06 September 2015

Happy Birthday, Lafayette!

Marquis de Lafayette
One of the heroes of the American Revolution was a young French aristocrat with a whopper of a name, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, a.k.a. Marquis de La Fayette. Lafayette (the Americanized spelling of his title of nobility) was born 258 years ago today in the family ch√Ęteau of Chavagniac in the province of Auvergne.He joined the French Army at the tender age of 14 and was forced out of the service due to reforms at the ripe age of 18 years. A few years of life at Versailles convinced him that his talents and experience could be better used helping the Patriots secure freedom from England. He bought the Hermoine with his own money and sailed to the American colonies without his King's permission. The Continental Congress granted him the honorary rank of Major General. He served as aide-de-camp to Gen. George Washington with whom he developed a close military and personal relationship. Eventually Lafayette returned to France where political unrest and revolution had erupted. He survived the French Terror and returned to a military life.

In 1824 Lafayette was invited by the government of the United States to visit America as its guest, and his triumphal tour of the country lasted 15 months. Congress gave him a gift of $200,000 and a sizable tract of land. He visited Beaufort on March 18, 1825 and is purported to have spoken to a crowd of Beaufortonians from the porch of the John Mark Verdier House, a.k.a the Lafayette House, 801 Bay Street (currently operated as a house museum by the Historic Beaufort Foundation). Lafayette boarded the USS Brandywine on September 7, 1825 at Washington, DC to return to France amid great acclaim as the "hero of two worlds." He died May 20, 1834 in Paris.

If you want to know more about Lafayette, please review the contents of the Lafayette bookbag I've created. Another place to find out more information about Lafayette's life and times is to use the "Research Resources" link from our Library homepage to reach the databases we provide you. In fact, with the new DISCUS federated search, you can even see a printed invitation to a reception in honor of Lafayette from the University of South Carolina Digital Collections online catalog. Cool.

Digital Public Library of America more than 500 texts and images about this military leader. http://dp.la/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=Lafayette%2C+Marquis+de

Replica of Le Hermione, 2015 (I saw it moored off Mount Vernon, George Washington's home in June 2015)

Reminder: The Library system is closed Monday, Sept. 7th for Labor Day. Regular hours resume Tuesday, Sept. 8th.

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