Marquis de Lafayette was a French aristocrat and military officer who was a close associate of George Washington during the American Revolution and a leader of the liberal movement during the French Revolution. He was also a strong supporter of the eradication of slavery and the advancement of human rights.
He was commissioned as an officer in the French Army at the age of 19 and dispatched to America to aid the American colonists in their war for independence from Great Britain.
Lafayette rapidly developed a close relationship with General George Washington and played an important part in key conflicts, including the pivotal Battle of Yorktown.
Lafayette returned to France after the war and continued to push for the ideas of liberty and democracy that he witnessed in America.
Lafayette led the liberal movement during the French Revolution and advocated for the formation of a constitutional monarchy.
However, as the revolution got more radical and violent, he became increasingly disillusioned with its course and eventually abandoned the nation in 1792.
He was imprisoned for several years by the Austrians before being liberated and returning to France.
Lafayette was an outspoken supporter of the abolition of slavery and the advancement of human rights throughout his life.
Lafayette died at the age of 76 on May 20, 1834. For his services to the cause of liberty and democracy, he is revered as a hero in both America and France.
Facts About Marquis de Lafayette
1. He was a teenager when he first sailed to America.
In 1777, when Lafayette made his initial voyage to the new world, he was just 19 years old. He was eager to fight for the cause of American independence and was given an appointment as a major general in the Continental Army.
It didn’t take long for him to develop a strong friendship with George Washington, and he went on to play a significant part in a number of pivotal conflicts, including the Battle of Brandywine, the Battle of Barren Hill, and the Battle of Rhode Island.
2. Marquis de Lafayette played a key role in the Battle of Yorktown.
The American Revolution came to a close with the decisive Battle of Yorktown, which was also the last major conflict of the war. Lafayette was an instrumental figure in this conflict.
He commanded troops from the United States and France and contributed to the effort to stop the British from fleeing by land or sea.
His efforts were essential in achieving the victory for the United States of America, and George Washington and other prominent American leaders lauded him for his bravery and leadership throughout the conflict.
3. He was a close friend of George Washington.
During the course of the American Revolution, Lafayette and George Washington developed a strong connection with one another.
In Lafayette’s eyes, George Washington played the role of a father figure, and Washington considered Lafayette as a capable and trustworthy military commander.
Over the course of their friendship, which lasted until Washington’s passing in 1799, they wrote one other a number of letters over the years.
4. Marquis de Lafayette helped establish the Society of the Friends of the Blacks.
The Society of the Friends of the Blacks was an abolitionist group that worked for the eradication of slavery in the French colonies. Lafayette was one of the first members to join the Society of the Friends of the Blacks.
He was vocal in his opposition to the slave trade, and he did not personally own any slaves.
In addition, he was a contributor to the writing of a proposal that called for the progressive abolition of slavery in French colonies. This plan was subsequently approved by the French government in 1794.
5. He was imprisoned in Austria.
After the violent outbreaks that occurred during the French Revolution, Lafayette became more and more disillusioned with the path that it was heading.
In the year 1792, he made an attempt to flee the nation but was caught by the Austrians and thereafter imprisoned for a number of years.
He was transferred to a number of different jails across Europe before finally being set free in 1797.
6. He was released from prison with the help of Napoleon.
Napoleon Bonaparte, who considered Lafayette as a symbol of the earlier, more moderate phase of the French Revolution, played a role in ensuring that Lafayette was eventually freed from prison with the assistance of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Napoleon also believed that Lafayette could be helpful in rallying support for his own government, which was founded on many of the same values that Lafayette had advocated for. This belief stemmed from the fact that Lafayette had advocated for many of these principles.
7. Marquis de Lafayette opposed the slave trade in the United States.
When Lafayette returned to the United States in the 1820s, he was shocked to discover that the slave trade was still taking on.
He took a public stance against the institution, and as a result, he was essential in persuading Congress to enact a bill that would prohibit the importation of slaves into the United States.
He had a strong belief that the method ran counter to the democratic and libertarian ideals for which he had fought during the American Revolution. He thought that the method was incongruous with those values.
8. He was a popular figure in the United States.
Because of the great acclaim that he received in the United States, Lafayette was able to travel back to that region on multiple occasions during the course of his life.
During his final trip to New York City in 1824, he was treated like a hero and honored with a ticker-tape parade. New Yorkers greeted him with awe and respect.
In addition to this, the United States of America bestowed upon him honorary citizenship, which was a rare and significant honor in those days.
9. Marquis de Lafayette was a symbol of Franco-American friendship.
It was believed that the close ties that existed between France and the United States were symbolized by Lafayette. He was the topic of a great number of poems, songs, and works of art, and he was even granted honorary citizenship in the United States.
In addition, throughout his whole life, he steadfastly advocated for the ideals of liberty and democracy, which is another reason why he is looked to as a model by a great number of people all over the world.
10. He was a proponent of constitutional government.
Marquis de Lafayette was a staunch supporter of constitutional government, which is based on a written constitution that outlines the powers and restrictions of the several branches of government.
He felt that a constitution-based system of governance could best defend the principles of liberty, equality, and democracy.
Lafayette’s view in constitutional governance was formed by his experiences during the American Revolution, during which he saw firsthand the benefits of a government founded on the rule of law.
He saw how the American colonies were able to unite and develop a cohesive government answerable to the people, and he believed that this model might be applied to create a fair and just society in France.