumbered against the full British force and, instead of retreating, led a bayonet charge. The charge bought time for the Americans, and Lafayette ordered the retreat. The British did not pursue. The result was a victory for Cornwallis, but the American army was bolstered from the display of courage by the men.[49][51]

By August, Cornwallis had established the British at Yorktown, and Lafayette took up position on Malvern Hill. This manoeuvre trapped the British when the French fleet arrived.[4][52] On 14 September 1781, Washington's forces joined Lafayette's, which had succeeded in containing the British until supplies and reinforcements arrived. On 28 September, with the French fleet blockading the British, the combined forces attacked in what became known as the Siege of Yorktown. Lafayette's detail formed the right end of the American wing, the 400 men of which took redoubt 10, in hand-to-hand combat.[51] After a failed British counter-attack, Cornwallis surrendered on 19 October 1781.[53]

Return to France and visit to America

Lafayette returned to France on 18 December 1781 from Boston. He was welcomed as a hero, and on 22 January 1782, he was received at Versailles. He witnessed the birth of his daughter, whom he named Marie-Antoinette Virginie upon Thomas Jefferson's recommendation.[54][55] He was promoted to maréchal de camp, skipping numerous ranks.[56] Lafayette then helped prepare for a combined French and Spanish expedition, of which he was appointed chief-of-staff, against the British West India Islands. The Treaty of Paris signed between Great Britain and the U.S. on 20 January 1783 made the expedition unnecessary.[57]

In France, Lafayette worked with Thomas Jefferson to organize trade agreements between the United States and France. These negotiations aimed to reduce debt owed to France by the U.S., and included commitments on tobacco and whale oil.[58] He joined the French abolitionist group Society of the Friends of the Blacks, which advocated for ending slave trade and equal rights for free blacks. In 1783, in correspondence with Washington, he urged the emancipation of slaves; and to establish them as farmer tenants.[59] Although Washington demurred, Lafayette purchased land in the French colony of Cayenne for his plantation La Belle Gabrielle, to "experiment" with education, and emancipation.[59][60][61]

Lafayette and Washington at Mt. Vernon, 1784

In 1782 Lafayette returned to America, and visited all of the states except Georgia.[62] The trip included a visit to Washington's farm at Mount Vernon on 17 August. In Virginia, Lafayette addressed the House of Delegates and prayed for "liberty of all mankind"; and urged emancipation.[63] Lafayette advocated to the Pennsylvania Legislature for a federal union, and visited the Mohawk Valley in New York for peace negotiations between the Iroquois, some of whom had met Lafayette in 1778.[64] Lafayette received an honorary degree from Harvard, a portrait of Washington from the city of Boston, and a bust from the state of Virginia. Maryland's legislature honored him by making Lafayette and his male heirs "natural born Citizens" of the state, which made him a natural born citizen of the United States after ratification of the new national Constitution.[65] Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia also granted him honorary citizenship.[66][67][68]

Upon his return to France, Historian Louis Gottschalk concluded that Lafayette became involved in an affair with the comtesse Aglaé d'Hunolstein,[69] that he broke off on 27 March 1783 by letter, at the insistence of her family.[70] He became briefly linked amorously to Madame de Simiane; however, scholars are divided, whether Adrienne knew of these two extramarital affairs.[71][72] Enemies of Lafayette made much of the court gossip.

Through the next years, Lafayette was active in the Hôtel de La Fayette, in the rue de Bourbon, the headquarters of Americans in Paris, Benjamin Franklin, Mr. and Mrs. John Jay, and Mr. and Mrs. John Adams, who met every Monday, and dined in company with family and the liberal nobility, such as Clermont-Tonnerre, and Madame de Staël.[73]

French Revolution

Assembly of Notables and Estates-General

"Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen", proposed to the Estates-General by Lafayette

King Louis XVI convoked the Assembly of Notables on 29 December 1786, in response to France's fiscal crisis. The King appointed Lafayette to the body, in the comte d'Artois' division, which met on 22 February 1787. Lafayette argued against proposed higher taxation to solve the economic problems, and supported measures to curb spending.[74] He called for a "truly national assembly", which represented the three classes of French society: clergy, nobility, and commons.[75] On 8 August 1788, the King agreed to hold an Estates General the next year. Lafayette was elected to represent the nobility (Second Estate) from Riom in the Estates General.[76]

The Estates General convened on 5 May 1789; debate began on whether the delegates should vote by head or by Estate. If voting was by Estate then the nobility and clergy would be able to overturn the commons; if by head, then the larger Third Estate could dominate. Before the meeting, he agitated for the voting by headcount, rather than estate, as a member of the "Committee of Thirty".[77] The issue did not resolve and, on 1 June, the Third Estate asked the others to join them. From 13 to 17 June many of the clergy and some of the nobility did so; on the 17th, the group declared itself the National Assembly.[78] Three days later the doors to their chambers were locked. This led to the Tennis Court Oath, where the members swore to not separate until a Constitution was established.[79] Lafayette, along with forty-six others, joined the National Assembly and, on 27 June, the remainder followed. On 11 July 1789, Lafayette presented a draft of the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen".[80] The next day, after dismissal of Finance Minister Jacques Necker, Camille Desmoulins organised an armed mob. The King had the Royal Army under the 2nd duc de Broglie surround Paris.[81] On 13 July, the Assembly elected him their vice-president; the following day the Bastille was stormed.[82][83]

National Guard, Versailles, and Day of Daggers

The oath of Lafayette at the Fête de la Fédération, 14 July 1790. Talleyrand, then Bishop of Autun can be seen on the right. The standing child is the son of La Fayette, the young Georges Washington de La Fayette. French School, 18th century. Musée Carnavalet.

On 15 July, Lafayette was acclaimed commander-in-chief of the National Guard of France, an armed force established to maintain order under the control of the Assembly.[84][85] Lafayette proposed the name and the symbol of the group: a blue, white and red cockade.[80][83] On 5 October 1789, a Parisian crowd, comprised mostly of women, marched to Versailles in response to the scarcity of bread. Lafayette and members of the National Guard followed the march. At Versailles, the king accepted the Assembly's votes but refused requests to return to Paris. That evening, Lafayette replaced most of the royal bodyguards with National Guardsmen. At dawn, the crowd broke into the palace. Before it succeeded in entering the queen's bedroom, Marie Antoinette fled to the king's apartments. Lafayette took the royal family onto the palace balcony and attempted to restore order.[86][87] The crowd insisted that the king and his family move to Paris where they were installed in the Tuileries Palace.[88][89]

As leader of the National Guard, Lafayette attempted to maintain order. On 12 May 1790, he instituted, along with Jean Sylvain Bailly (mayor of Paris), a political club called the "Society of 1789" . The club's intention was to provide balance to the influence of the Jacobins.[90] On 14 July 1790, Lafayette took the civic oath on the Champ de Mars, vowing to "be ever faithful to the nation, to the law, and to the king; to support with our utmost power the constitution decreed by the National Assembly, and accepted by the king."[91]

He continued to work for order through the coming months. On 20 February 1791, the Day of Daggers, Lafayette traveled to Vincennes in response to an attempt to liberate a local prison. Meanwhile, armed nobles converged around the Tuileries, afraid the unprotected king would be attacked. Lafayette returned to Paris to disarm the nobles.[92] On 18 April, the National Guard disobeyed Lafayette and stopped the King from leaving for Saint-Cloud over Easter.[83][93][94]

Decline: Flight to Varennes, Champs de Mars, and the Parisian Mayoral election

One depiction of the Champ de Mars massacre

On 20 June 1791, an unsuccessful plot, called the Flight to Varennes, nearly allowed the king to escape from Paris. As leader of the National Guard, Lafayette had been responsible for the royal family's custody. He was thus blamed by Danton for the mishap and called a "traitor" to the people by Maximilien Robespierre.[95] These accusations portrayed Lafayette as a royalist, and damaged his reputation in the eyes of the public.[96] The episode garnered support throughout the country for the Republican movement, and "polarized" the king's supporters.[97]

Through the latter half of 1791, Lafayette's stature continued to decline. On 17 July, the Cordeliers organized an event, at the Champ de Mars, to gather signatures on a petition which called for a referendum on Louis XVI.[98] The assembled crowd, estimated to be up to 10,000, hanged two men believed to be spies after they were found under a platform.[99]

In response, the Assembly asked Bailly, the mayor of Paris, to "halt the disorder";[100] martial law was declared; and National Guard troops, under Lafayette, marched to the scene.[100] Lafayette, at the head of the column, carried a red flag to signify martial law. The National Guard under Lafayette tried to disperse the crowd without the use of violence. The National Guards first attempts were successful and the crowd dissipated. However, later that same day it massed again.[101] This was in part due to speeches given by Georges Danton and Camille Desmoulins. At some point stones were then thrown at the troops. Lafayette at this point is thought to have ordered his troops to fire warning shots into the air. When the crowd did not back down, Lafayette ordered his men to fire into the crowd. The National Guard was comprised substantially of volunteers. Senior Officers in the National Guard questioned after the event stated they found it hard to control the actions of the volunteer soldiers. Many injuries were reported though not all were fatal. This is generally thought to have been due to the disorganization and inexpert actions taken by the National Guard in the quelling of the disorder. Exact numbers of deaths are unknown; estimates generally range from a dozen to fifty.[99][100] Because of these confusions, the sequence of events at the Champ de Mars remains unclear and contested.

In combination with the Flight to Varennes, this event, known as the Champ de Mars Massacre (Fusillade du Champ de Mars), furthered the public's mistrust in Lafayette and Bailly; in the aftermath, Lafayette resigned his National Guard command and Bailly vacated his post as mayor.[97] In November, Lafayette ran against Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve in the mayoral election to succeed Bailly. He lost his campaign against Villeneuve by a large margin. Criticisms plagued Lafayette's mayoral campaign: his roles in the flight to Varennes and the Champ de Mars massacre were denounced both by politicians on the left and right.[102]

Conflict and imprisonment

Lafayette Memorial at Olomouc

Lafayette returned to Auvergne following the loss of the mayoral election.[102] France declared war on Austria on 20 April 1792, and preparations to invade the Austrian Netherlands were begun; Lafayette received command of one of the three armies, at Metz.[103] The war proceeded poorly: Lafayette, along with Rochambeau and Luckner, asked the Assembly to begin peace proceedings, as the generals feared the army would collapse if forced to attack.[104]

In June 1792, Lafayette criticized the growing influence of the radical clubs through a letter to the Assembly from his field post,[105] and ended his letter by calling for radical parties to be "closed down by force".[104] Earlier, in May, he had secretly proposed to a Brussels diplomat that the war be stopped until he achieved peace in Paris, perhaps by force. Lafayette's prior actions, despite the proposal's secrecy, caused suspicions that he planned a coup d’état. Marie-Antoinette advised authorities of Lafayette's plan, since she did not favor the constitution.[104] Lafayette left his command and returned to Paris on 28 June, where he asked the Assembly for the radical parties to be outlawed, the National Guard to defend the monarchy, and for the Constitution to be upheld.[106][107] His return augmented suspicions that he planned a coup d’état. Again, Lafayette and the Feuillants proposed to save the constitutional monarchy and royal family by uniting his army with General Luckner's. Marie-Antoinette refused: Lafayette had lost the support of the monarchy and the radical parties of the Revolution.[108][109]

On 8 August, a vote of impeachment was held against him for abandoning his post, in which more than two thirds voted against.[109] Two days later, on 10 August, a mob attacked the Tuileries. The king and his family were brought under guard to the Legislative Assembly who suspended Louis XVI and convoked the National Convention. Commissioners dispatched by the Paris Commune arrived at Sedan, where Lafayette now led his army, to inform him of the events and to secure allegiance to the new government. Lafayette refused their offer of an executive role in the new government, and ordered them arrested, as he found them to be "agents of a faction which had unlawfully seized power."[110] New commissioners came to Sedan and informed Lafayette that he had been relieved of his command. On 19 August, the Assembly declared Lafayette a traitor.[110]

Lafayette and a group of supporters decided to flee for the Dutch Republic. Lafayette hoped to escape to the United States or to rally Constitutional supporters,[111] but did not make it; the Austrians under Field Marshall Moitelle, arrested him at Rochefort, Belgium. Among those arrested with him were Jean Baptiste Joseph, chevalier de Laumoy, Louis Saint Ange Morel, chevalier de la Colombe, Alexandre-Théodore-Victor, comte de Lameth, Charles César de Fay de La Tour-Maubourg, Marie Victor de Fay, marquis de Latour-Maubourg, Juste-Charles de Fay de La Tour-Maubourg, Jean-Xavier Bureau de Pusy.[112][113][114] Several days later, the prisoners were handed over to Prussia and imprisoned at the citadel of Wesel, where La Fayette became ill. From 25 August to 3 September 1792, he was held at Nivelles; then at Coblentz from 16 to 29 September 1794; at Magdeburg from 15 March 1793 to 22 Jan 1794; at Neisse from 16 February 1794 to 16 May 1794, and finally moved to Olmutz around 25 July 1794, where he was incarcerated in a dungeon.[115]

On 17 September 1792, soldiers placed Lafayette's wife, Adrienne, under house arrest. Adrienne sold her property and appealed to the Americans for assistance. For political reasons, the young nation could not officially assist the family, although they retroactively paid Lafayette $24,424 for his military service, and Washington personally sent financial aid. In May 1794, during the Reign of Terror, she was transferred to the La Force Prison in Paris; she went from prison to prison until her release on 22 January 1795.

Adrienne organized the family's finances, including the sale of her property,[116] and appealed to the U.S. for American passports. James Monroe secured passports for Adrienne from Connecticut, which had granted the entire Lafayette family citizenship. Their son Georges, who was hiding to avoid execution, was sent to the U.S.[117] She, however, continued to Vienna for an audience with Emperor Francis II, who granted permission for her to live with Lafayette in captivity.[118] Adrienne lived in his cell with him and finally, in September 1797, after five years' imprisonment, Napoleon Bonaparte and the Directory negotiated the release of the family, as a part of the Treaty of Campo Formio, drafted in 1797.[119] Lafayette was not allowed to return to France until 1799, after Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'état of 18 Brumaire, when Adrienne obtained permission for his return. On return, Lafayette, averse to serving in Napoleon's army, resigned his commission.[120] They retired to La Grange, property of her mother's, which Adrienne had recovered, and where Charles James Fox came to visit.

Later life and death

1824 Portrait by Scheffer in the U.S. House of Representatives

Lafayette was unwilling to compromise with Napoleon's government; thus he stayed away from a government that he viewed as illegitimate, in Paris. In 1804, Napoleon was crowned Emperor, after a plebiscite in which Lafayette did not participate. He remained relatively quiet, although he spoke publicly on Bastille Day events.[121] After the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson asked if he would be interested in the governorship. Lafayette declined, citing personal problems and the desire to work for liberty in France.[122] During a trip to Auvergne, Adrienne became ill. Due to her malady, worsened by the scurvy she had contracted in prison, she was unable to hide her anemia. In 1807, she became delirious but recovered enough on Christmas Eve to gather the family around her bed and to say to Lafayette: "Je suis toute à vous" ("I am all yours").[123] She died the next day, apparently from lead-poisoning complications.[124]

The Hundred Days

He was elected to the Chamber of Representatives under the Charter of 1815, during the Hundred Days, which called for Napoleon to abdicate after Waterloo. Lucien Bonaparte, came before the assembly to denounce abdication, Lafayette replied:

By what right do you dare accuse the nation of...want of perseverance in the emperor's interest? The nation has followed him on the fields of Italy, across the sands of Egypt and the plains of Germany, across the frozen deserts of Russia.... The nation has followed him in fifty battles, in his defeats and in his victories, and in doing so we have to mourn the blood of three million Frenchmen.[125]


Louis XVIII and the ultra-royalists became increasingly repressive. In 1823, he was involved in the Saint-Amand Bazard conspiracy, in the premature Charbonnerie insurrection at Belfort. France intervened in the Spanish Civil War, 1820–1823, increasing patriotism, and discredited dissent. In 1825 Charles X was crowned, and the ultra-loyalists consolidated power.

Grand Tour of America

Portrait of General Lafayette (by Matthew Harris) in 1825

President James Monroe invited Lafayette to visit the United States from August 1824 to September 1825, in part to celebrate the nation's 50th anniversary.[26] During his trip, he visited all of the American states and travelled more than 6,000 miles (9,656 km).[126][127] Lafayette arrived from France at Staten Island, N.Y., on 15 August 1824, to an artillery salute.[128] The towns and cities he visited, including Fayetteville, North Carolina, the first city named in his honour, gave him enthusiastic welcomes.[126] On 17 October 1824, Lafayette visited Mount Vernon and George Washington's tomb. On 4 November 1824, he visited Jefferson at Monticello, and on the 8th he attended a public banquet at the University of Virginia.[129] In late August 1825, he returned to Mount Vernon.[130] A military unit decided to adopt the title National Guard, in honour of Lafayette's celebrated Garde Nationale de Paris. This battalion, later the 7th Regiment, was prominent in the line of march when Lafayette passed through New York before returning to France on the frigate USS Brandywine.[126] Late in the trip, he again received honorary citizenship of Maryland.[131] Lafayette was feted at the first commencement ceremony of George Washington University in 1824. He was voted, by the U.S. Congress, the sum of $200,000 and a township of land located in Tallahassee, Florida to be known as the Lafayette Land Grant.[132][133]

Accession of Louis-Philippe

La Fayette and duc d'Orléans, 31 July 1830

As the restored monarchy of Charles X became more conservative, Lafayette re-emerged as a prominent public figure. He had been a member of the Chamber of Deputies from Seine-et-Marne since 1815 and had pursued the abdication of Napoleon.[134][135] Throughout his legislative career, he continued to endorse causes such as freedom of the press, suffrage for all taxpayers, and the worldwide abolition of slavery.[136] He was not as directly visible in public affairs as in previous years; however, he became more vocal in the events leading up to the July Revolution of 1830.[137] When the monarch proposed that theft from churches be made a capital crime, agitation against the Crown increased.[137] On 27 July 1830, Parisians began erecting barricades throughout the city, and riots erupted. Lafayette established a committee as interim government. On 29 July 1830, the commission asked Lafayette to become dictator, but he demurred to offer the crown to Louis-Philippe. Lafayette was reinstated as commander of the National Guard by the new monarch, who revoked the post after Lafayette once again called for the abolition of slavery.[138]


Monument to Lafayette in Paris

Lafayette spoke for the last time in the Chamber of Deputies on 3 January 1834. The winter was wet and cold, and the next month he collapsed at a funeral from pneumonia. Although he recovered, the following May was wet and, after a thunderstorm, he became sick and bedridden.[139] On 20 May 1834, Lafayette died. He was buried next to his wife at the Cimetière de Picpus under soil from Bunker Hill, which his son Georges sprinkled upon him.[138][140] King Louis-Phillipe ordered a military funeral in order to keep the public from attending. Crowds formed to protest their exclusion from Lafayette's funeral.[126]

American President Andrew Jackson ordered that Lafayette be accorded the same funeral honours as John Adams and George Washington. Therefore, 24-gun salutes were fired from military posts and ships, each shot representing a U.S. state. Flags flew at half mast for thirty-five days, and "military officers wore crape for six months".[141][142] The Congress hung black in chambers and asked the entire country to dress in black for the next thirty days.[143]


U.S. Postage Stamp, 1957 issue, 3c, commemorating 200th anniversary of the birth of La Fayette

Lafayette was widely commemorated in the U.S. In 1824, the U.S. government named Lafayette Park in his honor; it lies immediately north of the White House in Washington, D.C. In 1826, Lafayette College was chartered in Easton, Pennsylvania. Lafayette was honored with a monument in New York City in 1917.[144] Portraits display Washington and Lafayette in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives.[145] Numerous towns, cities, and counties across the United States were named in his honor.

On July 4, 1917, shortly after the U.S. entered World War I, Colonel Charles E. Stanton visited the grave of Lafayette and uttered the famous phrase "Lafayette, we are here." After the war, a U.S. flag was permanently placed at the grave site. Every year, on the 4th of July, the flag is replaced in a joint French-American ceremony.[146]

On visiting Corsica in 1943, General George S. Patton commented on how the Free French forces had liberated the birthplace of Napoleon, and promised that the Americans would liberate the birthplace of LaFayette.

Lafayette was again granted honorary United States citizenship by Congress in 2002.[147] The Order of Lafayette was established in 1958 by U.S. Representative Hamilton Fish III, a World War I veteran, to promote Franco-American friendship and to honor Americans who fought in France. The frigate Hermione, in which Lafayette returned to America, has been reconstructed in the port of Rochefort, Charente-Maritime, France.[148]

The aircraft carrier USS Langley (CVL-27) was renamed La Fayette by France


In this year of 1834, Monsieur de Lafayette died. I may already have done him an injustice in speaking of him; I may have represented him as a kind of fool, with twin faces and twin reputations; a hero on the other side of the Atlantic, a clown on this. It has taken more than forty years to recognise qualities in Monsieur de Lafayette which one insisted on denying him. At the rostrum he expressed himself fluently and with the air of a man of breeding. No stain attaches to his life; he was affable, obliging and generous.[149]

Several warships were named after Lafayette. The French Navy acquired USS Langley (CVL-27) in 1951 and renamed it La Fayette (R96). A modern stealth frigate is also named after Lafayette, and is also the name of a ship class: La Fayette (F710).

The French ocean liner SS Normandie was to be the troopship USS Lafayette after being acquired by the US Government, but was destroyed by a fire before conversion to the new role was completed.

The city of Fayetteville, North Carolina is named after General Lafayette. In fact, many cities are named after Lafayette, but Fayetteville, North Carolina was the first and, as it is told, the only one he actually visited. He arrived in Fayetteville, North Carolina by horse-drawn carriage in 1825.

Many streets around the world are named for Lafayette, such as Lafayette Street in Williston Park, New York and Lafayette Street in Lower Manhattan, New York.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Clary, pp. 7, 8
  2. ^ Historians differ on the spelling of Lafayette's name: Lafayette, La Fayette, and LaFayette. Contemporaries often used "La Fayette", similar to his ancestor, the novelist Madame de La Fayette; however, his immediate family wrote Lafayette. - Gottschalk, pp. 153-154
  3. ^ Officer, p. 171
  4. ^ a b c d e Gaines, p. 33
  5. ^ a b Clary, pp. 11–13
  6. ^ a b Gottschlk, pp. 3–5
  7. ^ Gottschalk, pp. 6, 13
  8. ^ During the French Revolution Reign of Terror, the Collège du Plessis became a prison. At the end of the Terror, it was integrated into the Lycée Louis-le-Grand.)
  9. ^ a b Holbrook, pp. 13, 71
  10. ^ Holbrook, p. 8
  11. ^ Officer, p. 171
  12. ^ Clary, p. 20
  13. ^ Adams, p. 12
  14. ^ Clary, p. 28
  15. ^ Holbrook, p. 15
  16. ^ Charlemagne Tower (1894). The Marquis de La Fayette in the American Revolution. J.B. Lippincott Company. p. 88.,M1. 
  17. ^ "Nelson, ''Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Marquess of Hastings'', p.55".,%20Marquess%20of%20Hastings:%20Soldier,%20Peer%20of%20the%20Realm,%20Governor-General%20of%20India. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  18. ^ Unger, p.24
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i Holbrook, pp. 15–16
  20. ^ Gottschalk, p.66-82
  21. ^ Clary, p. 75
  22. ^ a b c Holbrook, p. 17
  23. ^ Gaines, p. 56
  24. ^ Clary, p. 83
  25. ^ Charlemagne Tower. The Marquis de La Fayette in the American Revolution. p. 34.,M1. 
  26. ^ a b Glathaar, p. 3
  27. ^ Cloquet, p. 37
  28. ^ Grizzard, p. 174
  29. ^ a b Martin, p. 195
  30. ^ Holbrook, p. 20
  31. ^ "The Moland House". The Moland House. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  32. ^ Gaines, p. 70
  33. ^ Clary, p. 100
  34. ^ Holbrook, p. 23
  35. ^ Gaines, p. 75
  36. ^ Grizzard, p. 175
  37. ^ Cloquet, p. 203
  38. ^ "Valley Forge National Historic Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 20 October 2008. 
  39. ^ Palmer, pp. 276, 277
  40. ^ Greene, p. 140, 141
  41. ^ Gaines, p. 112
  42. ^ Holbrook, pp. 28, 29
  43. ^ Fiske, pp. 89-92
  44. ^ Clary, p. 243
  45. ^ Cloquet, p. 155
  46. ^ Clary, p. 254
  47. ^ Clary, p. 257
  48. ^ Holbrook, p. 44
  49. ^ a b c d Gaines, pp. 153–155
  50. ^ Gaines, James (September 2007). "Washington & Lafayette". Smithsonian Magazine Online (Smithsonian). Retrieved 21 October 2008. 
  51. ^ a b Holbrook, pp. 53–54
  52. ^ Holbrook, p. 43
  53. ^ Clary, pp. 330–338
  54. ^ Holbrook, p. 56
  55. ^ Clary, p. 350
  56. ^ Holbrook, p. 63
  57. ^ Tuckerman, p. 154
  58. ^ Holbrook, p. 65
  59. ^ a b Kaminsky, pp. 34, 35
  60. ^ Beth Sica (2002-08-09). "''La Belle Gabrielle'', Lafayette and Slavery, Lafayette College". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  61. ^ Unger, p.216
  62. ^ Loveland, p. 16
  63. ^ Hirschfeld, p. 126
  64. ^ Gaines, pp. 201, 202
  65. ^ Speare, Morris Edmund. "Lafayette, Citizen of America" The New York Times, 7 September 1919.
  66. ^ Officer, p. 171
  67. ^ Holbrook, pp. 67–68
  68. ^ Gaines, pp. 198–99, 204, 206
  69. ^ Gottschalk, p. 155
  70. ^ Gottshalk (1939). A Lady in Waiting. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. p. 95. 
  71. ^ Wright, pp. 23-24
  72. ^ Gottshalk (1939). A Lady in Waiting. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. p. 96. 
  73. ^ Maurois, Adrienne: The Life of the Marquise de La Fayette, p.113
  74. ^ Tuckerman, p. 198
  75. ^ Neely, p. 47
  76. ^ Tuckerman, p. 210
  77. ^ Doyle, p. 74, 90
  78. ^ Tuckerman, p. 213
  79. ^ de La Fuye, p. 83.
  80. ^ a b Gerson, pp. 81–83
  81. ^ Crowdy, p. 7
  82. ^ Note: Lafayette later sent Washington the key.
  83. ^ a b c Doyle, pp. 112–13
  84. ^ Tuckerman, p. 230
  85. ^ Crowdy, p. 42
  86. ^ Hampson, p. 89
  87. ^ Neely, p. 86
  88. ^ Doyle, p. 122
  89. ^ Clary, p. 392
  90. ^ Thiers, p. vi
  91. ^ Cloquet, p. 305
  92. ^ Doyle, p. 148
  93. ^ Jones, p. 445
  94. ^ Frey, p. 92
  95. ^ Gaines, pp. 345, 346
  96. ^ Holbrook, p. 100
  97. ^ a b Neely, p. 126, 179
  98. ^ Andress, p. 51
  99. ^ a b Andress, The French Revolution and the people, p. 151
  100. ^ a b c Neely, p. 128
  101. ^ Andress, p. 51
  102. ^ a b Andress, p. 61
  103. ^ Broadwell, p. 28
  104. ^ a b c Andress, 72-5
  105. ^ Broadwell, p. 36
  106. ^ Doyle, p. 186
  107. ^ Morris, Vol. I, p.458
  108. ^ Andress, pp. 78, 80, 87
  109. ^ a b Broadwell, p. 37
  110. ^ a b Tuckerman, p. 84-5
  111. ^ Clary, p. 409
  112. ^ Holbrook, p. 114
  113. ^ Doyle, p. 190
  114. ^ Lafayette Collection, Library of Congress, Reel 1, Folder 2A
  115. ^ Lafayette Collection, Library of Congress, Reel 1, Folder 5 & 5A
  116. ^ Clary, pp. 410–16.
  117. ^ Clary, p. 413
  118. ^ Clary, p. 418
  119. ^ Holbrook, p. 129
  120. ^ Holbrook, pp. 141–42
  121. ^ Holbrook, p. 146
  122. ^ Kennedy, p. 210
  123. ^ Crawford, p. 318
  124. ^ Clary, p. 438
  125. ^ Gaines, page 427
  126. ^ a b c d Clary, pp. 443, 444
  127. ^ Loveland, p. 3
  128. ^ Cloquet, p. 302
  129. ^ "''Marquis de Lafayette'', Th. Jefferson Encyclopedia, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc". 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  130. ^ Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens. "Washington & Lafayette". Washington & Lafayette. Retrieved 12 August 2008. 
  131. ^ Lafayette was already a "natural born" American citizen via his pre-Constitution Maryland citizenship.
  132. ^ "Historic Markers Program of America". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  133. ^ Holbrook, p. 177
  134. ^ Gaines, p. 427
  135. ^ Holbrook, p. 162
  136. ^ Clary, pp. 442–445
  137. ^ a b Holbrook, p. 188
  138. ^ a b Clary, pp. 443–445, 447, 448
  139. ^ Payan, p.93
  140. ^ Kathleen McKenna (10 June 2007). "On Bunker Hill, a boost in La Fayette profile". Boston Globe. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  141. ^ Gaines, p. 448
  142. ^ Clary, p. 448
  143. ^ Clary, p. 449
  144. ^ "Marquis de Lafayette". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. 7 March 2002. Retrieved 11 August 2008. 
  145. ^ Ike Skelton (22 May 2007). "House Record: Honoring The Marquis De Lafayette On The Occasion Of The 250th Anniversary Of His Birth: Section 29". Retrieved 11 August 2008. 
  146. ^ "Lafayette and the American Flag: The Fourth of July Ceremony". Retrieved 31 July 2009. 
  147. ^ Patricia Molen Van EE. "Lafayette's Travels in America Documented". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 14 April 2008. 
  148. ^ (French) Robert Kalbach. "L'Hermione". L'Hermione. L’association Hermione-La Fayette. Retrieved 11 August 2008. 
  149. ^ Chateaubriand, Bk XLII: Chap3: Sec1

Works cited

External links

General Lafayette may refer to:


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address