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Title: Lafayette
Author: Crow, Martha Foote, 1854-1924
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lafayette" ***

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True Stories Of Great Americans


[Illustration: Publisher's Logo]

The MacMillan Company
New York · Boston · Chicago · Dallas
Atlanta · San Francisco

MacMillan & Co., Limited
London · Bombay · Calcutta

The MacMillan Co. of Canada, Ltd.

From an authentic portrait.
This shows Lafayette as a youthful general.]




    And what gave he to us?
    He gave his starry youth,
    His quick, audacious sword,
    His name, his crested plume.
    And what gave we?
    We gave--a nation's heart!

New York
The MacMillan Company

All rights reserved

Copyright, 1916,
by The MacMillan Company.

Set up and electrotyped. Published May, 1916.
Reprinted October, 1917.

Norwood Press
J.S. Cushing Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.


      CHAPTER I                                PAGE
      A BOY OF THE FRENCH NOBILITY                1

      COLLEGE AND COURT                          10

      A BOY'S IDEALS                             21

      THE GREAT INSPIRATION                      27

      FIRST DAYS IN AMERICA                      42

      LAFAYETTE AT THE BRANDYWINE                52

      A SUCCESSFUL FAILURE                       62

      LAFAYETTE AT MONMOUTH                      73

      THE RETURN TO FRANCE                       86

      LAFAYETTE IN VIRGINIA                     100

      THE TWO REDOUBTS                          111

      THE SURRENDER OF YORKTOWN                 119

      LIONIZED BY TWO WORLDS                    128

      GATHERING CLOUDS                          137

      LAFAYETTE IN PRISON                       144

      AN ATTEMPTED RESCUE                       154

      A WELCOME RELEASE                         171

      A TRIUMPHAL TOUR                          179

      LAST DAYS OF LAFAYETTE                    193

       *       *       *       *       *


      PORTRAIT OF LAFAYETTE           _Frontispiece_


      THE SURRENDER OF CORNWALLIS               126

      FRANCIS KINLOCH HUGER                     160






Among the rugged Auvergne Mountains, in the southern part of France,
stands a castle that is severe and almost grim in its aspect. Two bare
round towers flank the building on the right and on the left. Rows of
lofty French windows are built across the upper part of the front, and
the small, ungenerous doorway below has a line of portholes on either
side that suggest a thought of warlike days gone by.

This castle, built in the fourteenth century, is called the Château de
Chaviniac de Lafayette. Though it was burned to the ground in 1701, it
was rebuilt as nearly like the earlier structure as possible; hence it
represents, as it stands, the chivalrous days of the crusading period
and so forms a fitting birthplace for a hero. In this half-military
château was born one of the most valiant champions of liberty that
any country has ever produced--the Marquis de Lafayette.

The climate of the Haute-Loire--the highlands of Auvergne--is harsh;
it has been called the French Siberia. There are upland moors like
deserts across which sweep fierce winds, where the golden broom and
the purple heather--flowers of the barren heights--are all that will
flourish. There are, indeed, secluded valleys filled with muskmallows
and bracken, but these are often visited by wild tempests, and sudden
floods may make the whole region dreary and dangerous.

In Lafayette's time the violence of the elements was not the only
thing to be dreaded. When the children wandered too near the edge of
the forest, they might catch sight of a wild boar nozzling about for
mushrooms under the dead oak leaves; and if it had been a severe
winter, it was quite within possibility that wolves or hyenas might
come from their hiding places in the rocky recesses of the mountains
and lurk hungrily near the villages.

The family living in the old château was one whose records could be
traced to the year one thousand, when a certain man by the name of
Motier acquired an estate called Villa Faya, and thereafter he became
known as Motier de la Fayette. In 1240 Pons Motier married the noble
Alix Brun de Champetières; and from their line descended the famous
Lafayettes known to all Americans. Other Auvergne estates were added
to the Chaviniac acres as the years went by, some with old castles
high up in the mountains behind Chaviniac, and all these were
inherited by the father of America's famous champion.

Lafayette's father was a notable warrior, as _his_ father had
been--and his--and his--away back to the days of the Crusades. Pons
Motier de la Fayette fought at Acre; Jean Motier de la Fayette fell at
Poitiers. There were marshals who bore the banner in many a combat of
olden times when the life of the country was at stake. It was a
Lafayette who won the battle at Beaugé in 1421, when the English Duke
of Clarence was defeated and his country was compelled to resign hope
of a complete conquest of France. Among other men who bore the name,
there were military governors of towns and cities, aids to kings in
war, captains and seneschals. Many of them spent their lives in camps
and on battlefields. One of them saw thirty years of active service;
another found that after thirty-eight years of military life he had
been present at no less than sixty-five sieges besides taking part in
many pitched battles. Lafayette's grandfather was wounded in three
battles; and his uncle, Jacques Roch Motier, was killed in battle at
the age of twenty-three.

During the summer before Lafayette's birth, his father, the young
chevalier and colonel, not then twenty-five, had been living quietly
in the Château Chaviniac. But a great conflict was going on--the Seven
Years' War was being waged. He heard the call of his country and he
felt it his duty to respond.

There was a sad parting from his beautiful young wife; then he dashed
down the steep, rocky roadway from the château to the village, and so
galloped away--over the plains, through fords and defiles, toward the
German border--never to return.

Lafayette's ancestors on his mother's side were equally distinguished
for military spirit. His mother was the daughter of the Comte de la
Rivière, lieutenant general and captain of the second company of the
King's Musketeers.

But this "hero of two worlds" inherited something more than military
spirit. The ancestors from which he descended formed a line of true
gentlefolk. For hundreds of years they had been renowned throughout
the region of their Auvergne estates for lofty character and a kindly
attitude toward their humble peasant neighbors. It was only natural
that this most famous representative of the line should become a
valiant champion of justice and freedom.

This great man was destined to have as many adventures as any boy of
to-day could wish for. To recount them all would require not one book,
but a dozen. Think of a lad of nineteen being a general in our
Revolutionary War, and the trusted friend and helper of Washington!
Lafayette was present at the surrender of Cornwallis, boyishly happy
at the achievements of the American soldiery, and taking especial
pride in his own American regiment. This period was followed by a
worthy career in France, but for five years--from his thirty-fifth
year to his fortieth--he was unjustly imprisoned in a grim old
Austrian fortress. At the age of sixty-seven he made a wonderful tour
through our country, being received with ceremonies and rejoicings
wherever he went; for every one remembered with deep gratitude what
this charming, courteous, elderly man had done for us in his youth. He
lived to the ripe age of seventy-seven, surrounded by children and
grandchildren, and interested in the work of the world up to the very

The birth of Lafayette is recorded in the yellow and timeworn parish
register of Chaviniac. This ancient document states that on September
6, 1757, was born that "very high and very puissant gentleman
Monseigneur Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert Dumotier de Lafayette,
the lawful son of the very high and the very puissant Monseigneur
Michel-Louis-Christophe-Roch-Gilbert Dumotier, Marquis de Lafayette,
Baron de Wissac, Seigneur de Saint-Romain and other places, and of the
very high and very puissant lady Madame Marie-Louise-Julie de la

But it was only on official documents that Lafayette's full name,
terrifying in its length, was used. Reduced to republican simplicity,
the Marquis de Lafayette's name was Gilbert Motier, although he was
always proud of the military title, "General," bestowed on him by our
country. To tell the truth, imposing names meant little to this friend
of liberty, who was a true republican at heart and who, during the
French Revolution, voluntarily resigned all the titles of nobility he
had inherited.

During his earliest childhood Lafayette was somewhat delicate. The
child first opened his eyes in a sorrowful home at the old Château
Chaviniac, for word had come, only a month before, that Lafayette's
father had been killed at the battle of Minden, leaving the young
mother a widow. The boy, however, grew in strength with the years.
Naturally, all was done that could be done to keep him in health. At
any rate, either through those mountain winds, or in spite of them, he
developed a constitution so vigorous as to withstand the many strains
he was to undergo in the course of his long and adventurous life.

The supreme characteristic of the man showed early in the boy when, at
only eight years of age, he became possessed of an unselfish impulse
to go out and perform a feat which for one so young would have been
heroic. It was reported in the castle that a dangerous hyena was
prowling about in the vicinity of the estate, terrifying everybody.
The boy's sympathy was roused, and, from the moment he first heard of
it, his greatest longing was to meet the cruel creature and have it
out with him.

It is not recorded that the eight-year-old boy ever met that wild
animal face to face, and it is well for the world that he did not. He
was preserved to stand up against other and more significant spoilers
of the world's welfare.

His education was begun under the care of his mother, assisted by his
grandmother, a woman of unusually strong character; these, together
with two aunts, formed a group whose memory was tenderly revered by
Lafayette to the end of his life.

The boy Lafayette cared a great deal for hunting. Writing back to a
cousin at home after he had been sent to Paris to school, he told her
that what he would most like to hear about when she wrote to him would
be the great events of the hunting season. His cousin, it appears, had
written him an account of a hunt in the neighborhood, but she had not
written enough about it to satisfy his desire. Why did she not give
details? he asked. He reproachfully added that if he had been writing
to her of a new-fashioned cap, he would have taken compass in hand and
described it with mathematical accuracy. This she should have done
concerning the great hunt if she had really wished to give him

This fortunate boy could select any career he liked; courtier, lawyer,
politician, writer, soldier--whatever he chose. Never came opportunity
more richly laden to the doorway of any youth.

He chose to be a soldier. The double-barred doors of iron, the lofty,
protected windows, the military pictures on the walls of his home--all
spoke to the Chaviniac child of warfare and conflict. There was the
portrait of his father in cuirass and helmet. There were far-away
ancestors in glistening armor and laced jackets. There was also the
military portrait of that Gilbert Motier de Lafayette who was marshal
in the time of Charles VII, and whose motto "Cur non" (Why not?) was
chosen by Lafayette for his own when he started on his first voyage.
The instinct for warfare, for the organization of armies, for struggle
and conquest, were strong in him, and were fostered and nourished by
every impression of his boyhood's home.



In the year 1768 the boy Lafayette, then eleven years old, left his
mountain home and went to Paris, where he was placed by his mother in
the Collège du Plessis, a school for boys of the nobility.

The arrangements for the student in a French college at that time were
simple. A room scarcely wider than a cell was assigned to each boy. It
was locked at night; but holes were cut in the door so that the fresh
air might come in. This, at least, was the theory. Practically,
however, the little cell must have been very stuffy, for the windows
in the halls were shut tight in order that the health of the pupils
might not be injured by currents of damp air from outside.

Special attention was given to diet, care being taken that the boys
should not eat any uncooked fruit lest it should injure them. Parents
might come to visit their children, but they were not allowed to pass
beyond the threshold--a familiar chat on home matters might interfere
with the studious mood of the scholars.

What were the studies of this young aristocrat?

First and foremost, heraldry. From earliest days his tutors had
instilled into him the idea that the study of the coats of arms of
reigning and noble families, together with all that they stood for,
was first in importance.

Then the young student must dance, write, and draw. He must be able to
converse wittily and with apt repartee. Fencing and vaulting were
considered essential, as well as riding with grace and skill and
knowing all about the management of the horse.

As far as books were concerned, the Latin masters--Cæsar, Sallust,
Virgil, Terence, Cicero--were carefully studied. The boys were obliged
to translate from Latin into French and from French into Latin.
Occasionally this training proved useful. It is related that one of
the French soldiers who came to New England and who could not speak
English resorted to Latin and found to his joy that the inhabitant of
Connecticut, from whom he wished to purchase supplies for his
regiment, could be communicated with by that obsolete medium; and what
would Lafayette have done when imprisoned in an Austrian dungeon if he
had not been able to converse with his official jailers in the Latin

In historical studies the greatest attention was given to wars and
treaties and acquisitions of territory. The royal families of his
native country and of neighboring kingdoms were made familiar. History
was taught as if it were a record of battles only. Swords and coats of
mail decorated the mantelpieces in the school and the latest methods
of warfare were studied.

In addition to all these military matters, a great deal of attention
must have been given to acquiring the power of clear and forcible
expression in the French language. While Lafayette can never be
included among the great orators of the world, he possessed a
wonderfully pellucid and concise diction. He was a voluminous writer.
If all the letters he sent across the ocean from America could be
recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic, there would be enough to
make several large volumes. Sometimes he dispatched as many as thirty
letters at one time. He sent them by way of Spain, by way of Holland,
or by any other roundabout route that offered promise of final
delivery. But privateersmen frequently captured the boats that carried
them, and very often the letter-bags were dropped overboard. Still
another circumstance deprived the world of many of his writings. When
revolutionists took possession of the Lafayette home in Chaviniac,
they sought in every nook and cranny to find evidence that they would
have been glad to use against these representatives of the nobility.
Madame de Lafayette had carefully stuffed all the letters she could
find into the maw of the immense old range in the castle kitchen.
Other treasures were buried in the garden, there to rot before they
could be found again.

Of the extant writings of Lafayette there are six volumes in French,
made up of letters and miscellaneous papers, many of them on weighty
subjects, while numerous letters of Lafayette are to be found among
the correspondence of George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin
Franklin, and other statesmen and generals of Revolutionary days.

Of the English language Lafayette's knowledge was mainly gained during
the six long weeks of his first voyage to America. And what he
acquired he at once put into practice. He learned the language from
books, and from good books. As a result his English, both spoken and
written, had a special polish.

At the Collège du Plessis Lafayette was an industrious student. All
his life he regarded time as a gift of which the best use was to be
made, and, according to his own expression, he was "not at liberty to
lose it himself, and still less to be the occasion of the loss of it
to others." Therefore he would not, unless it was absolutely
unavoidable, be unpunctual to engagements, or keep people waiting his
pleasure. As a boy in college he never had to be urged to study;
neither was he in any way an unmanageable boy. In spite of the
intensity of his nature, he never deserved to be chastised.

It should be understood that corporal chastisement was the rule in the
schools of that time. In the year 1789 one simple-hearted old
school-master solemnly reported that during the fifty years of his
experience as teacher he administered nine hundred thousand canings,
twenty thousand beatings, one hundred thousand slaps, and twenty
thousand switchings. Among smaller items he mentions ten thousand
fillips and a million and a quarter raps and hits. He hurled a Bible,
a catechism, or a singing-book at some hapless child twelve thousand
times, and caused seven hundred to kneel on peas as a punishment. Then
he punished eight hundred thousand for not learning their lessons and
seventy-six thousand for not learning their Bible verses. So much for
one teacher a half century before Lafayette's day! And people still
talk and write about "the good old times"!

The surroundings of Lafayette during his youth must have been of a
kind to develop strength of character. He was to be one of the
historical personages against whom scandalmongers have not been able
to unearth a mass of detraction. His close companions during army days
testified that they never heard him swear or use gross language of any
kind. As Edward Everett in his great eulogy said, from Lafayette's
home, his ancestry, his education, his aristocratic marriage, and his
college life, he "escaped unhurt."

Lafayette's mother took up her residence in Paris in order to be near
her son. She allowed herself to be presented at court that she might
be in touch with what was going on and give her boy all the aid
possible. She saw to it that her uncle should place him in the army
lists that he might secure the advantage of early promotion.

After a while the tall boy was entered in the regiment of the Black
Musketeers, and it became a favorite occupation of his to watch the
picturesque reviews of those highly trained soldiers. This entertainment
was for holidays, however, and did not interfere with his studies.

It was not for very many years that Lafayette was to profit by his
highborn mother's devoted care and foresight. In 1770, when her son
was only thirteen years old, she died in Paris. In a painting on the
walls of the château to-day the face of that aristocratic lady shines
out in its delicate beauty. A pointed bodice of cardinal-colored
velvet folds the slender form and loose sleeves cover the arms. In the
romantic fashion of the pre-revolutionary period, the arm is held out
in a dramatic gesture, and one tiny, jeweled hand clasps the
shepherd's crook, the consecrated symbol of the story-book lady of
that period.

About the time of her death, one of her uncles passed away, leaving to
the young student at the Collège du Plessis a large and valuable
estate. This placed Lafayette in a very advantageous position so far
as worldly matters were concerned. His fortune being now princely, his
record at college without blemish, his rank unexceptionable among the
titles of nobility, he was quickly mentioned as an eligible partner in
marriage for a young daughter of one of the most influential families
in France,--a family that lived, said one American observer, in the
splendor and magnificence of a viceroy, which was little inferior to
that of a king. This daughter was named, in the grand fashion of the
French nobility, Marie-Adrienne-Françoise de Noailles. In her family
she was called simply Adrienne.

Adrienne de Noailles was not old enough to give promise of the
greatness of character of which she later showed herself possessed;
but, as it proved, Lafayette found that in her he had a companion who
was indeed to be his good genius. She became the object of the
unwavering devotion of his whole life; and she responded with an
affection that was without limit; she gave a quick and perfect
understanding to all his projects and his ideals; she followed his
career with an utterly unselfish zeal; and when heavy sorrows came,
her courage and her cleverness were Lafayette's resource. Her name
should appear among those of the world's heroines.

At the time of the proposed alliance, Lafayette was fourteen; the
suggested fiancée was scarcely twelve. Her mother, the Duchess d'Ayen,
a woman of great efficiency and of lofty character, knew that the
Marquis de Lafayette was almost alone in the world, with no one to
guide him in his further education or to lend aid in advancing his
career. Moreover, she held that to have so large a fortune was rather
a disadvantage than otherwise, since it might be a help or a
hindrance, according to the wisdom of the owner, and she rightly saw
that the allurements of the Paris of 1770 to an unprotected youth of
fortune would be almost irresistible. She therefore refused to allow a
daughter of hers to accept the proposal. For several months she
withheld her consent, but at last she relented, on consideration that
the young people should wait for two years before the marriage should
take place. This admirable mother, who had carefully educated and
trained her daughters, now took the further education of Lafayette
into her care; she soon became very fond of him and cherished him as
tenderly as if he had been her own son.

The marriage took place in Paris on the 11th of April, 1774. It was an
affair of great splendor. There were many grand banquets; there were
visits of ceremony, with new and elaborate toilettes for each visit;
there were numberless beautiful presents, the families represented and
their many connections vying with each other in the richness and
fineness of their gifts. Diamonds and jewels in settings of quaint
design were among them, and besides all these there were the ancestral
jewels of Julie de la Rivière, the mother of Lafayette, to be
received by the new bride, and by her handed down to her descendants.

The arrangement was that the wedded pair should make their home with
the mother of the bride, the young husband paying eight thousand
livres a year as his share of the expense. The sumptuous home was the
family mansion of the Noailles family; it was situated in the rue St.
Honoré, not far from the palace of the Tuileries, at the corner where
the rue d'Alger has now been cut through. The Hôtel de Noailles it was
called, and it was so large that to an observer of to-day it would
appear more like a splendid hotel than like a private residence. When,
a few years after Lafayette's wedding, John Adams was representing the
United States in Paris, and was entertained in this palatial home, he
was so amazed that he could not find words in English or in French to
describe the elegance and the richness of the residence. In it were
suites of rooms for several families, for troops of guests, and for
vast retinues of servants. The building measured from six hundred to
seven hundred feet from end to end. There were splendid halls and
galleries and arcades. Toward the street the façade was plain but the
interior was decorated with astonishing richness. The inner rooms
faced on a garden so large that a small hunt could be carried on
within it, with fox, horses, and hounds, all in full cry. Magnificent
trees waved their branches above the great garden, and rabbits
burrowed below.

Here was a delightful place for a few people to pursue beautiful
lives. John Adams made a note of the fact that the Noailles family
held so many offices under the king that they received no less than
eighteen million livres (more than three and a half million dollars)
income each year. It must be remembered that the streets of Paris
about this time were crowded with a rabble of beggars. But of this the
dwellers in such magical palaces and parks saw but little and thought

Conditions such as these give a hint of the causes that led to the
French Revolution and explain in some degree why thoughts of liberty,
fraternity, and equality were haunting the minds of the youth of
France, and, to some of the more open-minded among them, suggesting
dreams of noble exploit.



By this time Lafayette was a tall, slender young fellow, of commanding
height, and with a look of piercing and imperative sincerity in his
clear, hazel eyes. His hair was red--some one in the family used to
call him "the big boy with red hair"; but hero worshipers need have no
misgivings about this characteristic, nor feel that they must
apologize for it as a defect. Lafayette said of himself that he was an
awkward boy. It may be that the youth who was rapidly growing to a
height of "five feet eleven" may have felt, as most boys do at that
age, as if he were all hands and feet. But that Lafayette was really
awkward--it is unthinkable! Not one single lady of all the beauties in
France and America, who handed it down to her descendants that she
"once danced with Lafayette," ever mentioned the fact that her partner
lacked any element of grace, while many speak of the ease of manner
and address of the distinguished man. One friend of Lafayette's early
days reports that he was too tall to make a distinguished appearance
on horseback or to dance with special grace; but this was said in a
period when the dancing-master's art was the ideal of social conduct.
Those who did not know Lafayette very well at this time thought him
cold and serious and stiff. Perhaps he was shy; yet beneath that calm
exterior seethed a volcano of emotion of which no casual onlooker

Lafayette was fortunate in having a cousin, the Count de Ségur, who
understood him and who realized that under that surface of gravity was
hidden, as he said, "a spirit the most active, a character the most
firm, a soul the most burning with passionate fervor."

After his marriage Lafayette continued his studies at the Collège du
Plessis, and later he spent a year at the military academy at
Versailles, that his education as an officer might be complete.

In the summer his inclinations led him to make various journeys to the
fortified city of Metz, where the regiment "de Noailles" was in garrison
under the charge of the Prince de Poix who was a brother-in-law of
Adrienne, Lafayette's wife. On his way back from one of these visits he
stayed at Chaillot for a time and there was inoculated for smallpox.
This preventive method was a medical novelty at that time. To submit to
the experiment showed a great freedom from prejudice on the part of the
youth. The Duchess d'Ayen had once suffered from the ravages of this
disease, so she could safely stay with the now adored son-in-law through
this disagreeable period of seclusion.

Soon after this the youthful Marquis de Lafayette and his shy girl
bride were presented at court. The benevolent king, Louis XVI, was
then reigning. The queen, Marie Antoinette, was the head of a social
life that was elaborately formal and splendid. Marie Antoinette
herself was young and light-hearted, and was at this time without
fears from misadventure at the hands of the state or from any personal
enemies. The king had thousands of servants and attendants in his
military and personal households. A court scene was a display of knots
of ribbon, lace ruffles, yellow and pink and sky-blue satin coats,
shoes with glittering buckles, red-painted heels, and jeweled
trimmings. Fountains threw their spray aloft, and thousands of candles
flung radiance broadcast. Said Chateaubriand, "No one has seen
anything who has not seen the pomp of Versailles." And no one dreamed
that the end was nearing, or realized that no nation can live when
the great mass of the people are made to toil, suffer, and die, in
order that a favored few may have luxuries and amusement.

Into this Vanity Fair the young Marquis de Lafayette was now plunged. The
grand world flowed to the feet of the Marquis and Marchioness de Lafayette.
More than that, the queen at once took the tall, distinguished-looking
young chevalier into the circle of her special friends. The circle included
some who were to follow Lafayette in his adventure to the New World in aid
of American independence, and some who were to follow in another long
procession equally adventurous and as likely to be fatal--the Revolution
in their own country. During the Terror some of them, including their
beautiful and well-meaning queen, were to lose their lives. Of any such
danger as this, these young nobles, in the present state of seemingly
joyous and abundant prosperity, were farthest from dreaming.

On the whole, however, court life did not have much charm for
Lafayette. It was a part of the duty of the Marquis and Marchioness de
Lafayette to take part in the plays and merrymakings that centered
about a queen who loved amusement only too well. But Lafayette could
not throw his whole heart into the frivolity of the social sphere in
which he was now moving. There were features of life at court that he
could not tolerate. His knee would not crook; he already knew, as
Everett said, that he was not born "to loiter in an antechamber."

It was liberty itself--the revolt against tyranny in every realm of
life--that interested him from the first. Lafayette was against
whatever stood for tyranny, against whatever appeared to be an
institution that could foster despotism. He believed that the
well-being of society would be advanced by giving the utmost freedom
to all, high and low, educated and uneducated. He saw a world in
chains only waiting for some hero to come along and strike off the

Where did Lafayette, a born aristocrat, get these ideas? Certainly not
from the peasants as they knelt beside the road when he, their
prospective liege lord, rode by. He was brought up to believe that it
was the sacred privilege of the ruling class to throw largesse to the
poor, who stood aside, waiting and expectant, to receive the gifts.

It is hard to say where Lafayette imbibed his love of freedom. One
might as well ask where that "wild yeast in the air" comes from that
used to make the bread rise without "emptins." There was a "wild
yeast in the air" in the France of 1760 and 1770, and all the young
people of that country, whether highborn or lowborn, were feeling the

If Lafayette had pursued the course that his circumstances urged, he
would soon have crystallized into a narrow, subservient character,
without purpose or ideals. By all the standards of his time, he would be
thought to be throwing away his life if he should take steps to alienate
himself from the glittering, laughing, sympathetic friends who stood
about him at court. All advancement for him appeared to be in line with
the influences there. But if he had done this, if he had followed the
star of court preferment, he would have remained only one of many highly
polished nonentities--and would have lost his head at last. By throwing
away his life, by choosing the way of self-sacrifice, he won the whole
world; by throwing away his world, the natural world of compliance and
ease about him, he won a world, nay, two worlds. He became what Mirabeau
named him, the "hero of two worlds."



In the summer of 1775 Lafayette was stationed at the French garrison
of Metz, where the Prince de Poix commanded the regiment "de
Noailles." While he was there the Duke of Gloucester, brother of
George III, king of England, came to that city and was present at a
dinner given in his honor at the house of the governor of the
garrison, the Count de Broglie. This count was a person of great
sympathy and discernment. He had been observing the tall, red-haired
boy of quiet, assured manner and few words, who represented so
distinguished a family and gave so great promise for a future career.
Eighteen years before he had seen this boy's father fall in battle, so
he had a special interest in him. He now included young Lafayette
among the guests at the dinner.

It appears that the Duke of Gloucester had just received letters from
England telling about the revolt of the American colonies against the
British government--about their prejudice in the little matter of a
tax on tea, and about the strong measures to be taken by the English
ministry to crush the rebellion. As the Duke of Gloucester was not on
very good terms with his brother, King George, he told the story with
somewhat vindictive glee.

This was probably the first that Lafayette had heard of American
independence. Instantly his sympathy was touched to the quick. All the
warlike and chivalric sentiments that he had inherited, all that had
been carefully instilled by family tradition and by education, rose at
once to the highest intensity. To the long and eager conversations
that followed the news brought by the guest of the evening, Lafayette
eagerly listened, and afterwards requested the duke to explain the
situation more fully. His curiosity was deeply excited, his heart was
at once enlisted. The idea of a people fighting against oppression
stirred his imagination. From what he learned from the duke, the cause
appealed to his sense of justice; it seemed the noblest that could be
offered to the judgment of man. Before he left the table he had
determined in his own mind to go to America and offer himself to the
people who were struggling for freedom and independence.

From that moment his purpose was fixed. To realize his design he must
go at once to Paris. Arriving there, he confided his plan to his two
friends, the Viscount de Noailles and the Count de Ségur, inviting
them to share his project. Noailles had just turned nineteen, and
Ségur was twenty-two; Lafayette was eighteen. But the youngest
differed from the others in one respect; he had already come into his
fortune, and controlled an income of about two thousand livres, an
amount that in purchasing power represented a fortune such as few
young men in any country or at any time have commanded. The others
could contribute nothing to Lafayette's plans but cordial sympathy.
They did indeed go so far as to consult their parents, expressing
their desire to join in Lafayette's chivalrous adventure, but their
parents promptly and emphatically refused consent.

The surprise of the Noailles family can be imagined when they heard
that the quiet, reserved youth had suddenly decided to cross the sea
and take up the fragile cause of a few colonists revolting against a
great monarchy. It was not long before all came to admit that the soul
of the big boy had in it a goodness and a valor that nothing could

Many, however, who heard about the project Lafayette entertained felt
a new admiration for the spirited boy. One of these smartly said that
if Madame de Lafayette's father, the Duc d'Ayen, could have the heart
to thwart such a son-in-law, he ought never to hope to marry off his
remaining daughters! It made no difference to this lordly family that
the tidings of the American revolt were echoing through Europe and
awakening emotions that those monarchies had never experienced before;
nor did they notice that the young nobility of France were feeling the
thrill of a call to serve in a new cause. They were blind to those
signs of the times; and no one dared to speak of them to the Duke
d'Ayen, for he, with the other ruling members of the family, violently
opposed Lafayette's plan.

While these things were going on, word came that those audacious
colonists had carried their project so far as to issue a Declaration
of Independence of the British government and to set up for themselves
as a nation. The Noailles family were amazed, but they could not
change their point of view.

Not being able to unravel all the threads of destiny that were enmeshing
him, Lafayette was working in the dark, only knowing that he wanted to
go, and that he could not bring himself to give up the project. He knew
also that he must depend solely upon himself. Then there came into his
mind the motto that he had since boyhood seen upon the shield of one of
his famous ancestors in the castle at Chaviniac--"Cur non," Why not? He
adopted this motto for his own and placed it as a device upon his coat of
arms, that it might be an encouragement to himself as well as an answer
to the objections of others.

Lafayette consulted his commander and relative, the Count de Broglie.
He on his part did all he could to dissuade the lad; he pointed out
that the scheme was Utopian; he showed up its great hazards; he said
that there was no advantage to be had in going to the aid of those
insignificant rebels--that there was no glory to be gained. Lafayette
listened respectfully and said that he hoped his relative would not
betray his confidence; for, as soon as he could arrange it, go to
America he would! The Count de Broglie promised not to reveal his
secret, but he added:

"I have seen your uncle die in the wars of Italy; I witnessed your
father's death at the battle of Minden; and I will not be accessory to
the ruin of the only remaining branch of the family."

These things made no impression upon the determination of the young
hero, and the Count de Broglie was in despair. When he finally found,
however, that the boy's determination was fixed, he entered into his
plans with almost paternal tenderness. Though he would give him no
aid, he introduced him to the Baron de Kalb who was also seeking an
opportunity to go to America, and he thought his age and experience
would be of value to the young adventurer.

This Baron de Kalb was an officer in the French army with the rank of
lieutenant colonel. He was a man of fifty-five, who had served in the
Seven Years' War and who had been employed by the French government
ten years before to go secretly to the American colonies in order to
discover how they stood on the question of their relations with

At that time there was a representative of the colonies in Paris to
whom all who felt an interest in American liberty had recourse. This
man was Silas Deane. To him Lafayette secretly went.

"When I presented to Mr. Deane my boyish face," said Lafayette later
in life, "I dwelt more (for I was scarcely nineteen years of age) upon
my ardor in the cause than on my experience."

Naturally, for he had had no experience whatever. But he could speak
of the effect that his going would have upon France, since because of
his family and connections notice would surely be taken of his action.
This might influence other young men and might win favor for the
colonies in their struggle. Silas Deane was quick to see this and to
draw up an agreement which he asked Lafayette to sign. It was as

"The wish that the Marquis de Lafayette has shown to serve in the army
of the United States of North America and the interest that he takes
in the justice of their cause, making him wish for opportunities to
distinguish himself in the war, and to make himself useful to them as
much as in him lies; but not being able to obtain the consent of his
family to serve in a foreign country and to cross the ocean, except on
the condition that he should go as a general officer, I have believed
that I could not serve my country and my superiors better than by
granting to him, in the name of the very honorable Congress, the rank
of Major-General, which I beg the States to confirm and ratify and to
send forward his commission to enable him to take and hold rank
counting from to-day, with the general officers of the same grade. His
high birth, his connections, the great dignities held by his family at
this court, his disinterestedness, and, above all, his zeal for the
freedom of our colonies, have alone been able to induce me to make
this promise of the said rank of Major-General, in the name of the
United States. In witness of which I have signed these presents, done
at Paris, this seventh of October, seventeen hundred and seventy-six."

To this startling document the undaunted boy affixed the following:

"To the above conditions I agree, and promise to start when and how
Mr. Deane shall judge it proper, to serve the said States with all
possible zeal, with no allowance nor private salary, reserving to
myself only the right to return to Europe whenever my family or my
king shall recall me; done at Paris this seventh day of October, 1776.


About this time Dr. Benjamin Franklin was added to the group of
American envoys. He was an instant success in the Parisian world. With
his baggy coat, his coonskin cap, and his one-eyed spectacles,
Franklin was the admired of all the grand ladies of the court, while
his ability to "bottle lightning" was a favorite topic for discussion.
The queen favored Franklin and the American cause; the king also; but
neither dared to say so openly lest the spies of England, France's
hereditary enemy, should find it out. Lafayette was obliged to
preserve the utmost secrecy in making his arrangements and to secure
the interviews in such a way that no one would suspect what he was

Unfortunately, bad news began to come from America. The disasters of
Long Island and White Plains had befallen, and the English army was
being reënforced by regiments of Hessians. This news destroyed what
credit the colonies had in France. No one now had any hope for their
endeavors, and no one could be found who would consider fitting out a
vessel for Lafayette and his friends.

The American envoys thought it no more than right to tell this to the
eager Lafayette and to try to dissuade him from his project to go to
America. To this end they sent him word to come for another secret
conference. He did so, and the envoys explained to him the discouraging

One of the points wherein this young Lafayette approached nearest to
greatness was in the way he could face some black disaster, and, with
an absolutely quenchless spirit and the most adroit cleverness, turn
the disaster into an advantage. This happened when Lafayette went to
see these envoys. He received the news with a brow of unruffled calm.
He thanked Mr. Deane for his kindness in trying to save him from
disaster. Then he added: "Until now, Sir, you have only seen my ardor
in your cause; I may now prove to be really useful. I shall myself
purchase a ship to carry out your officers. We must show our
confidence in the future of the cause, and it is especially in the
hour of danger that I wish to share your fortunes."

This reply cast another light upon the circumstances. The American
envoys regarded the enthusiasm of the young nobleman with approbation;
the plan was pressed forward, preparations were made to find a vessel,
to buy it, and fit it out. All this had to be done secretly, as the
eagerness of Lafayette called for haste.

Meantime, a plan had been made for Lafayette to go on a visit to
England with his relative, the Prince de Poix. It would be better not
to interfere with the arrangement already made, it was thought; though
Lafayette was impatient to carry out his plan for embarking, he wisely
agreed to visit England first. In this plan Mr. Deane and Dr. Franklin

Lafayette made the journey with the Prince de Poix, and for three
weeks had a busy time, being richly entertained and observing English
life. He was in a rather delicate situation, for he was now a guest
among a people with whom in one respect he could not sympathize and
toward whom he entertained a hostile feeling. But in all he did he
carefully drew the line between the honor of the guest and the
attitude of the diplomatist. Though he went to a dance at the house of
Lord Germain, minister of the English colonies, and at that of Lord
Rawdon, who had but just come from New York, and though he made the
acquaintance of the Clinton whom he was soon to meet on opposing sides
of the battle line at Monmouth, he chivalrously denied himself the
pleasure and profit of inspecting the fortifications and seaports
where ships were being fitted out to fight the American rebels. More
than that; he openly avowed his feelings about the hazardous and
plucky attempt of the colonies to free themselves from England; and he
frankly expressed his joy when news of their success at Trenton was
received. This very spirit of independence in the young French noble
made him all the more a favorite among the English who, together with
their king, did not in the least dream that the foolish rebels across
the sea could accomplish anything by their fantastic revolt.

Among other acquaintances made in England at this time was one
Fitzpatrick, whose life was to be strangely mingled with Lafayette's
in later days. Fighting on opposite sides of the conflict in America,
they were yet to meet cordially between battles, and Lafayette was to
send letters in Fitzpatrick's care to his wife in France--letters in
which he took pains to inclose no matters relating to the war, since
that would have been unsportsmanlike; still later, owing to a tragic
concurrence of events, this even-minded and generous Englishman was to
make persistent appeals to the English government to take measures to
free Lafayette from a hateful imprisonment in an Austrian stronghold,
gallant appeals, made, alas, in vain!

As soon as Lafayette could conveniently withdraw from his English
hosts he did so, and hurried back to Paris, where he kept himself as
much out of sight as possible until the final preparations for the
voyage were completed. At last all was ready and Lafayette reached
Bordeaux where the boat was waiting. Here swift messengers overtook
him to say that his plans were known at Versailles. Lafayette set
sail, but he went only as far as Los Pasajos, a small port on the
north coast of Spain. Here letters of importance awaited the young
enthusiast, impassioned appeals from his family and commands from his
king. The sovereign forbade his subject to proceed to the American
continent under pain of punishment for disobedience; instead, he must
repair to Marseilles and there await further orders.

Lafayette knew what this meant. His father-in-law was about to go to
Italy and would pass Marseilles on the way. Lafayette was to be made
to go with him on an expedition where he knew he would be monotonously
employed, with no prospect of exercising his energies in any congenial
project. He was not without many proofs as to what might happen to him
if he disobeyed these orders and risked the displeasure of the king.
The Bastille was still standing and the royal power was absolute!

Letters from his wife also made a strong appeal. A little child now
brightened their home; yet the young husband and father must have
reflected that his own father had left a young and beautiful wife;
that the young soldier had torn himself away from his home and bride
in Chaviniac, following the lure of arms, and had, but a few weeks
before his own son's birth, rushed off to the battlefield where he ran
the risk of returning no more. Why should not the son take the same
risk and leave all for a great cause? To be sure, the father lost in
the venture, but perhaps the son would not. It was in the Lafayette
blood to seek for hazard and adventure. Cur non? Why not?

He was convinced that he would do no harm to any one but himself by
following out his purpose, and he decided not to risk further
interference from family or ministry. To get away safely he adopted a
ruse. He started out as if to go to Marseilles; but costuming himself as
a courier, he proceeded instead toward Los Pasajos, where his ship and
friends were awaiting him. The masquerade was successful until he reached
St. Jean de Luz where a hairbreadth escape was in store for him. Here
certain officers were watching for Lafayette. The clever daughter of an
innkeeper recognized him as the young nobleman who had passed some days
before on the way to Bordeaux. A sign from Lafayette was enough to keep
her from making known her discovery, and he slept, unrecognized, on the
straw in the stable, while one of his fellow-adventurers played the part
of passenger. This is why it has been said that but for the clever wit of
an innkeeper's daughter, Lafayette might have languished for the next few
years in the Bastille instead of spending them gloriously in aiding us to
gain our independence.

Lafayette reached Los Pasajos in safety. From the picturesque cliffs
back of the harbor he saw his ship, _La Victoire_--name of good
omen!--lying at anchor. There was the happy meeting of friends who
were to share his adventures and successes in the New World, and on
the 20th of April, 1777, they sailed forth on their voyage.

Two letters followed the enthusiastic fugitive. One was from Silas
Deane, who testified to the American Congress that a young French
nobleman of exalted family connections and great wealth had started
for America in order to serve in the American army. He affirmed that
those who censured his act as imprudent still applauded his spirit;
and he assured Congress that any respect shown Lafayette in America
would be appreciated by his powerful relations, by the court, and by
the whole French nation.

The other letter was a royal mandate calling upon the American
Congress to refuse all employment whatsoever to the young Marquis de
Lafayette. The first letter traveled fast; the second missive was
subjected to intentional delays and did not reach its destination
until Lafayette had been made an officer in the American army.



"Here one day follows another, and what is worse, they are all alike.
Nothing but sky and nothing but water; and to-morrow it will be just
the same."

So wrote the restless Lafayette when he had been four weeks on the
ship. The time had thus far been spent, after a sharp affliction of
seasickness, in studying books on military science, and on the natural
features of the country he was approaching.

In time land-birds were seen, and he sat down to write to Adrienne a
fifteen-hundred-word letter which should be sent back by the first
returning ship.

"It is from very far that I am writing to you, dear heart," he began,
"and to this cruel separation is added the still more dreadful
uncertainty of the time when I shall hear from you again. I hope,
however, that it is not far distant, for, of all the many causes that
make me long to get ashore again, there is nothing that increases my
impatience like this."

The thought of his little daughter Henriette comes forward again and
again. "Henriette is so delightful that she has made me in love with
all little girls," he wrote.

Never did a more gallant company set sail than these young noblemen of
France who were following a course across the sea only a little more
northerly than that which Columbus first traced, and with something of
the same high hazard that inspired the great discoverer. Their names
should be remembered by a people that profited by their bravery.
Besides the Baron de Kalb, with his fifty-five years, and the Viscount
de Maury (who rode out of Bordeaux as a grand gentleman while the
disguised Lafayette went before as courier), there was Major de Gimat,
first aid-de-camp to Lafayette and always his special favorite, who
gave up his horse to his young commander, thereby saving his life at
the battle of Brandywine, and who was wounded in an attack on a
redoubt at Yorktown. Then there was Captain de la Colombe who, after
the close of the war in America, pursued closely the fortunes of
Lafayette, following him even into prison. There was Colonel de
Valfort who, in later years, became an Instructor of Napoleon; and
Major de Buysson who was at the battle of Camden and brought word of
the eleven wounds that were needed to cause the death of the intrepid
Baron de Kalb. The list included still other names of members of noble
families in France.

Something was indeed happening to the youth of France in 1750 and
1760. A restless ardor, a love of adventure, a love of glory, together
with the bewitchment of that beautiful word "liberty," were among the
motives that inspired their actions. They went into the military
service at fourteen or even earlier, and were colonels of regiments at
twenty-two or twenty-four. They were "sick for breathing and exploit."

An amusing story is told of one of these adventurous boys. He got into
a quarrel with a school-mate about the real positions of the Athenians
and Persians at the battle of Platæa. He even made a small wager on it
and then set out to find whether he had been right or not. He actually
went on foot to Marseilles and from there sailed as cabin-boy to
Greece, Alexandria, and Constantinople. There a French ambassador
caught the young investigator and sent him home! Before he was
twenty-four, however, he was in America, covering himself with glory
at Germantown and at Red Bank. This was the kind of youths they were;
and many thrilling stories could be told about the lives of these
gallant young Frenchmen.

And how young they were! More than a hundred of the French officers
who came to America to serve in the Revolution were in the early
twenties. There were a few seasoned old warriors, of course, but the
majority of them were young. Such were the companions-in-arms of
Lafayette, himself still in his teens.

Lafayette's voyage was not without adventure. He had a heavy ship with
but two inferior cannon and a few guns--he could not have escaped from
the smallest privateer. But should they be attacked, he resolved to
blow up the ship rather than surrender. When they had gone some forty
leagues, they met a small ship. The captain turned pale; but the crew
were now much attached to Lafayette and had great confidence in him,
and the officers were numerous. They made a show of resistance; but it
proved to be only a friendly American ship.

As they proceeded on their way, Lafayette noticed that the captain was
not keeping the boat due west. He commanded that the point aimed for
should be Charleston, South Carolina. The man was evidently turning
southward toward the West Indies, this being the sea-crossing lane at
that time. Lafayette soon found out that the captain had smuggled
aboard a cargo which he intended to sell in a southern port. Only by
promising to pay the captain the large sum he would have made by that
bargain did Lafayette succeed in getting him to sail directly to the
coast of the colonies.

After a seven weeks' voyage the coast was near. Unfortunately, it
swarmed with hostile English vessels, but after sailing for several
days along the shore, Lafayette met with an extraordinary piece of
good fortune. A sudden gale of wind blew away the frigates for a short
time, and his vessel passed without encountering either friend or foe.

They were now near Charleston; but in order to reach the harbor they were
obliged to go ashore in the ship's yawl to inquire their way and if
possible to find a pilot. Lafayette took with him in the small boat the
Baron de Kalb, Mr. Price, an American, the Chevalier de Buysson, and some
of the other officers, together with seven men to row. Night came on as
they were making toward a light they saw on shore. At last a voice called
out to them. They answered, telling who they were and asking for a
night's shelter. They were cordially invited to come ashore and into a
house, where they were received with great hospitality by the owner.
They found themselves in the summer residence of Major Benjamin Huger
(pronounced as if spelled Eugee), member of a notable Carolina family
having French Huguenot antecedents, who, when he learned the purpose of
the visitors, did everything in his power to make them comfortable and to
further them on their way.

It was one of the curious coincidences that make up so large a part of
the story of Lafayette's life that the first family to meet him on his
arrival in this country had in its circle a small child who, when he
grew up, was to take upon himself the dangerous task of rescuing
Lafayette from the prison in which he was unjustly immured. That story
will be told in its proper place.

Lafayette was soon in Charleston, making preparations for the long
journey to Philadelphia, where Congress was in session at that time.
He was charmed with everything he found.

The Chevalier de Buysson has left us a description of the uncomfortable
journey to Philadelphia. The procession was as follows: first came one of
Lafayette's companions in hussar uniform; next, Lafayette's carriage--a
clumsy contrivance which was a sort of covered sofa on four springs; at
the side one of his servants rode as a squire. The Baron de Kalb
occupied the carriage with Lafayette. Two colonels, Lafayette's
counselors, rode in a second carriage; the third was for the aids, the
fourth for the luggage, and the rear was brought up by a negro on
horseback. By the time they had traveled four days, the bad roads had
reduced the carriages to splinters, the horses gave out, and buying
others took all the ready money. After that the party traveled on foot,
often sleeping in the woods. They were almost dead with hunger; they were
exhausted with the heat; several were suffering from fever. After thirty
days of this discouraging travel, they at last reached Philadelphia.

No campaign in Europe, declared de Buysson, could have been more
difficult than this journey; but, he said, they were encouraged by the
bright prospects of the reception they would surely have when they
reached Philadelphia. All were animated by the same spirit, he said,
and added, "The enthusiasm of Lafayette would have incited all the
rest of us if any one had been less courageous than he."

But the reception of these wayworn strangers at the seat of government
proved to be rather dubious. It appeared that at this time Congress
was being bothered by many applications from foreigners who demanded
high rank in the American army. The Committee of Foreign Affairs,
being practical men of business, looked askance at men who traveled
three thousand miles to help an unknown people; they did not wholly
believe in the disinterested motives of the strangers; and they
allowed Lafayette and his French officers to trail from office to
office, presenting their credentials to inattentive ears.

Finally that sense of power which always buoyed Lafayette's spirit in
critical moments came to his rescue. He determined to gain a hearing.
He wrote to Congress a letter in which he said:

"After the sacrifices that I have made in this cause, I have the right
to ask two favors at your hands; one is that I may serve without pay,
at my own expense; and the other is that I may be allowed to serve at
first as a volunteer."

Congress was clear-sighted enough to recognize in this letter a spirit
quite different from that which had seemed to actuate some of the
foreign aspirants for glory. And by this time they had received an
informing letter from Silas Deane; so they hastened to pass a
resolution (on July 31, 1777) accepting Lafayette's services and "in
consideration of his zeal, illustrious family, and connections," they
bestowed on him the rank of Major General in the Army of the United

The second letter with its royal command from Louis XVI might now
follow, but it could have no effect. Lafayette was definitely
committed to the American cause to which, as he said in his answer to
Congress, the feelings of his heart had engaged him; a cause whose
import concerned the honor, virtue, and universal happiness of
mankind, as well as being one that drew from him the warmest affection
for a nation who, by its resistance of tyranny, exhibited to the
universe so fine an example of justice and courage.

Lafayette's letter to Congress asked that he might be placed as near
to General Washington as possible and serve under his command.

A day or two after this a military dinner was given in Philadelphia
which was attended by General Washington. Lafayette also was invited.
That was Lafayette's first introduction to Washington. Lafayette had
admired Washington almost from the time he first heard his name. To
the young Frenchman, the occasion was momentous. He now saw before him
a man whose face was somewhat grave and serious yet not stern. On the
contrary, it was softened by a most gracious and amiable smile. He
observed that the General was affable in manner and that he conversed
with his officers familiarly and gayly. General Washington, with his
customary prudence, looked closely at the nineteen-year-old volunteer,
and wondered whether the stuff was to be found in that slight figure
and intent gaze that would make a helper of value to the colonies, one
whose judgment and loyalty could be relied upon. It must be that his
decision was favorable to the youth, for after the dinner he drew him
aside and conversed with him in the friendliest way. He spoke with him
of his plans and aspirations, showed that he appreciated Lafayette's
sacrifices, and that he realized the greatness of the effort he had
made in order to bring aid to the colonies. Then Washington invited
him to become one of his military family, which offer Lafayette
accepted with the same frankness with which it was made.

Perhaps Lafayette was in a mood to be pleased, for in spite of the
assailing mosquitoes at night and the many difficulties he had to
overcome, everything he saw in America gave him great satisfaction.



When Lafayette joined the army at Washington's headquarters, a few
miles north of Philadelphia, he was very much surprised by what he
saw. Instead of the ample proportions and regular system of European
encampments, with the glitter and finish of their appointments;
instead of feather-trimmed hats and violet-colored facings, with
marching and countermarching in the precision and grace of a minuet,
he saw a small army of eleven thousand men, poorly clad, with nothing
that could by the utmost courtesy be called a uniform, and woefully
lacking in knowledge of military tactics.

But Lafayette had on his rose-colored spectacles. The pitiful
condition of the American soldiers awakened nothing but sympathy in
his heart--never any contempt. In spite of their disadvantages, he
perceived that they had in them the making of fine soldiers, and that
they were being led by zealous officers.

Lafayette, now a major general in the American army, attended the
councils of war and stood by Washington when he reviewed the troops.
When the General took occasion to speak rather apologetically of the
deficiencies in his little army, suggesting that Lafayette must feel
the difference between these untrained soldiers and those he was
accustomed to see, Lafayette had the self-possession and tact to
answer that he had come to America to learn, not to teach. This answer
charmed Washington and endeared the young French officer to the whole

Washington, having heard that an English fleet was coming up
Chesapeake Bay, moved south to meet the portentous army that he knew
would promptly be debarked. On their way south the American troops had
to pass through the city of Philadelphia. In view of the dark
forebodings that the approach of the English was causing in the minds
of the people, Washington was desirous that the soldiers should make
as fine an appearance as possible in passing through the city, and
made special regulations for that day. The army was to march in one
column through the city; the order of divisions was stated; each
officer without exception was to keep his post with a certain space
between, no more and no less; each brigadier was to appoint patrols
to arrest stragglers from the camp and all others of the army who did
not obey this order; the drums and fifes of each brigade were to be
collected in the center of it, and a tune for the quickstep was to be
played; but it must be played with such moderation that the men could
keep step to it with ease.

An army that needed admonitions like these could still awaken
enthusiasm from spectators. The austere commander in chief looked very
handsome as he passed; the slim, eager-eyed French major general rode
at his side; every window shone with curious and admiring eyes and the
sidewalks were crowded with applauding citizens. The men could not
help catching the spirit of the occasion; each soldier stuck a sprig
of green in his hat to make up as far as possible for the lack of fine
uniforms and military brilliancy.

They were on their way to the place which was to be the scene of the
battle of Brandywine, one of the most disastrous defeats of the
Revolution. At the head of Chesapeake Bay the English had landed a
large and finely equipped army, and from that point they threatened
Philadelphia. Washington, with an inferior and poorly furnished force,
placed his army in form to receive the attack at the Birmingham
meetinghouse near Chad's Ford on Brandywine Creek, a point about
fifty miles south of Philadelphia.

Lafayette accompanied General Washington to the battle. His rank of
major general gave him no command. Practically, he was a volunteer.
But when he saw that the American troops were in danger of defeat
before the superior English force, he asked to be allowed to go to the
front. He plunged into the midst of the panic that followed the
failure of the American line to stand up before the galling fire of
the well-trained British soldiers. The retreat was rapidly becoming a
panic. At this point Lafayette sprang from his horse and rushed in
among the soldiers; by starting forward in the very face of the enemy
and calling the disorganized men to follow, he did all in his power to
induce the men to form and make a stand. It was impossible. The odds
were too great against the Americans. Lafayette and the other generals
waited until the British were within twenty yards of them before they

But at the height of the confusion, when Lafayette was too excited to
notice it, a musket ball struck his left leg just below the knee. Of
this he was unconscious until one of the generals called his attention
to the fact that blood was running over the top of his boot. Lafayette
was helped to remount his horse by his faithful aid, Major de Gimat,
and insisted on remaining with the troops until the loss of blood made
him too weak to go further. Then he stopped long enough to have a
bandage placed on his leg.

Night was coming on. The American troops were going pellmell up the
road toward Chester. There was horrible confusion, and darkness was
coming on. At a bridge just south of Chester, the American soldiers
were at the point of complete disorganization. Seeing the great need
for some decisive mind to bring order out of this chaos, Lafayette
made a stand and placed guards along the road. Finally Washington came
up and made Lafayette give himself into the hands of the surgeons. At
midnight Washington wrote to Congress, and in his letter he praised
the bravery of the young French soldier. Lafayette had passed his
twentieth birthday but four days before.

General Washington was happy to have this French officer proved by
test of battle and to find his favorable judgment more than warranted.
He showed the most tender solicitude for his young friend and gave him
into the care of the surgeons with instructions to do all in their
power for him, and to treat him as if he were his own son.

Lafayette's spirits were not in the least dashed. When the doctors
gathered round to stanch the blood, expressing their apprehensions for
his safety, he looked at the wound and pluckily exclaimed,

"Never mind, gentlemen; I would not take fifteen hundred guineas for

It was partly this buoyant, merry spirit that made Lafayette win all
hearts. To the army he was now no stranger. His broken English was
becoming more and more understandable. But words were not necessary;
the look in his eyes said that he was a fearless and sincere man; that
he had not come to this country to "show off," but from a true love
for the principles for which he had offered his sword. Never was there
a more complete adoption than that of Lafayette by the American army.

Lafayette's first care on reaching Philadelphia was to write to
Adrienne lest she should receive exaggerated news concerning his

"It was a mere trifle," he wrote. "All I fear is that you should not
have received my letter. As General Howe is giving in the meantime
rather pompous details of his American exploits to the king his
master, if he should write word that I am wounded, he may also write
word that I am killed, which would not cost him anything; but I hope
that my friends, and you especially, will not give faith to reports of
those persons who last year dared to publish that General Washington
and all the general officers of his army, being in a boat together,
had been upset and every individual drowned."

Years afterwards when Lafayette, then an elderly man, revisited our
country, he referred to his wound in these gracious words: "The honor
to have mingled my blood with that of many other American soldiers on
the heights of the Brandywine has been to me a source of pride and

After a few days it was thought wise to take the wounded Lafayette to
a quieter place. So Henry Laurens, the President of Congress, who
happened to be passing on his way to York, Pennsylvania, whither
Congress had removed, took him in his traveling carriage to Bethlehem,
where dwelt a community of Moravians, in whose gentle care Lafayette
was left for the four wearisome weeks of convalescence.

"Be perfectly at ease about me," he wrote Adrienne. "All the faculty
in America are engaged in my service. I have a friend who has spoken
to them in such a manner that I am certain of being well attended to;
that friend is General Washington. This excellent man, whose talents
and virtues I admired, and whom I have learned to revere as I have
come to know him better, has now become my intimate friend; his
affectionate interest in me instantly won my heart. I am established
in his house and we live together like two attached brothers with
mutual confidence and cordiality."

Again Lafayette writes: "Our General is a man formed in truth for this
revolution, which could not have been accomplished without him. I see
him more intimately than any other man, and I see that he is worthy of
the adoration of his country.... His name will be revered in every age
by all true lovers of liberty and humanity."

At last Lafayette was well enough to go into service again. He
requested permission this time to join General Greene who was making
an expedition into New Jersey in the hope of crippling the force of
Lord Cornwallis. Lafayette was given command of a detachment of three
hundred men, and with these he reconnoitered a situation Lord
Cornwallis was holding at Gloucester opposite Philadelphia. Here he
came so near to the English that he could plainly see them carrying
provisions across the river to aid in the projected taking of the
city, and he so heedlessly exposed himself to danger that he might
easily have been shot or imprisoned if the English had been alert. By
urgent entreaty he was called back. After gaining this information, he
met a detachment of Hessians in the service of the British army, and
though they numbered more than his own detachment, he succeeded in
driving them back. In the management of this enterprise he showed
great skill, both in the vigor of his attack and in the caution of his
return. He took twenty prisoners. General Greene, in reporting to
Washington, said that Lafayette seemed determined to be found in the
way of danger.

General Washington was now convinced that the titled volunteer could
be trusted with a command. He wrote to Congress as follows:

"It is my opinion that the command of troops in that state cannot be in
better hands than the Marquis's. He possesses uncommon military talents;
is of a quick and sound judgment; persevering and enterprising, without
rashness; and besides these, he is of a conciliating temper and perfectly
sober,--which are qualities that rarely combine in the same person. And
were I to add that some men will gain as much experience in the course of
three or four years as some others will in ten or a dozen, you cannot
deny the fact and attack me on that ground."

On this recommendation, Lafayette was appointed to the command of a
division composed entirely of Virginians. Needless to say he was
overjoyed; for though the division was weak in point of numbers, and
in a state of destitution as to clothing, he was promised cloth for
uniforms and he hoped to have recruits of whom he could make soldiers.

When Lafayette enlisted in the American army, he was not to lack for
companionship. John Laurens had come from his study of history and
military tactics at Geneva and, leaving his young wife and child
behind, even as Lafayette had done, had rushed home to serve his
country in her need. Alexander Hamilton was now both military aid and
trusted adviser and secretary to General Washington. These three young
men, all boys at the same time in different quarters of the globe, had
come together while still in early youth and were entering into the
great work of the American Revolution.



It was on the 20th of December that Lafayette received the joyful news
of the birth of a second daughter. She was named Anastasie. The whole
camp shared in the happiness of the young father. In fact, the affairs
of the young hero interested everybody so much that there was indeed
some danger that he would be spoiled. And he certainly would have been
but for the balance of good judgment and mental poise that offset
youthful rashness and vanity.

At about the same time, in a long letter to his father-in-law, he
explained the course of action he had marked out for himself. He said:
"I read, I study, I examine, I listen, I reflect; and the result of
all is the endeavor at forming an opinion into which I infuse as much
common sense as possible. I will not talk much, for fear of saying
foolish things; for I am not disposed to abuse the confidence which
the Americans have kindly placed in me."

This was Lafayette's real spirit and his secret counsel to himself;
and we can but wonder that a young man so impetuous, so enthusiastic,
one who had had the courage to start out on this hazardous enterprise,
should have combined with those qualities so cool and steady a
judgment and so rigid a self-control. But it was just this combination
of qualities that led Lafayette on to his successes.

There was, however, severe discipline in store for him. His strength
of purpose was to be put to a sharp test. This came about in two ways:
first, in the stern ordeal of the winter at Valley Forge, and
afterwards in the expedition into the wilderness north of Albany.

Everybody knows what the hardships of the American army were in those
dark days of the Revolution, the winter of 1777-78. Washington had
suffered defeat and disaster; but he, like his faithful followers, was
of the temper that could not be depressed. At Valley Forge the men
built a city of wooden huts, and these afforded at least a shelter
from the storms, though they were scarcely better than dungeons. Their
sufferings were terrible. They were inadequately clothed; many had
neither coats, hats, shirts, nor shoes; they were in want of food;
illness followed. Many had to have feet or legs amputated because of
the effects of freezing. Lafayette had to see all this, and to him
their patient endurance seemed nothing short of miraculous.

He even tried to make merry a little over their sad situation, and
over the nearness of the British army, for he wrote to his wife, "I
cannot tell whether it will be convenient for General Howe to make us
a visit in our new settlement; but we shall try to receive him with
proper consideration if he does."

For the moment the American cause was under a cloud. Should Lafayette
return to France now? If he did, this would have been the interpretation
of his act--he had lost faith in the American undertaking. This belief
would have been heralded throughout the British army and would soon have
been echoed in France. Lafayette did not wish to shoulder the
responsibility of the effect his withdrawal might have on the hopes of
help from French sympathy and French resources, and on the determination
of other recruits who might come over and bring aid. He decided to remain
with Washington and the American army and share whatever fate might be
theirs. So Lafayette courageously remained. Accustomed to a life of
luxury, he nevertheless adapted himself at once to the melancholy
conditions at Valley Forge.

There was a strange surprise awaiting Lafayette when he came to know
the American situation more intimately. Before he left Europe, his
sincere mind had clothed the cause of liberty in this country in the
most rosy colors. He thought that here almost every man was a lover of
liberty who would rather die free than live a slave. Before leaving
France he thought that all good Americans were united in one mind, and
that confidence in the commander in chief was universal and unbounded;
he now believed that if Washington were lost to America, the
Revolution would not survive six months. He found that there were open
dissensions in Congress; that there were parties who hated one
another; people were criticizing without knowing anything about war
methods; and there were many small jealousies. All this disheartened
him greatly; he felt that it would be disastrous if slavery, dishonor,
ruin, and the unhappiness of a whole world should result from trifling
differences between a few jealous-minded men.

After a time the disaffected ones in the army tried to win Lafayette
from his close allegiance to Washington. They entertained him with
ideas of glory and shining projects--a clever way to entice him into
their schemes. Deceived for a time, he received their proffers of
friendship and their flattering compliments, but when he noted that
some of them were able to speak slightingly and even disrespectfully
of the commander in chief, he dashed the temptation away with absolute

Filled with the desire to ward off all possible peril from an influence
which he knew would disrupt the American cause, he impetuously started in
to help. He sought an interview with Washington, but not finding an early
opportunity for this, he wrote him a long and noble letter which has been
preserved. In it he said:

"I am now fixed to your fate, and I shall follow it and sustain it by
my sword as by all means in my power. You will pardon my importunity
in favor of the sentiment which dictated it. Youth and friendship make
me, perhaps, too warm, but I feel the greatest concern at all that has
happened for some time since."

In answer to this impulsive and true-hearted letter, General Washington
wrote one of the most distinctive and characteristic of all the hundreds
of letters of his that are preserved. He said:

"Your letter of yesterday conveyed to me fresh proof of that
friendship and attachment which I have happily experienced since the
first of our acquaintance and for which I entertain sentiments of the
purest affection. It will ever constitute part of my happiness to know
that I stand well in your opinion because I am satisfied that you can
have no views to answer by throwing out false colors, and that you
possess a mind too exalted to condescend to low arts and intrigues to
acquire a reputation."

It must have been welcome to the harassed heart of the man who stood
at the head of so great a cause to receive the proofs of this young
man's friendship and of his absolutely loyal support. Washington
closed the letter with these gracious and inspiriting words:

"Happy, thrice happy, would it have been for this army, and for the
cause we are embarked in, if the same generous spirit had pervaded all
the actors in it.... But we must not, in so great a contest, expect to
meet with nothing but sunshine. I have no doubt that everything
happens for the best, that we shall triumph over all our misfortunes,
and in the end be happy; when, my dear Marquis, if you will give me
your company in Virginia, we will laugh at our past difficulties and
the folly of others; and I will endeavor, by every civility in my
power, to show you how much and how sincerely I am your affectionate
and obedient servant."

The political conspiracy developed into what is known in history as
the "Cabal." Thwarted in their attempt to draw into their interests
the man whose importance to them, as representing in an unofficial way
the French influence in America, was fully appreciated, they hatched a
scheme that should remove him from the side and from the influence of
Washington. This scheme consisted of a project on paper to send an
expedition into Canada, in order to win the people there to join the
American revolt, if possible to do so, by persuasion or by force. The
plan had many features that appealed to Lafayette.

The conspirators of the Cabal had carried a measure in Congress to
give Lafayette the promise of an independent command, and the
commission for this was inclosed to General Washington. He handed it
to the major general, who had so lately joined the army as a
volunteer, with the simple words, "I would rather they had selected
you for this than any other man."

But Lafayette loyally put aside the tempting prospect of winning
personal glory in the Old World and the New by this expedition, and
declined to receive any commission from Congress that would make him
independent of Washington. He would serve only as a subordinate of the
commander in chief, as one detailed for special duties. He wished to
be called "General and Commander of the Northern Army," not commander
in chief. Congress accepted the condition.

It was in this way, then, that Lafayette received the title of
"General," a distinction that he valued more than that of Marquis, and
that to the end of his days he preferred above all other titles.

With characteristic enthusiasm Lafayette proceeded to York, where
Congress was then assembled, and where the members of the conspiracy
were living in comfort that contrasted curiously with the conditions
surrounding General Washington at Valley Forge. At a dinner given
while Lafayette was there, the northern expedition and Lafayette's
brilliant prospects were made themes of praise. But Lafayette missed
one name from the list of toasts; at the end of the dinner he arose
and, calling attention to the omission, he proposed the name of the
commander in chief. In silence the men drank the toast; they had
learned by this time that the young French noble was made of
unmanageable material.

With a heart, however, for any fate, Lafayette started on the long,
wearisome journey northward. There were rivers deep and swift to
cross; the roads were bad and the wintry storms made them worse.
Floating ice crowded the fords. Rain and hail and snow and slush made
up a disheartening monotony.

It certainly was dismal. On his way north the young general was made
happy, however, by receiving a "sweet parcel of letters," telling him
that his family were very well and that they were keeping in loving
remembrance the man who was called in France, "The American Enthusiast."
This warmed his heart as he plodded northward through the storm.

On Lafayette's arrival at Albany, he found that none of the promises
made to him as to supplies, available men, money, and other necessary
equipment had been kept; and the judgment of advisers who knew the
difficulties of a northern excursion in the depth of winter was
against the expedition. Lafayette was exasperated and wrote frantic
letters to Washington, to Congress, and to Henry Laurens.

But it was of no avail. The expedition had to be given up. Lafayette
remained at Albany during the months of February and March, giving his
personal credit to pay many of the men and to satisfy other demands,
and taking up various duties and projects. For one thing, he went up
the Mohawk River to attend a large council of the Iroquois Indians.
This was Lafayette's first official contact with the red men, and he
at once manifested a friendship for them and an understanding of
their nature that won their hearts. He sent one of his French
engineers to build a fort for the Oneidas, and he was present at a
grand treaty ceremony. A band of Iroquois braves followed Lafayette
southward and later formed part of a division under his command.

It was a discomfited but not a despairing young warrior who returned
in April to Valley Forge. But joy was before him. The Cabal had
vanished before the storm of loyalty to Washington that gathered when
the conspiracy was discovered. Moreover, Lafayette received from
Congress a testimonial, saying that they entertained a high sense of
his prudence, his activity, and his zeal, and they believed that
nothing would have been wanting on his part, or on the part of the
officers who accompanied him, to give the expedition the utmost
possible effect, if Congress had not thought it impracticable to
prosecute it further. Better still, on the 2d of May came the great
news that a treaty of commerce and alliance had been signed between
France and the United States of America.

This event caused a wild wave of joy to spread over the whole country.
This treaty assured the permanence of the United States as a nation.
To be sure, the war with England must still be carried on, but now
that France was an ally they would have more hope and courage.

In the doleful camp at Valley Forge there was the sincerest gratification
and delight. A national salute of thirteen cannon was ordered; a
thanksgiving sermon was preached; a fine dinner was served for the
officers, and the table was made more delightful by the presence of Mrs.
Washington, Lady Stirling, Mrs. Greene, and other wives and daughters of

Lafayette took part in these scenes of rejoicing, but there was a
reason why, underneath it all, his heart was heavy. Almost with the
letters announcing the joyous news of the treaty, came others telling
him of the death, in October, 1777, of his little daughter Henriette,
of whom he had said that he hoped their relationship would be more
that of friends than of parent and child. This happiness was not to be
theirs. Lafayette now thought that he had never realized before what
it meant to be so far away from his home. The thought of Henriette and
of the grief of Adrienne, which he was not able by his presence to
help assuage, was with him every moment of the day; but even while his
heart was heavy with grief, he felt that he must attend and bear his
part in the public rejoicings.



The alliance with France put a new color upon every phase of the American
contest. If, for instance, a French fleet should be already on its way
across the Atlantic, and should enter Chesapeake Bay and threaten
Philadelphia, the English would have to evacuate that city and retire to
New York, risking the danger of being intercepted on the way by
Washington's army. In view of such a possibility as this, the commander
in chief of the American army held a council of war in which it was
decided that they were not strong enough to risk a decisive engagement.
It was, however, highly important that exact information should be gained
as to the movements of the British around Philadelphia. In order that
this might be accomplished, General Washington detached a group of
soldiery from among the most able and valued of his army, and put them
under Lafayette, with instructions to proceed into the country between
the Delaware and Schuylkill, and there interrupt communications with
Philadelphia, obstruct the incursions of the enemy's parties, and obtain
intelligence of their motives and designs.

Lafayette was overjoyed at being chosen for so important a charge; and
on the 24th of May, 1778, he started out with about twenty-two hundred
men. His force included the band of Iroquois warriors who had come
from Albany to follow his fortunes, and who, because of their
knowledge of forest-craft, were invaluable as scouts. The British
could command about four times as many soldiers as had been assigned
to Lafayette, but their intention was to keep the American force out
of their way and, if possible, to avoid a direct encounter.

For his camp Lafayette selected a piece of rising ground near the
eleventh milestone north of Philadelphia, where there was a church, a
grave-yard, and a few stone houses that might afford some protection
in case of attack, and where four country roads led out to the four
points of the compass. The place was called Barren Hill--name of
ill-omen! But the fate of the day proved not altogether unfortunate
for the young and intrepid commander.

Naturally, the people in Philadelphia had heard of the approach of the
young French noble whose fame had been ringing in their ears, and they
prepared to go out and engage him--capture him, if possible. At that
time they were indulging in a grand, week-long festival, with
masquerades, dancing, and fireworks; and in anticipation of the quick
capture of the young French hero, a special party was invited for the
next evening at which the guests were promised the pleasure of meeting
the distinguished prisoner.

Lafayette had chosen his position in a region he had carefully
examined. But the English were able to send bodies of troops up all
the traveled approaches to the hill. While Lafayette was planning to
send a spy to Philadelphia to find out, as Washington had directed,
what preparations were there being made, the cry suddenly arose in his
camp that they were being surrounded. It was a terrible moment. But
Lafayette had this great quality--the power of being self-possessed
under sudden danger. He did not lose his head, and he instantly
thought of a plan of escape.

There was a dilapidated road that his keen eye had detected leading
along beneath a high bank which protected it from observation. He
directed the main body of his men to pass down that old road, while a
small number were commanded to make a pretense of a demonstration near
the church; others were to show some false heads of columns along the
edge of the forest by the stone houses. These were withdrawn as the
main body of soldiers disappeared down the hidden road and began to
dot the surface of the river with their bobbing heads as they swam
across. Lafayette and his loyal aid-de-camp, Major de Gimat, brought
up the rear with the remainder of the men, whom they transferred
across the river without loss. Then they formed on the farther bank
and determined to contest the ford if the British followed. But the
British had marched up the hill from the two opposite sides, simply
meeting each other at the top; they then marched down again and did
not seem to be in any mind to pursue their enemy further.

The only real encounter of that serio-comic day's adventures took
place between the band of Iroquois and a company of Hessians in the
pay of the British. The Indians were concealed in the brush at the
side of the road when the Hessians, with waving black plumes in their
tall hats and mounted on spirited horses, came along. The Indians rose
as if from under the ground, giving their war whoop as they sprang.
The horses, unused to this form of war cry, started back and fled far
and wide; and the Indians, never having seen soldiers so accoutered,
were as frightened as if confronted by evil spirits, and swiftly made
good their escape from the impending "bad medicine."

The British carried their chagrin with them back to Philadelphia, and
the diners were disappointed in their guest of honor. Next morning
Lafayette returned to the top of Barren Hill, thence marched back to
Valley Forge, and there relieved the anxiety of General Washington who
had feared for his safety.

But the incident of Barren Hill, while it was not in any way an engagement,
must be looked upon as a serious matter after all, for it gave Lafayette
an opportunity to show that he was cool and self-possessed in a critical
moment, and that he was clever and resourceful in finding ways to extricate
himself from difficulties--both essential qualities in one who is to be
trusted with great enterprises.

In about a month the anticipated event took place--the British
evacuated Philadelphia; and, with a baggage-train eleven miles long,
started northward with the intention of joining forces with the army
at New York.

The question now was whether the army under General Washington should
leave Valley Forge and with their inferior force make an attempt to
intercept the British and bring on a battle. Several councils of war
were held; one of special importance at Hopewell, a place north of
Valley Forge, where the project of preparing for attack was earnestly
favored by Lafayette, together with General Greene and Colonel
Alexander Hamilton, but violently (and unaccountably at that time)
opposed by General Lee. This council has been made the subject of one
of the reliefs on the celebrated Monmouth Battle Monument. In this
design Washington is represented as standing by the table in the
center of the group, while Lafayette is spreading the map before the
council and urging them to make a strong demonstration against the
British, even if it should bring on a battle.

The various generals sit about the table and each expresses in his
attitude what his feelings are in this crisis. Steuben and Duportail
(at the extreme left) evidently agree with Lafayette, and eagerly
press for compliance with his plan. General Patterson (seated at the
table) is of the same mind, and so is the true-hearted Greene (seated
at the right of Patterson). Brave Colonel Scammel (between Washington
and Lafayette), Washington's Adjutant General, carefully notes the
opinion of each for the guidance of his chief. Back in the shadow sits
the treacherous General Lee, who looks sulky and is evidently planning
mischief. The homely rooftree covers a critical scene in the history
of the Revolution.

    [Illustration: _From a photograph by Norman L. Coe & Son._
    This bas-relief, by the sculptor J.E. Kelly, appears on
    the Monmouth Battle Monument. It shows a conference of
    Washington and his generals. Lafayette is shown standing
    opposite to Washington.]

Finally, Washington turned to General Wayne (behind Greene) and said,

"Well, General, what would _you_ do?"

"Fight, Sir!" crisply replied the ardent and indomitable Wayne--an
answer that pleased alike the commander in chief and the young
volunteer major general, to whom it seemed an intolerable insult that
a hostile army should be allowed to march through one's own country

General Lee was determined that the British should be allowed to pass
through New Jersey without molestation. His sympathies were afterwards
found to have been entirely with the British. At any rate, Washington
did not follow his advice. He sent out men to fell trees in the
enemy's path, to burn bridges before them, and to harass them as much
as possible; and he forwarded detachments of such size that he needed
a major general to take command of that branch of his army. The
position was offered first to General Lee. He refused to take it.
General Washington was then free to offer it to Lafayette, who
accepted it with delight.

As these plans were being matured, General Lee suddenly changed his
mind and announced that he would take command of the advance force;
and he appealed to Lafayette's generosity to allow him to do so, even
after having once given his refusal. Lafayette unselfishly resigned
the command. It is the opinion of historians that the outcome of the
battle of Monmouth would have been very different if the American side
had been left in the capable hands of the young Lafayette.

The battle of Monmouth, which took place on the 28th of June, was
widely scattered in its action over a hot and sandy plain. The outcome
was that General Lee first brought his troops face to face with the
enemy, and then, instead of leading on to the attack, gave the order
for retreat. Afterwards, in the court-martial of Lee, it was made
evident that the movement of the troops as ordered by Lee would have
left Lafayette and his detachment abandoned in an extremely exposed
position on the open plain, the troops that should have supported him
having been withdrawn by Lee's orders and directed to retreat.
Lafayette and the other generals felt great bitterness on that day
because they had been swept into battle but had not been allowed to
strike a blow.

Everybody knows how Washington rode up, and when he saw the retreat,
how he indignantly reproved General Lee and commanded the battalions
to turn back and form in position for battle. Lafayette was in command
of a division stationed at the second line under Lord Stirling who
sustained the left wing; they were now placed on an eminence behind a
morass and there played the batteries to such good effect that they
were able to check the advance of the British. This halt gave
Washington time to place his army to advantage. The British were
driven from a strong position they had taken, and before dark the
American troops had turned the British back. That night they lay upon
the field in bright moonlight, and while Washington and Lafayette
discussed the possible outcome of the next day, the British were
silently withdrawing from the Monmouth plains. The next morning all
had disappeared except some forty of their wounded. At Sandy Hook,
where the British army crossed to New York, it was learned that they
had lost about two thousand men by desertions and by losses at
Monmouth. Many of the soldiers on both sides had died from the extreme
heat on that 28th of June.

During the battle Lafayette was master of himself. Almost fifty years
later, Colonel Willett related that in the hottest of the fight he
saw Lafayette ride up to one of the officers and, in a voice cool,
steady, and slow, and with as much deliberation as if nothing exciting
prevailed, say,

"General, the enemy is making an attempt to cut off our right wing;
march to his assistance with all your force."

So saying he galloped off. Colonel Willett remembered that he was
exceedingly well mounted, though plainly dressed, and "very sedate in
his air for a Frenchman."

A number of situations arose soon after this in which Lafayette found
himself of great use. The French fleet under Count d'Estaing appeared
near Delaware Bay and sailed up the coast. Washington was at White
Plains. The British held New York. It was thought that the French
fleet could accomplish much by going to Newport and there coöperating
with the land forces. Lafayette was given a detachment and commanded
to proceed to Providence where he was to stand ready to give all
possible aid.

But he was doomed to still another disappointment. The French fleet
arrived off Point Judith near Newport; visits of ceremony were
exchanged by the French and American generals; preparations were made;
but through misunderstandings, the plans never worked out to an
actual engagement. Before anything was accomplished, a severe storm
overtook the fleet, and it withdrew to Boston for necessary repairs.

During this trying time, Lafayette was a trusted resource to
Washington, who devoutly wished to reconcile all differences and to
bring peace out of dissension. For this Lafayette had peculiar
qualities, as he understood the character of both the French and the
Americans, and believed absolutely in the good intentions of the
officers on both sides. Twice he rode to Boston and back again to help
in settling some difficulty, making on one of those occasions a
journey of seventy miles, at night, in six and a half hours--a feat
paralleled only by Sheridan's famous ride to Winchester.

But the fleet sailed away, bearing many disappointments with it,
though much good had been done by its coming; it meant that the
American cause had received definite encouragement from France.

It was now October of 1778 and autumn weather was closing the campaign
of the year. The sending of the French fleet to our shores had been
virtually a declaration that a state of war existed between France and
England, and the thought that this might develop into an actual war in
which Lafayette, after his practical experience and training in the
Continental army, could take part and win glory, inclined him strongly
at this point to return to his native land. Permission was given to
him to do this. The proper farewells, official and private, were made,
and Lafayette started on his way to Boston where he was to embark.

But the strain of the summer's excitement and overwork had been too
much for Lafayette, and at Fishkill he was taken ill with a violent
fever which prostrated him for some weeks. The greatest concern was
felt for his life; the soldiers' love for him was shown by their great
solicitude, and General Washington called upon him every day.

Lafayette slowly recovered and finally resumed his journey to Boston,
where he went on board the _Alliance_ which the government had given
him to take him to France. At the moment of sailing he sent a letter
to General Washington, in which he said:

"Farewell, my dear General. I hope your French friends will ever be
dear to you. I hope I shall soon see you again and tell you myself
with what emotions I now leave the land you inhabit, and with what
affection and respect I shall ever be your sincere friend."

They set sail for Havre on the 11th of January, 1779. The voyage was
not to be without adventure. They sailed into the teeth of a terrible
three days' storm. Lafayette, as usual, was very seasick, and, as
usual, was much discouraged thereby. For a time glory and fame had no
charms for him! He declared he was surely going where he had wished to
send all the English--namely, to the bottom of the sea!

Still worse was to follow. No sooner was the storm over than another
danger loomed up. The ship's crew included a number of renegade
English sailors who conspired to mutiny, to overwhelm the officers,
and to kill the crew and passengers. By including in their confidence
an American sailor, whom they mistook for an Irishman, their plot came
to naught. Lafayette summoned the whole crew, put thirty-three
mutineers in chains, and thus saved himself from capture and the ship
from being towed into a British port as a prize. Shortly after this
Lafayette brought the frigate into the harbor of Brest, where he had
the pleasure of seeing, for the first time, the American flag receive
the national salute as the symbol of an acknowledged sister nation in
alliance with his native country.



When Lafayette learned of the birth of his little daughter Anastasie,
whom he now ardently desired to see, he wrote to his wife:

"What expressions can my tenderness find sufficiently strong for our
dear Anastasie? You will find them in your own heart, and in mine,
which is equally open to you.... That poor little child must supply
all that we have lost."

Letters like this would give great consolation to Madame de Lafayette,
but alas, they came at long intervals, since many of her husband's
long epistles never reached her. Therefore Adrienne felt his absence
the more keenly, while rumors and exaggerated reports from America
made her days an agony. When, however, he returned to France in
February, 1779, her happiness was beyond all expression.

Adrienne's joy was increased by the fact that while her rash young
husband had left his native land under a cloud, because it was
understood that he did so against the command of the king, his return
was that of a conqueror, triumphant and in favor.

He was not allowed, however, wholly to forget his formal error. His
appeal to Adrienne for forgiveness for his absence was one that he had to
make to others. His father-in-law testified in a letter that, so far as
he was concerned, the recreant might be freely forgiven. Adrienne was
only too willing to receive the one who had left her to go on a mission
to the other side of the world; but what about the king whose command not
to leave the shores of France he had practically disobeyed? Many a man
had been shut up in the Bastille because of a much smaller offense.

Lafayette was brought to the court at Versailles by his relative, the
Prince de Poix. The king received him and graciously accorded a
punishment. He was to suffer imprisonment for the space of _one
week_--his prison to be the grand residence of his father-in-law, the
Hôtel de Noailles! After that his pardon was to be freely granted by
his Majesty, with this warning--that he should avoid public places for
a time lest the people should manifest their admiration for his
disobedient conduct by their applause.

The king's warning was not indeed without reason. But there was no use
in trying to keep the impressionable French people from worshiping a
hero after their hearts had been captured by him. The gallantry and
the human-heartedness of Lafayette, as well as the ideals he
held--ideals that were becoming more and more captivating to the fancy
and to the reason of the French nation--contributed to make him the
favorite of the hour. A passage from a certain play never failed to
receive enthusiastic applause from the audiences because it was held
by all to be susceptible of direct application to Lafayette; and this
passage the queen copied in her own hand because she thought of him
when she read it. It dwelt upon the union of mature and youthful
qualities in a character, and ran as follows:

              "Why talk of youth
    When all the ripe experience of the old
    Dwells with him? In his schemes profound and cool
    He acts with wise precaution, and reserves
    For times of action, his impetuous fire.
    To guard the camp, to scale the 'leaguered wall,
    Or dare the hottest of the fight, are toils
    That suit the impetuous bearing of his youth;
    Yet like the gray-haired veteran he can shun
    The field of peril. Still before my eyes
    I place his bright example, for I love
    His lofty courage, and his prudent thought;
    Gifted like him, a warrior has no age."

The queen's copy of this passage was given to Madame de Campan, the
revered teacher of the young ladies of the court, and it met the fate
of being burned on the very day Marie Antoinette's sad life came to an
end at the hands of the executioner during the height of the Terror.

The queen had shown her interest in Lafayette's arrival by arranging
to have an interview with the young hero when he was making his first
visit to Versailles. At her suggestion Lafayette was now advanced by
the king to be commander of an important regiment in the army of
France, the king's own Dragoons. He was stationed at Saintes and
afterwards at St. Jean-d'Angely, near Rochefort, where the regiment
was conveniently quartered to be ready in case a project for the
invasion of England by way of the British Channel should be carried
out. Such a plan was under consideration, and Lafayette looked forward
with delight to the prospect of action against the country which he
considered the ancient foe of France.

But, to Lafayette's great grief, the plot to invade England failed;
and he was now free to return to Paris and Versailles. The failure of
the British plan also made it rather easier for the minds of
prominent officials to look toward taking some further part in the
American struggle. To aid this Lafayette gladly applied himself; for
while loyal always to his own nation, and standing ready at any point
to leave all to serve France, he had not for a moment forgotten the
needs of his adopted country across the Atlantic. In fact, when he
reached home, he had not waited for his one week's punishment to be
over before beginning to create interest in the cause for which he had
risked his life. Benjamin Franklin, then ambassador to the court of
France from the United States, was promptly allowed, under pretense of
calling upon Lafayette's father-in-law, to visit Lafayette himself.

There was a constant stream of callers coming to see and congratulate
him, and never was there one among them who was permitted to
misunderstand the fact that Lafayette wished to move heaven and earth
to secure help for the Continental army in its struggle for freedom.
He found himself, in a more important sense than ever before, the tie
between France and America, for he enjoyed the confidence of both

To Washington he wrote: "If there is anything in France concerning
which not only as a soldier but as a politician, or in any other
capacity, I can employ my exertions to the advantage of the United
States, I hope it is unnecessary to say that I shall seize the
opportunity and bless the day which shall render me useful to those
whom I love with all the ardor and frankness of my heart."

General Washington, on his part, wrote to Lafayette in this wise:

"It gives me infinite pleasure to hear from your sovereign of the joy
that your safe arrival in France has diffused among your friends....
Your forward zeal in the cause of liberty, your singular attachment to
this infant world, your ardent and persevering efforts not only in
America, but since your return to France, to serve the United States,
your polite attentions to Americans, and your strict and uniform
friendship for me, have ripened the first impressions of esteem and
attachment which I imbibed for you into such perfect love and
gratitude, as neither time nor absence can impair. This will warrant
my assuring you that whether in the character of an officer at the
head of a corps of gallant Frenchmen if circumstances should require
this, whether as major-general commanding a division of the American
army, or whether, after our swords and spears have given place to the
plowshare and pruning-hook, I see you as a private gentleman, a friend
and companion, I shall welcome you with all the warmth of friendship
to Columbia's shores; and in the latter case, to my rural cottage,
where homely fare and a cordial reception shall be substituted for
delicacies and costly living. This, from past experience, I know you
can submit to; and if the lovely partner of your happiness will
consent to participate with us in such rural entertainments and
amusements, I can undertake on behalf of Mrs. Washington that she will
do all in her power to make Virginia agreeable to the Marchioness. My
inclination and endeavors to do this cannot be doubted, when I assure
you that I love everybody that is dear to you."

Such a visit as this the Marchioness was never to pay. And we can not
blame her if, during her husband's brief visits, she felt like
complaining that he absorbed himself in the interests of the American
cause or was always planning fresh enterprises. But though she was now
only nineteen years old, she was proving herself the high-minded woman
who could sympathize entirely with her husband's ideals, and who could
consider him dedicated to a great cause; therefore she could
cheerfully lay aside merely selfish wishes. No one ever heard a
complaint from her absolutely loyal lips. In December, 1779, the
family was made happy by the birth of a son, to whom, in honor of his
illustrious friend, Lafayette gave the name of George Washington.

Lafayette had many testimonials from his friends in the United States
showing their appreciation of his efforts for them; and among them was
one of special import. It consisted of a sword richly ornamented, with
a handle of solid gold, sent to him by the American Congress. To
Franklin was intrusted the pleasant task of providing this rich gift.
It was made in Paris and was engraved with representations of the
actions in which Lafayette had taken part, together with his coat of
arms, his chosen motto "Cur non?" and other emblematic designs
selected by Franklin; and Franklin's grandson had the honor of
conveying to Lafayette this testimonial of a nation's appreciation.

"By the help of the exquisite artists of France," graciously wrote
Franklin in an accompanying letter, "I find it easy to express
everything but the sense we have of your worth."

Lafayette may have been in a fair way to be spoiled, but if he was he
had a happy way of concealing it. He answered, "In some of the devices
I cannot help finding too honorable a reward for those slight services
which, in concert with my fellow-soldiers, and under the god-like
American hero's orders, I had the good fortune to render."

This beautiful sword was in the course of time to meet with ill luck.
When Revolutionists rifled the Château de Chaviniac, it was buried for
safe-keeping and remained thus hidden for many years. Long afterwards
Lafayette's son, George Washington Lafayette, grown to young manhood,
unearthed the treasure and found that the blade was totally rusted
away. Lafayette then had the happy thought of adjusting to this handle
of pure gold the blade of a sword that had been made out of bolts and
bars taken from the Bastille. Thus the associations of both worlds and
of two struggles for freedom were united in one historic sword.

There came a time when Lafayette felt himself warranted in presenting
a Memoir to the Cabinet on the subject of giving direct relief to
America. His plan, from a military standpoint, was masterly, and it
produced so favorable an impression that it was accepted; and it soon
became known to those worthy to be in the secret that France would
send to America a reinforcement of six ships and six thousand men of
the regular infantry. To this was added a loan of three million
livres, and later still, through the appeals of Franklin, another loan
of the same amount was supplied. The Count de Rochambeau, a trained
soldier, was chosen to command the land forces and the Count de Ternay
was to be admiral of the fleet. Lafayette was sent ahead to announce
this happy news and to make preparations for the arrival of the

Wearing the uniform of an American officer, Lafayette took his leave
of the king; and on the 4th of March, 1780, he sailed on the frigate
_Hermione_. He reached Boston harbor on the 28th of April, 1780, after
an absence of fifteen months. When word swept through the city that a
ship was coming in with Lafayette on board, the people crowded to the
wharf to welcome the returning French friend of America. This was the
beginning of civic processions in Lafayette's honor. They cheered him
from the ship's side to the residence of Governor Hancock where
addresses were listened to and congratulations exchanged. He called
upon the Legislature then in session, and in the evening viewed the
illuminations in his honor. Lafayette gave a dinner on board the ship
to which he invited a large number of officials--the president of the
Massachusetts Council, members of the legislature, the consul of
France, and other men of dignity. The frigate was gayly decorated with
the flags of many nations. Thirteen toasts were drunk--the number
thirteen cannot have been an unlucky number in those days!--and after
the toast to Washington the great guns boomed seventeen times.

As rapidly as possible Lafayette rode to Washington's headquarters at
Morristown, New Jersey, and made his happy announcement to the General
himself. He then pressed on to Philadelphia to present to Congress the
communication from the French government. He bore also a letter from
Washington, in which the commander in chief introduced Lafayette as
one who had "signally distinguished himself in the service of this
country," and who, during the time that he had been in France, had
"uniformly manifested the same zeal in our affairs which animated his
conduct while he was among us"; who had been "on all occasions an
essential friend to America."

The greatest possible effort was now made to equip the Continental
army, but the resources of the country had already been grievously
overtaxed. Washington had hardly been able to keep his army together
at all. Half of his six thousand men were unfit for duty. They had
sometimes had no bread for six days; sometimes for two or three days
they would have neither meat nor bread. The commander clearly realized
that an army reduced to nothing, without provisions or any of the
necessary means to carry on a war, needed not a little help only--it
needed a great deal.

When, on the 2d of May, the French fleet finally set sail, delays had
reduced the number of soldiers and the amount of supplies. The English
by this time had realized what was happening, and they carefully
blockaded the second division of the squadron in the harbor of Brest;
and when the first division reached Newport, the English cleverly
surrounded the harbor with their ships, thus "bottling up" the French
and rendering them inactive and useless. In this way the great good
that was expected from the French expedition came to naught.

During all this trying time, Lafayette acted the part of a single-minded
friend of both the French and the American armies. He was sent by
Washington to Newport to confer with the French generals, and later he
was present at a joint meeting of the great French and American generals
which was held at Hartford, Connecticut. Lafayette rode from one army to
the other, holding conferences and putting important decisions into
writing, or dictating the results of conversations. Many of these
documents have been preserved in French or American state archives.

Whatever time he could get apart from these labors he spent in
training the battalion that had been assigned to him. This was a
detachment of light infantry, selected from the best of the army. He
took great pride in training these men, sent to France for black and
white plumes for their caps, and tried to make them present as good an
appearance as possible. The Marquis de Chastellux, who visited his
camp on the Ramapo River, has left a delightful description of this
visit in which he spoke of the fine appearance of the troops as their
young commander had drawn them up on a height near his own station.
Here, said Chastellux, Lafayette received his guest with more pride
than if he had been entertaining at his estates in Auvergne. "Happy
his country," said Chastellux, "if she employs his services; happier
still if she has no use for them!"

It was during this autumn that Benedict Arnold made what Lafayette
called that "horrid compact with the enemy"--an event that amazed and
distressed him beyond any words. Lafayette was with Washington when
the plot was discovered. He was also a member of the board to try the
British spy, André. His attitude toward André was very different from
that toward Benedict Arnold. André, he said, conducted himself in a
manner so frank, so noble, and so delicate, that he could not help
feeling infinite sorrow for him.

The winter of 1780-81 was the darkest period of the war. But it was to
be followed by a happier season, one in which Lafayette was at last to
have as large a share of action as his heart could wish.



The British still held the city of New York. General Washington's army
sat in their impregnable camps on the Hudson and along the Delaware,
where he could reach out a hand to New England on the east, and to
Philadelphia on the south, at the same time threatening now and then
the stronghold of the British. Meantime an active campaign was being
carried on in the states south of Virginia. At the battle of
Charleston the brave General Lincoln and his gallant army were
compelled by the British to lay down their arms and give themselves up
as prisoners of war without the usual courtesies. The ceremony of
surrender was particularly galling. Forbidden by their conquerors to
play a British or a Hessian air, they marched to the joyous melody of
"Yankee Doodle," their colors cased, and their hearts rebellious. The
battle of Camden was another defeat for the Americans. On that
disastrous day fell the companion of Lafayette's first voyage, the
Baron de Kalb, who died bravely after receiving no less than eleven
wounds. Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander in the south, thought
that defeats like these would finish the question for that part of the
country, so he gave out proclamations of amnesty to the tractable and
built scaffolds to hang the unsubmissive. But the south was not to be
so easily subdued. The British met with defeat at King's Mountain, and
in October, 1780, General Greene was sent to push the southern
campaign more vigorously.

One result of these southern disasters was to make the importance of
Virginia increasingly evident as a base for operations in the
Carolinas. Cornwallis saw this and he determined to reduce that state,
to cut off the southern army from its base, and thus to control the
approaches to the heart of the country. Accordingly, in January, 1781,
he sent Benedict Arnold, who had been made a brigadier general in the
British army, with a strong force, and with two trusted British
colonels, to conduct a campaign in that state.

If the British commander in chief had wished to fill the men of the
Continental army with a fire that would make them unconquerable, this was
the way to do it, and this was the man against whom they most desired to
fight. On the other hand, General Washington chose a leader for the
defense who was so well beloved by his men, and who was himself filled
with so fiery an enthusiasm for the cause, that this alone would have
been enough to bring into effect all the strength of those drained and
exhausted men and to energize them for prodigies of valor. This leader
was Lafayette. In February, 1781, he was commissioned to go against

Lafayette was glad to be trusted with a command and overjoyed at the
prospect of action. But he still believed that the great final blow
was to be struck at New York and he was most reluctant to be separated
from Washington with whom he intensely longed to be when the great
climax came. However, he obeyed orders with perfect alacrity and
planned for a swift march in order to intercept any efforts on the
part of Arnold to obtain access to the various storehouses and river
crossings in Virginia. Leaving under guard his tents, artillery, and
everything that could be spared, with orders to follow as rapidly as
possible, he marched his men through heavy rains and over bad roads.

The Virginia campaign, says a French historian, is to be ranked among
the classic tales of all time; and in this campaign the young
Lafayette was the most notable leader. It was on the 6th of April,
1781, that General Washington wrote to Lafayette, giving him full
instructions, which led him into the midst of active service.

Lafayette's detachment included men from New Jersey, from New
Hampshire, and from other New England states. Among them were some of
the men who had been willing to take their lives in their hands and
follow their young leader on the hazardous expedition into Canada.
Although the men had no idea at this time what was before them, they
were now going to follow Lafayette to the glory that he so ardently

But in spite of the splendid spirit of the troops, Lafayette found
that they were in sore need of encouragement. They saw that they were
not going toward the grand final attack; they were not used to the
blind obedience exacted from trained European troops; and they did not
understand this discouraging southward move.

Fearing that the summer would be wasted, Lafayette thought of a device
to strengthen the tie between himself and his detachment. He wrote it
down in the order of the day that they were about to start out on an
expedition that would tax all a soldier's powers, and in which there
would be abundant dangers and difficulties. The enemy, he said, was
far superior to them in numbers, thoroughly despised them, and was
determined to conquer them. He added that no soldier should accompany
him who was inclined to abandon him; nor was it necessary that any one
should desert; for any man could, if he desired, have a pass and be
sent to join his regiment in winter quarters.

This method of approach had more than the desired effect. Lafayette
soon wrote to Washington: "Our men are in high spirits. Their honor
was interested, and murmurs as well as desertions are entirely out of

Soon after the advent of Lafayette in the Virginia field, he came into
contact with Benedict Arnold in a very curious way. The commander of
the opposing British forces had died, and Arnold took his place. About
that time Arnold sent a message under a flag of truce to Lafayette.
When Lafayette learned that the letter which was brought in was from
the traitor, he returned it unopened, sending a verbal message stating
that with Benedict Arnold he would hold no communication whatever.
Later he sent a formal letter to the officer that had brought the
flag, in which he declined all correspondence with Arnold, but added
with the utmost courtesy that "in case any other British officer
should honour him with a letter, he would always be happy to give the
officers every testimony of esteem."

The subject of the letter from Arnold was an exchange of prisoners, a
matter that interested him extremely, as he well knew that Lafayette
could hardly have pleased the American people better than by
presenting Benedict Arnold to them a prisoner. We know that Arnold's
mind dwelt on this aspect of his sad situation from the fact that he
once quizzed a captured American to find out what the Americans would
do with him if they took him prisoner. The soldier audaciously replied
that they would "cut off the leg that had been wounded in the
country's service and hang the rest of him!" Lafayette's action in
regard to the letter from Arnold was very gratifying to Washington; he
said that in nothing had Lafayette pleased him more than in refusing
to hold communication with Benedict Arnold.

Soon after this Arnold was transferred to New York, and Cornwallis
came forward with reënforcements, declaring that he would now "proceed
to dislodge Lafayette from Richmond." The struggle between the young
French officer (not yet twenty-four years old) in his first attempt
at carrying on an independent campaign, and the veteran British
commander with years of service behind him, was now taken up with more
spirit than ever before. It was the crisis of the Revolution. If the
Continental army could only hold out a little longer, it might be
possible, by adroit advance and diplomatic retreat, to avoid unequal
battles until the foe was worn out or until some favorable opportunity
should arise for a direct attack. Cornwallis, of course, despised his
exhausted enemy. A letter from him was intercepted and brought into
the American camp; in the letter he said, "The Boy cannot escape me!"
Lafayette's face must have been set in very grim lines when he read
that letter.

Technically, Lafayette had been taking orders from General Greene whose
command was in the south and included Virginia. But on the 18th of May,
Lafayette was ordered to take the entire command in Virginia and to send
all reports directly to General Washington. "The Boy's" letters to
Colonel Hamilton show that he fully recognized the gravity of affairs,
the responsibility of his position, and the dangers of his own
over-enthusiastic spirit. The British command of the adjacent waters, the
superiority of their cavalry, and the great disproportion in the forces
of the two armies, gave the enemy such advantages that Lafayette dared
not venture to engage the British. The British generals thoroughly
understood what they called Lafayette's "gasconading disposition," and
they relied upon it to work woe to his plans and to contribute to their
own glory. His prudence disappointed them as much as it satisfied
Washington who had said of Lafayette, "This noble soldier combines all
the military fire of youth with an unusual maturity of judgment."
Lafayette desired to be worthy of this high praise.

On April 29, Lafayette and his light infantry reached Richmond in time
to prevent its capture and to protect the supplies that had been
concentrated there. In the battle at Green Spring his bravery led him
once more to plunge into the thick of the fight, losing his horse
(some reports say two horses) which was shot under him or by his side.

In Wayne's official report on that battle he said that "Lafayette was
frequently requested to keep at a greater distance, but his native
bravery rendered him deaf to the admonition."

He compelled the admiration of his opponents by his skill in defensive
maneuvers. The "Boy" obeyed his commander in chief, and he succeeded
in misleading his foe, for Cornwallis believed that the American force
was larger than it actually was; he also believed that he could break
down the loyalty of the inhabitants of Pennsylvania and of Virginia.
In both these points he was direfully mistaken. But Lafayette had high
respect for Cornwallis as a general. "His Lordship plays so well," he
complained, "that no blunder can be hoped from him to recover a bad
step of ours."

Finally, reënforcements did come to Lafayette. In despair the American
Congress sent a special messenger express to Paris to bear one more
urgent appeal for help. Washington wrote, "We are at the end of our
tether; ... now or never our deliverance must come."

Impetuous young John Laurens was chosen to be this Ambassador
Extraordinary to France. Laurens was greatly admired and loved by
Lafayette and he recommended him to the affections of his noble
relatives in Paris. At the moment Laurens's father was being held a
prisoner by the British in the Tower of London--a fact that no doubt
quickened the zeal of the son. At all events, he was successful in his
mission. The French fleet in the West Indies was ordered to the United
States and the king himself became surety for several millions of
livres in addition to what had already been sent to our aid.

The time was coming when Lafayette could begin to move the British
army before him little by little down the York River toward Yorktown,
a method of procedure that now became, as the British reports
described it, the "constant and good policy of the enemy." On the 24th
of September, 1781, Cornwallis proceeded to occupy Yorktown and to
strengthen it against attack.

The city of Yorktown is situated near the entrance to Chesapeake Bay.
At that place two rivers enter the bay, the York and the James, and
upon a conspicuous bluff on the northern side of the neck of land
between them stood this small town.

Cornwallis began at once to prepare the place for assault. Around the
village he built a series of fortifications consisting of seven redoubts
and six batteries on the land side, and these he connected by
intrenchments. He placed a line of batteries on the river bank to command
the channel, and he established outworks to impede the approach of the
enemy. Lafayette saw all this and rejoiced, for he believed that
Cornwallis was at last where he most desired to have him--in a place
where he would be open to attack, and with some hope of success. All the
country around Yorktown was now familiar to Lafayette. He knew every
inch of the land, the river, the morass, and the commanding hill. "Should
a fleet come in at this moment, affairs would take a very happy turn," he
wrote joyfully to General Washington.

On the 30th of August the French fleet, under the Count de Grasse,
with twenty-eight ships of the line, appeared in the waters of
Chesapeake Bay; a few days later the Marquis de Saint Simon, field
marshal in the French army, debarked a large reënforcement of French
troops; and on the 4th of September Lafayette moved nearer to Yorktown
and took a position with the troops he could bring together,--his own
light infantry, the militia, and the reënforcements at Williamsburg, a
town in the vicinity of the British position.

Nothing now remained but the arrival of General Washington himself to
take charge of the whole enterprise, and Lafayette's happiness was
complete when, on the 14th of September, he resigned his command into
the hands of his revered General.



It is September, 1781. The "Boy" has not been caught. He is encamped
at Williamsburg, and looks toward his powerful enemy who is surrounded
by well-devised intrenchments at Yorktown, twelve miles down the

The American and French troops, fifteen or sixteen thousand in number,
arrived and took their places. General Washington was in supreme
command. America had never before seen such an army. The Americans had
done their utmost. That part of the French army that had come down
from Connecticut with Rochambeau had astonished the people of
Philadelphia as they marched through the city by the brilliancy of
their rose-and-violet-faced uniforms, and by the display of their
graceful and accurate military movements. Now they were to have an
opportunity to show whether their warlike spirit was expressed chiefly
in ruffles and tinsel trimmings, or whether they could win fame by
more solid qualities.

On the 29th of September the combined American and French armies moved
southward to a point about four miles from the town. There they
divided into two columns and the Americans defiled to the right, the
French to the left. They then proceeded to arrange themselves around
the town in an irregular semicircle that extended from the river bank
at the west to the shore on the southeast, a distance of about two
miles. Toward the southern side were ranged the various American
regiments under Baron Steuben and General Wayne; and next to these
stood what was called the Light Infantry corps under Lafayette. He had
ventured to suggest to General Washington that he wished his division
might be composed of the troops that had been with him through the
fatigues and dangers of the Virginia campaign; this, he said, would be
the greatest reward he could have for the services he might have
rendered, as he had now the strongest attachment for those troops.
Still another division stood at the extreme right. This was under the
command of General Lincoln, who had been forced, through no fault of
his own, to surrender to the British at Charleston.

The approaches to Yorktown were easy; there were means of shelter
everywhere, and the American army at once began preparations for the

At last the men finished the construction of two parallels. They were
now within three hundred yards of the British defenses. General
Washington then placed his siege guns in position. It was the first
week in October, 1781. On the sixth the siege began.

Every point in this dramatic history has been made the subject of
story or poem, and naturally some legendary quality would after a time
irradiate the incidents. Thus some writers affirm that General
Washington gave the order for the first shot, and some say that it was
Lafayette. The story is this. Before signing the order, General
Washington turned to Thomas Nelson who was both governor of Virginia
and a general in the army, and inquired,

"At what object shall this gun be fired?"

Pointing to his own dwelling where the roof appeared above the trees of
Yorktown, and where it was understood Cornwallis had his headquarters,
General Nelson answered,

"There is my house; aim at that!"

The story is that Washington turned to the gunner and said,

"For every shot you cause to hit that house, I will give you five

From the 6th to the 10th of October, the fire from the allied
American and French army increased daily in vigor. On the 11th the
second parallel was completed and entered, and the besieging line was
thus tightened and strengthened. Within their intrenchments the
British were watching for reënforcements that were fated never to

On the 14th of October it was found that the British held two redoubts
whose guns were inconveniently active, and the Americans believed they
must be silenced. The redoubts had been built on two small hills on
the American right, in a difficult region where rocky cuts alternated
with swampy depressions. These two hills were called "Number Nine" and
"Number Ten"; "Number Ten" was also called "Rock Redoubt." These
redoubts were about three hundred yards in front of the British
garrison, and Washington decided after consultation that they were of
sufficient importance to take by storm.

Accordingly the order was given. The reduction of Redoubt Number Nine
was intrusted to a group of French grenadiers and chasseurs. Rock
Redoubt stood nearest the river; this was assigned to Lafayette with
his American regiments.

Important among the men under General Lafayette's command was
Lieutenant Colonel de Gimat, the French aid who had always been so
faithful a follower of Lafayette; he commanded a body of men from
Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Then there was Lieutenant Colonel
Alexander Hamilton, the young American to whom Lafayette was
personally so warmly attached, who afterwards was to become one of the
most distinguished servants of the new nation, and who was to meet so
strange and sad an end after his great work was done.

When Hamilton heard a rumor that General Washington was intending to
give to a certain Colonel Barber the opportunity to lead the attack,
his spirit was immediately aroused. Without a moment's delay he
hastened to headquarters and warmly urged his right to the honorable
and dangerous task. He gained his point and returned in a state of
exuberant satisfaction, exclaiming to his major, "We have it! We have
it!" So Lafayette assigned Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton to
lead the advance corps, to be assisted by Colonel de Gimat. In all
there were four hundred men under Lafayette for this storming

It was eight o'clock on the evening of October 14. The storming of the
two redoubts had been carefully planned even down to the least
details; but so energetic was the work of the men, so dashing was
their valor, that when the time really came, the attack lasted but a
few minutes.

Lafayette's redoubt was taken in a mere flash of time--in less than
ten minutes, some close observers said; others made it eight minutes.
The six shells, the signal agreed upon, were fired. The men started
the march. Rock Redoubt loomed before them in the thick dusk of
twilight. They advanced in good order with their bayonets fixed and in
utter silence, as they had been commanded. But when the first volley
of musketry came down from the top of the redoubt, they broke their
silence and huzzaed with all their power. Then they rushed forward,
charging with their bayonets as they ran, and in almost no time they
were within the redoubt, with the defending officer and forty-five men
their prisoners. Not a shot had been fired; and so swift was the
action that few of the Americans were lost.

The not ungenerous rivalry between the groups of men who took the two
redoubts is one of the most picturesque incidents of the American
Revolution. If it had not been for the fact that the French detachment
had paused to have the abatis cut through in regular order, they would
probably have been in their redoubt before the Americans under
Lafayette were in theirs; for when they were once on the height, they
occupied but six minutes in making themselves masters of their redoubt
and in manning it again for action.

One move follows another quickly at such a time, and when Lafayette
had entered his redoubt, he looked over the parapet and saw that the
men on the other height were still struggling for the possession of
theirs. It happened that a certain General Viomesnil had expressed a
doubt as to the efficiency of the American troops, therefore Lafayette
welcomed this opportunity to show their valor. He instantly sent an
aid to announce to General Viomesnil, with a flourish of compliments,
that the American troops were in possession of their redoubt and to
say that if M. le Baron de Viomesnil desired any help, the Marquis de
Lafayette would have great pleasure in assisting him! The Major sent

"Tell the Marquis that I am not in mine, but that I will be in five

This promise was made good by the brave and energetic French troops.
Perhaps never before had the space of two minutes been of so much
importance in the honor of two nations.

General Washington who, in his eagerness to see this important action,
had ridden near,--too near to please his officers and surgeons,--had
closely watched the storming of the redoubts. When they were taken and
the guns had been instantly whirled about to face the enemy, he turned
to Generals Knox and Lincoln who stood near and said with emphasis,

"The work is done, and well done."

Then he mounted his horse and rode back to headquarters.



At the siege of Yorktown much of the gallantry and glory of war was to
be seen; but there was another side as well. The dwelling houses in
ruin, the sufferings of the wounded men, the surgical operations, the
amputations, the groans and sighs and homesickness, the dying gasps,
the bodies of slain horses lying in the way--these also are war.

In Yorktown itself many houses were in flames. A sortie had been
attempted and had failed. British reënforcements had not come.
Supplies were giving out. The outlook seemed hopeless. The men fought
without spirit. An attempt was made to escape by sea. It also failed.
A violent storm drove the boats back to shore. The idea of surrender
was entertained.

Consequently, on the 17th of October, General Cornwallis sent a note
to General Washington asking for a cessation of hostilities for
twenty-four hours, to settle terms for the surrender of Yorktown.
Washington allowed two hours instead of twenty-four. Why waste any
more time?

Interviews were immediately held, and a treaty of capitulation was

When it was known that the British had yielded, a wave of the wildest
joy spread through the American and French camps--and through the
whole country as well. Messengers rode at top speed to Philadelphia to
carry the good news. Congress was sitting there at the time. The rider
came in at midnight. At one o'clock the watchers called "All's well,"
as usual, but added,

"_Cornwallis is taken!_"

Windows were opened and heads thrust out. The streets soon filled with
rejoicing people. What Lafayette called "a good noisy feu de joie"

The third article in the document of capitulation stated that the
British troops should be required to march out to the place appointed
in front of the posts, at two o'clock precisely, with shouldered arms,
colors cased, and drums beating a British or a German march. They were
then to ground their arms and return to their encampments. The same
afternoon the works at Gloucester on the opposite side of the river
were to be given up, the infantry to file out as prescribed for the
garrison at York, and the cavalry to go forth with their swords drawn
and their trumpets sounding.

Over all this there had been a sharp discussion. The British wished to
receive the "honors of war," that is, to go out with colors flying and
drums beating; and the courteous Washington was inclined to grant this
request. But Lafayette remembered the requirements the British had
made at the defeat at Charleston. They had compelled the men to march
out with colors cased, and had forbidden them to play a British or a
Hessian air; and he thought that in fair retaliation the British army
should now give up their arms in the manner required by them on that
occasion. He suggested, however, one original variation,--that they
should be not forbidden but _required_ to march to a British or a
German air. Colonel Laurens was in accord with this. He had served at
Charleston under General Lincoln, and he was only too glad to remind
the British commissioners that it had been so arranged and required of
the American troops after that defeat.

"The article remains or I cease to be a commissioner," the young man
said firmly. The high-spirited Laurens could but remember that at that
very moment his own father was still imprisoned in the Tower of

The condition remained; and at noon on the 19th of October the
capitulation was signed. At one o'clock possession was taken of the
enemies' works, and at two the garrison marched out.

A field about a mile and a half south of Yorktown was chosen for the
ceremony. The scene was brilliant and spectacular. All the American
soldiers were drawn up in a line on one side of the road and the
French stood opposite with General Rochambeau, their commander in
chief, leading their line. General Washington, mounted on his horse
and attended by his aids, was at the head. Washington was ardently
admired by all the French officers and they must have envied him his
magnificent appearance in this fortunate hour. That fearless and
austere commander, who had shared the sufferings and privations of his
men in the dark night of Valley Forge, now rejoiced with them in the
hour of accomplishment.

The French made a splendid appearance with their uniforms of bright
colors and contrasting trimmings. Nearly all had the conventional
three-cornered Revolutionary cap of blue; and the trousers were
prevailingly of a lemon or canary yellow. Glittering orders were
flashing on many uniforms, their banners were embroidered with golden
lilies; each noble had his servants arrayed in silver-laced livery,
and the French bands of many fifes, horns, and cymbals, played such
music as was never heard before.

The American soldiers, who had inherited no traditions of either the
glory or the disasters of warfare, could not compare with the
foreigners in their full-dress display. But in every heart among them
there was a feeling that richly compensated for the lack of feathers
and facings. Whether shopkeeper or farmer or mighty hunter from the
interior who stood in that line, the tide of united nationality ran
higher in his heart than ever before. And every last man among them
was one degree happier by having the dashing young French Major
General, their beloved "Marquis," on the American side of the
procession instead of in the foreign line. The "Boy" that Cornwallis
was so certain he could catch was splendid that day in the perfection
of military form. He sat, as always, very perfectly on his horse and
he had the grace to be proud of the company in which he stood. As to
his own regiment of Light Infantry, he had always been fond of
decorating them with finery. They appeared now in dark leather leggins
and white trousers; their blue coats had white facings and white
cuffs; and a blue feather stood up in front of the cap and waved over
the crown. This was the regulation uniform for them, but perhaps,
having just gone through the severities of their Virginia campaign,
they were not able to "live up" to their fine clothes. However,
nothing mattered on that great day.

A vast concourse of American spectators was present to witness the
surrender, but their desire to see Lord Cornwallis was not gratified. He
pleaded indisposition and appointed General O'Hara in his place. As this
general approached the group of commanding officers, the bands added
their music. By the stipulation, they had been commanded to play an
English or a Hessian march, but they were too proud to select one of
their dignified national airs. Instead, they gave the tune of an English
folk song of hoary age, known from time immemorial as "Derry Down," but
now called "The World Turned Upside Down," a title the British bandmaster
no doubt considered appropriate to the circumstances.

But the dignity of the occasion required that they should now observe
the proprieties, for there was a wonderful pageant to be viewed, and
all felt the great import of the hour.

The conquered army advanced between the two long lines of French and
American soldiers. General O'Hara led the procession, riding slowly and
proudly. As he approached General Washington, he removed his hat and
apologized for the absence of General Cornwallis. General Washington
received the apology and indicated that he had appointed General Lincoln,
as the conquered commander of Charleston, to do the honors of the day and
to receive the arms of the conquered. The moment was historic.

In one of the halls at Yale University stands a celebrated picture,
painted by Trumbull, which gives a vivid impression of the brilliancy
and importance of the occasion. In this picture General Washington, in
an attitude of great dignity, is placed in the center of the scene.
Near him stands General Lincoln who is being richly rewarded for his
bitter defeat at Charleston. His hand is held out to receive the sword
which the representative of General Cornwallis is passing to him.

At the left of the picture are seen the French officers. Rochambeau is
at the back and a little separated from the rest, and the others in
the line are the counts, marquises, and barons who were officers in
the French army.

General Lafayette, the American, was on the American side, not far
from his beloved General Washington. The one nearest to the commander
in chief is General (or Governor) Thomas Nelson, the one who had
suggested that his own house roof be aimed at in the beginning of the
siege; the next is Lafayette; then Baron Steuben; the others are
representative commanders from various states.

The ceremony that followed this climax was most impressive. General
Lincoln received the sword of Cornwallis, and at once handed it back
to General O'Hara. The several regiments came forward to deliver their
colors. Twenty-eight British captains, each bearing a flag folded in a
case, were drawn up in a line opposite the twenty-eight American
sergeants who were stationed to receive the flags. Ensign Wilson, then
but eighteen years old, the youngest commissioned officer in the
American army, was chosen to conduct this ceremony and to hand the
colors on to the American sergeants. Lafayette looked down from his
place in the line of mounted American officers and felt that his most
ardent hopes were now fulfilled, and that his motto, "Cur non," had
brought him only the best of fortune.

The day after the ceremony of surrender was the Sabbath, and General
Washington ordered that divine service should be held in all the
regiments and that Thanksgiving should be the theme. The next day he
gave a dinner to which the general officers of the three armies were
invited. Lafayette could not restrain his admiration for Cornwallis
for his gallant and appropriate conduct upon all these rather
embarrassing occasions.

    [Illustration: _Photograph from Wm. H. Rau, Philadelphia._
    From the painting by Colonel John Trumbull, the soldier-artist
    of the Revolution.]

If, however, he had possessed the gift of prophecy, he might have
looked forward but one short century to the centennial of Yorktown,
when the flags of the United States and of Great Britain would be run
up together on the site of this historic surrender. Then he would have
seen British and American officers stand together with bared heads and
in brotherly friendliness, while salutes were fired and cheers rent
the air.

Looking still further, he would have seen the day when the people of
France would unite with their one-time foe in various endeavors both
peaceful and warlike. A strange planet is this, for the shifting of
national loyalties and the rending and intertwining of bonds of union!
If history could make the human race amenable to receiving any
instruction whatever, we should learn that war never yet decided any
problem that could not have been better settled in some other way.



Three days after the surrender, the 22d of October, Lafayette was on
board the _Ville de Paris_ in Chesapeake Bay. It was believed that the
surrender of Cornwallis would be practically conclusive as to the
matter at issue between England and the United States. Lafayette
therefore felt a sweep of thoughts toward home. Congress gave him
leave of absence. The _Alliance_ was again placed at his disposal and
awaited him in Boston harbor.

An adoring France received him on his arrival. He had been the hero of
the New World; he now became the hero of the Old. The king of France gave
him audience; when he arrived the queen sent her carriage to bring
Adrienne, who at the moment happened to be at some royal fête, as swiftly
as possible to the Noailles mansion. Balls were given in his honor. He
was presented with laurel at the opera. The king made him a field
marshal, his commission to date from the day of Cornwallis's surrender,
and he was invited by Richelieu to a dinner where all the field marshals
of France were present, and where the health of Washington was drunk with
words so full of reverent admiration that they did Lafayette's heart

About this time a traveled American gentleman, Ledyard by name, was
staying in Paris and commented on the popularity of the returned
American hero. He said:

"I took a walk to Paris this morning and saw the Marquis de Lafayette.
He is a good man, this same Marquis. I esteem him. I even love him,
and so we all do, except a few, who worship him.... If I find in my
travels a mountain as much elevated above other mountains as he is
above ordinary men, I will name it Lafayette."

The meeting of Lafayette with Adrienne cannot be described. He had now
proved the value of his love of freedom, and she was filled with pride
in the acknowledgment he received on all sides. The family reunion was
perfect. He wrote to Washington, "My daughter and your George have
grown so much that I find I am much older than I thought." He had
reached the advanced age of twenty-four!

Lafayette was at once concerned with the concluding negotiations for
peace between England and the United States. To hasten these and to
carry on further military plans, France united with Spain in a
projected expedition against the English possessions in the West
Indies. For this purpose Lafayette, in December, 1782, went to Cadiz
as chief of staff, where an armament of sixty ships and twenty-four
thousand men were assembling. But while waiting for the final orders
to sail, a swift courier brought the news to Cadiz that the treaty of
peace had, on the 20th of January, 1783, been finally signed at Paris.
Lafayette wished to be the one to carry this news to America, but he
was told that his presence at the negotiations at Madrid was necessary
to their success, and therefore he had to forego the pleasure of being
the personal messenger of the good news. Instead, he was allowed to
borrow from the fleet a ship which he sent, as swiftly as possible, to
the land of his heart. The ship lent him was _Le Triomphe_, well named
for this message, and this was the first ship to bring the news of the
Peace to our shores.

His work in Spain being successfully accomplished, he returned to
Paris by swift posts, which means that he went in a carriage, with
relays of good horses; and by driving day and night, over the
mountains and through the valleys, following ancient Roman roads and
crossing through many historic sites and cities, he covered the wide
distance between the capital of Spain and that of France.

The war being over, Washington, as every one knows, retired to his
estate at Mount Vernon, an act incomprehensible to some, but fully
understood by his "adopted son," Lafayette, who wrote:

"Your return to a private station is called the finishing stroke of an
unparalleled character. Never did a man exist who stands so honorably
in the opinion of mankind, and your name if possible will become
greater to posterity. Everything that is great and everything that is
good were never hitherto united in one man; never did that man live
whom the soldier, statesman, patriot, and philosopher could equally
admire; and never was a revolution brought about which, in all its
motives, its conduct, its consequences, could so well immortalize its
glorious chief. I am proud of you, my dear General; your glory makes
me feel as if it were my own; and while the world is gaping upon you,
I am pleased to think and to tell that the qualities of your heart do
render you still more valuable than anything you have done."

From Mount Vernon, where the wearied and peace-loving warrior was
very glad to be, Washington, in February, 1784, wrote to Lafayette:

"At length, my dear Marquis, I am become a private citizen on the
banks of the Potomac, and under the shadow of my own vine and
fig-tree, free from the bustle of the camp, and the busy scenes of
public life, I am pleasing myself with those tranquil enjoyments of
which the soldier who is ever in pursuit of fame; the statesman whose
watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to
promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries,
as if this globe was insufficient for us all; the courtier who is
always watching the countenance of his prince in hopes of catching a
gracious smile, can have but little conception."

He then goes on to give a brief history of recent events--the
evacuation of New York, the American troops entering that city in good
order, and New York finally freed from the British flag. He regretfully
declined the pressing invitation of Lafayette to come to Paris, and
again invited him and Madame de Lafayette to pay a visit at Mount
Vernon. The correspondents appear to have thought of each other
frequently, though separated by the wide seas. Later, Lafayette had
joyous news to impart, for he wrote to Washington:

"I want to tell you that Madame de Lafayette and my three children are
well, and that all of us in the family join to present their dutiful
affectionate compliments to Mrs. Washington and yourself. Tell her
that I hope soon to thank her for a dish of tea at Mount Vernon. Yes,
my dear General, before the month of June is over, you will see a
vessel coming up the Potomac and out of that vessel will your friend
jump, with a panting heart and all the feelings of perfect happiness."

During Lafayette's visit to America in 1784 the people had an
opportunity to show their gratitude to one who had freely given his
services to them in their day of need. In New York he was received
with the greatest enthusiasm by the whole people, including his
affectionate companions in arms. From here on he listened to the
ringing of bells and the resounding of huzzas by day and saw lavish
illuminations in his honor by night. A visit of ten days at Mount
Vernon gave great pleasure to Washington as well as to Lafayette. In
Boston his coming was celebrated at the stump of the Liberty Tree that
the British had cut down during their occupation of the city. Many
speeches were made during this journey, and Lafayette showed himself
tactful in adapting his words to the occasion. His tact was prompted
by a sincere liking for all people, a benevolent feeling toward the
whole world. This was the foundation of much that was attractive and
useful in his character.

During this journey Lafayette went as far north as Portsmouth and as
far south as Yorktown. The various great battlefields of the campaign
of 1781 each received a visit in the company of Washington and of
other companions in arms. The different states vied with one another
in giving his name to their towns and villages--a custom that has
continued to this day. The state of Virginia placed a bust of
Lafayette in the capitol at Richmond; another was presented to the
city of Paris by the minister of the United States, and was received
with great pomp at the Hôtel de Ville, or city hall. Three states,
Maryland, Connecticut, and Virginia, conferred on him the right of
citizenship for himself and his children, an enactment that later
became national; and so Lafayette became an American citizen in legal
form as well as in spirit. How little did he think that this right
would become so precious a boon to him and would be so sorely needed!

The bust in the Hôtel de Ville was destroyed at the time of the Terror;
and the day came soon after when nearly all that remained to the "Hero
of Two Worlds" was a certificate of citizenship in a country to which he
was not native, while the owner of the certificate, because of his
principles, was hurried from prison to prison. In 1784 he was riding on
the high tide of success and popularity, but tragic days were soon to
come in the life of America's loyal friend.

Lafayette took his farewell of Congress at Trenton, New Jersey, where
it was then in session. The scene was dignified and affecting. It was
at the close of this ceremony that Lafayette pronounced that wish--one
might call it a prayer--which has been so often quoted.

"May this immense Temple of Freedom ever stand a lesson to oppressors,
an example to the oppressed, and a sanctuary for the rights of
mankind! And may these happy United States attain that complete
splendor and prosperity which will illustrate the blessings of their
government, and in ages to come rejoice the departed souls of their

Following his return from America at this time, Lafayette made a long
tour through Germany and Austria. His purpose was to improve himself,
he said, by the inspection of famous fields of battle, by conversation
with the greatest generals, and by the sight of well-trained troops.
He visited Frederick the Great who, in the eyes of the exquisite
Frenchman, presented a most untidy appearance in a dirty uniform
covered over with Spanish snuff. He saw him review thirty-one
battalions and seventy-five squadrons, thirty thousand men in all, and
he admired the "perfectly regular machine wound up for forty years" by
which they clicked off their movements. At the table of Frederick,
Lafayette ate, at one time, with Cornwallis on one side and the son of
the king of England on the other; on which occasion the Prussian
despot indelicately amused himself by plying the young soldier with
questions about American affairs. One wonders if in all his travels
Lafayette caught any glimpse on the horizon of a certain grim fortress
wherein, because of his hatred of despots like Frederick, fate decreed
that he was to be immured for five long years.



The great storm of the French Revolution was now to appear on the
horizon, climb to its height, and break in terror over France. During
these years, from 1784 to 1792, Lafayette was for most of the time in
Paris where he took part in events of great importance and in such a
way as to command respect from those who sympathized with his liberal
ideas and to win detraction from devotees of monarchial systems.

At first, however, no one dreamed what the future held for France.
Lafayette busied himself in doing what he could to further the affairs
of the United States, turning his attention to commercial questions
such as he had never supposed would interest him. Whale-oil, for
instance, became a favorite subject with him; his services on behalf
of that American industry were acknowledged by the seagoing people of
Nantucket who sent him a gigantic, five-hundred-pound cheese, the
product of scores of farms, as a testimonial of their appreciation.

A cause that interested him intensely was slavery. His views on this
subject he summed up in 1786 in a letter to John Adams:

"In the cause of my black brethren I feel myself warmly interested, and
most decidedly side, so far as respects them, against the white part of
mankind. Whatever be the complexion of the enslaved, it does not, in my
opinion, alter the complexion of the crime which the enslaver commits, a
crime much blacker than any African face. It is to me a matter of great
anxiety and concern, to find that this trade is sometimes carried on
under the flag of liberty, our dear and noble stripes, to which virtue
and glory have been constant standard-bearers."

Lafayette not only had a lofty sentiment about the condition of the
slaves, but he put his theory into practice by buying at great expense
an estate in Cayenne, or French Guiana, with a large number of slaves
whom he put under a system of education, with the intention of making
them free as soon as they were fitted for economic independence.
Madame de Lafayette interested herself in the management of this
estate; she provided pastors and teachers to go to Cayenne as
missionaries and educators.

The experiment was going on well when the Revolution broke over
France. Then it was doomed. While Lafayette was languishing in the
dungeon at Olmütz, one of his great anxieties was for his Cayenne
charge. He would have been even more unhappy if he had known that when
the revolutionists took possession of his property, they caused that
estate to be sold, together with all the slaves, who thus went back
into slavery--a great inconsistency in those same revolutionists who
imagined they were working for liberty and enfranchisement!

During this time Lafayette had two great interests: one, a public life
marked by increasing premonitions of national danger; the other, at
Chaviniac where his family stayed and where he was instituting all
sorts of reforms on his own estate and in the village of Chaviniac,
and working steadily for the welfare of the people who were dependent
upon him. He founded an annual fair and a weekly market day. He built
roads at his own expense. In the village he established a resident
physician whose services the poor could have at any time without cost
to themselves. He founded a weaving business and a school to teach the
art. The agricultural advancement of America had interested him, so he
brought a man from England to teach new methods to his farmers. New
implements were imported and new breeds of cattle were introduced. In
every way he brought enlightenment and betterment.

Meantime a spirit was rising that was soon to sweep not only over
Paris but through all the provinces of France. Lafayette saw this
storm coming. One day, in 1789, he was walking in the grand gallery of
the Château de Chaviniac with a gentleman of the neighborhood. They
spoke together of what the emancipation of the peasant would mean to
the people of the Auvergne region. At that moment a group of peasants
from his estate came in to offer Lafayette some nosegays and cheeses.
They presented these gifts on bended knees, in an attitude of deep
submission and respect.

"There," said the neighbor, "see how little disposed these peasants
are to receive your boasted emancipation; depend upon it, they think
very little on the matter."

"Well, well," replied Lafayette, "a few years hence we shall see who
was right."

They did! The time was not far distant when the peasants of Auvergne,
as well as the rabble of Paris, went singing:

    Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira!
    Celui qui s'élève, on l'abaissera,
    Et qui s'abaisse, on l'élèvera.

Significant events followed, and on every important occasion Lafayette
bore a part. He was a member of the Assembly of Notables, and he led a
minority of the nobility who demanded the calling of the States General,
a representative assembly. He presented his famous composition, the
Declaration of Rights, modeled on Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.
He was made by acclamation Colonel General of the new National Guard
and gave them the white cockade. He represented the people on the great
day of the oath of loyalty to the new constitution. For a time he was
riding on the top wave of popularity.

Lafayette believed in freedom for all people and to every man his
rights. But he thought that France was not yet ready for the form of
government that was succeeding in America. For France he believed the
constitutional monarchy to be the best. He thought--and every one now
thinks--that Louis XVI was a man of good intentions, and he believed
these good intentions would show that monarch what was for the welfare
and happiness of the people. Therefore he defended the king and the
royal family as a part of the form of government that was the best
for France. The newly adopted constitution appeared to him to be the
just expression of royal authority.

In his blind optimism Lafayette could not believe but that his ideas
would in the end have their proper weight. He stood with the nobility,
resting proudly on their good intentions, and facing a brute force
newly awakened by the tocsin of liberty. To this unreasoning instinct,
liberty meant nothing but license. The result of putting this license
into power meant anarchy.

Now came Lafayette's time of difficulty. He was accused of conniving
at the attempt of the king and queen to escape. Afterwards the queen
in her trial testified that Lafayette had known nothing whatever of
the project. Lafayette was also blamed for the death of Foulon, a
minister who was hanged, beheaded, and dragged through the streets by
the mob. The fact was that he did all in his power to control the mob
that caused Foulon's death. They accused him of firing on the mob.
That he did, in defense of the life of the king--first standing before
the cannon to give his life if need be. He was accused of being too
liberal and of being too aristocratic. He was burned between the two
fires. The people seemed determined not to understand him. They said
that if Lafayette truly loved the people it was but another evidence
that his soul was plebeian--his simplicity of manner and unstudied
grace of speech were but further proofs thereof. Brutality and
lawlessness, veiled under the name of patriotism, could hardly do less
than hate an incorruptible man like Lafayette who was outspoken in his

A coalition of European powers stood ready to invade France and place
the monarchy again on a secure basis. Lafayette was at the head of one
of three armies sent to withstand the forces of the coalition, but his
own soldiers were secretly in sympathy with the revolutionary frenzy.

The end came when Lafayette defied the Jacobin party, and they in turn
declared him a traitor and put a price on his head. But even at that
late day, if there had been in France any number of men who possessed
Lafayette's calmness, self-control, and generous spirit, the state
might still have been saved from tumult and degradation. As it was,
France turned its face away from its best light and hope, and
Lafayette was, as Carlyle picturesquely said, "hooted forth over the
borders into Cimmerian night." He put his army into the best order
possible, and with a company of devoted officers and followers started
for a neutral country.

Meantime in Paris the feet of the people were at the threshold of the



Lafayette attempted to cross the frontier on his way to America when he
was intercepted and taken prisoner. This was at Rochefort, on neutral
territory. The arrest of peaceful citizens on their way through neutral
territory to a neutral country was treason to all international covenant
and courtesy; evidently, the phrase "international courtesy" had not
then been coined; but the act has been abhorred by unprejudiced military
men the world over.

The party were taken to Namur, thence to Wesel, where some were
released; later, three remained to be imprisoned in Magdeburg. Lafayette
is reported to have owned as his highest ambition that his name should
be a terror to all kings and monarchs. If he made this remark, his wish
was fulfilled; for at a meeting of a committee of the Coalition it was
agreed that the "existence of Lafayette was incompatible with the safety
of the governments of Europe."

Following this decision, in May, 1794, the king of Prussia gave him into
the keeping of the Emperor of Austria, and the dangerous prisoner,
together with three of the officers who were with him when arrested,
Latour-Maubourg, Bureaux-de-Pusy, and Lameth, were promptly carried to
the strong fortress of Olmütz, high up in the gloomy Carpathian
Mountains. Lameth nearly died and therefore was released, but the other
two remained, not, however, being allowed to see or to communicate with
their distinguished companion.

Lafayette had no apologies to make for the step he had taken. Indeed,
he had great hopes that he would escape from his captors. Friends were
finding means to communicate with him and plots were forming in the
undercurrents of correspondence.

But on the whole he much preferred to take his liberty than to have it
granted to him. If indeed liberty were granted, it would be with
conditions "like those made by a lower class of brigands in the corner
of a thicket," and the discussion would in all probability result in a
shutting on him of quadruple doors.

He "much preferred to take his liberty than to have it granted to
him." Accordingly plans were made. In one letter he calls for a good
chart, arms, a passport, a wig, some drugs to insure a quiet night's
sleep to the jailors, with instructions as to the dose to be given,
and an itinerary for the route, with dangerous places indicated in it.
They must know the exact time horses were to be ready, and the exact
house where they were to stand. He was in buoyant spirits.

"Although a sojourn of fourteen months in the prisons of their Majesties
has not contributed to my health," he wrote, "still I have a strong
constitution and my early habits of life, added to the recollection of
my fetters, will enable me to make a very rapid journey."

Finishing one of these letters, he says, "I hear them opening my first
locks [the outer doors] and must stop writing." Latour-Maubourg adds a
passage in his own hand. He begs for a piece of sealing wax and emphasizes
that Lafayette must surely be rescued, whether the others are or not.

The prisoners looked out for those who were helping them to escape;
these helpers were to be protected from suspicion. To do this they put
a manikin with a nightcap on in Lafayette's bed, dug a channel under
the chimney, and left a coat in the passage well smudged with soot.

Why none of these plans worked is not known. Lafayette was carted on
to Neisse, but the plotting still went on. At last the grim and
impregnable fortress of Olmütz received the three prisoners. Here he
could receive no letters; he could read no paper; he was harshly told
that he should never again know anything of what was going on in the
outside world; that he was now a complete nonentity, a being known
only by a number, and that no person in Europe knew where he was nor
ever should know until his death.

Lafayette's misery was turned to a still darker hue by the fact that
he felt the gravest alarm for the welfare of Madame de Lafayette. As
he was being carted from prison to prison, on his way eastward toward
that final destination in the mountain fortress, the news that was
smuggled to him by secret and mysterious bearers was not of a kind to
bring peace to his mind. He heard of the extremes to which the
revolutionary frenzy was carrying the Parisian people; he heard that
the king and queen and various members of their family had been
proscribed, denounced, and sentenced to death by a committee miscalled
a "Committee of Public Safety," and that the nobility were being
ruthlessly sacrificed. Saddest of all this for him was the news that
his wife, that woman of heroic character, of marvelous spiritual
charm, and of liberal and philanthropic mind, had been imprisoned and
was in danger of perishing on the scaffold. This word--and nothing
more! The darkness of life behind walls seven feet thick was not
lightened for many a long month by any further news in regard to
Adrienne. The thoughts of Lafayette in his prison were as sad as can
be imagined.

As months and years passed on, Lafayette may be forgiven if he
sometimes thought that he had been wholly forgotten. But it was not
so. It was not an easy matter to liberate a man whose very existence
was a menace to every throne. The kings had him completely in their
power--they wished to keep him out of sight.

It goes without saying that to President Washington the imprisonment
of his young friend, to whom he was bound by strong and vital bonds of
gratitude and friendship, was a source of genuine anguish. But what
could he do? As Lafayette said, America was far away and the politics
of Europe were tortuous. In them Washington had no part and no
influence; and he could not go to war for he had no equipment for any
such exploit.

He did, however, put in train many schemes designed to influence others
to aid his loyal friend. He used the greatest secrecy; the correspondence
as it is preserved refers only to "our friend" and to "the one you
know," so that if the letters were lost, no one could possibly divine
what was being done. The President sent letters to the representatives of
the United States in both France and England, commanding that informal
solicitations for the release of that friend of America should be made,
and that these were to be followed by formal ones if necessary. He wrote
to the king of Prussia, urging the release of his dear friend as an act
of justice as well as a personal favor to himself; and to the Emperor of
Austria, begging that Lafayette might be allowed to come to America. The
letter has that thorough goodness and that amplitude of dignity that were
characteristics of Washington.

                               "PHILADELPHIA, 15 May, 1796.


    "It will readily occur to your Majesty that occasions
    may sometimes exist, on which official considerations
    would constrain the chief of a nation to be silent and
    passive, in relation to objects which affect his
    sensibility, and claim his interposition as a man.
    Finding myself precisely in this situation at present, I
    take the liberty of writing this private letter to your
    Majesty, being persuaded that my motives will also be my
    apology for it.

    "In common with the people of this country, I retain a
    strong and cordial sense of the services rendered to
    them by the Marquis de Lafayette; and my friendship for
    him has been constant and sincere. It is natural,
    therefore, that I should sympathize with him and his
    family in their misfortunes, and endeavor to mitigate
    the calamities which they experience; among which, his
    present confinement is not the least distressing.

    "I forbear to enlarge on this delicate subject. Permit
    me only to submit to your Majesty's consideration
    whether his long imprisonment and the confiscation of
    his estates, and the indigence and dispersement of his
    family, and the painful anxieties incident to all these
    circumstances, do not form an assemblage of sufferings
    which recommend him to the mediation of humanity? Allow
    me, Sir, to be its organ on this occasion; and to
    entreat that he may be permitted to come to this
    country, on such conditions and under such restrictions
    as your Majesty may think fit to prescribe.

    "As it is a maxim with me not to ask what under similar
    circumstances I would not grant, your Majesty will do me
    the justice to believe that this request appears to me
    to correspond with those great principles of magnanimity
    and wisdom, which form the basis of sound policy and
    durable glory.

    "May the Almighty and merciful Sovereign of the universe
    keep your Majesty under his protection and guidance!"

Little by little the place where Lafayette was imprisoned became known
to a few, and public sentiment was aroused to the point of bringing up
the matter before the British Parliament. It was a certain General
Fitzpatrick who, strange to say, had met Lafayette in London before he
went to America, and again between battles when they were ranged on
opposite sides of the Revolution, who now brought up the question.
Twice he made a motion in favor of acting for the release of
Lafayette. Fitzpatrick was the kind of man who could not bear to
entertain the idea that there should exist "in any corner of British
soil, in any English heart, conceptions so narrow as to wish to see
the illustrious pupil of Washington perishing in a dungeon on account
of his political principles." General Fitzpatrick's motion was
seconded by General Tarleton, who had fought Lafayette through the
length and breadth of Virginia. Pitt and Burke spoke against it.

Lord Grey said that if asked what would be gained by furthering the
release of Lafayette, he would reply that "we should exculpate
ourselves from the suspicion of being accomplices in the foulest wrong
that ever disgraced humanity." The question was put to vote and stood
forty-six yeas and one hundred and fifty-three nays. Such was the
composition of the British Parliament at that time.

The next year Fitzpatrick renewed his efforts for Lafayette and
proposed another motion. In an eloquent speech which should make his
name honored for all time, he reviewed the former debate and paid a
wonderful tribute to the character of Madame de Lafayette. The
discussion that followed dwelt mainly on the question whether
Lafayette was to be considered as a subject of the emperor or as a
prisoner of war. The vote stood, yeas fifty, nays one hundred and
thirty-two. Evidently the British Parliament had not made any great
advance in the intervening year.

Meantime secret plans were being made to rescue Lafayette. The
beautiful Angelica Schuyler Church, daughter of the American general,
Philip Schuyler, was then in London; her husband, John Barker Church,
had fought under Lafayette, and was now in the British Parliament.
Mrs. Church was the sister-in-law of Alexander Hamilton, one of
Lafayette's dearest friends among his young companions-in-arms, and
she was in touch with a group of French émigrés. In fact, she was the
center of a little volcano of feeling for the exile.

This secret circle kept up a constant communication with Mr. Pinckney
and Mr. Jay. Mrs. Church wrote to Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State
in the United States, and to many others, begging, pleading for help.
For Lafayette, whom she had known in New York, her heart was
constantly bleeding.

Proceeding from a mysterious writer who signed his name "Eleutherios,"
spirited articles soon began to appear in the English newspapers, and
thus constantly fed a flame of feeling. All sorts of fears for Lafayette
were entertained. "I see him in a dungeon," wrote one; "I see him in
Siberia; I see him poisoned; I see him during what remains of his life
torn by the uncertainty of the fate of all that he loves."

Soon after this the name of a Hanoverian doctor begins to appear in
the documents preserved. This Dr. Bollman had carried one exploit
through successfully, bringing out of Paris during the Terror a
certain French émigré and conveying him to London in safety. Bollman
was to be engaged by the London group to start out and see what could
be done for Lafayette. This scheme resulted in a great adventure in
which an American youth figured nobly.



The hope that potentates and governments might take up the cause of
Lafayette began to fail and other plans were made. Chivalric dreams of
going to seek the place where he was confined and effect what seemed the
impossible--a personal rescue--began to haunt the minds of daring youths.
A letter is on record from a young man who wrote to Washington to ask if
he might not have permission to go and seek Lafayette, and, if possible,
conduct him and his family to America. Washington told him that all was
being done that could be done, and that personal attempts would only
result in failure. But there was another enterprising soul who did not
wait for permission--he acted upon his own initiative. The story of that
splendid young American must now be told.

Francis Kinloch Huger was the first child that Lafayette saw after he
landed in America. It will be remembered that the little company of
adventurers first touched shore on the country estate of Major
Benjamin Huger, at Prospect Hill, near Charleston, South Carolina.
Here Lafayette was received hospitably and sent on in his host's
carriage to Charleston.

The child Francis was then five years old and was the young representative
of a remarkable family of Huguenot extraction. The first Daniel Huger
came from Loudon, France, soon after the Edict of Nantes, and his
descendants to-day number six thousand; among them are found a large
number of distinguished names. Five Huger brothers held important
positions in Revolutionary times. Three served in the war; Brigadier
General Isaac Huger was second in command to General Greene at Guilford
Court House; Lieutenant Colonel Frank Huger was promoted from Moultrie's
Regiment to be Quartermaster General of the Southern Army of the
Revolution; and Major Benjamin Huger, Lafayette's host and the father of
the child Francis, was killed in 1780 before the lines at Charleston. Of
the other two brothers in this remarkable family group, Daniel was one of
Governor Rutledge's Privy Council and later a member of Congress, and
John was on the Council of Safety and Secretary of State.

The boy Francis thus came from a stock of stalwart men. He was eight
years old when his father was killed at Charleston. The pity of it was
driven into his young soul when the ignominy of that defeat was

Immediately after that event young Huger was sent to England to
acquire a medical education. Later he, as the custom was, went on his
travels and to hear lectures at great seats of learning. But the
passion for chivalric action that was inspiring youth everywhere he
could not quell. He dreamed of finding Lafayette.

Meantime, American, English, and French friends of the illustrious
prisoner were busy in London, and they had commissioned the "Hanoverian
doctor," known as Dr. Bollman, to make a search for him. This man made
careful preparations. He traveled in a leisurely way through Germany in
the guise of a wealthy and philanthropic physician. He let it be known
that he was a sort of follower of Cagliostro, a notorious Italian whose
ideas were popular at the time. He treated the poor free of charge and
he showed a special interest in prisoners.

At last he reached Olmütz, a journey at that time something like going
from New York to Nome. He made acquaintance with the attending physician
of the garrison and was invited to dinner. He in return asked the
surgeon to dine with him at his inn. The dinner was sumptuous. M. de
Colombe, who tells this part of the story, says that the wine was
especially excellent. No one could distrust a simple-hearted doctor, an
unselfish student of mankind, and especially one who ordered such
delicious wine! In time, conversation turned upon prisoners of note. It
was rumored, hinted the artful and ingenious doctor, that there was such
an one at Olmütz. Could this be true? It was even so, the unsuspecting
surgeon admitted; the great Lafayette was under his close care. The
doctor inquired for Lafayette's health and was told that it was fairly
good. Dr. Bollman ventured to send his compliments to the prisoner with
a message that he had lately left Lafayette's friends in England. The
unsuspecting surgeon carried the innocent message.

On another occasion he brought word that Lafayette would like to know
who those friends were. The doctor tried to speak the names, but could
not pronounce them so that the Austrian could understand them. He felt
in his pocket for a bit of paper (which he had carefully placed there
beforehand) and on it wrote the names which he sent to Lafayette.
These words also were written on the paper:

"If you read this with as much care as did your friend at Magdeburg,
you will receive equal satisfaction."

The reference was to a prisoner at Magdeburg who received a book which
contained messages written on the flyleaves in lemon juice. He held
the book to the fire and by doing this the written words came out in
brown lines and could be read. Lafayette took the hint, and discovered
the message written with this invisible ink on the bit of paper. After
this Bollman was allowed to lend Lafayette a book to read. It came
back with lemon-juice messages on its margins. Lafayette wrote that he
was sometimes allowed to drive, and as he was unknown to Bollman, he
suggested a signal by which he could be recognized. He said that his
lieutenant was a sheepish dolt, and that his corporal was covetous,
treacherous, and cowardly. He added that the rides were allowed for
the sake of his health. It appears that the government did not wish to
arouse the frenzy of indignation that would follow if Lafayette were
allowed to die in prison, so he was occasionally taken out to ride a
league or even two from the fortress gate. If a rescuer and a trusty
helper should appear, they could surely effect the escape. Lafayette
would agree to frighten the cowardly little corporal himself; they
need not provide a sword for him, for he would take the corporal's. An
extra horse, one or two horses along the road--it could easily be
done. It was a bold plan, but the bolder the plan, the more unexpected
it was, and the better chance of success. Every day he would watch for
them along the road.

After securing this definite information, the doctor retired to Vienna
to make further plans.

This account may be in some respects the later elaboration of a story
many times retold. But it sounds probable. At any rate, in some such
way Dr. Bollman gained communication with Lafayette's cell, and
brought the welcome news that friends were working for him. Then they
projected a plan.

The story is again taken up in a coffeehouse in Vienna where Bollman
is accustomed to go. Lafayette has suggested an assistant, and Bollman
realizes that he can do nothing without one. Therefore he is looking
about to find one who shall have spirit and fitness for the work. We
see him now at the supper table, eagerly conversing with a certain
young American, like himself a medical student on his travels.
Curiously enough, it is Francis Kinloch Huger, now twenty-one years
old. They talk of America. Bollman, with elaborate inadvertence,
touches on the personality of Lafayette. The young man relates his
childish memory of the arrival of that enthusiastic youth when he
first came ashore at his father's South Carolina country place.
Bollman tests Huger in various ways and makes up his mind that this is
the best possible person to help him. He broaches the subject. Young
Huger is only too ready--this very enterprise has been his dearest
thought and his dream. The danger does not daunt him. "He did not let
the grass grow under his feet," said his daughter years later, "but
accepted at once."

It was not, however, purely romantic sentiment with him; he did not
accede on the impulse of a moment. "I felt it to be my duty to give him
all the aid in my power," said Colonel Huger to Josiah Quincy many years
later. And though he may not have been conscious of it at the time,
there was still another reason, for he admitted, long afterwards, "I
simply considered myself the representative of the young men of America
and acted accordingly."

The story may here be taken up almost in the words of Colonel Huger's
daughter who wrote it down exactly as her father related it.

    [Illustration: FRANCIS KINLOCH HUGER.
    This bas-relief, by the sculptor R. Tait McKenzie, shows the
    brave young American who, with Dr. Bollman, attempted to
    rescue Lafayette from the great fortress of Olmütz.]

In October, 1794, they set out from Vienna in a light traveling carriage
and with two riding horses, one of them being strong enough to carry two
persons if necessary. They intended to appear in the characters of a
young Englishman and his traveling tutor, and they were provided with
passes for the long journey. With assumed carelessness they proceeded
toward Olmütz. The gentlemen were generally riding, while their servants
and the baggage were in the carriage. They went to the same inn where
Dr. Bollman had stayed on his former visit. Here they remained two days,
while they secretly sent a note to Lafayette and received his answer.
They paid their bill at the inn, sent their carriage on ahead to a
village called Hoff, and directed their servants to await them there.

Now Bollman and Huger are riding leisurely along the level plain that
surrounds the fortress. The huge, dark prison looms in the distance.
Every portion of the wide plain is visible to the sentinels at the
gates, and within reach of the cannon on the walls. It is market day
and many persons are passing back and forth. The two foreign travelers
look in every direction for the carriage which may bring Lafayette.
Both are eager for his coming.

At last they notice a small phaëton being driven slowly along. In the
carriage they see a prisoner in a blue greatcoat with an officer
beside him and an armed soldier riding behind. They spur on, and, as
they pass, the prisoner gives the sign agreed upon. He raises his hat
and wipes his forehead. The feelings excited by the assurance that
this was indeed Lafayette, Huger never to his dying day forgot. The
riders look as indifferent as possible, bow slightly, and pass on.

The phaëton stops at the side of the road and Lafayette alights. He
draws the officer toward a footpath that runs along the highroad at
that point, and appears to be leaning on the officer as if scarcely
able to walk.

"This must be the time," cries Bollman.

"He signs to us," says Huger in great excitement.

The two young men put spurs to their horses and dash up together. As
they approach, Lafayette seizes the officer's sword. A struggle
follows. Bollman leaps from his horse and throws the bridle to Huger.
But the flash of the drawn sword has frightened the horse; he dashes
aside and gallops away. Huger dismounts, passes his arm through his
bridle, and he and Bollman seize the soldier and tear his hands from
Lafayette's throat. The soldier runs toward the town, shouting and
waving his cap to call the attention of the sentinels.

What was to be done? They had now but one horse. The alarm had been
given. Not a minute could be lost.

Huger gave his horse to Lafayette and told him hurriedly to go to
Hoff, the rendezvous agreed upon. Lafayette mounted the horse and
started out. But he could not bear to leave his two rescuers in such a
plight, so he came back to ask if he could not do something for them.

"No, no!" they cried. "Go to Hoff! Go to Hoff!" they repeated. "We
will follow."

Now if they had said this in French, if they had said "Allez à Hoff,"
Lafayette would have understood the direction. But not knowing the
name of this near-by village, he misunderstood. He thought the English
words meant only "Go off!" A fatal misunderstanding!

Huger and Bollman soon released their officer and both mounted the
remaining horse. He was not used to "carrying double." The insulted
creature set his feet in a ditch and threw them both. Bollman was
stunned. Huger lifted him up and then started off to recover the
horse. On the way he was thinking what course he should take in this
critical and dangerous juncture.

When he came back he had decided. He said that Bollman should take the
horse and follow Lafayette, for Bollman knew German and could give
more help than he could. Alarm guns were beginning to be fired from
the battlements, and trains of soldiers were seen issuing from the
gates; but these portentous signs did not influence him. Bollman was
persuaded; he mounted, put spurs to his horse, and was soon out of
sight. Young America stood alone on this wide, dangerous plain; the
shadow of that ominous fortress fell gloomily on its border. The
guards came down. Between two rows of fixed bayonets Huger passed into
the fortress.

The bold plan was doomed to complete failure! Lafayette rode twenty
miles; but the blood on his greatcoat awakened suspicion; he was
arrested and carried back to Olmütz where a heavier and gloomier
imprisonment awaited him.

The same fate awaited Bollman; but Lafayette's despair was the deeper
because he feared that his brave rescuers had been executed for their
gallant attempt in his behalf.

The imprisonment accorded to the intrepid young American was as vile
and cruel as any devised in the Dark Ages. He was put in a cell almost
underground, with but one small slit near the top to let in a little
light. A low bench and some straw formed the furnishings, while two
chains linked him at ankle and wrist to the ceiling. To make things a
trifle more cheerful for him, they showed him a prisoner in a cell
which was only a walled hole in the ground! The prisoner had been
there for many years and his name and residence were now utterly
forgotten. The jailers also exhibited their expert method of swift
decapitation and acted out the method with a large two-bladed sword.
Daily questionings of a cruel kind were used in order to force him to
confess the truth--or rather what they wished to believe was the
truth--that he had been the agent of a widespread plot. He stated that
it was no man's plot but his own. They threatened torture, but he did
not flinch or change his statement.

At last the officers were convinced that there had been no concerted
plot. They then softened the rigors of Huger's imprisonment, gave him
a cell with a window where a star could sometimes be seen, and
lengthened his chains so that he could take as many as three whole
steps. After a time he managed to get into communication with Bollman
who was in the room above. With a knotted handkerchief Bollman lowered
a little ink in a walnut shell from his window, together with a scrap
of dingy paper. Huger then wrote a letter of a few lines only to
General Thomas Pinckney, then American Minister at London. His
entreaty was to let his mother know that he was still alive; also to
let Lafayette's friends know that he would certainly have escaped but
that he had been recognized as an Olmütz prisoner in a small town
where he changed his horse; and that he had already mounted a fresh
one when stopped. Huger's letter ended with the words, "Don't forget
us. F.K.H. Olmütz, Jan. 5th, 1795." By bribery and cajolery they
started this letter off.

Suffice it to say at present that, through the intervention of General
Pinckney, the two young men were finally released and made their way
swiftly out of the country. It was well that they hurried, for the
emperor decided they had been released too soon and sent an edict for
their rearrest. They had, however, by that time crossed the line and
were out of his domain.

After a short stay in London, Huger started for America. The passengers
on his ship discussed the story of Lafayette's attempted rescue through
the entire six weeks of the voyage, and they never dreamed that their
quiet young fellow-passenger was one of the rescuers until he received
an ovation on landing. This is related by the only member of the Huger
family living to-day (1916) who heard the story of the attempted rescue
from the lips of "Colonel Frank" himself, as the family affectionately
call him. She says that Colonel Frank was the most silent of men. He was
the kind that _do_ more than they _talk_.

When Huger reached Philadelphia, he called at once on President
Washington and told him of the effort he had made. The President said
that he had followed the whole course of events with the greatest
solicitude and had wished that it might have met with the success it

In time Colonel Huger married the second daughter of General Thomas
Pinckney who had effected his release from Olmütz and under whom he
fought in the war of 1812; he had eleven children and made his home on
a large estate in the highlands of South Carolina. When Congress
presented Lafayette with an extensive section of land, he asked Huger
to share it with him. Colonel Huger thanked him for the generous
offer, but sturdily announced that he himself was able to provide for
his daughters and that his sons should look out for themselves. His
faith in his sons was justified, for they made good their father's
opinion of their ability. Among his children and grandchildren were
many who not only amassed goodly fortunes but held honored positions
in public and military affairs.

When Lafayette made his memorable visit to America in 1824, he said
that the one man in the country whom he most wished to see was the one
who when a youth had attempted to rescue him from Olmütz. Colonel
Huger had a corresponding desire to see Lafayette. On the General's
arrival he started north at once, reached New York, and sought out the
lodgings of Lafayette early in the morning, in order that their first
meeting might be entirely without interruption. No account of that
meeting has ever been made public, but the rescuer and his champion
were together most of the time during that patriotic journey. Josiah
Quincy once had the privilege of driving Colonel Huger in his coach
through the suburbs of Boston and of calling with him upon many
distinguished personages. Huger charmed and delighted every one.
Josiah Quincy said that he had that "charm of a high-bred southerner
which wrought with such peculiar fascination upon those inheriting
Puritan blood." Besides his attractive personality, there was the
romantic association with the attempted rescue. Scott's novels were
then in the full blossom of popularity; but there was no hero in all
those brave tales whose adventures appeared more chivalrous and

To be sure, the effort at rescue had resulted in failure. Lafayette
remained in prison. But it was known where he was, and, what was
better, word had been conveyed to him that he was not forgotten. Yet
the conditions of his imprisonment were now more severe than before,
and his mind must have suffered intensely from being thrown back upon
itself after that one hour's prospect of liberty.

On the way from Wesel to Magdeburg Lafayette had had a moment's
conversation with a stranger who told him something of what was
happening in Paris, and of the lawlessness and carnage of the Reign of
Terror. Lafayette saw to what lengths an unregulated mob might go,
even when originally inspired by a noble passion for liberty. He heard
of the death of Louis XVI, and called it an assassination. He realized
that these things were being done in France by the people in whom he
had so blindly, so persistently, believed. He was deeply disappointed.
Yet he did not quite lose faith. The cause of the people was still
sacred to him; they might destroy for him whatever charm there had
been in what he called the "delicious sensation of the smile of the
multitude"; but his belief in the ultimate outcome for democratic
government, as the best form of government for the whole world,
remained unchanged.

And in the prison at Olmütz he celebrated our great holiday, the
Fourth of July, as usual.



More than a year had passed after the attempt at rescue when one day
Lafayette heard the big keys turning in the several locks, one after
another, that barred his cell, and in a moment his wife and two
daughters stood before his amazed eyes! Could this be true, or was it
a vision?

It will be remembered that shortly after Lafayette's arrest he had
heard that Madame de Lafayette was imprisoned and was in danger of
perishing on the scaffold. A year later the news was smuggled to him
that she was still alive. But what had been happening to her and to
his three children during all these dismal years?

Through the instrumentality of James Monroe, the ambassador to France
from the United States,--the only foreign power that in the days of
the French Revolution would send its representative,--Madame de
Lafayette was liberated from an imprisonment that tried her soul, even
as Olmütz had proved and tested the spirit of her husband. Through
all those tragic months Adrienne showed herself a woman of high and
unswerving courage.

Now, indeed, was the American citizenship of her husband--and it had
included his family also--of value to her. Madame de Lafayette's first
letter to Mr. Monroe shows this. This dignified letter is preserved in
the manuscript department of the New York Public Library and is here
printed for the first time:

"Having learned that a minister of the United States has recently
arrived in France, who has been sent by his government and invested
with powers representing a people in whose interests I have some
rights that are dear to my heart, I have felt that such misfortunes as
I have not already suffered were no longer to be feared for me, that
the most unjust of captivities was about to be at an end, and that my
sufferings accompanied by irreproachable conduct towards the
principles and towards the laws of my country, cause me to have
confidence in the name of this protecting nation at a moment when the
voice of justice is once more heard, and when the National Convention
is undertaking to deliver such patriots as have been unjustly
imprisoned. I have begun to hope that the wishes of my heart shall be
fulfilled--that I may be returned to my children. For ten months I
have been taken away from them. From the very moment of their birth
they have heard that they have a second country, and they have the
right to hope that they will be protected by it."

Through the official authority of Mr. Monroe, Madame de Lafayette was
given money and passports. When Washington first heard of her plight,
he sent her a reverent letter inclosing a thousand dollars, and he was
unceasing in his correspondence with representatives in France and
England for herself as well as for Lafayette. She sent her son, George
Washington de Lafayette, to his illustrious namesake in America, and
as "Madame Motier, of Hartford, Connecticut," she, with her two young
daughters, made her way to Hamburg where, instead of taking ship for
America, she took carriage across the wide spaces of Germany and
Austria. Here she gained an audience with the emperor, and bowing at
his feet asked permission to go to the fortress of Olmütz and stay
with her husband until he was set free.

"Your request is granted," he said; "but as for Lafayette--I cannot
free him; my hands are tied." Exactly what it was that had "tied the
hands" of the great potentate has never been revealed.

Her petition being granted, Madame de Lafayette continued her journey.
Two days more and she and her daughters were with her husband.

The day of their meeting was spent in trying to bear the joy of the
reunion. Not until the daughters were sent to their cell did she tell
Lafayette of the sad things that had happened. Her mother, her
grandmother, and her sister had, with many friends and relatives, been
led to the scaffold. These and many other facts of tragic interest to
the man so long deprived of any word from outside his prison were
shared with Lafayette.

It may go without saying that Lafayette's prison days were now far
easier to bear, except that to see Madame de Lafayette grow more and
more broken in health as days went on, in their close, unlighted, and
malodorous cells, must have caused an added sorrow. After a time she
was obliged to ask the emperor to allow her to go to Vienna for
medical attendance. He granted the request, but with the proviso that
she should never return. Then she decided to remain with her husband,
even at the risk of her life.

Shall the miseries of their prison life be dwelt upon? Their jailers
were the coarsest of human beings. They surpassed in brutality the
slave drivers of Constantinople. The food, which the family bought
for themselves, was coarse and miserably cooked. Tobacco floated in
the coffee. Lafayette's clothes were in tatters. When his shoes had
been soled fifteen times and resented the indignity any further, his
daughter Anastasie took it upon herself to make shoes for him out of
an old coat.

Lafayette's dingy cell was, however, now brightened by companionship
and by inspiring conversation. Even work was going on, for Madame de
Lafayette prepared a life of her mother while she was at Olmütz. It
was written with a toothpick and a little lampblack on the margins of
a copy of Buffon which she succeeded in obtaining. One of the
daughters amused the family by making pencil sketches; one of the
burly old turnkey, with his sword, candle, and keys, and his hair in a
comical queue behind, amused the family very much and was carried with
them when they left their dismal abode.

Before the desolate prison of Olmütz fades from our view, let one
laurel wreath be placed upon the head of young Felix Pontonnier,
sixteen years old when he became the servant of Lafayette, whom he
faithfully followed into prison. He was with Lafayette when he was
arrested and was bidden to look after his master's belongings; so he
was separated from him for several days. This gave him an excellent
opportunity to escape, but he refused to take advantage of it. Of his
own accord he joined Lafayette once more, and during the whole long
season of his captivity he gave ample proof of his devotion. He
possessed a rare inventive genius and was constantly on the alert to
devise means for making the prisoners comfortable and to find out ways
for carrying on secret correspondence. He invented a special language
known only to himself and to the prisoners, and also a unique
gesture-language. He whistled notes like a captive bird; with varied
modulations he conveyed to the prisoners whatever news he could ferret
out. Prison life proved to be bad for him, and his health was several
times endangered. For a fancied offense he was once confined in total
darkness for three months. But none of his sufferings dashed his gay
spirits. He was constantly sustained by a buoyant cheer, and his
wonderful devotion should win him a place among heroes. After the five
years of captivity were over, Lafayette made Felix the manager of his
farm at La Grange. He filled this position with success and probity.

It was through the fiat of Napoleon Bonaparte that the removal of
Lafayette from Olmütz was made possible. Bonaparte was influenced by a
long-sighted policy; he desired to win to himself the man of so unique
a personality. He was also spurred on by various writers and
diplomats, by representatives of the French Directory, and by
Brigadier General Henri Jacques Guillaume Clarke, who was for a time
governor of Vienna and who won the title of "the incorruptible" from
Napoleon. President Washington's dignified and effective letter to the
Emperor of Austria is believed to have left its mark; and in a
thousand ways public opinion had awakened to the ignominy of leaving
such a man as Lafayette in prison. Lafayette disliked to be indebted
to anybody but himself for an escape from his dungeon; but he
willingly admitted that he owed much to his devoted wife whose many
letters imploring help for her husband were among the causes that
unlocked the double-barred doors of Olmütz.

When finally released, Lafayette was taken in a carriage from Olmütz
to Dresden, thence by way of Dresden, Leipzig, and Halle to Hamburg,
where the American consul received him. So wearied was Madame de
Lafayette that she made the journey with the greatest difficulty, and
a voyage to America at that time was out of the question. The family,
therefore, took refuge in an obscure town in Holland, since there was
no other European country where the monarchy would be safe if it
conferred the right of residence upon any man who bore the name of



For some years events did not shape themselves so that Lafayette could
return to Paris. That he, in 1799, was considering the possibility of
a voyage to America is shown by a letter written in that year to his
"deliverer," Francis Kinloch Huger, which his descendant of the same
name has kindly allowed to be printed here. It was sent from Vianen in
Holland, and introduces his fellow-prisoner, M. Bureaux-de-Pusy, who
was seeking a home in the United States.

                                       VIANEN, 17th April, 1799.

    Here is one of my companions in captivity, Bureaux Pusy,
    an Olmütz prisoner, and at these sounds my heart vibrates
    with the sentiments of love, gratitude, admiration, which
    forever bind and devote me to you! How I envy the
    happiness he is going to enjoy! How I long, my dear and
    noble friend, to fold you in my arms! Pusy will relate to
    you the circumstances which hitherto have kept me on this
    side of the Atlantic--even now the illness of my wife,
    and the necessity of her having been a few weeks in France
    before I set out, prevent me from embarking with Pusy and
    his amiable family. But in the course of the summer I
    shall look over to you and with inexpressible delight I
    shall be welcomed by my beloved deliverer. No answer from
    you has yet come to me. We are expecting every day my
    friend McHenry's nephew--perhaps I may be blessed with a
    letter from you!

    I need not recommend to you Bureaux Pusy. The conspicuous
    and honorable part he has acted in the French Revolution,
    his sufferings during our imprisonment--you but too well
    know what it is--are sufficient introductions to your
    great and good heart. He is one of the most accomplished
    men that can do honour to the country where he is born,
    and to the country where he wishes to become a citizen. He
    is my excellent friend. Every service, every mark of
    affection he can receive from you and your friends, I am
    happily authorized to depend upon.

    My son is gone to Paris. My wife and my two daughters, who
    love you as a brother, present you with the sincere,
    grateful expressions of their friendship. The last word
    George told me at his setting out was not to forget him in
    my letter to you. He will accompany me to America.

    Adieu, my dear Huger, I shall to the last moment of my
    life be wholly


The wish to revisit the land of his adoption was strong, but many
years were to pass before it could be carried out. He was forty years
old when he was liberated from Olmütz, and he was sixty-seven when he
paid his last visit to our shores.

He little dreamed of the reception he was to find, for the whole
American people were waiting to greet, with heart and soul, the man who,
in his youth, had taken so noble a part in their struggle for freedom.
He reached New York on the 16th of August, 1824. He came with modest
expectation of some honorable attentions--nothing more. On the _Cadmus_
he asked a fellow-traveler about the cost of stopping at American hotels
and of traveling in steamboats and by stage; of this his secretary, M.
Levasseur, made exact note. He came to visit the interesting scenes of
his youth and to enjoy a reunion with a few surviving friends and
compatriots. Instead, he found a whole country arising with one vast
impulse to do him honor. It was not mere formality; it was a burst of
whole-souled welcome from an entire nation. So astonished was he, so
overcome, to find a great demonstration awaiting him, where he had
expected to land quietly and to engage private lodgings, that his eyes
overflowed with tears.

The harbor of New York was entered on a Sunday. He was asked to accept
a sumptuous entertainment on Staten Island till Monday, when he could
be received by the city with more honor. On that day citizens and
officers, together with old Revolutionary veterans, attended him. Amid
the shouting of two hundred thousand voices he reached the Battery.
The band played "See the Conquering Hero Comes," the "Marseillaise,"
and "Hail, Columbia." Lafayette had never dreamed of such a reception
or of such sweeps of applause. The simple-hearted loyalty of the
American people had a chance to show itself, and their enthusiasm knew
no bounds. Lafayette's face beamed with joy. Four white horses bore
him to the City Hall, while his son, George Washington Lafayette, his
secretary, M. Levasseur (who wrote an account of the whole journey of
1824), and the official committee followed in carriages. The mayor
addressed the city's guest; and Lafayette's reply was the first of
many hundred appropriate and graceful speeches made by him during the
journey. There were many ceremonies; school children threw garlands of
flowers in his way; corner stones were laid by him; squares were
renamed for "General Lafayette" (as he assured everybody he preferred
to be called by that title), and societies made him and his son
honorary members for life.

Hundreds of invitations to visit different cities poured in. The whole
country must be traveled over to satisfy the eagerness of a grateful
nation. Are republics ungrateful? That can never be said of our own
republic after Lafayette's visit to the United States in 1824.

He set out for Boston by way of New Haven, New London, and Providence.
All along the way the farmers ran out from the fields, shouting
welcomes to the cavalcade, and children stood by the roadside decked
with ribbons on which the picture of Lafayette was printed. Always a
barouche with four white horses was provided to carry him from point
to point. It was not a bit of vanity on the part of Lafayette that he
was ever seen behind these steeds of snowy white. President Washington
had set the fashion. His fine carriage-horses he caused to be covered
with a white paste on Saturday nights and the next morning to be
smoothed down till they shone like silver. It was a wonderful sight
when that majestic man was driven to church--the prancing horses, the
outriders, and all. And when Lafayette came, nothing was too good for
him! The towns sent out the whitest horses harnessed to the best
coaches procurable,--cream color, canary color, or claret color,--for
the hero to be brought into town or sped upon his way departing.
Returning to New York by way of the Connecticut River and the Sound,
he found again a series of dinners and toasts, as well as a ball held
in Castle Garden, the like of which, in splendor and display, had
never before been thought of in this New World.

Lafayette left the festivity before it was ever in order to take the
boat, at two in the morning, to go up the Hudson River. He arose at
six to show his son and his secretary the place where André was
captured. As soon as the fog lifted, he described, in the most
enthusiastic manner, the Revolutionary events which he had seen.

At West Point there was a grand banquet. One of the speakers alluded
to the fact that at Valley Forge, when the soldiers were going
barefooted, Lafayette provided them with shoes from his own resources,
and then proposed this toast:

"To the noble Frenchman who placed the Army of the Revolution on a new
and better footing!"

At the review of the cadets, Generals Scott and Brown, in full
uniform, with tall plumes in their hats, stood by General Lafayette.
The three, each towering nearly six feet in height, made a magnificent
tableau, declares one record of the day.

Returning from the Hudson River excursion, the party went southward,
visiting Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington. With ceremonies of
great dignity Congress received Lafayette, and later voted him a
present of two hundred thousand dollars, together with a whole
township anywhere he might choose in the unappropriated lands of the

Among other places visited was Yorktown, where the party attended a
brilliant celebration. The marks of battle were still to be seen on
many houses, and broken shells and various implements of war were
found scattered about. An arch had been built where Lafayette stormed
the redoubt, and on it were inscribed the names of Lafayette,
Hamilton, and Laurens. Some British candles were discovered in the
corner of a cellar, and these were burned to the sockets while the old
soldiers told tales of the surrender of Yorktown.

The party visited other places connected with the campaign in
Virginia. Lafayette called on ex-President Jefferson at Monticello,
his stately home near Charlottesville, Virginia, and was conducted by
Jefferson to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Charleston was the next stopping-place; this was the home of the Huger
family. Here were more combinations of "Yankee Doodle" and the
"Marseillaise," more laying of corner stones, more deputations, more
dinners, more public balls. It is not difficult to understand how it
happened that, in the last half of the nineteenth century, there were
so many old ladies living who could boast of having danced with
Lafayette in their youth.

Proceeding on their way by boat and carriage, the company came to
Savannah, and thence moved across Georgia and Alabama, down the river to
the Gulf of Mexico, along the shore to the mouth of the Mississippi, and
up the "grand rivière" to St. Louis. "Vive Lafayette" was the universal
cry all the way.

All the cities vied with each other in doing honor to the nation's
guest. At Pittsburg, for instance, a bedroom was prepared for the
distinguished visitor in a hall that had been a Masonic lodge room. The
ceiling was arched, and the sun, moon, and stars were painted upon it.
The bed prepared for Lafayette was a vast "four-poster" of mahogany, on
whose posts were inscribed the names of Revolutionary heroes. Above the
canopy a large gilt eagle spread its wings and waved a streamer on which
were written the names of Washington and Lafayette. In this city, as
everywhere, Lafayette was shown everything notable, including all the
foundries and factories.

As usual, the hero left the city in a coach shining with the freshest
paint, and drawn by four white steeds.

    This interesting relic is now in Cooperstown, New York.
    The picture shows it being used in a present-day pageant,
    filled with boys and girls in colonial costumes. (See page 187.)]

At Buffalo, after a visit to Niagara, they embarked on the newly-built
Erie Canal. Then followed a part of the journey that was much enjoyed
by Lafayette--the beautiful country of central New York. He was
charmed with this bit of travel after the long distances between towns
in the western region.

Syracuse was the next stopping-place. The carriage in which Lafayette
traveled into that City of Sixty Hills was kept for many decades as a
precious treasure. Not many years ago it was in a barn back of one of
the houses on James Street in that city. Now, however, after wandering
from place to place and taking part in various pageants, it may be
seen in the celebrated village of Cooperstown, where the young folks,
when they attire themselves in Revolutionary costume, may ride as
bride or coachman, as shown in the picture.

Lafayette reached the "Village of Syracuse" at six o'clock in the
morning. The people had been watching all night for the arrival of the
illustrious guest and were still watching when the colors of the
illuminations were melting into those of sunrise. The guest of honor
had been in his carriage all night and must have been weary, but he
gayly asserted that the splendid supper that had been prepared the
night before made an excellent breakfast, and he spent the three
hours allotted to that "village" in shaking hands with the hundreds of
people whose desire to see him had kept them waiting all night.

At nine o'clock he bade good-by to his friends of a day and embarked
upon the packet boat of the canal, while the air resounded with good
wishes for his voyage. Through Rome they passed by night in an
illumination that turned darkness into daylight, and at every place
they received deputations from the city just ahead of the one where
they were. There were cannon to welcome and cannon to bid farewell. At
Utica three Oneida chiefs demanded an interview on the score of having
been Lafayette's helpers in 1778. They were very old but still
remarkably energetic. Lafayette begged them to accept certain gifts of
silver, and they went away happy.

The traveling was now hastened in order that General Lafayette might
reach Boston by the Fourth of July, 1825, and take part in laying the
corner stone of Bunker Hill Monument. This event in our national
history has been described by Josiah Quincy in his "Figures of the
Past" and by many others. It was a great national celebration, and a
general meeting of Revolutionary comrades, one of whom wore the same
coat he had worn at the battle of Bunker Hill, almost half a century
before, and could point to nine bullet-holes in its texture. Daniel
Webster delivered his grand oration. All Boston was on the alert.
There were a thousand tents on the Common, and a dinner to which
twelve hundred persons sat down. General Lafayette gave a reception to
the ladies of the city. Then there was a ball--with the usual honor
bestowed. Everybody was proud and happy to have General Lafayette as a
national guest on that great day.

One more incident must be related. In July of 1825 the people of
Brooklyn were erecting an Apprentices' Free Library Building at the
corner of Cranberry and Henry streets, later incorporated in the
Brooklyn Institute, and they wished Lafayette to assist in laying the
corner stone. He was brought to Brooklyn in great state, riding in a
canary-colored coach drawn by four snow-white horses. The streets were
crammed with people. Among them were many citizens and their wives, some
old Revolutionary veterans, troops of Brooklyn children, and a number of
negroes who had been freed by the recent New York Emancipation Acts.

Through the closely packed masses of people the carriage of the noble
Frenchman was slowly driven, the antics of the impatient horses
attracting the attention of the small boy as much as the illustrious
visitor himself. As they came near the stand where the ceremony was to
take place, Lafayette saw that various gentlemen were carefully
lifting some little children over the rough places where soil from
excavations and piles of cut stone had been heaped, and were helping
them to safe places where they could see and hear. He at once alighted
from the carriage and came forward to assist in this work.

Without suspecting it in the least, he was making another historic
minute; for one of the boys he was thus to lift over a hard spot was a
five-year-old child who afterwards became known to the world as Walt
Whitman. Lafayette pressed the boy to his heart as he passed him along
and affectionately kissed his cheek. Thus a champion of liberty from
the Old World and one from the New were linked in this little act of
helpfulness. When he was an old man, Whitman still treasured the
reminiscence as one of indescribable preciousness.

"I remember Lafayette's looks quite well," he said; "tall, brown, not
handsome in the face, but of fine figure, and the pattern of
good-nature, health, manliness, and human attraction."

Through nearly all of this long and exciting journey, Lafayette was
accompanied by Colonel Francis Kinloch Huger, by his secretary, and by
his son, George Washington Lafayette, then a man full grown. The
latter was almost overcome by the warmth of his father's reception.
Writing to a friend at home, after having been in America but twenty
days, he said:

"Ever since we have been here my father has been the hero, and we the
spectators, of the most imposing, beautiful, and affecting sights; the
most majestic population in the world welcoming a man with common
accord and conducting him in triumph throughout a journey of two
hundred leagues. Women wept with joy on seeing him, and children
risked being crushed to get near to a man whom their fathers kept
pointing out to them as one of those who contributed the most in
procuring them their happiness and independence. This is what it has
been reserved to us to see. I am knocked off my feet--excuse the
expression--by the emotions of all kinds that I experience."

Lafayette has been accused of being a spoiled hero. In a moment of
asperity Jefferson had alluded to Lafayette's love of approbation. If,
indeed, Lafayette did yield to that always imminent human frailty, and
if Olmütz had not been able to eradicate or subdue it, the itinerary
of 1824 must have been to him a period of torture. He must have
suffered from satiety to an unbearable degree, for praise and
admiration were poured out by a grateful people to an extent not
easily imagined. To keep up a fiction is the most wearying thing in
the world. The only refreshing and vivifying thing is to be absolutely
sincere. This it must be believed Lafayette was. His simple attitude
toward the land of his adoption was shown in a letter to President
Monroe in which he bade farewell to a nation where "in every man,
woman, and child of a population of twelve million I have found a
loving, indeed an enthusiastic, friend."

It did as much good to the American people as it did to Lafayette to
take part in this great tide of gratitude and devotion. A vast,
swelling emotion is unifying and it is strengthening. Our people made
a great stride toward nationalization when Lafayette came to let us,
as a people, throw our heart at his feet.



Mingled with the joys of Lafayette's visit to the United States in
1824 there was one profound sorrow; he no longer saw here the great
man to whom he had given such whole-hearted devotion. President
Washington died in 1799; and one of the most affecting moments of all
the journey of 1824 was when General Lafayette and his son, George
Washington Lafayette, stood together by the tomb of the man whom both
regarded as a father.

On the centennial anniversary of the birth of Washington, in 1832, the
27th Regiment State Artillery of New York sent Lafayette a magnificent
commemorative medal. In acknowledgment of this gift Lafayette wrote to
the Committee, calling the gift "a new testimony of that persevering
affection which has been, during nearly sixty years, the pride and
delight of my life to be the happy object. The only merit on my part
which it does not exceed is to be found in the warmth of my gratitude
and the patriotic devotion that binds to the United States the loving
heart of an adopted son. The honor was enhanced by the occasion--the
birthday of the matchless Washington, of whom it is the most gratifying
circumstance to have been the beloved and faithful disciple."

This attitude Lafayette never failed to hold. The relation between the
two men was from beginning to end honorable to both in the highest
degree. It was one of the great friendships of history.

In one respect the private tastes of Washington and Lafayette were
similar; both dearly loved a farm. No one can visit Mount Vernon
without feeling the presence there of a lover of growing things. From
this productive place fine hams and bacon were forwarded to Lafayette
and his family in France and were there eaten with the keenest relish.
Fine birds were also sent--ducks, pheasants, and red partridges. In
return Lafayette dispatched by request some special breeds of wolf
hounds and a pair of jackasses; also, strange trees and plants,
together with varied gifts such as Paris only could devise. The
visitor to Mount Vernon finds in the family dining room Lafayette's
ornamental clock and rose jars, and his mahogany chair in Mrs.
Washington's sitting room. The key to the Bastille, which he sent in
1789, is shown under a glass cover on the wall by the staircase in the
entrance hall, and a model of that ancient fortress of tyranny, made
from a block of stone from the renowned French prison, sent over in
1793, stands in happy irony in the banquet hall. A bedchamber on the
second floor is pointed out as the room in which Lafayette slept. It
still bears his name.

After Lafayette returned to France, he lived for years in semi-exile on
an estate known as La Grange, that Madame de Lafayette had inherited. It
lay about forty miles east of Paris, in a beautiful country covered with
peach orchards and vineyards. At the time it was, from an agricultural
point of view, in a sadly neglected condition; and it was not by any
means the least of the achievements of Lafayette that he turned his hand
cleverly to the great task of developing this estate into a really
productive farm, and succeeded. Beginning with a single plow--for he was
too poor at first to buy numerous appliances--he gradually developed the
estate into a valuable property. After a time he supplied himself with
fine breeds of cattle, sheep, and pigs; indeed, specimens of various
kinds from all zones of the earth were sent him by his friends the
American shipmasters, who, it must be remembered, appreciated the
ardent efforts he had made to establish American commerce. To
Washington, who was a good farmer as well as a good President, every
detail of these labors would have been interesting if he had been

In patriarchal happiness Lafayette carried on the estate of eight
hundred French acres, with all its industries, in a perfect system. In
a fine old mansion built in the days of Louis IX, Lafayette lived with
his two daughters and their families under an efficient household
system. Sometimes twelve cousins, brothers and sisters, would be there
together. The combined family formed a perfect little academy of its
own; and just to live at La Grange was an education in itself. The
walls were covered with pictures and memorabilia, to know which would
mean to understand European and American history for a century past. A
picture of Washington had the place of honor. The Declaration of
Independence and the Declaration of Rights were hung side by side. A
miniature of Francis Kinloch Huger in a frame of massive gold was
among the treasures. Dress swords, gifts of many kinds, symbols of
honors, and rich historical records decorated the whole house. Even
the name of the estate, La Grange, was American, for it was so called
in honor of the Manhattan Island home of his friend Alexander

    This spirited statue, by the sculptor Paul Wayland Bartlett,
    was a gift to France from five millions of American school
    children. (See page 201.)]

There was one room in the château at La Grange that was more sacred
than any other; it was the room in which Madame de Lafayette had died.
This chamber was never entered except on the anniversary of her death,
and then by her husband alone, who cherished her memory tenderly and
faithfully as long as he lived.

Many wonderful visitors came to La Grange, and in later years to the
Paris home of the Lafayettes. There were Irish guests to tell tales of
romance; there were Poles to plead the cause of their country;
misguided American Indians were sometimes stranded there; Arabs from
Algeria; negro officers in uniform from the French West Indies--all
people who had the passion for freedom in their hearts naturally and
inevitably gravitated to Lafayette. His house was a modern Babel, for
all languages of the world were spoken there.

And Americans! So many Americans came along the Rosay Road that little
boys learned the trick of meeting any foreign-looking persons who
spoke bad French, and announced themselves as guides of all the
"Messieurs Americains"; they would capture the portmanteau, swing it
up to a strong shoulder, and then set out for the château at the
regular jog trot of a well-trained porter.

One of these American guests was the grandson of General Nathanael
Greene with whom Lafayette had had cordial relations during the
Virginia campaign. In the year 1828 this grandson visited La Grange
and wrote an account full of delightful, intimate touches, which was
printed in the _Atlantic Monthly_ in 1861. Of Lafayette himself he

"In person he was tall and strongly built, with broad shoulders, large
limbs, and a general air of strength.... He had more dignity of
bearing than any man I ever saw. And it was not merely the dignity of
self-possession, which early familiarity with society and early habits
of command may give even to an ordinary man, but that elevation of
manner which springs from an habitual elevation of thought, bearing
witness to the purity of its source, as a clear eye and ruddy cheek
bear witness to the purity of the air you daily breathe. In some
respects he was the mercurial Frenchman to the last day of his life;
yet his general bearing, that comes oftenest to my memory, was of calm
earnestness, tempered and mellowed by quick sympathies."

The death of Lafayette, on the 20th of May, 1834, set the bells
a-tolling in many lands, but in none was the mourning more sincere
than in our own. Members of Congress were commanded to wear the badge
of sorrow for thirty days, and thousands of the people joined them in
this outward expression of the sincere grief of their hearts.

His services to his own country and to ours were many and valuable.
But his personal example of character, integrity, and constancy was
even more to us and to the world than his distinct services. What he
_was_ endeared him to us, even more than the things he did. He gave
his whole soul in youth to his world-wide dream of freedom--freedom
under a constitution guaranteeing it, through public order, to every
human being. He found himself in a world where monarchical government
seemed the destiny and habit of mankind. He thought it a bad
habit--one that ought to be broken. Sincerely and passionately
believing this, he was willing to die in the service of any people who
were ready to make the struggle against the existing national
traditions. He made mistakes; he made the mistake of trusting Louis
Philippe. In doing this he had with him the whole French people. But
let it be said on the other hand that he did not make the mistake of
trusting Bonaparte, whose blandishments he resisted during the whole
passage of that meteor. And he was making no mistake when, to the
very end of his life, he remained true to his love for the land he had
aided in his youth. His visions did not all come true in exactly the
shape he devised, but to the last he retained a glorious confidence
that they would ultimately be realized in full.

Lafayette was absolutely fearless. He had physical bravery; he was
equally indomitable in moral and intellectual realms. He had the power
of courage. He could decide quickly and then stand by the decision to
the bitter end. The essence of his bold, adventurous youth is
expressed in the motto he then chose, "Cur non." But the confirmed and
tried spirit of his full manhood is more truly set forth in another
motto: "Fais ce que dois, advienne que pourra." "Do what you ought,
let come what may."

For a man so possessed by a great, world-wide idea, so fearless, so
constant, it is quite fitting that monuments should be erected and
that his birthday should be celebrated. Probably there is no man in
all history who has had so many cities, counties, townships,
boulevards, arcades, mountains, villages, and hamlets named for him,
in a country to which he was not native-born, as has the Frenchman
Lafayette in the United States of America. Also, many notable statues
of Lafayette stand in city squares and halls of art, both in our
country and in his own. Among them there is one special statue in
which the young people of America have a peculiar interest. On the
19th of October, 1898, five millions of American school children
contributed to a Lafayette Monument Fund. With this sum a bronze
statue was made and presented to the French Republic. Mr. Paul Wayland
Bartlett was the sculptor intrusted with this work. The statue was
completed in 1908 and placed in a court of the Louvre in Paris. It was
originally intended that the statue of Bonaparte should occupy the
center of that beautiful court, but it is the statue of Lafayette that
stands there--the "Boy" Cornwallis could not catch, the man Napoleon
could not intimidate. No one can tell us just how Lafayette's statue
happened to be assigned the place intended for Napoleon's; but however
it was, the fact is a luminous example of how a man who loved people
only to master and subjugate them did not reach the heart of the world
so directly as the man who loved human beings for their own sakes and
to do them good.

Printed in the United States of America.

       *       *       *       *       *

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Transcriber's note:

List of Illustrations and Illustration Captions have been made
consistent to each other as follows.

"Portrait of Lafayette"--Caption has been extended from "Lafayette".

"A Carriage in which Lafayette Rode" entry in the List of
Illustrations has been extended from "Lafayette's Carriage".

On page 109 "Yorktown was now familar to Lafayette" has been corrected
to "Yorktown was now familiar to Lafayette".

In the song quoted on page 141 the last line "Et qui s'abaisse, on
l'évèra." has been changed to "Et qui s'abaisse, on l'élèvera."

All other spelling, punctuation, grammatical and typesetting errors
have been left as they were in the original book.

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