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Title: Lafayette, We Come! - The Story of How a Young Frenchman Fought for Liberty in - America and How America Now Fights for Liberty in France
Author: Holland, Rupert S.
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.

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  Lafayette, We Come!

  The Story of How a Young
  Frenchman Fought for Liberty
  in America and How America
  Now Fights for Liberty in France


  _Author of “Historic Boyhoods,” “The Knights
  of the Golden Spur,” etc._

  [Illustration: Colophon]


  Copyright, 1918, by

  _All rights reserved_
  Printed in U. S. A.

  Those Men of the Great Republic
  Who Have Answered
  The Call of Lafayette,
  Lover of Liberty_


  Lafayette meets Washington       _Frontispiece_

                                    _Facing page_

  Lafayette, a Prussian prisoner              226

  “America’s Answer”                          302


In 1777 the young Marquis de Lafayette, only nineteen years old, came
from France to the aid of the Thirteen Colonies of North America because
he heard their cry for liberty ringing across the Atlantic Ocean. In
1917 the United States of America drew the sword in defense of the
sacred principle of liberty for which the country of Lafayette was
fighting. The debt of gratitude had never been forgotten; the ideals of
the gallant Frenchman and of the young Republic of the Western World
were the same; what he had done for us we of America are now doing for

It is a glorious story, and one never to be forgotten while men love
liberty and truth. Every boy and girl should know it, for it is the
story of a brave, generous, noble-minded youth, who gave such devoted
service to America that he stands with Washington and Lincoln as one of
the great benefactors of our land. “I’m going to America to fight for
freedom!” he cried; and the cry still rings in our ears more than a
century later. The message is the same one we hear to-day and that is
carrying us across the Atlantic to France. From Lafayette’s story we
learn courage, fidelity to honor, loyalty to conviction, the qualities
that make men free and great. The principles of “liberty, equality, and
fraternity” of France are the same as those of our own Declaration of
Independence, and the men of the countries of Washington and Lafayette
now fight under a common banner. “Lafayette, we come!” was America’s
answer to the great man who offered all he had to us in the days of


     I. THE LITTLE MARQUIS OF FRANCE                 7

          FIGHT FOR FREEDOM!”                       25

   III. HOW LAFAYETTE RAN AWAY TO SEA               45

          AMERICA                                   63

          AS A VOLUNTEER!”                          82

          WASHINGTON                               102


          IN FRANCE                                153

          LIBERTY TO FRANCE                        172


    XI. LAFAYETTE IN PRISON AND EXILE              225

   XII. IN THE DAYS OF NAPOLEON                    248

          HERO                                     272

   XIV. THE LOVER OF LIBERTY                       287

          WE COME!”                                302



In the mountains of Auvergne in Southern France, in what was for many
centuries called the province of Auvergne, but what is now known as the
department of Haute-Loire, or Upper Loire, stands a great fortified
castle, the Château of Chavaniac. For six hundred years it has stood
there, part fortress and part manor-house and farm, a huge structure,
built piecemeal through centuries, with many towers and battlements and
thick stone walls long overgrown with moss. Before it lies the valley of
the Allier and the great rugged mountains of Auvergne. Love of freedom
is deeply rooted in the country round it, for the people of Auvergne
have always been an independent, proud and fearless race.

In this old Château of Chavaniac there was born on September 6, 1757,
the Marquis de Lafayette. He was baptized the next day, with all the
ceremonies befitting a baby of such high rank, and the register of the
little parish church in the neighboring village records the baptism
as that of “the very noble and very powerful gentleman Monseigneur
Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert Dumotier de Lafayette, the
lawful son of the very noble and very powerful gentleman Monseigneur
Michel-Louis-Christophle-Roch-Gilbert Dumotier, Marquis de Lafayette,
Baron de Vissac, Seigneur de Saint-Romain and other places, and of
the very noble and very powerful lady Madame Marie-Louise-Julie

A good many names for a small boy to carry, but his family was very
old, and it was the custom of France to give many family names to each
child. He was called Gilbert Motier for short, however, though he was
actually born with the title and rank of Marquis, for his father had
been killed in battle six weeks before the little heir to Chavaniac was

The family name of Motier could be traced back to before the year 1000.
Then one of the family came into possession of a farm called the Villa
Faya, and he lengthened his name to Motier of La Fayette. And as other
properties came to belong to the family the men added new names and
titles until in 1757 the heir to the old château had not only a long
string of names but was also a marquis and baron and seigneur by right
of his birth. There were few families in Auvergne of older lineage than
the house of Lafayette.

The little heir’s father, Michel-Louis, Marquis de Lafayette, had been
killed while leading a charge at the head of his regiment of French
Grenadiers in the battle of Hastenbeck, one of the battles of what was
known as the Seven Years’ War in Europe, which took place at about
the same time as the French and Indian War in America. Although only
twenty-four years old Michel-Louis de Lafayette was already a colonel
and a knight of the order of Saint Louis and had shown himself a true
descendant of the old fighting stock of Auvergne nobles. Now the small
baby boy, the new Marquis, succeeded to his father’s titles as well as
to the castle and several other even older manor-houses, for the most
part in ruins, that were perched high up in the mountains.

For all its blue blood, however, the family were what is known as “land
poor.” The little Marquis owned large farms in the mountains, but the
crops were not very abundant and most of the money that had come in from
them for some time had been needed to provide for the fighting men.
Fortunately the boy’s mother and grandmother and aunts, who all lived at
Chavaniac, were strong and sturdy people, willing to live the simple,
healthy, frugal life of their neighbors in the province and so save as
much of the family fortune as they could for the time when the heir
should make his bow at court.

Without brothers or sisters and with few playmates, spending his time
out-of-doors in the woods and fields of Chavaniac, the young Lafayette
had a rather solitary childhood and grew up awkward and shy. He was a
lean, long-limbed fellow with a hook nose, reddish hair, and a very
bashful manner. But his eyes were bright and very intelligent; whenever
anything really caught his attention he quickly became intensely
interested in it, and he was devoted to all the birds and beasts of the
country round about his home.

Some of these beasts, however, were dangerous; there was a great gray
wolf that the farmers said had been breaking into sheepfolds and doing
great damage. The boy of eight years old heard the story and set out,
sword in hand, to hunt and slay the wolf. There is no account of his
ever coming up with that particular monster, but the peasants of the
neighborhood liked to tell all visitors this story as proof of the
courage of their young Marquis.

But the family had no intention of keeping the head of their house in
this far-off province of France. He must learn to conduct himself as a
polished gentleman and courtier, he must go to Paris and prepare himself
to take the place at the royal court that belonged to a son of his long,
distinguished line. His family had rich and powerful relations, who
were quite ready to help the boy, and so, when he was eleven years old,
he left the quiet castle of Chavaniac and went to a school for young
noblemen, the College du Plessis at Paris.

Lafayette’s mother’s uncle, taking a liking to the boy, had him
enrolled as a cadet in one of the famous regiments of France, “The
Black Musketeers,” and this gave the boy a proud position at school,
and many a day he took some of his new friends to see the Musketeers
drill and learn something of the Manual of Arms. The company of other
boys, both at the College du Plessis in Paris and then at the Academy
at Versailles, as well as the interest he took in his gallant Black
Musketeers, made Lafayette less shy and awkward than he had been at
Chavaniac, though he was still much more reserved and thoughtful than
most boys of his age. He learned to write his own language well, and his
compositions in school showed the practical common sense of his country
bringing-up. He wrote a paper on the horse, and the chief point he
brought out in it was that if you try to make a horse do too many things
well he is sure to get restless and throw you, a bit of wisdom he had
doubtless learned in Auvergne.

The boy Marquis was at school in Paris when, in 1770, his devoted
mother and the rich granduncle who had had him appointed a cadet of
the Musketeers both died. The little Lafayette was now very much
alone; his grandmother in the distant castle in the mountains was his
nearest relation, and, though only a boy of thirteen, he had to decide
important questions for himself. But the granduncle had been very fond
of the lad, and in his will he left Lafayette all his fortune and
estates. The fortune was very large, and as a result the boy Marquis,
instead of being only a poor young country nobleman from Auvergne,
became a very rich and important person.

Immediately the proud and luxury-loving society of the French court
took a great interest in Gilbert Motier de Lafayette. Every father and
mother who had a daughter they wished to marry turned their attention
to the boy. And Lafayette, who, like most boys of his age, paid little
attention to girls, was beset with all sorts of invitations to parties
and balls.

In Europe in those days marriages were arranged by parents with little
regard to the wishes of their children. Sometimes babies of noble
families were betrothed to each other while they were still in the
cradle. It was all a question of social standing and of money. So
Lafayette’s guardians put their heads together and looked around for the
most suitable girl for him to marry.

The guardians chose the second daughter of the Duke d’Ayen,
Mademoiselle Marie-Adrienne-Françoise de Noailles, a girl twelve years
old. The Duke was pleased with the proposal; the Marquis de Lafayette
would make a most desirable husband for his daughter. But the little
girl’s mother had strong ideas of her own. When the Duke told her of the
husband selected for Marie-Adrienne she objected.

“It is too great a risk to run for Adrienne,” she said. “The Marquis de
Lafayette is very young, very rich, and very wilful. He seems to be a
good boy, so far as his standing at school and his conduct in society
are concerned; but with no one to guide him, no one to look after his
fortune and hold him back from extravagance and foolishness, without a
near relative, and with his character as yet unformed and uncertain, our
daughter’s marriage to him is out of the question, and I will not agree
to it.”

Both the Duke and the Duchess were strong-willed; Adrienne’s father
insisted on the match and her mother opposed it more and more
positively. At last they actually quarreled and almost separated over
this question of the marriage of two children, neither of whom had
been consulted in regard to their own feelings. At last, however, the
Duke suggested a compromise; the marriage should not take place for two
years, Adrienne should not leave her mother for three years, and in the
meantime the Duke would look after the education of the boy and see that
he became a suitable husband for their daughter.

This suited the Duchess better. “If the boy is brought up in our home
where I can see and study him,” she said, “I will agree. Then, having
taken all precautions, and having no negligence wherewith to reproach
ourselves, we need do nothing but peacefully submit to the will of God,
who knows best what is fitting for us.”

The shy boy came to the Duke’s house and met the little girl. Adrienne
was very attractive, sweet-natured, pretty, and delightful company.
Before the two knew the plans that had been made concerning them they
grew to like each other very much, became splendid companions, and
were glad when they learned that they were to marry some day. As for
Adrienne’s mother, the more she saw of the boy the better she liked him;
she took him into her house and heart as if he were her own son, trying
to make up to him for the loss of his own mother. The Duke kept his
agreement. He saw that Lafayette was properly educated at the Academy
at Versailles where young noblemen were taught military duties and that
in proper time he obtained his commission as an officer in the royal
regiment of the Black Musketeers.

Then, on April 11, 1774, Lafayette and Adrienne were married. The groom
was sixteen years old and the bride fourteen, but those were quite
proper ages for marriage among the French nobility. For a year the young
husband and wife lived at the great house of the Duke d’Ayen in Paris,
still under the watchful eye of the careful Duchess, and then they took
a house for themselves in the capital, going occasionally to the old
castle of Chavaniac in Auvergne.

The boy Marquis never regretted his marriage to Adrienne. Through
all the adventures of his later life his love for her was strong
and enduring. And she was as fine and noble and generous a woman as
Lafayette was a brave, heroic man.

Rich, a marquis in his own right, married to a daughter of one of the
greatest houses of France, Lafayette had the entrance to the highest
circles at court, to the innermost circle in fact, that of the young
King Louis XVI. and his Queen Marie Antoinette. And never was there a
gayer court to be found; the youthful King and his beautiful wife and
all their friends seemed to live for pleasure only; they were gorgeous
butterflies who flitted about the beautiful gardens of the Palace at
Versailles and basked in continual sunshine.

But the boy of seventeen, son of a line of rugged Auvergne fighters,
men of independent natures, did not take readily to the unceasing show
and luxury of court. Balls and dramas, rustic dances and dinners and
suppers, all the extravagant entertainments that the clever mind of the
young Queen could devise, followed in endless succession. True it was
that some of the courtiers had the fashion of talking a good deal about
the rights of man and human liberty, but that was simply a fashion in a
country where only the nobles had liberty and the talk of such things
only furnished polite conversation in drawing-rooms. To Lafayette,
however, liberty meant more than that; young though he was, he had seen
enough of the world to wish that there might be less suffering among
the poor and more liberality among the wealthy. The constant stream of
pleasures at Versailles often gave him food for thought, and though he
was very fond of the King and Queen and their youthful court, he had
less and less regard for the older nobles, who appeared to him as vain
and stiff and foolish as so many strutting peacocks.

Sometimes, however, for all his thoughtfulness, he joined
whole-heartedly in the revels the Queen devised. On one midsummer night
Marie Antoinette gave a fête at Versailles, and Lafayette led the
revels. The Queen had declared that she meant to have a _fête champêtre_
in the gardens that should be different from anything the court of
France had ever seen. All her guests should appear either as goblins
or as nymphs. They should not be required to dance the quadrille or
any other stately measure, but would be free to play any jokes that
came into their heads. As Marie Antoinette outlined these plans to him
Lafayette shook his head in doubt.

“What will the lords in waiting say to this?” he asked, “and your
Majesty’s own ladies?”

The pretty Queen laughed and shrugged her shoulders. “Who cares?” she
answered. “As long as Louis is King I shall do what pleases me.”

Then a new idea occurred to her and she clapped her hands with delight.
“I shall go to Louis,” she said, “and have him issue a royal order
commanding every one who comes to the fête to dress as a goblin or a
nymph. He will do it for me, I know.”

King Louis was too fond of his wife to deny her anything, so he issued
the order she wanted, much though he feared that it might affront the
older courtiers. And the courtiers were affronted and horrified. The
Royal Chamberlain and the Queen’s Mistress of the Robes went to the King
in his workshop, for Louis was always busy with clocks and locks and
keys, and told him that such a performance as was planned would make the
court of France appear ridiculous.

Louis listened to them patiently, and when they had left he sent for
Marie Antoinette and her friends. They described how absurd the
courtiers would look as nymphs and goblins and the King laughed till he
cried. Then he dismissed the whole matter and went back to the tools on
his work-table.

So Marie Antoinette had her party, and the gardens of Versailles saw the
strange spectacle of tall, stiff goblins wearing elaborate powdered wigs
and jeweled swords, and stout wood-nymphs with bare arms and shoulders
and glittering with gems. The Queen’s friends, a crowd of hobgoblins,
swooped down upon the stately Mistress of the Robes and carried her
off to a summer-house on the edge of the woods, where they kept her a
prisoner while they sang her the latest ballads of the Paris streets.
The court was shocked and indignant, and the next day there was such a
buzzing of angry bees about the head of the King that he had to lecture
the Queen and her friends and forbid any more such revels.

As the older courtiers regained their influence over Louis the young
Lafayette went less and less often to Versailles. He was too independent
by nature to bow the knee to the powdered and painted lords and ladies
who controlled the court. Instead of seeking their society he spent
more and more time with his regiment of Musketeers. But this did not
satisfy his father-in-law, the Duke d’Ayen, who was eager for Lafayette
to shine in the sun of royal favor. So the Duke went to the young Count
de Segur, Lafayette’s close friend and cousin, and begged him to try and
stir the Marquis to greater ambition.

The Count, who knew Lafayette well, had to laugh at the words of the
Duke d’Ayen. “Indifferent! Indolent! Faith, my dear marshal, you do
not yet know our Lafayette! I should say he has altogether too much
enthusiasm. Why, it was only yesterday that he almost insisted on my
fighting a duel with him because I did not agree with him in a matter of
which I knew nothing, and of which he thought I should know everything.
He is anything but indifferent and indolent, I can assure you!”

Pleased with this information, and feeling that he had much
misunderstood his son-in-law, the Duke made plans to have Lafayette
attached to the suite of one of the princes of France, and picked out
the Count of Provence, the scapegrace brother of Louis XVI. This Prince
was only two years older than Lafayette, and famous for his overbearing
manners. As a result, when the Duke told his son-in-law of the interview
he had arranged for him with the Count of Provence, Lafayette at once
determined that nothing should make him accept service with so arrogant
a fellow.

Having decided that he wanted no favors from that particular Prince,
Lafayette set about to make his decision clear. His opportunity soon
came. The King and Queen gave a masked ball at court, and the youthful
Marquis was one of their guests. With his mask concealing his face he
went up to the King’s brother, the Count of Provence, and began to talk
about liberty and equality and the rights of man, saying a great deal
that he probably did not believe in his desire to make the Count angry.

The plan succeeded beautifully. The Count tried to answer, but every
time he opened his mouth Lafayette said more violent things and made
more eloquent pleas for democracy. At last the young Prince could stand
the tirade no longer. “Sir,” said he, lifting his mask and staring at
his talkative companion, “I shall remember this interview.”

“Sir,” answered the young Marquis, also lifting his mask and bowing
gracefully, “memory is the wisdom of fools.”

It was a rash remark to make to a royal prince, but it had the effect
that Lafayette desired. With an angry gesture the Count of Provence
turned on his heel and made it clear to every one about him that the
Marquis was in disgrace. In later days the Count showed that he had
remembered Lafayette’s words to him.

News of what the Marquis had said quickly flew through the court and
speedily reached the ears of the Duke d’Ayen. He was horrified; his
son-in-law had not only insulted the Prince and so lost his chance
of becoming a gentleman of his suite, but had also made himself a
laughing-stock. The Duke lectured the boy, and told him that he was
throwing away all his chances for worldly advancement. But Lafayette
answered that he cared nothing for princely favor and meant to follow
the dictates of his own nature.

So the Duke, finally despairing of doing anything with so independent
a fellow, had him ordered to join his regiment, and Lafayette left
Paris to seek his fortune elsewhere. Already, although he was only
seventeen, the boy Marquis had shown that he was a true son of Auvergne,
not a parasite of the King’s court, as were most of his friends, but an
independent, liberty-loving man.



Although the young Marquis had deliberately given up a career at court,
there was every promise of his having a brilliant career in the army.
Soon after his famous speech to the King’s brother, in August, 1775, he
was transferred from his regiment of Black Musketeers to a command in
what was known as the “Regiment de Noailles,” which had for its colonel
a young man of very distinguished family, Monseigneur the Prince de
Poix, who was a cousin of Lafayette’s wife.

The “Regiment de Noailles” was stationed at Metz, a garrison city some
two hundred miles to the east of Paris. The commander of Metz was the
Count de Broglie, a marshal and prince of France, who had commanded the
French armies in the Seven Years’ War, in one of the battles of which
Lafayette’s father had been killed. The Count de Broglie had known
Lafayette’s father and had greatly admired him, and he did all he could
to befriend the son, inviting him to all the entertainments he gave.

It happened that early in August the Count de Broglie gave a dinner in
honor of a young English prince, the Duke of Gloucester, and Lafayette,
in the blue and silver uniform of his rank, was one of the guests at
the table. The Duke of Gloucester was at the time in disgrace with his
brother, King George the Third of England, because he had dared to marry
a wife whom King George disliked. The Duke was really in exile from
England, and in the company of the French officers he had no hesitation
in speaking his mind about his royal brother and even in poking fun at
some of his plans. And the Duke made a special point of criticizing King
George for his policy toward the colonists in America.

In that very year of the dinner-party at Metz, in the spring of 1775, a
rebellion had broken out in the colonies, and there had actually been a
fight between American farmers and British regulars at the village of
Lexington in the colony of Massachusetts Bay. The Duke had received
word of the obstinate resistance of the farmers--peasants, he called
them--at Lexington and Concord, and of the retreat of Lord Percy and
his troops to Boston. The Duke told the dinner-party all about the
discomfiture of his royal brother, laughing heartily at it, and also
related how in that same seaport of Boston the townspeople had thrown a
cargo of tea into the harbor rather than pay the royal tax on it.

The Duke talked and Lafayette listened. The Duke spoke admiringly of the
pluck of the American farmers, but pointed out that it was impossible
for the colonists to win against regular troops unless experienced
officers and leaders should help them. “They are poor, they are ill
led,” said the Duke, “they have no gentlemen-soldiers to show them
how to fight, and the king my brother is determined to bring them into
subjection by harsh and forcible methods if need be. But my letters say
that the Americans seem set upon opposing force with force, and, as the
country is large and the colonies scattered, it certainly looks as if
the trouble would be long and serious. If but the Americans were well
led, I should say the rebellion might really develop into a serious

Most of the officers knew little about America; even Lafayette had only
a vague idea about the colonies on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
But the Duke’s words stirred him deeply; he sat leaning far forward, his
eyes shining with interest, his face expressing the closest attention.

Finally, as the guests rose from the table, Lafayette burst forth
impetuously. “But could one help these peasants over there beyond the
seas, monseigneur?” he asked the Duke.

The English prince smiled at the young Frenchman’s eagerness. “One
could, my lord marquis, if he were there,” he answered.

“Then tell me, I pray you,” continued Lafayette, “how one may do it,
monseigneur. Tell me how to set about it. For see, I will join these
Americans; I will help them fight for freedom!”

Again the Duke smiled; the words seemed extravagant on the lips of a
French officer. But a glance at Lafayette’s face showed how much the
boy was in earnest. The words were no idle boast; the speaker plainly
meant them. So the Duke answered, “Why, I believe you would, my lord. It
wouldn’t take much to start you across the sea,--if your people would
let you.”

Lafayette smiled to himself. He had already done one thing that his
family disapproved of, and he did not intend to let them prevent his
embarking on such an enterprise as this, one that appealed so intensely
to his love of liberty. He asked the Duke of Gloucester all the
questions he could think of, and the Duke gave him all the information
he had about America.

The dinner-party broke up, and most of the officers soon forgot all the
conversation; but not so the young Marquis; that evening had been one
of the great events of his life. As he said afterward, “From that hour
I could think of nothing but this enterprise, and I resolved to go to
Paris at once to make further inquiries.”

His mind made up by what he had heard at Metz, Lafayette set off for
Paris. But once there, it was hard to decide where he should turn for
help. His father-in-law, he knew, would be even more scandalized by his
new plan than he had been by the affront the young man had given the
King’s brother. His own wife was too young and inexperienced to give
him wise counsel in such a matter. Finally he chose for his first real
confidant his cousin and close friend, the Count de Segur. Lafayette
went at once to his cousin’s house, though it was only seven o’clock
in the morning, was told that the Count was not yet out of bed, but,
without waiting to be announced, rushed upstairs and woke the young man.

The Count saw his cousin standing beside him and shaking him by the arm.
In great surprise he sat up. “Wake up! wake up!” cried Lafayette. “Wake
up! I’m going to America to fight for freedom! Nobody knows it yet; but
I love you too much not to tell you.”

The Count sprang out of bed and caught Lafayette’s hand. “If that is so,
I will go with you!” he cried. “I will go to America too! I will fight
with you for freedom! How soon do you start?”

It was easier said than done, however. The two young men had breakfast
and eagerly discussed this momentous matter. The upshot of their
discussion was to decide to enlist a third friend in their cause, and so
they set out to see Lafayette’s brother-in-law, the Viscount Louis Marie
de Noailles, who was a year older than the Marquis.

The young Viscount, like the Count de Segur, heard Lafayette’s news
with delight, for he also belonged to that small section of the French
nobility that was very much interested in what was called “the rights
of man.” So here were three young fellows,--hardly more than boys,--for
none of the three was over twenty years old, all of high rank and large
fortune, eager to do what they could to help the fighting farmers of the
American colonies.

At the very start, however, they ran into difficulties. France and
England, though not on very friendly terms at that particular time,
were yet keeping the peace between them, and the French prime minister
was afraid that if the English government should learn that a number of
young French aristocrats were intending to aid the rebellious American
colonists it might cause ill-feeling between France and England. The
prime minister, therefore, frowned on all such schemes as that of
Lafayette, and so the three young liberty-loving conspirators had to
set about their business with the greatest secrecy.

Lafayette’s next step was to hunt out a man who had been sent over to
France from the American colonies as a secret agent, a representative of
what was known as the American Committee of Secret Correspondence, of
which Benjamin Franklin was a member. This man was Silas Deane of the
colony of Connecticut. Deane was secretly sending arms and supplies from
France to America, but he was so closely watched by the agents of the
English Ambassador, Lord Stormont, that it was very difficult to see him
without rousing suspicions.

While the Marquis was studying the problem of how to get in touch with
Deane he confided his secret to the Count de Broglie, his superior
officer at Metz and his very good friend. The Count was at once opposed
to any such rash venture. “You want to throw your life away in that land
of savages!” exclaimed De Broglie. “Why, my dear Lafayette, it is the
craziest scheme I ever heard of! And to what purpose?”

“For the noblest of purposes, sir,” answered the Marquis. “To help a
devoted people win their liberty! What ambition could be nobler?”

“It is a dream, my friend, a dream that can never be fulfilled,” said
the old soldier. “I will not help you to throw your life away. I saw
your uncle die in the wars of Italy, I witnessed your brave father’s
death at the battle of Hastenbeck, and I cannot be a party to the
ruin of the last of your name, the only one left of the stock of the

But even the old Marshal could not withstand the ardor and enthusiasm of
the youth. So vehemently did Lafayette set forth his wishes that finally
the Count promised that he would not actively oppose his plans, and
presently agreed to introduce the Marquis to a Bavarian soldier named De
Kalb, who might be able to help him.

“I will introduce you to De Kalb,” said the Count. “He is in Paris
now, and perhaps through him you may be able to communicate with this
American agent, Monsieur Deane.”

De Kalb was a soldier of fortune who had been to America long before
the Revolution and knew a great deal about the colonies. At present
he was in France, giving what information he could to the government
there. And the upshot of Lafayette’s talk with the Count de Broglie
was that the latter not only gave the Marquis a letter to De Kalb
but also actually asked De Kalb to go to America and see if he could
arrange things so that he, the Count de Broglie, might be invited by the
American Congress to cross the ocean and become commander-in-chief of
the American army! Perhaps it was natural that the veteran Marshal of
France should think that he would make a better commander-in-chief than
the untried George Washington.

The Baron de Kalb arranged that the Count de Broglie should see Silas
Deane of Connecticut. Silas Deane was impressed with the importance of
securing such a powerful friend and leader for his hard-pressed people,
and he at once agreed to see what he could do for De Broglie, and
promised Baron de Kalb the rank of major-general in the American army
and signed an agreement with him by which fifteen French officers should
go to America on a ship that was fitting out with arms and supplies.

This fell in beautifully with Lafayette’s wishes. De Broglie introduced
the Marquis to De Kalb, and De Kalb presented him to Silas Deane. This
was in December, 1776, and Lafayette, only nineteen, slight of figure,
looked very boyish for such an enterprise. But he plainly showed that
his whole heart was in his plan, and, as he said himself, “made so
much out of the small excitement that my going away was likely to
cause,” that the American agent was carried away by his enthusiasm,
and in his own rather reckless fashion, wrote out a paper by which the
young Marquis was to enter the service of the American colonies as a

Deane’s enthusiasm over Lafayette’s offer of his services may be seen
from what he wrote in the agreement. The paper he sent to Congress
in regard to this volunteer ran as follows: “His high birth, his
alliances, the great dignities which his family holds at this court, his
considerable estates in this realm, his personal merit, his reputation,
his disinterestedness, and, above all, his zeal for the liberty of our
provinces, are such as have only been able to engage me to promise him
the rank of major-general in the name of the United States. In witness
of which I have signed the present this seventh of December, 1776. Silas
Deane, Agent for the United States of America.”

By this time the colonies had issued their Declaration of Independence,
and called themselves, as Silas Deane described them, the United States
of America.

Imagine Lafayette’s joy at this result of his meeting with Silas Deane!
It seemed as if his enthusiasm had already won him his goal. But there
were other people to be considered, and his family were not as much
delighted with his plans as the man from Connecticut had been.

As a matter of fact his father-in-law, the powerful Duke d’Ayen, was
furious, and so were most of the others of his family. His cousin, the
Count de Segur, described the feelings of Lafayette’s relations. “It
is easy to conceive their astonishment,” he wrote, “when they learned
suddenly that this young sage of nineteen, so cool and so indifferent,
had been so far carried away by the love of glory and of danger as to
intend to cross the ocean and fight in the cause of American freedom.”
There was more of a storm at home than when the self-filled young
Marquis had of his own accord disgraced himself at court.

But his wife Adrienne, girl though she was, understood him far better
than the rest of the family, and even sympathized with his great desire.
“God wills that you should go,” she said to her husband. “I have prayed
for guidance and strength. Whatever others think, you shall not be

Others, however, did have to be reckoned with. Lafayette’s two friends,
the Count de Segur and the Viscount de Noailles, both of whom had been
so eager to go with him, had found that their fathers would not supply
them with the money they needed and that the King would not consent to
their going to America. Reluctantly they had to give up their plans. But
Lafayette was rich, he had no need to ask for funds from any one; there
was no difficulty for him on that score.

He was, however, an officer of France, and it was on that ground that
his father-in-law tried to put an end to his scheme. He went to the
King with his complaint about the wilful Marquis. At the same time the
English Ambassador, who had got wind of the matter, also complained
to King Louis. And Louis XVI., who had never concerned himself much
about liberty and took little interest in the rebel farmers across the
Atlantic, said that while he admired the enthusiasm of the Marquis de
Lafayette, he could not think of permitting officers of his army to
serve with the men of America who were in rebellion against his good
friend the King of England. Therefore he issued an order forbidding any
soldier in his service taking part in the Revolution in America.

The Duke d’Ayen was delighted. He went to Lafayette, and trying to put
the matter on a friendly footing, said, “You had better return to your
regiment at Metz, my dear son.”

Lafayette drew himself up, his face as determined as ever. “No Lafayette
was ever known to turn back,” he answered. “I shall do as I have

One of Lafayette’s ancestors had adopted as his motto the words “_Cur
non_,” meaning “Why not?” and the Marquis now put these on his own coat
of arms, the idea being, as he himself said, that they should serve him
“both as an encouragement and a response.”

By this time the young republic in America had sent Benjamin Franklin
to help Silas Deane in Paris. Franklin heard of Lafayette’s desires and
knew how much help his influence might bring the new republic. So he set
about to see what he could do to further Lafayette’s plans.

At that moment things looked gloomy indeed for the Americans. Their
army had been badly defeated at the battle of Long Island, and their
friends in Europe were depressed. That, however, seemed to Lafayette
all the more reason for taking them aid as quickly as he could, and
when he heard that Benjamin Franklin was interested in him he made an
opportunity to see the latter.

Franklin was perfectly fair with Lafayette. He gave the young
Frenchman the exact news he had received from America, information
that Washington’s army of three thousand ragged and suffering men were
retreating across New Jersey before the victorious and well-equipped
troops of General Howe. He pointed out that the credit of the new
republic was certain to sink lower and lower unless Washington should be
able to win a victory and that at present it looked as if any such event
was far away. And in view of all this Franklin, and Silas Deane also,
was frank enough to tell Lafayette that his plan of aiding the United
States at that particular time was almost foolhardy.

The Frenchman thanked them for their candor. “Until this moment,
gentlemen,” said he, “I have only been able to show you my zeal in your
struggle; now the time has come when that zeal may be put to actual use.
I am going to buy a ship and carry your officers and supplies to America
in it. We must show our confidence in the cause, and it is in just such
a time of danger as this that I want to share whatever fortune may have
in store for you.”

Franklin was immensely touched by the generosity of the young Marquis
and told him so. But, practical man as he was, although he gladly
accepted Lafayette’s offer, he pointed out that as the American agents
were closely watched in Paris it would be better for Lafayette to work
through third parties and in some other place than the French capital,
if possible.

Lafayette took these suggestions. At once he found that it was extremely
difficult to secure a ship without discovery by the English Ambassador.
Here the Count de Broglie again gave him aid. He introduced the Marquis
to Captain Dubois, the brother of his secretary, an officer in one
of the King’s West Indian regiments, who happened to be at home on
furlough at the time, and Lafayette engaged him as his agent. He sent
him secretly to Bordeaux, the French seaport that was supposed to be
safest from suspicion, and gave him the money to buy and supply a ship,
the plan being that Captain Dubois should appear to be fitting out the
vessel for the needs of his own regiment in the West Indies.

The needed repairs to the ship would take some time, and meanwhile, in
order to escape all possible suspicion of his plans, Lafayette arranged
with his cousin, the Prince de Poix, to make a journey to England. The
Marquis de Noailles, Lafayette’s uncle, was the French Ambassador to
England, and he welcomed the two young noblemen with delight. Every
one supposed that Lafayette had at last given up his wild schemes,
and all the great houses of London were thrown open to him. He wrote
of the amusement he felt at being presented to King George III., and
of how much he enjoyed a ball at the house of Lord George Germain, the
secretary for the colonies. At the opera he met Sir Henry Clinton, with
whom he had a pleasant, friendly chat. The next time Sir Henry and he
were to meet was to be on the field of arms at the Battle of Monmouth.

But he never took advantage of his hosts. He kept away from the English
barracks and shipyards, though he was invited to inspect them. He was
careful to a degree to avoid any act that might later be considered as
having been in the nature of a breach of confidence. And after three
weeks in the gay world of London he felt that he could brook no longer
delay and told his uncle the Ambassador that he had taken a fancy to
cross the Channel for a short visit at home.

His uncle opposed this idea, saying that so abrupt a departure would
be discourteous to the English court, but Lafayette insisted. So the
Marquis de Noailles finally offered to give out the report that his
nephew was sick until the latter should return to London. Lafayette
agreed. “I would not have proposed this stratagem,” he said later, “but
I did not object to it.”

The voyage on the Channel was rough and Lafayette was seasick. As soon
as he reached France he went to Paris and stayed in hiding at the house
of Baron de Kalb. He had another interview with the American agents and
sent out his directions to the men who were to sail with him. Then he
slipped away to Bordeaux, where he found the sloop _Victory_, bought
by Captain Dubois with Lafayette’s money, and now ready for the voyage
across the Atlantic.

Lafayette, however, could not sail away from France under his own name,
and as a permit was required of every one leaving the country, a special
one had to be made out for him. This is still kept at Bordeaux, and
describes the passenger on the sloop as “Gilbert du Mottie, Chevalier
de Chavaillac, aged about twenty, rather tall, light-haired, embarking
on the _Victory_, Captain Lebourcier commanding, for a voyage to the
Cape on private business.” His name was not very much changed, for he
was really Gilbert du Motier and also the Chevalier de Chavaniac, but
probably a careless clerk, who had no concern in this particular young
man’s affairs, made the mistakes in spelling, and so aided Lafayette’s

But all was not yet smooth sailing. Lord Stormont, the English
Ambassador, heard of Lafayette’s departure from Paris and also of his
plans to leave France, and at once protested to the King. Lafayette’s
father-in-law likewise protested, and no sooner had the young nobleman
arrived in Bordeaux than royal officers were on his track. The French
government did not want him to sail, no matter how much it might
secretly sympathize with the young republic across the ocean.

Having come so far, however, the intrepid Marquis did not intend to be
stopped. He meant to sail on his ship, he meant to carry out the brave
words he had spoken to his cousin. “I’m going to America to fight for
freedom!” he had said, and he was determined to accomplish that end.



Lafayette did actually run away to sea, with the officers of King Louis
XVI. hot-foot after him. When he learned that his plans were known and
that he would surely be stopped if he delayed he ordered the captain
of the _Victory_ to set sail from Bordeaux without waiting for the
necessary sailing-papers. His intention was to run into the Spanish port
of Las Pasajes, just across the French frontier on the Bay of Biscay,
and there complete his arrangements for crossing the Atlantic, for the
sloop still needed some repairs before starting on such a voyage.

At Las Pasajes, however, he found more obstacles and difficulties.
Instead of the sailing-papers he expected letters and orders and French
officers were waiting for him. The letters were from his family,
protesting against his rash act, the orders were from Louis XVI.’s
ministers, and charged him with deserting the army, breaking his oath
of allegiance to the King, and involving France in difficulties with
England. And the officers were from the court, with documents bearing
the King’s own seal, and commanding Lieutenant the Marquis de Lafayette
of the regiment of De Noailles to go at once to the French port of
Marseilles and there await further orders.

The news that affected the runaway nobleman most was contained in
the letters from home. He had had to leave Paris without telling his
intentions to his wife, much as he hated to do this. He knew that she
really approved of his plans and would do nothing to thwart them, but
the letters said that she was ill and in great distress of mind. He
would have braved the King’s order of arrest and all the other threats,
but he could not stand the idea of his wife being in distress on his
account. So, with the greatest reluctance he said good-bye to his
plans, left his ship in the Spanish port, and crossed the border back
to France.

It looked as if this was to be the end of Lafayette’s gallant
adventure. The Baron de Kalb, very much disappointed, wrote to his
wife, “This is the end of his expedition to America to join the army of
the insurgents.”

It might have been the end with another man, but not with Lafayette. He
rode back to Bordeaux, and there found that much of the outcry raised
against him was due to the wiles of his obstinate father-in-law, the
Duke d’Ayen. It was true that the English Ambassador had protested to
King Louis’ ministers, but there was no real danger of Lafayette’s
sailing disturbing the relations between England and France. New letters
told Lafayette that his wife was well and happy, though she missed
him. The threats and the orders were due, not to the anger of his own
government, but to the determination of the Duke that his son-in-law
should not risk his life and fortune in such a rash enterprise.

When he learned all this the Marquis determined to match the obstinacy
of the Duke with an even greater obstinacy of his own. His first
thought was to join his ship the _Victory_ at once, but he had no
permit to cross into Spain, and if he should be caught disobeying the
King’s orders a second time he might get into more serious trouble.
His father-in-law was waiting to see him at Marseilles, and so he now
arranged to go to that city.

In Bordeaux Lafayette met a young French officer, named Du Mauroy, who
had also received from Silas Deane a commission in the American army,
and who was very anxious to reach the United States. The two made their
plans together, and the upshot of it was that they presently set out
together in a post-chaise for Marseilles.

They did not keep on the road to Marseilles long, however. No sooner
were they well out of Bordeaux than they changed their course and drove
in the direction of the Spanish border. In a quiet place on the road
Lafayette slipped out of the chaise and hid in the woods. There he
disguised himself as a post-boy or courier, and then rode on ahead, on
horseback, as if he were the servant of the gentleman in the carriage.

His companion, Du Mauroy, had a permit to leave France, and the plan
was that he should try to get the Marquis across the Spanish frontier
as his body-servant. The chaise went galloping along as fast as the
horses could pull it, because the young men had good reason to fear
that French officers would speedily be on their track, if they were
not already pursuing them. They came to a little village, St. Jean de
Luz, where Lafayette had stopped on his journey from Las Pasajes to
Bordeaux a short time before, and there, as the Marquis, disguised as
the post-boy, rode into the stable-yard of the inn the daughter of
the innkeeper recognized him as the same young man she had waited on

The girl gave a cry of surprise. “Oh, monsieur!” she exclaimed.

Lafayette put his finger to his lips in warning. “Yes, my girl,” he said
quickly. “Monsieur my patron wants fresh horses at once. He is coming
just behind me, and is riding post-haste to Spain.”

The girl understood. Perhaps she was used to odd things happening in a
village so close to the border of France and Spain, perhaps she liked
the young man and wanted to help him in his adventure. She called a
stable-boy and had him get the fresh horses that were needed, and when
the disguised Marquis and his friend were safely across the frontier and
some French officers came galloping up to the inn in pursuit of them
she told the latter that the post-chaise had driven off by the opposite
road to the one it had really taken.

At last, on April seventeenth, Lafayette reached the Spanish seaport of
Las Pasajes again and went on board of his sloop the _Victory_. After
six months of plotting and planning and all sorts of discouragements he
was actually free to sail for America, and on the twentieth of April,
1777, he gave the order to Captain Leboucier to hoist anchor and put out
to sea. On the deck of the _Victory_ with him stood De Kalb and about
twenty young Frenchmen, all, like their commander, eager to fight for
the cause of liberty. The shores of Spain dropped astern, and Lafayette
and his friends turned their eyes westward in the direction of the New

When news of Lafayette’s sailing reached Paris it caused the greatest
interest. Though the King and the older members of his court might
frown and shake their heads the younger people were frankly delighted.
Coffee-houses echoed with praise of the daring Lieutenant, and whenever
his name was mentioned in public it met with the loudest applause. In
the world of society opinions differed; most of the luxury-loving
nobility thought the adventure of the Marquis a wild-goose chase. The
Chevalier de Marais wrote to his mother, “All Paris is discussing
the adventure of a young courtier, the son-in-law of Noailles, who
has a pretty wife, two children, fifty thousand crowns a year,--in
fact, everything which can make life here agreeable and dear, but who
deserted all that a week ago to join the insurgents. His name is M. de

And the Chevalier’s mother answered from her château in the country,
“What new kind of folly is this, my dear child? What! the madness
of knight-errantry still exists! It has disciples! Go to help the
insurgents! I am delighted that you reassure me about yourself, for I
should tremble for you; but since you see that M. de Lafayette is a
madman, I am tranquil.”

A celebrated Frenchwoman, Madame du Deffand, wrote to the Englishman
Horace Walpole, “Of course it is a piece of folly, but it does him no
discredit. He receives more praise than blame.” And that was the opinion
of a large part of France. If a young man chose to do such a wild thing
as to become a knight-errant he might be criticized for his lack of
wisdom, but on the whole he was not to be condemned.

Meantime, as the _Victory_ was spreading her sails on the broad
Atlantic, Benjamin Franklin was writing to the American Congress. This
was what he said: “The Marquis de Lafayette, a young nobleman of great
family connections here and great wealth, is gone to America in a ship
of his own, accompanied by some officers of distinction, in order to
serve in our armies. He is exceedingly beloved, and everybody’s good
wishes attend him. We cannot but hope he may meet with such a reception
as will make the country and his expedition agreeable to him. Those who
censure it as imprudent in him, do, nevertheless, applaud his spirit;
and we are satisfied that the civilities and respect that may be shown
him will be serviceable to our affairs here, as pleasing not only to
his powerful relations and the court, but to the whole French nation.
He has left a beautiful young wife; and for her sake, particularly, we
hope that his bravery and ardent desire to distinguish himself will be
a little restrained by the General’s prudence, so as not to permit his
being hazarded much, except on some important occasion.”

The _Victory_ was not a very seaworthy ship. Lafayette had been swindled
by the men who had sold the sloop to his agent; she was a very slow
craft, and was poorly furnished and scantily armed. Her two small cannon
and small stock of muskets would have been a poor defense in case she
had been attacked by any of the pirates who swarmed on the high seas in
those days or by the English cruisers who were looking for ships laden
with supplies for America.

In addition to the defects of his ship Lafayette soon found he had other
obstacles to cope with. He discovered that the captain of the _Victory_
considered himself a much more important person than the owner and meant
to follow his own course.

The papers with which the ship had sailed from Spain declared that her
destination was the West Indies. But ships often sailed for other ports
than those they were supposed to, and Lafayette wanted to reach the
United States as quickly as he could. He went to the captain and said,
“You will please make your course as direct as possible for Charlestown
in the Carolinas.”

“The Carolinas, sir!” exclaimed the captain. “Why, I cannot do that. The
ship’s papers are made out for the West Indies and will only protect us
if we sail for a port there. I intend to sail for the West Indies, and
you will have to get transportation across to the colonies from there.”

Lafayette was amazed. “This ship is mine,” he declared, “and I direct
you to sail to Charlestown.”

But the captain was obstinate. “I am the master of this ship, sir,”
said he, “and responsible for its safety. If we should be caught by an
English cruiser and she finds that we are headed for North America with
arms and supplies, we shall be made prisoners, and lose our ship, our
cargo, and perhaps our lives. I intend to follow my sailing-papers and
steer for the West Indies.”

No one could be more determined than Lafayette, however. “You may
be master of the _Victory_, Captain Leboucier,” said he, “but I am
her owner and my decision is final. You will sail at once and by the
directest course for the port of Charlestown in the Carolinas or I shall
deprive you instantly of your command and place the mate in charge of
the ship. I have enough men here to meet any resistance on your part. So
make your decision immediately.”

The captain in his turn was surprised. The young owner was very positive
and evidently not to be cajoled or threatened. So Leboucier complained
and blustered and argued a little, and finally admitted that it was
not so much the ship’s papers as her cargo that he was troubled about.
He owned that he had considerable interest in that cargo, for he had
smuggled eight or nine thousand dollars’ worth of goods on board the
_Victory_ and wanted to sell them in the West Indies and so make an
extra profit on the side for himself. The real reason why he didn’t want
to be caught by an English cruiser was the danger of losing his smuggled

“Then why didn’t you say so at first?” Lafayette demanded. “I would
have been willing to help you out, of course. Sail for the port of
Charlestown in the Carolinas; and if we are captured, searched, robbed,
or destroyed by any English cruisers or privateers I will see that you
don’t lose a sou. I will promise to make any loss good.”

That satisfied Captain Leboucier. As long as his goods were safe he had
no hesitation on the score of danger to the ship, and so he immediately
laid his course for the coast of the Carolinas. Lafayette, however,
realizing that the _Victory_ might be overtaken by enemy warships,
arranged with one of his men, Captain de Bedaulx, that in case of attack
and capture the latter should blow up the ship rather than surrender.
With this matter arranged the Marquis went to his cabin and stayed there
for two weeks, as seasick as one could be.

The voyage across the Atlantic in those days was a long and tedious
affair. It took seven weeks, and after Lafayette had recovered from his
seasickness he had plenty of time to think of the hazards of his new
venture and of the family he had left at home. He was devoted to his
family, and as the _Victory_ kept on her westward course he wrote long
letters to his wife, planning to send them back to France by different
ships, so that if one was captured another might carry his message to
Adrienne safely to her. In one letter he wrote, “Oh, if you knew what I
have suffered, what weary days I have passed thus flying from everything
that I love best in the world!” And then, in order to make his wife less
fearful of possible dangers that might beset him, he said, “The post of
major-general has always been a warrant of long life. It is so different
from the service I should have had in France, as colonel, for instance.
With my present rank I shall only have to attend councils of war.... As
soon as I land I shall be in perfect safety.”

But this boy, nineteen years old, though he called himself a
major-general, was not to be content with attending councils of war
and keeping out of danger, as later events were to show. He was far
too eager and impetuous for that, too truly a son of the wild Auvergne

And he showed that he knew that himself, for later in the same letter
to Adrienne he compared his present journey with what his father-in-law
would have tried to make him do had Lafayette met the Duke d’Ayen at
Marseilles. “Consider the difference between my occupation and my
present life,” he wrote, “and what they would have been if I had gone
upon that useless journey. As the defender of that liberty which I
adore; free, myself, more than any one; coming, as a friend, to offer
my services to this most interesting republic, I bring with me nothing
but my own free heart and my own good-will,--no ambition to fulfil and
no selfish interest to serve. If I am striving for my own glory, I am at
the same time laboring for the welfare of the American republic. I trust
that, for my sake, you will become a good American. It is a sentiment
made for virtuous hearts. The happiness of America is intimately
connected with the happiness of all mankind; she is destined to become
the safe and worthy asylum of virtue, integrity, tolerance, equality,
and peaceful liberty.”

This, from a boy not yet twenty years old, showed the prophetic instinct
that burned like a clear flame in the soul of Lafayette.

He knew very little of the English tongue, but that was the language of
the people he was going to help, and so on shipboard he set himself to
study it. “I am making progress with that language,” he wrote to his
wife. “It will soon become most necessary to me.”

The North Atlantic was stormy, the _Victory_ met with head winds, and
through April and May she floundered on, her passengers eagerly scanning
the horizon for a sight of land. On the seventh of June the Marquis
wrote in a letter to Adrienne, “I am still out on this dreary plain,
which is beyond comparison the most dismal place that one can be in....
We have had small alarms from time to time, but with a little care, and
reasonably good fortune, I hope to get through without serious accident,
and I shall be all the more pleased, because I am learning every day to
be extremely prudent.”

Then, on a June day, the _Victory_ suddenly became all excitement. The
lookout reported to Captain Leboucier that a strange vessel was bearing
down in their direction.

Leboucier instantly crowded on sail and tried to run from the strange
ship. But the _Victory_ was not built for fast sailing, and it was soon
clear that the stranger would quickly overhaul her.

“It’s an English man-of-war!” was the message that ran from lip to
lip. In that case the only choice would be between resistance and
surrender. Leboucier looked doubtful as to the wisest course to pursue,
but Lafayette and his companions made ready to fight. The two old cannon
were loaded, the muskets distributed, and the crew ordered to their

The stranger drew nearer and nearer, sailing fast, and the _Victory_
floundered along in desperation. Lafayette and De Bedaulx stood at the
bow of the sloop, their eyes fixed on the rapidly-gaining pursuer. Then,
just as escape appeared utterly out of the question, the oncoming ship
went about, and as she turned she broke out from her peak a flag of
red, white and blue, the stars and stripes of the new United States of
America. A wild cheer greeted that flag, and the colors of France were
run up to the peak of the _Victory_ in joyful greeting to the flag of
Lafayette’s ally.

The _Victory_ headed about and tried to keep up with the fleet American
privateer, but in a very short time two other sails appeared on the
horizon. The American ship ran up a danger signal, declaring these new
vessels to be English cruisers, scouting along the coast on the watch
for privateers and blockade runners. Having given that information the
American ship signaled “good-bye,” and drew away from the enemy on a
favoring tack.

The _Victory_ could not draw away so easily, however, and it was clear
that her two cannon would be little use against two well-armed English
cruisers. In this new predicament luck came to the aid of the little
sloop. The wind shifted and blew strongly from the north. This would
send the _Victory_ nearer to the port of Charlestown, the outlines of
which now began to appear on the horizon, and would also be a head wind
for the pursuing cruisers. Captain Leboucier decided to take advantage
of the shift in the wind, and instead of heading for Charlestown run
into Georgetown Bay, which opened into the coast of the Carolinas almost
straight in front of him.

Fortune again favored him, for, although he knew very little of that
coast, and nothing of these particular shoals and channels, he found
the opening of the South Inlet of Georgetown Bay and sailed his ship
into that sheltered roadstead. The English vessels, working against the
north wind, soon were lost to sight. On the afternoon of June 13, 1777,
Lafayette’s little sloop ran past the inlet and up to North Island, one
of the low sand-pits that are a fringe along the indented shore of South

The long sea-voyage was over, and Lafayette looked at last at the coast
of the country he had come to help.



The _Victory_ had anchored off North Island, a stretch of sand on the
South Carolina coast, but neither the captain nor the owner nor the
crew of the sloop knew much more about their location than that it was
somewhere in North America. Charlestown they believed was the nearest
port of any size, but it might be difficult to navigate through these
shoal waters without a pilot who knew the channels. So Lafayette
suggested to Baron de Kalb that they should land in one of the sloop’s
boats and see if they could get information or assistance.

Early in the afternoon Lafayette, De Kalb, and a few of the other
officers were rowed ashore in the _Victory’s_ yawl. But the shore was
merely a sand-flat, with no sign of human habitation. They put out again
and rowed farther up the bay, keeping a sharp lookout for any house or
farm. They found plenty of little creeks and islands, but the shores
were simply waste stretches of sand and scrub-bushes and woods. The
mainland appeared as deserted as though it had been a desert island far
out in the sea.

All afternoon they rowed about, poking the yawl’s nose first into one
creek and then into another, and nightfall found them still exploring
the North Inlet. Then, when they had about decided that it was too
dark to row further and that they had better return to the sloop, they
suddenly saw a lighted torch on the shore. Heading for this they found
some negroes dragging for oysters. Baron de Kalb, who knew more English
than the others, called out and asked if there was good anchorage for
a ship thereabouts and whether he could find a pilot to take them to

The negroes, very much surprised at the sudden appearance of the yawl,
thought the men on board might be Englishmen or Hessians, and instantly
grew suspicious. One of them answered, “We belong to Major Huger, all of
us belongs to him. He’s our master.”

“Is he an officer in the American army?” De Kalb called back.

The negro said that he was, and added that there was a pilot on the
upper end of North Island, and then volunteered to show the men in the
yawl where the pilot lived and also to take them to the house of the

Lafayette thought it would be best to find Major Huger at once; but the
tide was falling fast, and when the rowers, unused to these shoals,
tried to follow the negroes in the oyster-boat, they discovered that
they were in danger of beaching their yawl. The only alternative was for
some of them to go in the oyster-boat, and so Lafayette and De Kalb and
one other joined the negroes, while the crew of the yawl rowed back to
the _Victory_.

Over more shallows, up more inlets the negroes steered their craft, and
about midnight they pointed out a light shining from a house on the
shore. “That’s Major Huger’s,” said the guide, and he ran his boat up to
a landing-stage. The three officers stepped out, putting their feet on
American soil for the first time on this almost deserted coast and under
the guidance of stray negro oystermen.

But this desolate shore had already been the landing-place of English
privateersmen, and the people who lived in the neighborhood were always
in fear of attack. As Lafayette and his two friends went up toward the
house the loud barking of dogs suddenly broke the silence. And as they
came up to the dwelling a window was thrown open and a man called out,
“Who goes there? Stop where you are or I’ll fire!”

“We are friends, sir; friends only,” De Kalb hurriedly answered. “We are
French officers who have just landed from our ship, which has come into
your waters. We have come to fight for America and we are looking for a
pilot to steer our ship to a safe anchorage and are also hunting shelter
for ourselves.”

No sooner had the master of the house heard this than he turned and gave
some orders. Lights shone out from the windows, and almost immediately
the front door was unbarred and thrown open. The owner stood in the
doorway, his hands stretched out in greeting, and back of him were a
number of negro servants with candles.

“Indeed, sirs, I am very proud to welcome you!” he said; and then
stopped an instant to call to the dogs to stop their barking. “I am
Major Huger of the American army, Major Benjamin Huger, and this is my
house on the shore where we camp out in the summer. Please come in,
gentlemen. My house and everything in it is at the service of the brave
and generous Frenchmen who come to fight for our liberties.”

There was no doubt of the warmth of the strangers’ welcome. The Major
caught De Kalb’s hand and shook it strenuously, while his small son, who
had slipped into his clothes and hurried down-stairs to see what all the
noise was about, seized Lafayette by the arm and tried to pull him into
the lighted hall.

“You are most kind, Major Huger,” said De Kalb. “Let me introduce my
friends. This gentleman is the leader of our expedition, the Seigneur
Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette; this is Monsieur Price of
Sauveterre, and I am Johann Kalb.”

“He is the Baron de Kalb, monsieur,” put in Lafayette. “A brigadier
in the army of the King of France and aid to the Marshal the Count de

Major Huger had heard of the Marquis de Lafayette, for already news
of the Frenchman’s determination to fight for the young republic had
crossed the Atlantic. He caught Lafayette by both hands. “The Marquis
de Lafayette!” he cried. “My house is indeed honored by your presence!
We have all heard of you. You have only to command me, sir, and I
will do your bidding. I will look after your ship and your pilot. But
to-night you must stay here as my guests, and to-morrow I will see to
everything. This is my son, Francis Kinloch Huger. Now please come into
my dining-room, gentlemen, and let me offer you some refreshment.”

Small Francis, still holding Lafayette’s hand, drew the Marquis in at
the door. The three guests, delighted at their welcome, went to the
dining-room, and there toasts were drunk to the success of the cause of
liberty. America was not so inhospitable to the weary travelers after
all, and with the glow of the Major’s welcome warming them, Lafayette
and his two friends went to their rooms and slept in real beds for the
first time in many weeks.

Lafayette naturally was delighted at safely reaching his haven, and, as
he put it in his own words, “retired to rest rejoiced that he had at
last attained the haven of his wishes and was safely landed in America
beyond the reach of his pursuers.” Weary from his long voyage on the
_Victory_, he slept soundly, and woke full of enthusiasm for this
new country, which was to be like a foster-mother to him. “The next
morning,” he wrote, “was beautiful. The novelty of everything around me,
the room, the bed with its mosquito curtains, the black servants who
came to ask my wishes, the beauty and strange appearance of the country
as I could see it from my window clothed in luxuriant verdure,--all
conspired to produce upon me an effect like magic and to impress me with
indescribable sensations.”

Major Huger had already sent a pilot to the _Victory_ and had done
everything he could to assist Lafayette’s companions. All the Major’s
family were so kind and hospitable that they instantly won Lafayette’s
heart. He judged that all Americans would be like them, and wrote to his
wife, “the manners of this people are simple, honest, and dignified.
The wish to oblige, the love of country, and freedom reign here together
in sweet equality. All citizens are brothers. They belong to a country
where every cranny resounds with the lovely name of Liberty. My sympathy
with them makes me feel as if I had been here for twenty years.” It was
well for him that his first reception in America was so pleasant and
that he remembered it with such delight, for he was later to find that
some Americans were not so cordial toward him.

If he was delighted with the Hugers, the Major and his son Francis were
equally delighted with the young Frenchman. And, strangely enough, the
little boy Francis, who had seized Lafayette’s hand on that June night
in 1777, was later to try to rescue his hero from a prison in Europe.

The Marquis and his friends thought they had had quite enough of life
on shipboard for the present, and so decided to go to Charlestown over
the country roads. The pilot that had been furnished by Major Huger came
back with word that there was not sufficient water for the _Victory_ to
stay in Georgetown Bay, and Lafayette ordered the ship, in charge of
the pilot, to sail to Charlestown. Meantime he and his companions, with
horses of the Major’s, rode to that seaport. As soon as he arrived there
he heard that there were a number of English cruisers on that part of
the coast, and so he at once sent word to Captain Leboucier to beach the
_Victory_ and burn her, rather than let her be captured by the cruisers.

The _Victory_, however, sailed safely into Charlestown without sighting
a hostile sail, and the captain unloaded Lafayette’s supplies and his
own private cargo. Later the sloop was loaded with rice and set sail
again, but was wrecked on a bar and became a total loss.

No welcome could have been warmer than that Lafayette received in
Charlestown. A dinner was given him, where the French officers met the
American generals Gulden, Howe, and Moultrie. All houses were thrown
open to him, and he was taken to inspect the fortifications and driven
through the beautiful country in the neighborhood. How pleased he was he
showed in a letter to Adrienne. “The city of Charlestown,” he wrote,
“is one of the prettiest and the best built that I have ever seen, and
its inhabitants are most agreeable. The American women are very pretty,
very unaffected, and exhibit a charming neatness,--a quality which is
most studiously cultivated here, much more even than in England. What
enchants me here is that all the citizens are brethren. There are no
poor people in America, nor even what we call peasants. All the citizens
have a moderate property, and all have the same rights as the most
powerful proprietor. The inns are very different from those of Europe:
the innkeeper and his wife sit at table with you, do the honors of a
good repast, and on leaving, you pay without haggling. When you do not
choose to go to an inn, you can find country houses where it is enough
to be a good American to be received with such attentions as in Europe
would be paid to friends.”

That certainly speaks well for the hospitality of South Carolina!

He did not mean to tell his plans, however, until he should reach
Philadelphia, where the Congress of the United States was sitting.
“I have every reason to feel highly gratified at my reception in
Charlestown,” he wrote, “but I have not yet explained my plans to any
one. I judge it best to wait until I have presented myself to the
Congress before making a statement as to the projects I have in view.”

He had only one difficulty in the seaport town. When he started to sell
the _Victory_ and her cargo he found that the men who had sold him the
ship and Captain Leboucier had so entangled him with agreements and
commissions, all of which he had signed without properly reading in his
haste to sail from Bordeaux, that, instead of receiving any money, he
was actually in debt. To pay this off and get the needed funds to take
his companions and himself to Philadelphia he had to borrow money, but
fortunately there were plenty of people in Charlestown who were ready to
help him out of that difficulty.

With the money borrowed from these well-disposed people Lafayette bought
horses and carriages to take his party over the nine hundred miles
that lay between Charlestown and Philadelphia. On June twenty-fifth
the expedition started. In front rode a French officer dressed in
the uniform of a hussar. Next came a heavy open carriage, in which
sat Lafayette and De Kalb, and close behind it rode Lafayette’s
body-servant. Then there followed a chaise with two colonels, the
counselors of the Marquis, another chaise with more French officers,
still another with the baggage, and finally, as rear-guard, a negro on

The country roads were frightful for travel; indeed for much of the
way they could scarcely be called roads at all, being simply primitive
clearings through the woods. The guide kept losing his way, and the
carriages bumped along over roots and logs in a hot, blistering sun. As
far as this particular journey went, the Frenchmen must have thought
that travel was very much easier in their own country. One accident
followed another; within four days the chaises had been jolted into
splinters and the horses had gone lame. The travelers had to buy other
wagons and horses, and to lighten their outfit kept leaving part of
their baggage on the way. Sometimes they had to walk, often they
went hungry, and many a night they slept in the woods. They began to
appreciate that this new country, land of liberty though it was, had
many disadvantages when it came to the matter of travel.

From Petersburg in Virginia Lafayette wrote to Adrienne. “You have
heard,” said he, “how brilliantly I started out in a carriage. I have to
inform you that we are now on horseback after having broken the wagons
in my usual praiseworthy fashion, and I expect to write you before long
that we have reached our destination on foot.”

Yet, in spite of all these discomforts, the Marquis was able to enjoy
much of the journey. He studied the language of the people he met, he
admired the beautiful rivers and the great forests, and he kept pointing
out to his companions how much better the farmers here lived than the
peasants of his own country. At least there was plenty of land for every
one and no grasping overlords to take all the profits.

The journey lasted a month. The party paid a visit to Governor Caswell
in North Carolina and stopped at Petersburg and Annapolis, where
Lafayette met Major Brice, who later became his aide-de-camp. On July
twenty-seventh the travel-worn party reached Philadelphia, which was
then the capital of the United States.

The outlook for the Americans was gloomy enough then. New York was in
the hands of the enemy, Burgoyne’s army had captured Ticonderoga and was
threatening to separate New England from the rest of the country, and
Howe was preparing to attack Philadelphia with a much larger army than
Washington could bring against him. It would have seemed just the time
when any help from abroad should have been doubly welcome, and yet as a
matter of fact the Congress was not so very enthusiastic about it.

The reason for this was that already a great number of adventurers
had come to America from the different countries of Europe and asked
for high commands in the American army. Many of them were soldiers of
considerable experience, and they all thought that they would make much
better officers than the ill-trained men of the new republic. Some of
them also quickly showed that they were eager for money, and one and all
insisted on trying to tell Congress exactly what it ought to do. Quite
naturally the Americans preferred to manage affairs in their own way.

George Washington had already sent a protest to Congress. “Their
ignorance of our language and their inability to recruit men,” he
said, “are insurmountable obstacles to their being ingrafted into our
continental battalions; for our officers, who have raised their men,
and have served through the war upon pay that has hitherto not borne
their expenses, would be disgusted if foreigners were put over their
heads; and I assure you, few or none of these gentlemen look lower than
field-officers’ commissions. To give them all brevets, by which they
have rank, and draw pay without doing any service, is saddling the
continent with vast expense; and to form them into corps would be only
establishing corps of officers; for, as I have said before, they cannot
possibly raise any men.”

It was true that Silas Deane had been instructed to offer commissions
to a few French officers, whose experience might help the Americans,
but he had scattered commissions broadcast, and some of these men had
proved of little use. One of them, Du Coudray, had arrived and insisted
on commanding the artillery with the rank of major-general, and had
aroused so much opposition that Generals Greene, Sullivan, and Knox had
threatened to resign if his demands were granted. Congress was therefore
beginning to look askance at many of the men who bore Silas Deane’s

That was the state of affairs when Lafayette, confident of a warm
welcome, reached Philadelphia and presented himself and his friends
to John Hancock, the president of Congress. Hancock may have received
letters concerning the young Frenchman from Deane and Benjamin Franklin
in Paris, but, if he had, he had paid little attention to them, and
was inclined to regard this young man of nineteen as simply another
adventurer from Europe. With a scant word of welcome Hancock referred
Lafayette to Gouverneur Morris, who, he said, “had such matters in

The Frenchmen went to see Morris, but to him also they appeared only a
new addition to the many adventurers already hanging about, looking for
high commands. He put off dealing with Lafayette and De Kalb. “Meet me
to-morrow at the door of Congress, gentlemen,” said he. “I will look
over your papers in the meantime and will see what I can do for you.”

The two new arrivals kept the appointment promptly, but Morris was not
on hand. After they had cooled their heels for some time he appeared,
bringing with him Mr. Lovell, the chairman of the Committee on Foreign
Affairs. “Matters that concern France are in Mr. Lovell’s charge,” said
Morris. “Please deal with him after this.”

Lovell bowed to the strangers. “I understand, gentlemen,” said he, “that
you have authority from Mr. Deane?”

“Certainly, sir,” De Kalb answered. “Our papers and agreements show

Lovell frowned. “This is very annoying,” said he. “We authorized Mr.
Deane to send us four French engineers, but instead he has sent us a
number of engineers who are no engineers and some artillerists who
have never seen service. Mr. Franklin, however, has sent us the four
engineers we wanted. There is nothing for you to do here, gentlemen. We
needed a few experienced officers last year, but now we have plenty, and
can promise no more positions. I must bid you good-morning.”

Here was a dashing blow to all their eager wishes. Surprise and
disappointment showed in their faces.

“But, sir,” began De Kalb, “Mr. Deane promised----”

“Well, Mr. Deane has exceeded his authority,” declared Lovell. “He has
promised too much and we cannot recognize his authority. We haven’t
even a colonel’s commission to give to any foreign officers, to say
nothing of a major-general’s. The Congress is very much annoyed by
these constant demands, and General Washington says he won’t be
disturbed by any more requests. I am sorry to disappoint you, but under
the circumstances I can promise you nothing. Again I must bid you

Lovell returned to Congress, leaving the Frenchmen much discomfited.
De Kalb began to storm, and finally spoke angrily of the way they had
been treated by Deane. “It is not to be borne!” he cried. “I will take
action against Deane! I will have damages for this indignity he has put
upon us!”

Fortunately Lafayette was more even-tempered. In spite of this rebuff
at the outset he meant to achieve his goal. He turned to the angry De
Kalb and laid his hand restrainingly on the latter’s arm. “Let us not
talk of damages, my friend,” he said. “It is more important for us to
talk of doing. It is true that Congress didn’t ask us to leave our
homes and cross the sea to lead its army. But I will not go back now.
If the Congress will not accept me as a major-general, I will fight for
American liberty as a volunteer!”



Lafayette, standing outside the door of the American Congress in
Philadelphia, refused the commission in the American army that had been
promised him by Silas Deane, spoke these words of encouragement to his
disappointed and indignant friends who had crossed with him from France.
“If the Congress will not accept me as a major-general, I will fight
for American liberty as a volunteer!” he said; and, having come to this
decision, he immediately proceeded to put it into effect. He went to his
lodgings and wrote a letter to John Hancock, president of Congress.

Lafayette’s letter explained the reasons why he had come to the United
States and recounted the many difficulties he had had to overcome. He
stated that he thought that the promise he had received from Silas
Deane, the approval of Benjamin Franklin, and the sacrifices he had
himself made ought to lead Congress to give a friendly hearing to his
request. He said that he understood how Congress had been besieged by
foreign officers seeking high rank in the army, but added that he only
asked two favors. These were, in his own words, “First, that I serve
without pay and at my own expense; and, the other, that I be allowed to
serve at first as a volunteer.”

This letter was a great surprise to John Hancock and the other leaders
of Congress. Here was a young French officer of family and wealth who
was so deeply interested in their cause that he was eager to serve as
an unpaid volunteer! He was a different type from the others who had
come begging for favors. Hancock looked up the letter that Franklin
had written about the Marquis, and read, “Those who censure him as
imprudent do nevertheless applaud his spirit, and we are satisfied that
the civilities and respect that may be shown him will be serviceable to
our affairs here, as pleasing not only to his powerful relations and to
the court, but to the whole French nation.”

Hancock was impressed; perhaps they had made a mistake in treating
this Marquis de Lafayette in such cavalier fashion. So he sent another
member of Congress to see the young Frenchman and instructed him
to treat Lafayette with the greatest courtesy. And the result of
this interview was that Hancock’s emissary was quickly convinced of
Lafayette’s absolute honesty of purpose and intense desire to help the
United States.

Having reached this conclusion Hancock decided to make amends and do the
honorable thing, and so, on July 31, 1777, Congress passed the following
resolution: “Whereas, the Marquis de Lafayette, out of his great zeal
to the cause of liberty, in which the United States are engaged, has
left his family and connections, and, at his own expense, come over to
offer his services to the United States, without pension or particular
allowance, and is anxious to risk his life in our cause, therefore,
Resolved, that his services be accepted, and that, in consideration of
his zeal, illustrious family, and connections, he have the rank and
commission of major-general in the army of the United States.”

How fortunate it was that Lafayette had not been daunted at the outset,
or discouraged as De Kalb and his companions had been! His great dream
had come true as a result of perseverance; he had been welcomed by
Congress, and was, at nineteen, a major-general in the army of liberty!

But he did not forget those companions who had crossed the sea with the
same desires as his own. In the letter he wrote to Congress, penned
in his own quaint English,--a letter now in the State Department at
Washington,--after thanking “the Honorable mr. Hancok,” as he spelled
it, and expressing his gratitude to Congress, he said, “it is now
as an american that I’l mention every day to congress the officers
who came over with me, whose interests are for me as my own, and the
consideration which they deserve by their merit, their ranks, their
state and reputation in france.”

He was unable, however, to do much for these friends, though one of them
said, “He did everything that was possible for our appointment, but in
vain, for he had no influence. But if he had his way, De Kalb would have
been major-general and we should all have had places.”

Congress felt that it could not give them all commissions. Captain de
Bedaulx, who was a veteran officer, was made a captain in the American
army, one other was engaged as a draughtsman and engineer, and Lafayette
kept two as his own aides-de-camp. Most of the others were sent back
to France, their expenses being paid by Congress. As for De Kalb, he
had given up his plans for high rank and preferment and was on his way
to take passage on a ship for Europe when a messenger reached him with
word that Congress, voting for one more major-general in the army, had
elected him.

Lafayette, in his letter to Hancock, had said that he wished to serve
“near the person of General Washington till such time as he may think
proper to entrust me with a division of the army.” Events soon gave him
the chance to meet the commander-in-chief. The arrival of Howe’s fleet
at the mouth of the Delaware River seemed to threaten Philadelphia,
and Washington left his camp in New Jersey to consult with Congress.
Lafayette was invited to a dinner in Philadelphia to meet the
commander-in-chief, and accepted eagerly. The Frenchman was greatly
impressed. “Although General Washington was surrounded by officers and
private citizens,” he wrote, “the majesty of his countenance and of
his figure made it impossible not to recognize him; he was especially
distinguished also by the affability of his manners and the dignity with
which he addressed those about him.”

Washington had already heard of Lafayette and found a chance for a long
talk with him. On his part he was at once strongly attracted by the
young Marquis. “You have made the greatest sacrifices for our cause,
sir,” Washington said, “and your evident zeal and generosity interest
me deeply. I shall do my part toward making you one of us. I shall be
greatly pleased to have you join my staff as a volunteer aid, and beg
you to make my headquarters your home, until events place you elsewhere.
I beg you to consider yourself at all times as one of my military
family, and I shall be glad to welcome you at the camp as speedily
as you think proper. Of course I cannot promise you the luxuries of
a court, but, as you have now become an American soldier, you will
doubtless accommodate yourself to the fare of an American army, and
submit with a good grace to its customs, manners, and privations.”

The next day Washington invited Lafayette to accompany him on a tour of
inspection of the fortifications about Philadelphia.

The General liked the Marquis, but was not quite certain how the latter
could best be employed. He wrote to Benjamin Harrison, who was a member
of Congress, “As I understand the Marquis de Lafayette, it is certain
that he does not conceive that his commission is merely honorary, but
is given with a view to command a division of this army. It is true he
has said that he is young and inexperienced; but at the same time he
has always accompanied it with a hint that, so soon as I shall think
him fit for the command of a division, he shall be ready to enter upon
his duties, and in the meantime has offered his services for a smaller
command. What the designs of Congress respecting this gentleman were,
and what line of conduct I am to pursue to comply with their design and
his expectations--I know not and beg to be instructed.... Let me beseech
you, my good sir, to give me the sentiments of Congress on this matter,
that I may endeavor, as far as it is in my power, to comply with them.”

Mr. Harrison answered that Congress intended Lafayette’s appointment to
be regarded merely as an honorary one, and that the commander-in-chief
was to use his own judgment concerning him.

In the meantime Lafayette set out from Philadelphia to join
Washington’s army. That army, early in August, had begun its march
eastward, hoping to cut off any British move about New York; but the
appearance of the British fleet off the Delaware had brought them to a
halt, and Washington ordered them into camp near the present village of
Hartsville, on the old York Road leading out of Philadelphia. Here, on
August twenty-first, Lafayette joined the army, just as the commander,
with Generals Stirling, Greene, and Knox, was about to review the

It was indeed a sorry-looking army, according to the standards of
Europe. There were about eleven thousand men, poorly armed and
wretchedly clad. Their clothes were old and ragged, hardly any two suits
alike, and the men knew little enough about military tactics. Courage
and resolution had to take the place of science; but there was no lack
of either bravery or determination. Yet some of the foreign officers
who had seen the American army had spoken very slightingly of it, and
Washington said to Lafayette, “It is somewhat embarrassing to us to show
ourselves to an officer who has just come from the army of France.”

Lafayette, always tactful, always sympathetic, smiled. “I am here to
learn and not to teach, Your Excellency,” he answered.

A council of war followed the review, and the commander asked the
Marquis to attend it. The council decided that if the British were
planning to invade the Carolinas it was unwise to attempt to follow them
south, and that the army had better try to recapture New York. But at
that very moment a messenger brought word that the British fleet had
sailed into Chesapeake Bay, and, hearing this, Washington concluded to
march his army to the south of Philadelphia and prepare to defend that

Ragged and out-at-elbows as the small American army was, it marched
proudly through the streets of Philadelphia. With sprigs of green
branches in their hats the soldiers stepped along to the tune of fife
and drum, presenting, at least in the eyes of the townspeople, a very
gallant appearance. Lafayette rode by the side of Washington, glad that
the opportunity had come for him to be of service.

Very soon he had a chance to share danger with his commander. When the
troops arrived on the heights of Wilmington, Washington, with Lafayette
and Greene, made a reconnaissance, and, being caught by a storm and
darkness, was obliged to spend the night so near to the British lines
that he might easily have been discovered by a scout or betrayed into
the hands of the enemy.

Meantime General Howe and Lord Cornwallis had landed eighteen thousand
veteran troops near what is now Elkton in Maryland, and was advancing
toward Philadelphia. To defend the city Washington drew up his forces on
September ninth at Chadd’s Ford on the Brandywine. One column of Howe’s
army marched to this place and on September eleventh succeeded in
driving across the river to the American camp. The other column, under
command of Cornwallis, made a long détour through the thickly wooded
country, and bore down on the right and rear of Washington’s army,
threatening its total destruction.

The American commander at once sent General Sullivan, with five thousand
men, to meet this force on the right. Realizing that most of the
fighting would be done there, Lafayette asked and was given permission
to join General Sullivan. Riding up as a volunteer aid, he found the
half-formed wings of the American army attacked by the full force under
Cornwallis. The Americans had to fall back, two of General Sullivan’s
aids were killed, and a disorderly retreat began. Lafayette leaped from
his horse, and, sword in hand, called on the soldiers to make a stand.

He checked the retreat for a few moments; other troops came up, and the
Americans offered gallant resistance. Lafayette was shot through the
calf of the leg, but, apparently unconscious of the wound, continued
to encourage his men. Then Cornwallis’s brigades swept forward again,
and Sullivan’s troops had to give ground before the greater numbers. The
battle became a general rout. Gimat, Lafayette’s aid, saw that the young
man was wounded, and helped him to mount his horse. The wounded man then
tried to rejoin Washington, but soon after he had to stop to have his
leg bandaged.

The first British column had driven the American troops from Chadd’s
Ford, and the latter, together with Sullivan’s men, fell back along
the road to Chester. Washington attempted to cover the retreat with
rear-guard fighting, but night found him pursued by both divisions of
the enemy. In the retreat Lafayette came to a bridge, and made a stand
until Washington and his aids reached him. Then together they rode on
to Chester, and there the Frenchman’s wound was properly dressed by a

The battle had been in one sense a defeat for the Americans, but it had
shown General Howe the fine fighting quality of Washington’s men, and
the American commander had been able to save the bulk of his army, when
Howe had expected to capture it entire. Today a little monument stands
on a ridge near the Quaker meeting-house outside Chadd’s Ford, erected,
so the inscription says, “by the citizens and school children of Chester
County,” because, “on the rising ground a short distance south of this
spot, Lafayette was wounded at the Battle of Brandywine, September 11,
1777.” And the monument also bears these words of Lafayette: “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

The battle-field of the Brandywine was only about twenty-six miles from
Philadelphia, and the cannonade had been clearly heard in the city. The
word the couriers brought filled the people with alarm; many citizens
began to fly from the city and Congress took its departure, to meet at
the town of York, one hundred miles to the west. The Americans wounded
at the Brandywine were sent to Philadelphia, and Lafayette was conveyed
there by water. From that city he was sent up the Delaware River to
Bristol. There he met Henry Laurens, who had succeeded John Hancock as
the president of Congress, and Laurens, being on his way to York, took
Lafayette with him in his own carriage to the Old Sun Inn at Bethlehem,
the quiet home of a people called the Moravians, fifty miles to the
north of Philadelphia. In later times Henry Laurens, by one of those
strange turns of the wheel of fate, became a prisoner in the Tower of
London, and Madame de Lafayette repaid his kindness to her husband by
seeking the aid of the French government to secure his release.

There could have been no better place for a wounded man to recover his
strength than in the peaceful little Moravian community at Bethlehem.
For six weeks he stayed there, and the people tended him like one of
themselves. He could not use his leg, but he spent part of his enforced
idleness drawing up plans for the invasion of the British colonies in
the West Indies. He also wrote long letters to his wife in France. “Be
entirely free from anxiety as to my wound,” he said in one of these,
“for all the doctors in America are aroused in my behalf. I have a
friend who has spoken for me in a way to ensure my being well taken care
of; and that is General Washington. That estimable man, whose talents
and whose virtues I admired before, whom I venerate the more now as I
learn to know him, has been kind enough to me to become my intimate
friend. His tender interest in me quickly won my heart.... When he sent
his surgeon-in-chief to me, he directed him to care for me as I were his
son, because he loved me so much; and having learned that I wanted to
join the army too soon again, he wrote me a letter full of tenderness in
which he admonished me to wait until I should be entirely well.”

Wonderful it was that Washington, beset and harassed with all the
burdens of a commander-in-chief, could yet find the time to pay so much
attention to his wounded French aid!

Lafayette knew well that matters looked dark then for the American
republic. In another letter to Adrienne he said, “Now that you are
the wife of an American general officer, I must give you a lesson.
People will say, ‘They have been beaten.’ You must answer, ‘It is
true, but with two armies equal in number, and on level ground, old
soldiers always have an advantage over new ones; besides, the Americans
inflicted a greater loss than they sustained.’ Then, people will add,
‘That’s all very well; but Philadelphia, the capital of America, the
highroad of liberty, is taken.’ You will reply politely, ‘You are fools!
Philadelphia is a poor city, open on every side, of which the port was
already closed. The presence of Congress made it famous, I know not why;
that’s what this famous city amounts to, which, by the way, we shall
retake sooner or later.’ If they continue to ply you with questions,
send them about their business in terms that the Vicomte de Noailles
will supply you with.”

It was true that General Howe had taken Philadelphia while Lafayette
had to nurse his wounded leg at Bethlehem. It was not until the latter
part of October that the Marquis was able to rejoin the army, and then
his wound had not sufficiently healed to allow him to wear a boot. The
battle of Germantown, by which Washington hoped to dislodge the British
from Philadelphia, had been fought, and the year’s campaign was about to
close. Two battles had been lost by the Americans in the south, but in
the north the British general Burgoyne had been obliged to surrender.
Washington’s headquarters were now at Methacton Hill, near the
Schuylkill River, and there Lafayette went, hoping for active service.

His chance for service came soon. Cornwallis had entered New Jersey
with five thousand men, and General Greene was sent to oppose him
with an equal number. Lafayette joined Greene as a volunteer, and at
Mount Holly he was ordered to reconnoitre. On November twenty-fifth he
found the enemy at Gloucester. Their forage wagons were crossing the
river to Philadelphia, and Lafayette, in order to make a more thorough
examination of their position, went dangerously far out on a tongue of
land. Here he might easily have been captured, but he was quick enough
to escape without injury. Later, at four o’clock in the afternoon, he
found himself before a post of Hessians, four hundred men with cannon.
Lafayette had one hundred and fifty sharpshooters under Colonel Butler,
and about two hundred militiamen and light-horse. He did not know the
strength of the enemy, but he attacked, and drove them back so boldly
that Cornwallis, thinking he must be dealing with all of Greene’s
forces, allowed his troops to retreat to Gloucester with a loss of sixty

This was the first real opportunity Lafayette had had to show his
skill in leading men, and he had done so well that General Greene was
delighted. In the report he sent to Washington he said, “The Marquis
is charmed with the spirited behavior of the militia and rifle corps.
They drove the enemy about a mile and kept the ground until dark.... The
Marquis is determined to be in the way of danger.”

Lafayette had shown himself to be a daring and skilful officer; more
than that, he had endeared himself to the men under his command. And
this was more than could be said for most of the foreign officers in the
American army; many of them devoted the larger part of their time to
criticizing everything about them. Baron de Kalb expressed his opinion
of these adventurers from across the Atlantic in forceful terms. “These
people,” said he, “think of nothing but their incessant intrigues
and backbitings. They hate each other like the bitterest enemies, and
endeavor to injure each other whenever an opportunity offers. Lafayette
is the sole exception.... Lafayette is much liked and is on the best of
terms with Washington.”

It was natural, therefore, that Washington, having had such a good
account of the young Frenchman at the skirmish at Gloucester, should
be willing to gratify his desire for a regular command in the army. So
the commander-in-chief wrote to Congress concerning the Marquis. “There
are now some vacant positions in the army,” said Washington, “to one of
which he may be appointed, if it should be the pleasure of Congress.
I am convinced he possesses a large share of that military ardor that
characterizes the nobility of his country.”

And Congress agreed with Washington, and voted that “the Marquis de
Lafayette be appointed to the command of a division in the Continental
Army.” On December 4, 1777, the Frenchman was given the command of
the Virginia division. He was twenty years old, and it was only a
little more than a year since he had first heard from the Duke of
Gloucester about the fight of the American farmers for liberty. He had
accomplished a great deal in that year, and had won his spurs by pluck,
by perseverance, and by ability.

Naturally he was delighted at this evidence of the confidence that
Washington and the American Congress placed in him. He wrote to his
father-in-law, the Duke d’Ayen, the man who had tried his best to keep
him from coming to America, “At last I have what I have always wished
for,--the command of a division. It is weak in point of numbers; it is
almost naked, and I must make both clothes and recruits; but I read, I
study, I examine, I listen, I reflect, and upon the result of all this
I make an effort to form my opinion and to put into it as much common
sense as I can ... for I do not want to disappoint the confidence that
the Americans have so kindly placed in me.”

Events were soon to test both his ability and his mettle.



In December, 1777, Washington’s army went into winter quarters at
Valley Forge. That winter was to test the courage and endurance
of the soldiers, for they were ill-clad, ill-provisioned, and the
road to victory appeared a long and weary one. Fortunately the
commander-in-chief was a man of intrepid soul, one who could instill
confidence into the men about him.

Lafayette quickly found that all the people of the young republic were
not in agreement about the war. Men called Tories joined the British
army, and in countless other ways hampered the work of Congress.
Business was at such a standstill that it was almost impossible to
obtain clothing, shoes, and the other supplies that were so urgently
needed, and as Congress had no power to impose and collect taxes
it was hard to raise any money. The different states had each its
jealousies of the others and each its own ends to serve, and indeed in
1777 the union was so loosely knitted that it was a wonder that it held
together at all.

Washington had chosen Valley Forge as his winter quarters because from
there he could watch the enemy, keep the British to their own picket
lines, and cut off supplies going into Philadelphia. Otherwise, however,
the place had little to recommend it. The farmhouses in the neighborhood
could hold only a few of the two thousand men who were on the sick-list,
whose shoeless feet were torn and frozen from marching and who were ill
from hunger and exposure. For the rest the soldiers had to build their
own shelters, and they cut logs in the woods, covered them with mud,
and made them into huts, each of which had to house fourteen men. There
the American troops, lacking necessary food and blankets, shivered and
almost starved during the long winter.

There were times when Washington would have liked to make a sortie or
an attack on the enemy, but his men were not in condition for it.
Constantly he wrote to Congress, urging relief for his army. Once a
number of members of Congress paid a visit to Valley Forge, and later
sent a remonstrance to the commander-in-chief, urging him not to keep
his army in idleness but to march on Philadelphia. To this Washington
answered, “I can assure those gentlemen that it is a much easier and
less distressing thing to draw remonstrances in a comfortable room, by
a good fireside, than to occupy a cold, bleak hill, and sleep under
frost and snow, without clothes or blankets. However, although they seem
to have little feeling for the naked and distressed soldiers, I feel
superabundantly for them; and from my soul I pity those miseries, which
it is neither in my power to relieve nor prevent.”

All those hardships Lafayette also shared, setting his men an example of
patience and fortitude that did much to help them through the rigorous
winter, and winning again and again the praise of his commander for his

In the meantime some men of influence, known as the “Conway Cabal,”
from the name of one of the leaders, plotted to force Washington from
the chief command, and put General Greene in his place. They wanted
to use Lafayette as a catspaw, and decided that the first step was to
separate him from Washington’s influence. With this object in view they
planned an invasion of Canada, the command of the expedition to be given
to Lafayette. But Lafayette saw through the plotting, and refused to
lead the expedition except under Washington’s orders and with De Kalb
as his second in command. He also showed where he stood when he was
invited to York to meet some of the members of Congress and generals who
were opposing his leader. At a dinner given in his honor he rose, and,
lifting his glass, proposed a toast to “The health of George Washington,
our noble commander-in-chief!” The party had to drink the toast, and
they saw that the Frenchman was not to be swerved from his loyalty to
his chief.

Congress had decided on the expedition to Canada, though the
conspirators now saw that their plot had failed, and so Lafayette
set out for Albany in February, 1778, to take command of the army
of invasion. But when he got there he found that nothing had been
done by way of preparation, and that none of those in authority were
able to help him. Twelve hundred ill-provided men were all he could
raise, altogether too few and too poorly armed for such an ambitious
enterprise. Very much disappointed, he had to give up the idea of
leading such an army. More and more he grew convinced that all the hopes
of America rested on Washington.

That Washington might know his feelings, Lafayette wrote to him. “Take
away for an instant,” he said, “that modest diffidence of yourself
(which, pardon my freedom, my dear general, is sometimes too great,
and I wish you could know, as well as myself, what difference there is
between you and any other man), and you would see very plainly that, if
you were lost for America, there is no one who could keep the army and
the revolution for six months.... I am now fixed to your fate, and I
shall follow it and sustain it as well by my sword as by all means in my
power. You will pardon my importunity in favor of the sentiment which
dictated it.”

Washington was no less devoted to Lafayette. When the latter returned
disappointed from Albany the commander said to him, “However sensibly
your ardor for glory may make you feel this disappointment you may be
assured that your character stands as fair as it ever did, and that no
new enterprise is necessary to wipe off an imaginary stain.”

And Washington’s view was now so strongly held by Congress that it
immediately voted that it had “a high sense of the prudence, activity,
and zeal of the Marquis de Lafayette,” and that it was “fully persuaded
nothing has, or 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.”

Lafayette went back to Valley Forge to cheer his soldiers, and there,
early in May, 1778, news came that Benjamin Franklin had succeeded in
his efforts in France and that the government of Louis XVI. had decided
on “armed interference” in the affairs of America, and that a treaty of
alliance had been signed between the United States and the French king.

The army at Valley Forge was wild with delight at this news. How it must
have cheered Lafayette to know that his own country now stood with the
young republic of the west! Washington proclaimed a holiday and held a
review of his troops. Then the commander planned a new and more vigorous

The British, now foreseeing possible French as well as American attack,
decided to give up Philadelphia and fall back on New York. Washington
learned of this, and in order to keep a check on the movements of his
opponents, he sent Lafayette with a strong force of two thousand picked
men to keep as close to the British lines as possible.

Lafayette joyfully led his command to a ridge called Barren Hill that
overlooked the Schuylkill. From here he could watch the road from
Philadelphia, and he at once fortified his camp. British scouts brought
reports of this to their generals, and the latter decided it would
be a capital plan to defeat the Frenchman’s forces and capture the
Marquis. This they considered so easy to accomplish that Generals Howe
and Clinton sent out invitations to their friends to a dinner at their
headquarters “to meet Monsieur the Marquis de Lafayette.”

On the morning of May twentieth eight thousand British and Hessian
soldiers with fifteen pieces of artillery marched out of Philadelphia
by one road to take Lafayette in the rear, while by another road a
force of grenadiers and cavalry marched to attack his right wing, and
a third column, commanded by Generals Howe and Clinton in person, with
the admiral, Lord Howe, accompanying them as a volunteer, took a third
road to attack the Marquis in front. In this way the enemy forces were
completely surrounding the American position, except on the side of the
river, by which they considered escape impossible.

Lafayette was talking with a young woman who had agreed to go into
Philadelphia and try to obtain information on the pretext of visiting
her relations there, when word was brought him that redcoats had been
seen in the rear. He was expecting a small force of dragoons, and his
first idea was that it was these who were approaching. But, being
a prudent commander, he at once sent out scouts, and these quickly
reported the advance of a large force. Immediately he made a change of
front under cover of the stone houses and the woods. Then messengers
dashed up with news of the real state of affairs. His little command was
about to be attacked in a three-cornered fight by an overwhelming number
of the enemy.

It was a ticklish position, and Lafayette came within a hair’s breadth
of being trapped and captured. His men called out to him that he was
completely surrounded. In the confusion of the moment he had to keep on
smiling, as he afterward said. It was a test fit to try the skill of a
much more experienced general than the young Frenchman. But this one had
studied his ground thoroughly, and lost not a moment in deciding on his
course. Back of his men was a road, hidden from the British by trees,
which led to a little-used crossing known as Matson’s Ford, a place
unknown to the enemy, though they were, as a matter of fact, much nearer
to it than Lafayette was.

The Marquis quickly threw out “false heads of columns,” that is, a few
men here and there, who were to march through the woods at different
points, and give the impression that his whole army was advancing to
battle. The British general saw these “false heads” and, taking them
to be the advance guards of the Americans, halted to form his lines.
Meantime Lafayette sent all his other troops at the double-quick down
the hidden road and across the ford, bringing up the rear himself and
waiting until he was joined by the men who had formed the false columns.

The small American army was almost all across the ford before the
enemy realized his mistake and began to attack. Then, as the three
British columns climbed the hill to crush the Americans according to
their plans, they met only each other. They tried to make an attack on
Lafayette’s rear, but by that time he was out of their reach. He crossed
the Schuylkill and reached the camp at Valley Forge without the loss of
a single man, to the great delight and relief of Washington, who had
heard of the danger in which Lafayette stood and had ordered signal guns
fired to warn him of it.

Lafayette had a good story to tell the commander-in-chief on his return.
A small body of Indian warriors had been stationed in ambush to attack
any stray parties of the enemy. As the Indians lay in the bushes they
saw a company of grenadiers in tall bearskin hats and scarlet coats
coming up the road. Never having seen such men as these before the
Indians were seized with terror, threw down their arms, and yelling as
loud as they could, made a dash for the river. The grenadiers, on their
part, seeing the painted faces and hearing the yells, thought they had
come on a crowd of devils, and hurried away as fast as they could in the
opposite direction.

Washington complimented Lafayette on what had really amounted to a
victory, the bringing his men in safety from an attack by overwhelming
forces, and advised Congress of the Frenchman’s “timely and handsome
retreat in great order.”

And so Generals Howe and Clinton were unable to present to their guests
at the dinner at their headquarters that evening “Monsieur the Marquis
de Lafayette,” as they had intended.

If the British generals meant to use their armies in the field it was
clear that they could not stay in Philadelphia indefinitely. As Franklin
said, instead of their having taken Philadelphia, Philadelphia had
taken them. They had spent the winter there in idleness, and unless
they purposed to spend the summer there in the same fashion they must
be on the move. Washington foresaw this, and called a council of war
to decide on plans for his forces, and at this council General Charles
Lee, who was then second in command, insisted that the Americans were
not strong enough to offer effective opposition to the enemy, although
Generals Greene, Wayne, Cadwalader, and Lafayette expressed contrary
opinions. Then, early in the morning of June 18, 1778, General Howe’s
army evacuated Philadelphia, and crossed the Delaware on their way to
New York.

Washington instantly prepared to follow. General Maxwell was sent out
in advance with a division of militia to impede the enemy’s progress
by burning bridges and throwing trees across the roads. The bulk of
the American army followed, and when they arrived near Princeton, in
New Jersey, Washington called another council. Here Lafayette made a
stirring plea for immediate action. But Lee again opposed this, and the
council decided, against Washington’s own judgment, not to bring on a
general engagement with the enemy.

Almost immediately, however, the advance of General Clinton threatened
one of the American detachments, and Lee was ordered to check this.
He declined to do so, saying it was contrary to the decision of the
council of war. At once the command was given to Lafayette, who took the
appointment with the greatest eagerness.

But the Marquis had hardly more than planned his advance when General
Lee interfered again. The latter saw that if the movement was successful
all the honor of it would go to Lafayette, and this was not at all
according to his wishes. So he appealed to Washington to replace him in
his command, and also went to Lafayette and asked the latter to retire
in his favor. “I place my fortune and my honor in your hands,” he said;
“you are too generous to destroy both the one and the other.”

He was right; Lafayette was too chivalrous to refuse such a request.
Lee had placed Washington in an awkward situation, but the Frenchman’s
tact and good-feeling, qualities which had already greatly endeared him
to all the Americans he had met, relieved the commander-in-chief of
the need of offending Lee. Lafayette immediately wrote to Washington,
“I want to repeat to you in writing what I have told to you; which is,
that if you believe it, or if it is believed, necessary or useful to
the good of the service and the honor of General Lee to send him down
with a couple of thousand men or any greater force, I will cheerfully
obey and serve him, not only out of duty, but out of what I owe to that
gentleman’s character.”

No wonder Washington liked a man who could be so unselfish as that! He
gave the command back to Lee, and arranged that Lafayette should lead
the advance.

Early the following morning Washington ordered an attack on the British
at Monmouth Court House, and on June 28, 1778, the battle of Monmouth
was fought. The result might have been very different if Lafayette, and
not Lee, had been in command. For Lee delayed, and when he did finally
move forward he assaulted what he thought was a division of the enemy,
but what turned out to be the main body. He was driven back, tried
another attack, got his officers confused by his contradictory orders,
and at last gave the word for a retreat, which threatened to become a
rout. At this point Washington rode up, questioned the officers, got no
satisfactory answer as to what had happened, and was so indignant that
when he reached General Lee he took the latter to task in the strongest
terms. Then he gave instant orders to make a stand, and by his superb
control of the situation succeeded in having his men repulse all further

Lafayette meantime had led his cavalry in a charge, had done his best
to stem the retreat, and when Washington arrived reformed his line upon
a hill, and with the aid of a battery drove back the British. By his
efforts and those of the commander-in-chief the day was finally partly
saved and the American army manœuvred out of disaster.

Night came on and the troops camped where they were. Washington, wrapped
in his cloak, slept at the foot of a tree, with Lafayette beside him.
And when they woke in the morning they found that the enemy had stolen
away, leaving their wounded behind them.

So the honors of war at Monmouth, in spite of General Lee, lay with
Washington. The enemy, however, escaped across New Jersey and reached
New York without any further attacks by the Americans.

When Sir Henry Clinton arrived near Sandy Hook he found the English
fleet riding at anchor in the lower bay, having just come from the
Delaware. Heavy storms had broken through the narrow strip of sand that
connects Sandy Hook with the mainland, and it was now divided by a deep
channel. A bridge was made of the ships’ boats, and Clinton’s army
crossed over to the Hook, and was distributed on Long Island, Staten
Island, and in New York. In the meantime Washington moved his troops
from Monmouth to Paramus, where the Americans rested.

Now a French fleet of fourteen frigates and twelve battle-ships, under
the command of Count d’Estaing, reached the mouth of the Delaware at
about that time. Monsieur Gérard, the minister sent to the United
States by the court of France, and Silas Deane, were on board, and when
D’Estaing heard that Lord Howe’s squadron had left the Delaware he sent
Gérard and Deane up to Philadelphia in a frigate, and sailed along the
coast to Sandy Hook, where he saw the English fleet at anchor inside.
He had considerable advantage over Lord Howe in point of strength,
and at once prepared to attack the enemy squadron. Anticipating this,
Washington crossed the Hudson River at King’s Ferry, and on July
twentieth took up a position at White Plains.

The French fleet, however, could not make the attack. They could find no
pilots who were willing to take the large ships into New York harbor,
for all the pilots agreed that there was not enough water there, and the
French admiral’s own soundings confirmed their opinion.

Washington and D’Estaing therefore agreed on a joint expedition against
Newport, in Rhode Island. Washington sent orders to General Sullivan at
Providence to ask the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode
Island to supply enough militia to make up an army of five thousand men.
At the same time he sent Lafayette with two thousand men from the Hudson
to Providence to support the French naval attack.

On July twenty-ninth the French fleet reached Point Judith and anchored
about five miles from Newport. General Sullivan and Lafayette and some
other officers went on board to make plans for the joint attack. The
British troops numbered about six thousand men, and they were strongly
intrenched. The allies had some four thousand men on the French ships
and between nine and ten thousand Americans at Providence.

Disputes arose as to the best plan of campaign; it was argued whether
the men of the two nations would fight better separately or together.
Then the English fleet appeared in the distance, and D’Estaing,
considering that it was his chief business to destroy the enemy
squadron, at once stood out to sea. A violent storm came up, driving the
two fleets apart, and doing great damage to ships on both sides. When
the storm subsided D’Estaing insisted on sailing his fleet to Boston to
make needed repairs, and so the joint expedition came to an end, without
having struck a blow. General Sullivan’s plans were in confusion.
Lafayette rode to Boston and begged the French admiral to come back as
soon as he could. At last D’Estaing promised to land his sailors and
march them overland to Newport; but before he could do this the British
were strongly reinforced, and Lafayette had to gallop back to protect
his own rear-guard forces. The Americans were in peril, but again, as at
Monmouth, he was able to save them from defeat.

There was great disappointment over the failure of the attack on
Newport, and this was increased by the feeling that there had been
disputes between the American and French commanders. Lafayette had
all he could do to make each side appreciate the other. In this he
was greatly helped by Washington, who wrote to both the French and
the American generals, soothing their discontent, patching up their
differences, and urging future union for the sake of the common cause.

It was now autumn, and there was little prospect of a further campaign
that year. Wearied by the many misunderstandings, distressed by the
failure of the joint attack, homesick and sad over the news of the death
of his little daughter in France, Lafayette decided to ask for a leave
of absence and go back to France on furlough. In October he reached
Philadelphia and presented his request. Washington, much as he disliked
to lose Lafayette’s services even for a short time, seconded his
wishes. And Congress, which only sixteen months before had hesitated
to accept his services, now did all it could to pay him the greatest
honor. It thanked him for his high assistance and zeal, it directed
the American minister in Paris to present him with a sword of honor,
and it ordered its best war-ship, the frigate _Alliance_, to convey
him to France. Henry Laurens, the president of Congress, wrote to King
Louis XVI. that Congress could not allow Lafayette to depart without
testifying its appreciation of his courage, devotion, patience, and the
uniform excellence of conduct which had won the confidence of the United
States and the affection of its citizens.

And finally Monsieur Gérard, the French minister at Philadelphia, wrote
to his government in Paris, “You know how little inclined I am to
flattery, but I cannot resist saying that the prudent, courageous, and
amiable conduct of the Marquis de Lafayette has made him the idol of the
Congress, the army, and the people of America.”

With words like these ringing in his ears, Lafayette said good-bye to
George Washington in October, 1778, and rode away from camp, bound for
Boston, where he was to board the frigate _Alliance_.



Lafayette, on his way to board the _Alliance_, rode into the town
of Fishkill-on-the-Hudson, and there fell ill of fever. He had been
entertained by people all the way from Philadelphia to the camp on the
Hudson, and these constant receptions, combined with chilly and wet
weather, brought on malaria. The Marquis was very sick; Washington
rode daily from his camp eight miles away to inquire about Lafayette’s
condition, and insisted on his own physician taking charge of the
patient. And when the young Frenchman recovered the commander-in-chief
sent his physician on to Boston with him, and wrote him, “I am
persuaded, my dear marquis, that there is no need of fresh proofs to
convince you either of my affection for you personally or of the high
opinion I entertain of your military talents and merit.”

The strongest affection bound these two men, so different in many
respects, so alike in their love of liberty and honor. On board his ship
in Boston Harbor Lafayette added a postscript to a letter to Washington.
“The sails are just going to be hoisted, my dear general,” he said,
“and I have but time to take my last leave of you.... Farewell. I hope
your French friend will ever be dear to you; I hope I shall soon see
you again, and tell you myself with what emotion I now leave the coast
you inhabit and with what affection and respect I am forever, my dear
general, your respectful and sincere friend, Lafayette.”

On January 11, 1779, the _Alliance_ sailed for France, having had so
much difficulty in making up its crew that a number of English prisoners
and deserters had been pressed into service as sailors. This makeshift
crew came very near to proving disastrous for the Marquis. An English
law offered to pay the full value of any American ship to the crew that
would bring it into an English port, and there were considerably more
English prisoners and deserters in the crew of the _Alliance_ than there
were American and French sailors. The _Alliance_ was approaching the
French coast, having just weathered a storm, when a sailor ran into
the cabin where the officers were sitting. He said that the prisoners
and deserters who had been pressed into service had planned a mutiny,
and that, taking him for an Irishman, they had offered him the command
in case of success. A lookout was to give the signal “Sail ho!” and as
the officers came on deck in a group they were to be shot down by cannon
loaded with grape-shot and the ship sailed into an English port, where
the mutineers would divide the profits. The loyal American sailor said
that the signal would be given in about an hour.

Immediately the officers seized their swords, and, rushing on deck,
called the Americans and Frenchmen together. The thirty-three mutineers,
taken by surprise, were captured and clapped into irons, and the rest of
the crew sailed the _Alliance_ into the French harbor of Brest a week

Here Lafayette was welcomed with delight. The young fellow who had run
away to sea in the _Victory_ was returning like a hero in a war-ship
of the new American republic. In triumph he landed at Brest, and as he
hurried to Paris to see his family he was greeted by joyful crowds
all along his route. He stopped at the royal palace of Versailles, and
his old friend Marie Antoinette came out into the gardens to hear him
tell his adventures. King Louis sent for him, and ordered him under
arrest as a deserter, but with a twinkling eye declared that his prison
should be his father-in-law’s great house in Paris, and his jailer his
wife Adrienne. Then the King forgave him for running away to America,
congratulated him, and, with his ministers, consulted the Marquis about
affairs in the United States. Lafayette said, “I had the honor of being
consulted by all the ministers and, what was a great deal better, of
being kissed by all the women.”

The welcome he cared for the most was that from his wife, who had
followed him in her thoughts all the time he had been in America, and
had always sympathized with him and wished success for his plans. The
Duke d’Ayen was delighted to see him and welcomed him to his house with
open arms. Whenever the Marquis appeared on the street he was cheered by
admiring throngs. The actors in the theatres put special words in their
parts to honor Lafayette; poems were written about him; and the young
man of twenty-one became the lion of Paris.

In a sense he represented the connecting link in the alliance that now
united the two countries, and that alliance was in great favor with the
people. He also stood for that ideal of “liberty” which was rapidly
becoming the ruling thought of France. It would have been easy for him
to rest on his laurels now, and feel that he had accomplished all that
was needed of him.

But instead he used all this hero-worship to further his one aim--more
help for the young republic across the sea. “In the midst of the whirl
of excitement by which I was carried along,” he said, “I never lost
sight of the revolution, the success of which still seemed to me to
be extremely uncertain; accustomed as I was to seeing great purposes
accomplished with slender means, I used to say to myself that the cost
of a single fête would have equipped the army of the United States, and
in order to provide clothes for them I would gladly have stripped the
palace at Versailles.”

With this desire to help the United States ever in his thoughts he went
to see Benjamin Franklin, and with Franklin and the American sea-captain
John Paul Jones he planned an expedition against England in which he
should lead the land forces and Paul Jones command the fleet. While they
were arranging this the French government suggested a greater plan.
Spain was to unite with France in defense of America. Details were being
worked out when John Paul Jones embarked in his ship, the _Bon Homme
Richard_, and had his famous sea-fight with the _Serapis_. But the
Spanish government delayed and at last the French gave up the idea of a
joint attack on England.

Meantime Lafayette joined the French army again and was commissioned a
colonel of the King’s Dragoons. While he was waiting at Havre he was
presented by Franklin’s grandson with the sword that the Congress of the
United States had ordered should be given to him. It was a beautiful
sword; the handle was of gold, exquisitely wrought, and decorated, as
well as the blade, with figures emblematical of Lafayette’s career in
America, with his coat of arms and his motto, “_Cur non?_”

And while he waited he was always impatient to be of help to his friends
across the Atlantic. To Washington he wrote, “However happy I find
myself in France, however well treated by my country and my king, I am
so accustomed to being near to you, I am bound to you, to America, to my
companions in arms by such an affection, that the moment when I sail for
your country will be among the happiest and most wished for of my life.”

His great work during that year he spent in France was the winning of
a French army, under the Count de Rochambeau, to fight by the side
of the Americans. There was opposition to this at first, for neither
Louis XVI. nor Marie Antoinette nor the royal princes who surrounded
them cared to encourage the spirit of liberty too far. But the people,
backed by their hero, Lafayette, demanded it, and at last their
persistency won the day. The government of France decided to send an
army, commanded by Rochambeau, lieutenant-general of the royal forces,
with a fleet of warships and transports and six thousand soldiers, to
the aid of America.

Lafayette was sent ahead to carry the welcome news to Washington and
Congress, and to let them know that there would be no more of the
jealousies and disputes that had hindered the success of the French
and Americans in the field before. For Lafayette had arranged that the
French troops should be under Washington’s orders, that they should
accept the leadership of the American officers on the latter’s own
ground, and that officers of the United States should be recognized as
having equal rank with those of France. This harmony that Lafayette
secured had a great deal to do with the final successful outcome of the
American Revolution.

He sailed on the French frigate _Hermione_, and reached Boston on April
28, 1780. The people of Boston escorted him with cheers to the house of
Governor John Hancock on Beacon Hill. This was the same John Hancock
who had once turned Lafayette over to Gouverneur Morris with scarcely a
word of welcome, but he greeted him differently now. Instead of being
an adventurous foreign recruit the Marquis was a major-general in the
American army and the official representative of the court of France.

From Boston he went to Morristown, where Washington had his
headquarters, and there the two friends discussed the situation.
Lafayette told of the coming of the French fleet and army, which brought
the greatest joy to the commander-in-chief, because he could only
speak of the hardships his soldiers had borne during the winter, the
difficulty of securing recruits, and the general discouragement of the
country. Greatly cheered himself, he sent Lafayette to Philadelphia to
make his report to Congress, and set himself to the work of rousing his
army and the people to welcome the men from France.

In Philadelphia Lafayette received the thanks of Congress for his
services in Europe, and then busied himself with the equipment of the
army. Washington’s troops certainly needed some attention. Half-fed and
half-clothed, with only four thousand out of six thousand soldiers fit
for duty, they presented so sorry an appearance that Lafayette said to
the president of Congress, “though I have been directed to furnish the
French court and the French generals with early and minute intelligence,
I confess that pride has stopped my pen and, notwithstanding past
promises, I have avoided entering into any details till our army is put
in a better and more decent situation.”

But Washington roused Congress and the country, and by the time the
French fleet arrived the American army was in much better condition.

On July 10, 1780, the Count de Rochambeau, with the French army, reached
Newport, and the French commander, informing Washington of his arrival,
declared, as his government had instructed him, “We are now, sir, under
your command.”

Plans had to be laid, arrangements made for the union of the French and
American armies, and much time was taken up in military discussions. One
of Lafayette’s pet schemes was broached again, the invasion of Canada
by the joint forces, and the details of this invasion were entrusted
to General Benedict Arnold, who was to be in command. On September
twentieth Washington, with Lafayette and General Knox, met the Count
de Rochambeau and Admiral de Terney, who commanded the French fleet,
and final arrangements were made. But at this very moment events were
taking place which were to frustrate the scheme.

For at the very moment when Washington and Rochambeau were in conference
at Hartford Benedict Arnold and Major John André, of the British
army, were holding a secret meeting, the object of which was to give
Washington’s plans to the enemy. It so happened that Washington, when
he left Hartford with Knox and Lafayette, took a roundabout road in
order to show the Marquis the fortifications which had been built at
West Point in his absence. On the morning of September twenty-fourth the
party of American officers arrived within a mile of the Robinson house,
where Mrs. Benedict Arnold was expecting them at breakfast.

Washington, absorbed in his work, was about to ride on when Lafayette
reminded him of Mrs. Arnold’s invitation. The commander-in-chief
laughed. “Ah, Marquis,” he said, “you young men are all in love with
Mrs. Arnold. I see you are eager to be with her as soon as possible. Go
and breakfast with her, and tell her not to wait for me. I must ride
down and examine the redoubts on this side of the river, but will be
with her shortly.”

Lafayette and Knox, however, preferred to ride on with the General, and
the message was sent to the Robinson house by Colonel Hamilton and Major
McHenry. Mrs. Arnold, who had lately joined her husband there with her
baby, welcomed her guests and entertained them at breakfast. It was a
trying situation for her husband, for it happened that that was the very
day on which he was to make his final arrangements with the British.

While they sat at the breakfast-table a messenger galloped up to the
door with a letter for Arnold. He opened it and read that André had
been captured, and the secret papers found upon him had been sent to
Washington. Arnold rose from the table and beckoned his wife to follow
him to her room. There he told her that he was a ruined man and must
fly for his life. Leaving her fainting on the floor, he left the house,
mounted the messenger’s horse, and dashed down to the river through a
ravine. There he boarded his boat, and was rowed rapidly down the river
to the English ship _The Vulture_.

Almost immediately after Arnold’s hurried departure Washington,
Lafayette, and Knox reached the Robinson house. The commander supposed
that Arnold had gone to West Point to prepare for his reception, and,
having eaten a hasty breakfast, Washington and his companions crossed
the river. No salute, however, was fired at their approach, and Colonel
Lamb, the officer in command, came and apologized, saying that he had
received no information of Washington’s visit.

“Is not General Arnold here?” Washington inquired.

“No, sir,” said Lamb. “He has not been here for two days, nor have I
heard from him in that time.”

Somewhat surprised, but still unsuspicious, Washington and the others
spent the morning examining the works.

As they rode back to the Robinson house about noon they were met by
Colonel Hamilton, who took Washington aside, and handed him the secret
papers that had been found on André. At once the whole plot was clear.
Washington sent Hamilton immediately to arrest Arnold, but the Colonel
found that the man had already flown. Then the commander-in-chief told
the news to Lafayette and Knox, and, saying how much he had always
trusted General Arnold, added, “Whom can we trust now?”

It was Lafayette who later tried to comfort Mrs. Arnold, when the full
realization of her husband’s disgrace almost drove her to despair.
And he sat with the other general officers at a court-martial in the
headquarters at Tappan on the Hudson when John André, adjutant-general
of the British army, after a fair trial, was convicted of being a spy
and was sentenced to be hung. But Lafayette was a very generous judge,
and wrote of André later, “He was a very interesting man; he conducted
himself in a manner so frank, so noble, and so delicate, that I cannot
help feeling for him an infinite pity.”

The treason of Benedict Arnold prevented the invasion of Canada, and
Lafayette saw no active service for some time. He spent the autumn
in camp on the Hudson and in New Jersey, and part of the winter in
Philadelphia. A number of French officers had gathered here, and they,
used to the gayeties of the most brilliant court in Europe, added much
to the amusements of the American capital. Every one liked the French
guests, and the foreign officers, on their part, liked and admired their
new allies. Sometimes the self-denying seriousness of the Americans,
which was an element of their national strength, amused and surprised
the gayer Frenchmen. One of the latter, the Marquis de Chastellux, told
a story about Philadelphia in his volume of “Travels.” He said that at
balls in Philadelphia it was the custom to have a Continental officer
as the master of ceremonies, and that at one party he attended that
position was held by a Colonel Mitchell, who showed the same devotion to
duty in the ballroom that he showed on the field of battle. This Colonel
saw a young girl so busily talking that she could pay little attention
to the figures of the quadrille, so he marched up to her and said to her
severely, “Take care what you are doing; do you suppose you are there
for your pleasure?”

Naturally the Marquis de Chastellux and his friends, fresh from the
world of Marie Antoinette, where pleasure was always the first aim, had
many a laugh at the people of this new world. But with the laugh there
always went respect and admiration.

So Lafayette passed the time until the campaign of 1781 opened. He wrote
often to his wife, and sent her a long letter by his friend Colonel
Laurens, when the latter went on a mission to the court of France.
Another child had been born to the Marquis and Adrienne, a son, who
was given the name of George Washington. “Embrace our children,” wrote
Lafayette, “thousands of times for me. Although a vagabond, their father
is none the less tender, less constantly thoughtful of them, less happy
to hear from them. My heart perceives, as in a delicious perspective,
the moment when my dear children will be presented to me by you, and
when we can kiss and caress them together. Do you think that Anastasie
will recognize me?” And, as he could never write without thinking of the
brave army he commanded, he added, “Only _citizens_ could support the
nakedness, the hunger, the labors, and the absolute lack of pay which
constitute the conditions of our soldiers, the most enduring and the
most patient, I believe, of any in the world.”

In January, 1781, word came to Washington’s headquarters that General
Benedict Arnold had landed in Virginia with a good-sized army, was
laying waste the country, and had already destroyed the valuable stores
collected at Richmond. If Arnold’s campaign should succeed the result
would be to place all the Southern States in the hands of the enemy.
Let him defeat the few American troops in Virginia and he could march
to join the English General Cornwallis, who was pressing General Greene
very hard in the Carolinas.

Indeed Cornwallis already appeared to hold the south in his grasp. He
had beaten the small contingents of American troops in that country,
and at the battle of Camden, in South Carolina, Lafayette’s old
companion, the Baron de Kalb, had fallen in battle. It was of the
utmost importance, therefore, to defeat or capture Arnold, who had been
rewarded for his treason by being made a general in the British army,
and Washington at once planned to send a detachment from his main army
against Arnold by land, and a naval force to Chesapeake Bay to cut off
his escape by sea. The French admiral ordered a ship-of-the-line and
two frigates to the Chesapeake, and Washington placed twelve hundred
light infantry under Lafayette with instructions to aid the fleet.
This command, of the greatest importance, showed the confidence and
trust that the commander-in-chief felt in the military ability of the

Lafayette marched rapidly south and reached the Head of the Elk on March
second, three days earlier than had been expected. Here he embarked
his troops on small boats and descended to Annapolis. Seeing no signs
of the French squadron, he concluded that they had been delayed by
adverse winds, and, leaving his army at Annapolis, he went with a few
officers to consult with Baron Steuben and seek his aid. He secured some
companies of militia at Williamsburg, near the York River, and proceeded
to the camp of General Muhlenberg, near Suffolk, to have a look at
Benedict Arnold’s defenses at Portsmouth.

Meantime a large fleet appeared in Chesapeake Bay. Lafayette, and Arnold
also, thought that this must be the French squadron, but the American
commander soon received word that the ships were English. It turned
out that the first French squadron had found there was too little water
in the bay for them, and had sailed back to Newport, while a second
squadron had been driven off by the English. The result was that General
Arnold’s forces were relieved from danger, and the enemy reinforced by
two new regiments under General Phillips, who now took command of all
the English armies in Virginia.

Washington’s orders to Lafayette had been that he was to try to capture
Arnold, and that if the French fleet should be defeated he should march
his men back to headquarters without further risk. So he now sent his
militia to Williamsburg and forwarded orders to Annapolis to have the
troops prepared for immediate departure. When he reached Annapolis he
found there were great difficulties in the way of transporting his men
to Elk. There were very few horses or wagons or small boats for crossing
the ferries, and the port was blocked by English ships. He had resort
to a clever stratagem. He put two eighteen-pounders on a small sloop,
which, with another ship under Commodore Nicholson, sailed out toward
the enemy vessels, firing their guns as if about to attack. The two
English ships on guard withdrew a considerable distance down the bay,
and then Lafayette embarked his troops on his own boats and got them out
of the harbor and up the bay to Elk. They reached there safely during
the night, followed by Lafayette and Nicholson in the sloop.

When Washington heard of General Phillips’ arrival in Virginia his
anxiety was great. The situation in the south was extremely perilous.
General Greene was having all he could do to oppose Lord Cornwallis
in North Carolina. Unless strong opposition could be brought against
Phillips the latter could quickly overrun Virginia and unite with
Cornwallis. In this predicament the commander-in-chief determined to put
the defense of Virginia in the hands of Lafayette.

Lafayette heard of this new appointment as soon as he reached Elk. The
task was a great one. His men lacked proper equipment and even necessary
clothing, and they were much disheartened by the unsuccessful campaign
in the south. He borrowed ten thousand dollars from the merchants
of Baltimore on his personal security and bought his army food and
supplies. Then he told his men that his business was to fight an enemy
greatly superior in numbers, through difficulties of every sort, and
that any soldier who was unwilling to accompany him might avoid the
penalties of desertion by applying for a pass to the North. His men,
placed on their mettle, stood by him cheerfully. Immediately Lafayette
marched on Richmond, reaching that place a day ahead of General
Phillips. And General Phillips was so much impressed by Lafayette’s
show of strength that he gave up his intention of seizing Richmond and
retreated down the James River.

Cornwallis heard of this, and, vowing that he would defeat “that boy
Lafayette,” as he called the Marquis, stopped his campaign against
Greene in North Carolina and determined that he would himself take
command in Virginia. Cornwallis, a major-general and an officer of great
experience, expected an easy task when he sent word to Phillips to await
his arrival at the town of Petersburg.

When he heard that Cornwallis was moving north and that Phillips was
on the march Lafayette guessed that they intended to join forces, and
hurried toward Petersburg to prevent it. Phillips, however, was nearer
to that town and reached it before Lafayette, who was obliged to fall
back on Richmond, but who sent out Colonel Gimat, with artillery, to
keep the enemy busy.

On May thirteenth General Phillips died at Petersburg. It was before
this general’s guns that Lafayette’s father had fallen at the battle
of Hastenbeck. Benedict Arnold was second in command, and on taking
Phillips’ place he sent a letter to Lafayette under a flag of truce.
When the latter learned the name of the writer he at once informed the
men who brought Arnold’s communication that while he would be glad
to treat with any other English officer he could not read a message
from this one. This placed General Arnold in a difficult position
and was resented by a threat to send all American prisoners to the
West Indies. But when the people heard of it they were delighted, and
Washington wrote to the Marquis, “Your conduct upon every occasion
meets my approbation, but in none more than in your refusing to hold a
correspondence with Arnold.”

On May 24, 1781, Cornwallis, having joined his army to that of Arnold
at Petersburg and having rested his men, marched out with his whole
force to attack Lafayette at Richmond. At Byrd’s Plantation, where the
British commander had his quarters, he wrote of his opponent, “The boy
cannot escape me.”

Lafayette, on his part, knew that his enemy had a fine fighting
force, and that he must be wary to avoid him. The Marquis said, “Lord
Cornwallis marches with amazing celerity. But I have done everything
I could, without arms or men, at least to impede him by local

And he did embarrass the Earl. He led him a dance through the country
about Richmond, he retreated across the Chickahominy River to
Fredericksburg, time and again he just escaped the swiftly pursuing
British. He knew he could not venture on fighting without the aid of
more troops, and he kept up his retreat until he was joined by General
Wayne with Pennsylvania soldiers on June tenth. Then he planned to take
the offensive, and rapidly crossed the Rapidan River in the direction of

Cornwallis would have liked a direct battle with the Americans, but
again Lafayette proved wary. While the British army blocked the road to
Albemarle, Lafayette discovered an old unused road and under cover of
night marched his men along it and took up a strong position before the
town. There militia joined him from the neighboring mountains, and he
was able to show so strong a front that the British commander did not
dare to attack him. In his turn Cornwallis retreated, first to Richmond
and then to Williamsburg, near the coast, and left the greater part of
Virginia in the control of the Americans.

Lafayette now became the pursuer instead of the pursued, and harried
Cornwallis on the rear and flanks. The famous cavalry officer, Colonel
Tarleton, serving under Cornwallis, described the pursuit: “The Marquis
de Lafayette, who had previously practised defensive manœuvres with
skill and security, being now reinforced by General Wayne and about
eight hundred Continentals and some detachments of militia, followed
the British as they proceeded down the James River. This design,
being judiciously arranged and executed with extreme caution, allowed
opportunity for the junction of Baron Steuben, confined the small
detachments of the King’s troops, and both saved the property and
animated the drooping spirits of the Virginians.”

Lafayette was proving that Washington’s confidence in him was well
placed and showing himself an extraordinarily able commander in the

At Williamsburg Cornwallis received word from General Clinton in New
York that a part of the British troops in Virginia were to be sent
north. In order to embark these troops he set out for Portsmouth on
July fourth. Knowing that the enemy would be obliged to cross the James
River at James Island, Lafayette decided to attack their rear as soon as
a considerable number should have passed the ford. Cornwallis foresaw
this, and sending his baggage-wagons across arranged his men to surprise
the Americans.

Toward sunset on July sixth Lafayette crossed the causeways that led to
the British position and opened an attack. General Wayne, whose popular
nickname was “Mad Anthony,” led the advance with a thousand riflemen,
dragoons, and two pieces of artillery. Lafayette, with twelve hundred
infantry, was ready to support him. But at Wayne’s first advance he
found that the whole British army was before him; he attacked with
the greatest vigor; Lafayette, however, realizing that Cornwallis had
prepared a surprise, ordered a retreat to General Muhlenberg’s station a
half mile in the rear. Had Cornwallis pursued he must have defeated the
American forces, which had to cross long log bridges over marshy land,
but in his turn he feared an ambush, and was content to bring his men
safely across the James and proceed to Portsmouth.

The British were now at Portsmouth and the rest of Virginia in the
Americans’ hands. Lafayette wrote a description of the situation to
Washington, and added, “Should a French fleet now come into Hampton
Roads, the British army would, I think, be ours.” Hardly had his letter
reached Washington when a French ship arrived at Newport with word that
the fleet of the French Count de Grasse had left the West Indies bound
for Chesapeake Bay. Instantly Washington saw that he ought not now to
direct his attack against Clinton in New York, but against Cornwallis
in Virginia.

Cornwallis, wanting to take up a strong position with easy access to
the sea, began to move his army to Yorktown on August first. At the
same time Lafayette arranged his forces so as to cut off any retreat
of the enemy. And while this was going on, and the fleet of the Count
de Grasse was nearing the coast, Washington and Rochambeau met in the
old Livingston manor-house at Dobb’s Ferry on the Hudson on August
fourteenth and planned their joint campaign against Yorktown.

Then the two armies marched south. The Continental troops, many ragged
and poorly armed, but with green sprigs in their caps, passed through
Philadelphia on September second, and the French, more sprucely and
gaily uniformed, followed them the next day. On September twelfth
Washington reached Mount Vernon, which he had not seen for six years,
and there entertained Rochambeau and other French officers. Two days
later he took command of the allied forces at Williamsburg, and on the
seventeenth visited De Grasse on his flag-ship, and completed plans for
the siege. The army held the mainland, the French fleet blocked the
path to the sea, and Cornwallis was trapped at Yorktown.

The end of the drama came swiftly. The American and French entrenchments
drew closer and closer to the British lines until they were only three
hundred yards apart. Then, on October fourteenth, Lafayette’s men, led
by Colonel Alexander Hamilton, charged the British works on the left,
while the French grenadiers stormed a redoubt on the right. The outer
works were won in this attack, which proved to be the last battle of the

The next night Cornwallis tried to cut his way out from Yorktown and
escape across the York River to Gloucester. Watchful outposts drove him
back. On October seventeenth a British drummer appeared on Yorktown’s
ramparts and beat a parley. An American and a French officer met two
British officers at a farmhouse, and articles of surrender were drawn
up and accepted. Two days later, on October 19, 1781, the army of
Cornwallis marched out of Yorktown and passed between the American and
French troops, commanded respectively by Washington and Rochambeau.

The French officer who had prepared the articles of surrender at the
farmhouse was Lafayette’s brother-in-law, the Vicomte de Noailles, one
of the two young men to whom Lafayette had taken the word that he meant
to go “to America to fight for liberty!” Now the Vicomte saw that the
ardent hopes of the young enthusiast had borne such glorious fruit!

There stands a monument on the heights above the York River, in
Virginia, and on one side of it are these words: “At York, on October
19, 1781, after a siege of nineteen days, by 5,500 American and 7,000
French Troops of the Line, 3,500 Virginia Militia under command of
General Thomas Nelson and 36 French ships of war, Earl Cornwallis,
Commander of the British Forces at York and Gloucester, surrendered his
army, 7,251 officers and men, 840 seamen, 244 cannons and 24 standards
to His Excellency George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Combined
Forces of America and France, to His Excellency the Comte de Rochambeau,
commanding the auxiliary Troops of His Most Christian Majesty in
America, and to His Excellency the Comte de Grasse, commanding in chief
the Naval Army of France in Chesapeake.”

It was largely due to Lafayette that the French fleet and the army of
Rochambeau had crossed the ocean and that the Americans in Virginia had
succeeded in bottling up Cornwallis at Yorktown and so bringing an end
to the Revolution. Close to Washington he must forever stand as one of
the great men who won liberty for the United States!



Word of the surrender at Yorktown was received all through the thirteen
States with the greatest joy. Watchmen calling the hours of the night
in the cities cried, “Twelve o’clock! All’s well, and Cornwallis has
surrendered!” Everywhere the people hailed this event as heralding the
close of the long and distressing war. When one thinks of what they had
endured since 1775 there is no wonder at the hymns of thanksgiving.
And a ship at once sailed across the Atlantic to France with the glad

The surrender at Yorktown did mark the beginning of the end of the
Revolution, though the conflict went on in a desultory fashion for two
years more, and it was not until November 25, 1783, that the British
evacuated New York City. But after Yorktown many of the French officers
went home, and among them Lafayette. He wrote to the French minister,
“The play is over, Monsieur le comte; the fifth act has just come to
an end. I was somewhat disturbed during the former acts, but my heart
rejoices exceedingly at this last, and I have no less pleasure in
congratulating you upon the happy ending of our campaign.”

Both Lafayette and Congress felt that the Marquis could now help the
country greatly by his presence in France in case more men and money
should be needed for further campaigns. So, with Washington’s approval,
Congress agreed that “Major-General the Marquis de Lafayette have
permission to go to France and that he return at such time as shall be
most convenient to him.” And Congress also voted that Lafayette “be
informed that, on a review of his conduct throughout the past campaign
and particularly during the period in which he had the chief command in
Virginia, the many new proofs which present themselves of his zealous
attachment to the cause he has espoused, and of his judgment, vigilance,
gallantry, and address in its defense, have greatly added to the high
opinion entertained by Congress of his merits and military talents.”

He took his leave of Washington, the man he admired more than any other
in the world, and the commander-in-chief, who looked on the young
Frenchman as if the latter was his own son, said in his dignified
fashion, “I owe it to your friendship and to my affectionate regard for
you, my dear marquis, not to let you leave this country without carrying
with you fresh marks of my attachment to you and new expressions of the
high sense I entertain of your military conduct and other important
services in the course of the last campaign, although the latter are too
well known to need the testimony of my approbation, and the former, I
persuade myself, you believe is too well riveted to undergo diminution
or change.”

The Frenchman was not so reserved as the American. His ardent spirit
shows in the letter he wrote his commander. “Adieu, my dear general,” he
said. “I know your heart so well that I am sure that no distance can
alter your attachment to me. With the same candor I assure you that my
love, my respect, my gratitude for you are above expression; that, at
the moment of leaving you, I feel more than ever the struggle of those
friendly ties that forever bind me to you, and that I anticipate the
pleasure, the most wished-for pleasure, to be again with you, and, by my
zeal and services, to gratify the feelings of my respect and affection.”

On December 23, 1781, Lafayette sailed from Boston on the same frigate
_Alliance_ that had carried him back to France the first time. He was
to be received in his native land like a conquering hero. Already
Vergennes, the Secretary of State of France, had written to him. “Our
joy is very great here and throughout the nation,” said Vergennes, “and
you may be assured that your name is held in veneration.... I have been
following you, M. le Marquis, step by step, throughout your campaign in
Virginia; and I should frequently have been anxious for your welfare if
I had not been confident of your wisdom. It required a great deal of
skill to maintain yourself, as you did, for so long a time, in spite of
the disparity of your forces, before Lord Cornwallis, whose military
talents are well known. It was you who brought him to the fatal ending,
where, instead of his making you a prisoner of war, as he probably
expected to do, you forced him to surrender.”

He landed in France on January 17, 1782. If his former arrival had been
a succession of triumphs, this one was doubly so. When he reached the
house of the Duke de Noailles in Paris his wife was attending a fête
at the Hôtel de Ville in honor of the birth of the Dauphin. As soon as
his arrival became known the Queen took Madame de Lafayette in her own
carriage and went with her to welcome the Marquis. Louis XVI. announced
that he had promoted Lafayette to the high rank of “Maréchal de camp,”
and wrote to him, through his minister of war, “The King, having been
informed, sir, of the military skill of which you have given repeated
proof in the command of the various army corps entrusted to you in
America, of the wisdom and prudence which have marked the services that
you have performed in the interest of the United States, and of the
confidence which you have won from General Washington, his Majesty has
charged me to announce to you that the commendations which you most
fully deserve have attracted his notice, and that your conduct and your
success have given him, sir, the most favorable opinion of you, such as
you might wish him to have, and upon which you may rely for his future

Every one delighted to entertain and praise him; the Marshal de
Richelieu invited him to dine with all the marshals of France, and at
the dinner the health of Washington was drunk with every honor. And if
the King and the nobles were loud in their acclaim, the people were
no less so; they called Lafayette by such extravagant titles as the
“Conqueror of Cornwallis” and “the Saviour of America with Washington.”
Had it not been that Lafayette had a remarkably level head the things
that people said and wrote about him might almost have made him believe
that he had won the Revolution in America single-handed.

Naturally he enjoyed being with his dear wife and children again, but
he was not a man who could contentedly lead the idle life of a nobleman
in Paris. Soon he was busy doing what he could to help the cause of
the young American republic in France. He saw a great deal of John
Adams and Benjamin Franklin, the commissioners of the United States to
the French court, and Franklin wrote home concerning him, “The Marquis
de Lafayette was, at his return hither, received by all ranks with
all possible distinction. He daily gains in the general esteem and
affection, and promises to be a great man here. He is extremely attached
to our cause; we are on the most friendly and confidential footing with
each other, and he is really very serviceable to me in my applications
for additional assistance.”

He planned to return to America to rejoin the army. “In spite of all
my happiness here,” he wrote to Washington, “I cannot help wishing,
ten times a day, to be on the other side of the Atlantic.” But the
Continental army was merely marking time, no active campaign was in
progress, and neither Lafayette nor French troops were again needed to
fight across the ocean.

The negotiations for peace were long drawn out, and in the autumn of
1782 France and Spain again planned a joint expedition against the
English in America. A strong fleet of sixty battle-ships and an army
of twenty-four thousand men were gathered with the purpose of sailing
from the Spanish port of Cadiz to capture the English island of Jamaica
and attack New York and Canada. Lafayette was made chief of staff of the
combined expedition, and, wearing the uniform of an American general, he
set sail from Brest early in December for Cadiz. But the grand fleet was
still in port when a courier arrived with news that a treaty of peace
had just been signed in Paris. So the fleet did not sail. A protocol, or
provisional treaty, was drawn up, and on September 3, 1783, the final
treaty was signed, by which Great Britain acknowledged the independence
of the United States.

As soon as he heard the good news, Lafayette borrowed a ship,
appropriately named the _Triumph_, and sent it off to Philadelphia with
the earliest word of peace. And by the same ship he despatched a letter
to Washington. “As for you, my dear general,” he wrote, “who can truly
say that all this is your work, what must be the feelings of your good
and virtuous heart in this happy moment! The eternal honor in which
my descendants will glory, will be to have had an ancestor among your
soldiers, to know that he had the good fortune of being a friend of
your heart. To the eldest of them I bequeath, as long as my posterity
shall endure, the favor that you have conferred upon my son George, by
allowing him to bear your name.”

To Vergennes Lafayette wrote, “My great affair is settled; America is
sure of her independence; humanity has gained its cause, and liberty
will never be without a refuge.”

From Cadiz the Marquis went to Madrid, where he straightened out affairs
between the United States and the court of Spain. Then he went back to
Paris, made several visits to his old castle and estates in Auvergne,
and helped Franklin and Adams and John Jay in putting the affairs of the
new republic on a satisfactory footing.

He wanted greatly to see that young republic, now that war was over
and peace had come, and at last his wish was gratified. Washington
had written him frequently, urging the Marquis to visit him, and had
begged Madame de Lafayette to come with her husband. “Come then, let
me entreat you,” Washington wrote to Adrienne. “Call my cottage your
own; for your own doors do not open to you with more readiness than
would mine. You will see the plain manner in which we live, and meet
with rustic civility; and you will taste the simplicity of rural life.
It will diversify the scene, and may give you a higher relish for the
gayeties of the court when you return to Versailles.”

Adrienne de Lafayette, however, was as much of a home-lover as George
Washington. Versailles had never attracted her, and she liked to spend
most of her time at the castle of Chavaniac. The voyage across the
Atlantic was a long and trying experience in those days and so she
answered that she preferred to stay in France. She also sent Washington
a letter from her little daughter, born while her husband was in camp in

Lafayette sailed from Havre on July 1, 1784, and reached New York,
which he had never yet seen, on August fourth. Throngs, eager to sing
his praises, met him at the harbor, and followed him everywhere on his
travels. From New York he went to Philadelphia, and then to Richmond,
where Washington met him. He visited the scenes of his great Virginia
campaign at Williamsburg and Yorktown, and spent two happy weeks with
his beloved friend George Washington at the latter’s home at Mount
Vernon. From there he went north again, to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and
New York. Up the broad Hudson he traveled to Albany, where he went with
American commissioners to a council with dissatisfied Mohawk chiefs.
And to the sons of primitive America the young Frenchman, lover of
liberty everywhere, spoke so appealingly that he quickly won them away
from their enmity for their white neighbors. “Father,” said the Mohawk
chief, “we have heard thy voice and we rejoice that thou hast visited
thy children to give to them good and necessary advice. Thou hast said
that we have done wrong in opening our ears to wicked men, and closing
our hearts to thy counsels. Father, it is all true; we have left the
good path; we have wandered away from it and have been enveloped in
a black cloud. We have now returned that thou mayest find in us good
and faithful children. We rejoice to hear thy voice among us. It seems
that the Great Spirit had directed thy footsteps to this council of
friendship to smoke the calumet of peace and fellowship with thy
long-lost children.”

Indeed it did seem that the Great Spirit directed the steps of this man
to the places where he was the most needed.

From Albany Lafayette went across country to Boston, where he was
given a great reception and banquet in Faneuil Hall. A portrait of
Washington was unveiled behind the Marquis at the table, and he sprang
to his feet and led in the burst of cheers that followed. Through New
England he went as far as Portsmouth in New Hampshire, and then turned
south to make a second visit to Mount Vernon. Everywhere he went he
was received as the man whom the United States especially desired to
honor. Unquestionably he deserved all the praise and gratitude that was
showered upon him, for he had left his wife, his home, his friends, his
fortune, and had come to America in one of the darkest hours of her
fight for independence, and by his confidence in her cause had done much
to help her win her victory. He had brought French troops and money,
but most of all he had brought that unselfish devotion which had so
heartened the people. The United States did not forget what it owed
to Lafayette in 1784, it has never forgotten it; the republic of the
Western World has shown that it has a long and faithful memory.

At Trenton Lafayette stopped to resign his commission in the American
army, and Congress sent a committee made up of one representative from
each State to express the thanks of the nation. Then he returned to
Washington’s estate on the banks of the Potomac, and there walked over
the beautiful grounds of Mount Vernon, discussing agriculture with the
owner, and sat with the latter in his library, listening to Washington’s
hopes concerning the young nation for which both men had done so much.
History shows no more ideal friendship than that between the great
American and the great Frenchman, a friendship of inestimable value for
the two lands from which they sprang.

When the time came for parting Washington drove his guest as far as
Annapolis in his carriage. There the two friends separated, not to meet
again. Washington went back to Mount Vernon, and there wrote a farewell
letter to Lafayette. “In the moment of our separation,” he said, “upon
the road as I traveled and every hour since, I have felt all that love,
respect, and attachment for you, with which length of years, close
connection, and your merits have inspired me.... It is unnecessary,
I persuade myself, to repeat to you, my dear marquis, the sincerity
of my regards and friendship, nor have I words which could express my
affection for you, were I to attempt it. My fervent prayers are offered
for your safe and pleasant passage, a happy meeting with Madame de
Lafayette and family, and the completion of every wish of your heart.”

Lafayette answered after he had gone on board the _Nymphe_ at New York.
“Adieu, adieu, my dear general,” said he. “It is with inexpressible
pain that I feel I am going to be severed from you by the Atlantic.
Everything that admiration, respect, gratitude, friendship, and filial
love can inspire is combined in my affectionate heart to devote me most
tenderly to you. In your friendship I find a delight which words cannot
express. Adieu, my dear general. It is not without emotion that I write
this word. Be attentive to your health. Let me hear from you every
month. Adieu, adieu.”

On Christmas Day, 1784, Lafayette sailed for France, expecting to return
to his adopted country in a few years. He was not to return, however,
for a long time, and in the interval much was to happen to himself and
his own land.

In the following summer the Marquis made a journey through Germany and
Austria, where he was received not only as a French field-marshal, but
as an informal representative of America and a friend of Washington, who
could answer the questions about the new republic which every one was
eager to ask. At Brunswick he visited the duke who was later to lead the
German troops against the army of revolutionary France. At Potsdam he
was entertained by Frederick the Great, who happened on one occasion to
place Lafayette between the English Duke of York and Lord Cornwallis at
table. Lafayette was, as always, delightful company, and the general he
had defeated at Yorktown wrote home to a friend in England, “Lafayette
and I were the best friends possible in Silesia.”

The Frenchman saw reviews of the Prussian armies, and was much impressed
by the discipline of Frederick the Great. But he did not like that
ruler, and spoke of his “despotic, selfish, and harsh character,” and
he liked his military system still less. He wrote to General Knox, “The
mode of recruiting is despotic; there is hardly any provision for old
soldiers, and although I found much to admire, I had rather be the last
farmer in America than the first general in Berlin.”

From Prussia he went to Austria, where he met the emperor, and there, as
in all his travels, he told every one of his admiration for the United
States and for Washington, and tried to make them see how much the young
republic had already accomplished for the happiness of men.

The love of liberty was the dominant motive of Lafayette’s life. He
had told Washington of his desire to find some means of securing the
freedom of slaves, and he wrote to John Adams in 1786, “Whatever be
the complexion of the enslaved, it does not in my opinion alter the
complexion of the crime 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 perpetrated under the flag of
liberty, our dear and noble stripes to which virtue and glory have been
constant standard-bearers.” So, on his return to France, he bought a
plantation in Cayenne, and brought many negroes there, who, after being
educated in self-government according to his directions, were to receive
their freedom. He also tried to improve the condition of the French
Protestants, who were very much persecuted, and ardently pleaded their
cause before the King at Versailles.

In the meantime he constantly gave his help to furthering the affairs
of America. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of
Independence, who had been Governor of Virginia when Lafayette had
fought his campaign there, was now the United States Minister to France.
Jefferson wrote to Washington, “The Marquis de Lafayette is a most
valuable auxiliary to me. His zeal is unbounded and his weight with
those in power is great.... He has a great deal of sound genius, is well
remarked by the King, and rising in popularity. He has nothing against
him but the suspicion of republican principles. I think he will one day
be of the ministry.”

The United States at that time especially needed aid in establishing
trade relations with France, and it was here that Lafayette proved
himself very valuable. He obtained concessions in regard to the
importing and sale of oil and tobacco, and his efforts on behalf of
the American whale fishery were so successful that the citizens of
Nantucket voted at a town-meeting that every man on the island who owned
a cow should give all of one day’s milk toward making a cheese to weigh
five hundred pounds, and that the cheese should be “transmitted to the
Marquis de Lafayette, as a feeble, but not less sincere, testimonial of
their affection and gratitude.”

The cheese was greatly appreciated, as was also the action of the State
of Virginia, which ordered two busts of the Marquis to be made by the
sculptor Houdon, one to be placed in the State Capitol at Richmond and
the other in the Hôtel de Ville in Paris.

The United States had won its independence, though its statesmen
were now perplexed with the problem of making one united nation out
of thirteen separate states. But France had yet to deal with its own
problem of liberty. There were many men who dreamed of equality in that
nation and who hoped for it, but the King and the court were despotic,
the peasants yoked to the soil, bowed down by unjust taxes, crushed by
unfair laws. There was a spirit abroad that was destined to bring a
temporary whirlwind. So the thinking men of France, and Lafayette one of
the chief among them, turned their attention to affairs at home.



The people of the thirteen American colonies that became the United
States had always had more liberty than the people of France. Most of
the colonies had been settled by men who had left Europe and gone to
America in order that they might enjoy civil or religious independence.
They largely made their own laws, and by the time of the Revolution had
become so well educated in self-government that they were able to draw
up a Constitution and live by its terms with extremely little friction
or unrest. The success that followed the forming of the republic of
the West was a marvel to Europe; that success was mainly due to the
lessons of self-restraint and the real appreciation of what liberty
meant that had come to the colonists before the Revolution. Progress
that is to be real progress must begin right, and Washington and
Jefferson and Franklin were far-sighted and clear-headed builders. The
people of France had been putting up with wrongs a thousandfold worse
than those the Americans had borne, but they had never been educated
in self-government, and so when they tried to win liberty they plunged
headlong into turmoil.

France was still governed very much as it had been in the Middle Ages.
The peasants were reduced to the very lowest form of living, starvation
and ignorance were common through the country. The business classes were
hampered by unjust laws. The nobility were idle, corrupt, and grossly
extravagant. Almost all power lay in the King, and Louis XVI., amiable
though he was, followed the lines of his Bourbon ancestors, Louis XIV.
and Louis XV., the former of whom had said, “The State, it is I,” and
had ruled by that principle.

Unhappily for Louis XVI., however, the world had progressed from the
view-point of the Middle Ages, and men were beginning to talk of
constitutions and of the duties that sovereigns owed their people. He
shut his ears to such talk as well as he could, and his courtiers
helped him to ignore the protests. The court continued to spend money
on entertainments as if it was water, while the peasants starved. Then
it was found that the expense of aiding the United States in the war
had added enough to the nation’s debt to make it impossible to pay
the interest and to find means to carry on the government. Either the
court’s expenses must be lessened or new taxes must be levied. The
nobles furiously resisted the first alternative, and the people resisted
the second. Toward the end of 1786 Calonne, the Minister of Finance,
had to admit that the treasury was bankrupt and advise the King to
call a meeting of the Assembly of Notables to find some way out of the

The Assembly was made up almost entirely of men of the highest rank,
who failed to appreciate the distresses of the country. Lafayette was
known to hold very liberal views, he was constantly talking of the
American Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and at first a
part of the court opposed his membership in the Assembly. He was given
his seat there, however, and with one or two others tried to convince
the council of the need of reforming the laws. But the nobles would not
listen. They were immovably arrogant and autocratic; they would hear
nothing of reforms or constitutions or the rights of the people.

The Assembly of Notables reached no satisfactory conclusion. When
it adjourned conditions grew steadily worse. The affairs of the
country were in a terrible muddle, each class in the land thought
only of itself, and each was divided, envious and hostile to the
others. Lafayette fought heroically to bring them to the point of
view of Washington’s countrymen. The Marquis, however, was too much
of an enthusiast and too little of a statesman to see that the long
downtrodden peasants of France were a different type from the educated
American farmers. Americans in France, John Adams and Gouverneur
Morris, realized better than he did that the people of France were
not yet fitted to govern themselves; but he would not listen to these
statesmen’s opinions. His rôle was that of a popular leader, not that
of a far-seeing statesman in very difficult times. But the sufferings
of the people were always present to him, and he took the most direct
course he could to relieve and satisfy them.

When he saw that the Assembly of Notables would accomplish nothing to
help the situation Lafayette startled the meeting by asking that they
beg the King to summon a National Assembly of the States-General, a
council that had not met for one hundred and seventy-three years and the
existence of which had almost been forgotten.

The Notables were amazed. “What, sir!” exclaimed the Count d’Artois,
who was presiding at the meeting. “You ask the convocation of the

“Yes, monseigneur,” said Lafayette, “and even more than that.”

“You wish that I write,” said the Count, “and that I carry to the King,
‘Monsieur de Lafayette moves to convoke the States-General’?”

“Yes, monseigneur,” was Lafayette’s answer.

The proposal was sent to the King, with Lafayette’s name the only one
attached to the request. But as soon as the news of his petition became
known the people hailed the idea with delight.

The States-General was a much more representative body than the Assembly
of Notables, and Louis XVI. was loath to summon it. The situation of
the country was so unsatisfactory, however, that he finally yielded and
ordered the States-General to meet in May, 1789.

Lafayette had great hopes of this new parliament. He wrote to
Washington, describing the situation. “The King is all-powerful,” he
said. “He possesses all the means of compulsion, of punishment, and
of corruption. The ministers naturally incline and believe themselves
bound to preserve despotism. The court is filled with swarms of vile
and effeminate courtiers; men’s minds are enervated by the influence
of women and the love of pleasure; the lower classes are plunged in
ignorance. On the other hand, French character is lively, enterprising,
and inclined to despise those who govern. The public mind begins to
be enlightened by the works of philosophers and the example of other
nations.” And when the state of affairs grew even more disturbed he
wrote again to the same friend, “In the midst of these troubles and
this anarchy, the friends of liberty strengthen themselves daily, shut
their ears to every compromise, and say that they shall have a national
assembly or nothing. Such is, my dear general, the improvement in our
situation. For my part, I am satisfied with the thought that before long
I shall be in an assembly of representatives of the French nation or at
Mount Vernon.”

Elections were held throughout the country to choose the members of
the States-General, which was composed of representatives of the three
orders, the nobles, the clergy, and what was known as the third estate,
or the middle class. Lafayette went to Auvergne to make his campaign for
election, and was chosen as deputy to represent the nobility of Riom.
On May 2, 1789, the States-General paid their respects to the King, and
on May fourth they marched in procession to hear Mass at the Church of
St. Louis. The third estate marched last, dressed in black, and in their
ranks were men destined before long to upset the old order, Mirabeau,
Danton, Marat, Guillotin, Desmoulins, Robespierre.

On May fifth the States-General formally met for business. Then began
continual struggles between the orders of nobles and clergy on the one
hand and the third estate on the other, finally ending by a declaration
of the latter that if the first two orders would not act in agreement
with them they would organize themselves, without the other two, as the
States-General of France.

On June twelfth the third estate met and called the roll of all the
deputies, but none of the nobles or clergy answered to their names. Next
day, however, three clerical members appeared, and the meeting felt
itself sufficiently bold, under the leadership of Mirabeau, to declare
itself positively the National Assembly of France. The indignant nobles
answered this by inducing the King to suspend all meetings until a
“royal session” could be held on June twentieth. But the third estate,
having had a taste of power, would not bow to command so easily, and
when they found that the hall where they had been meeting was closed
they withdrew to the tennis-court, where they took the famous oath not
to separate until they had given a constitution to France.

At their next meeting the third estate were joined by a large number of
the clerical members of the States-General and by two of the nobles.
This gave them greater assurance. At the “royal session” on June
twentieth, however, the King tried to ignore the power that the third
estate had claimed, and the latter had to decide between submitting to
the royal orders or rebelling. They decided to take the second course
and stand firmly on their rights as representatives of the people. When
the master of ceremonies tried to clear the hall where they had gathered
Mirabeau said defiantly, “The commons of France will never retire except
at the point of the bayonet.”

The King, although surrounded by weak and selfish advisers, at last
yielded to the demands of the third estate, and the nobles and clergy
joined the meetings of the National Assembly.

Lafayette, who had been elected as a deputy of the nobility, had found
his position extremely difficult. He had thought of resigning and trying
to be elected a second time as a deputy of the people, although Thomas
Jefferson, the American minister, had urged him to take his stand
outright with the third estate, arguing that his well-known liberal
views would prevent his gaining any influence with his fellow-nobles
and that if he delayed in taking up the cause of the people the latter
might regard him with suspicion. This difficulty was solved when, at the
King’s command, the deputies of the nobles finally joined with the third

The States-General, or the National Assembly, as it was now generally
called, went on with its meetings which took on more and more a
revolutionary color. There was rioting in Paris and Versailles, and the
King ordered troops to guard both places. The Assembly considered that
the soldiers were meant to intimidate their sessions and requested that
they be sent away. The King refused this request, and as a result the
breach between the crown and the parliament was still further widened.

Soon afterward Lafayette presented to the Assembly what he called his
“Declaration of Rights,” which was based on Jefferson’s Declaration of
Independence of the United States. This occasioned long discussion,
for the nobles thought its terms were revolutionary in the extreme
while many of the third estate considered that it did not go nearly
far enough. And all the time the King continued his policy of trying
to overawe the Assembly, and finally appointed the Marshal de Broglie
commander of the troops that were gathering in Paris and Versailles,
planning to bring the third estate to its senses and show the mob in
Paris who was the real ruler of France.

Events followed rapidly. July eleventh the King dismissed Necker and
the ministers who had been trying to bring order out of confusion. The
Assembly, fearing that the King would next dissolve their meetings,
declared itself in permanent session, and elected Lafayette its
vice-president. The royal court, blind as usual, paid no attention to
the storm the King’s course was rousing, and a grand ball was held at
the palace on the evening of July thirteenth. Next day, as if in answer
to rulers who could dance while the people starved, the mob in Paris
stormed the prison of the Bastille and captured that stronghold of royal

The storm had broken at last. The Duke de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt
hurried to Versailles, entered the King’s chamber, and told him the
news. “Why,” exclaimed Louis XVI., “this is a revolt!”

“No, sire,” answered the Duke, “it is a revolution!”

Next morning the Marshal de Broglie, who found that instead of a
competent army, he had only a few disorganized troops at his command,
resigned. The King, seeing his army melting away, decided that his only
chance of restoring order lay in making friends with the Assembly, and
appeared before it, begging it to aid him, and promising to recall the
dismissed ministers.

The Assembly, delighted at this evidence of its power, agreed to aid the
King, and sent Lafayette, with fifty other deputies, to see what could
be done to quiet the people in Paris. They found the city in the wildest
confusion. Shops were closed, barricades blocked the streets, and gangs
of ruffians were fighting everywhere. The deputies brought some order,
Lafayette made a speech to the people at the Hôtel de Ville, and told
them that the Assembly was glad that they had won liberty. Then it
was decided that a mayor must be chosen to govern Paris and a National
Guard formed to preserve order. Moreau de Saint Méry, who was presiding,
pointed to the bust of Lafayette that the State of Virginia had sent
to the city of Paris. His gesture was understood and Lafayette was
immediately chosen to command the National Guard. Bailly was by a like
unanimous vote elected mayor.

So, at thirty-two, Lafayette gave up his seat in the National Assembly
and became Commander of the National Guard.

The deputies, on their return to Versailles, told their fellow-members
that the only way in which confidence could be restored in the crown was
for the King personally to visit Paris. This Louis XVI. agreed to do on
July seventeenth. In the meantime Lafayette had collected the nucleus
of a guard, had restored some sort of order, and made arrangements to
receive the King. When Louis arrived at the city gates he was met by
the mayor, Bailly, who handed him the keys of Paris, saying, “They are
the same keys that were presented to Henry IV. He had reconquered his
people; now it is the people who have reconquered their king.”

The King was escorted to the Hôtel de Ville through a double line of
National Guards. There he was given the new national cockade, which
he fixed in his hat. Afterward speeches were made and then King Louis
rode back to Versailles. He was still the sovereign in name, but his
real power was gone, shorn from him by the obstinacy of his nobles and

Lafayette had no easy task in keeping order in Paris. His Guards obeyed
his commands, but many of the mob, having tasted revolt, continued on a
wild course, and they were now joined by many of the worst element from
the provinces. Two innocent men were murdered in spite, and Lafayette
could do nothing to prevent it. Disgusted at the trend of events he soon
resigned his office of Commander, but since no one else appeared able to
fill it he finally consented to resume it.

Meantime the Assembly was uprooting the old feudal laws and doing away
with almost all forms of taxation. Their object was to tear down, not
to build up; and the result was that in a very short time people
throughout France were making their own laws in every city and village
and paying no attention to the needs of the nation.

As autumn approached the population of Paris became restless. The
Assembly at Versailles was not sufficiently under the people’s thumb,
the lower classes especially were eager to get both Assembly and King
and Queen in their power. A reception given by Louis to the National
Guards at Versailles roused great indignation. The court, so the people
said, was as frivolous and extravagant as ever, and was trying to win
the Guards over to its side. The excitement reached its climax when, on
October fifth, Maillard, a leader of the mob, called on the people of
Paris to march to Versailles. At once the cry “To Versailles!” echoed
through the city, and men and women flocked to answer the cry.

Lafayette heard of the plan and sent couriers to Versailles to warn the
King and the Assembly of what was in the air. All day he tried his best
to quiet the people and induce them to give up the march. He forbade the
National Guards to leave their posts, and at first they obeyed him. But
presently deputation after deputation came to him. “General,” said one
of his men, “we do not think you a traitor; but we think the government
betrays you. It is time that this end. We cannot turn our bayonets
against women crying to us for bread. The people are miserable; the
source of the mischief is at Versailles; we must go seek the King and
bring him to Paris.”

That was the view of the Guards, and it grew more and more positive.
Armed crowds were leaving the city, dragging cannon, and at last the
Guards surrounded their commander and declared their intention to march
and to take him with them. So finally Lafayette set out for Versailles,
preceded and followed by an immense rabble of men and women.

Meantime the couriers sent by Lafayette to Versailles had reported the
news of the march of the mob. The Assembly could think of nothing that
would pacify the people, and contented itself with sending messengers to
the King, who happened to be hunting in the Versailles forests. Louis
returned to his palace to find his body-guards, the Swiss and the
Flanders Regiment, drawn up in the courtyards as though to withstand a

In the middle of the afternoon the first crowd of women, led by Maillard
beating his drum, arrived at Versailles. Some marched to the Assembly
and shouted to the deputies to pass laws at once that should lower the
price of bread. Others paraded through the streets, and still others
went to the palace to see the King, who received them very kindly and
tried to assure them that he entirely agreed with all their wishes.

But the royal family had taken alarm and wanted to fly from the
palace. Their carriages were ordered out, and the body-guards placed
in readiness to serve as escort. This plan became known, however, and
when the carriages drove out from the great stables some of the National
Guards themselves seized the horses’ heads and turned them back.

The National Assembly itself was in an uproar. The President, Mounier,
left the chamber to see the King, and when he came back he found a fat
fishwoman making a speech to the crowd from his own chair. The Assembly
had taken power and authority away from the King; now the mob was bent
on doing the same thing to the Assembly.

At eleven o’clock that evening Lafayette reached Versailles with his
National Guards and the rest of the rabble from Paris. On the way he
had tried to curb the rougher part of the crowd and had made his troops
stop and renew their oaths of allegiance “to the nation, the law, and
the King.” He went at once to the palace to receive King Louis’ orders,
but the Swiss guards would not let him enter until he agreed to go
in without any of the people from Paris. When he did enter he found
the halls and rooms filled with courtiers. One of them, seeing him,
exclaimed, “Here is Cromwell!” Lafayette answered instantly, “Cromwell
would not have entered alone.”

The King received him cordially, and told him to guard the outside
of the palace, leaving the inside to the protection of the royal
body-guards. Lafayette then saw that his men were bivouacked for the
night, quieted noisy marchers, and felt that, at least for the time,
Versailles was at rest. Worn out with the day’s exertions the Marquis
finally got a chance to sleep.

Early next day, however, the mob burst forth again. A crowd fell to
disputing with the royal body-guards at one of the gates to the palace,
rushed the soldiers, and broke into the inner court. Up the stairs they
streamed, killing the guards that tried to oppose them. Marie Antoinette
had barely time to fly from her room to that of the King before the
rioters reached her apartment, crying out threats against her.

As soon as he heard of all this Lafayette sent two companies of soldiers
to clear the mob from the palace. When he arrived himself he found the
people all shouting “To Paris!” He saw at once that his National Guards
were not to be trusted to oppose the crowd, and urged the King to agree
to go to Paris. Louis consented, and Lafayette went out on the balcony
and announced the King’s decision.

This appeased the throng somewhat, and Lafayette asked the King to
appear on the balcony with him. Louis stepped out and was greeted with
cheers of “_Vive le roi!_” Then Lafayette said to the Queen, “What are
your intentions, madame?”

“I know the fate which awaits me,” answered Marie Antoinette, “but my
duty is to die at the feet of the King and in the arms of my children.”

“Well, madame, come with me,” said Lafayette.

“What! Alone on the balcony? Have you not seen the signs which have been
made to me?”

“Yes, madame, but let us go.”

Marie Antoinette agreed, and stepped out with her children. The crowd
cried, “No children!” and they were sent back. The mob was making too
much noise for Lafayette to speak to them, so instead he took the
Queen’s hand, and, bowing low, kissed it. The crowd, always ready to go
from one extreme to another, immediately set up shouts of “Long live the
General! Long live the Queen!”

King Louis then asked Lafayette about the safety of his body-guards.
Lafayette stuck a tricolor cockade in the hat of one of these soldiers,
and taking him on to the balcony, embraced him. The mob’s answer was
cheers of “_Vive les gardes du corps!_”

So peace was restored for the time. Fifty thousand people marched back
to Paris, the King and the royal family in their carriage, Lafayette
riding beside them. Close to them marched the royal body-guards, and
close to the latter came the National Guards. And the crowd shouted with
exultation at having forced their sovereign to do their will.

At the gates of the city the mayor met the procession and made a
patriotic address. From there they went to the Hôtel de Ville, where
more speeches were made, and it was late in the day before Louis XVI.
and Marie Antoinette and their children were allowed to take refuge in
the Palace of the Tuileries.

Lafayette, who had played with the Queen and her friends in the gardens
at Versailles when he was a boy, had stood by her loyally on that day
when the mob had vowed vengeance against her. He believed in liberty and
constitutional government, but he also believed in order. He wanted to
protect the weak and defenseless, and he hated the excesses of the mob.
He thought he could reproduce in France what he had seen accomplished
in America. But conditions were too different. The people of France had
been ground down too long by their nobles. Their first taste of liberty
had gone to their heads like strong wine. So, like a boat that has lost
its rudder, the ship of state of France plunged on to the whirlpool of
the French Revolution.



King Louis XVI., Queen Marie Antoinette, and their children were now
virtually prisoners in the Palace of the Tuileries in Paris, the nobles
were leaving France for their own safety, and the Assembly was trying
to govern the country. But the Assembly was very large and unwieldy,
and its members were more interested in making speeches denouncing the
present laws than in trying to frame new ones. Lafayette was commander
of the National Guard, and so in a way the most powerful man in France,
although the most able statesman and leader was Mirabeau. Occasionally
Lafayette found time to attend the meetings of the Assembly, and at one
of these sessions a deputy demanded that all titles of nobility should
be abolished. Another member objected, saying that merit ought to be
recognized, and asking what could be put in the place of the words,
“Such a one has been made noble and count for having saved the State on
such a day.”

Lafayette rose at once to answer. “Suppress the words ‘made noble and
count,’” said he; “say only, ‘Such a one saved the State on such a day.’
It seems to me that these words have something of an American character,
precious fruit of the New World, which ought to aid much in rejuvenating
the old one.”

The measure was carried immediately, and Lafayette dropped from his
name both the “marquis” and the “de.” He never used them again; and
when, after the French Revolution was over, all titles were restored,
Lafayette, steadfast to his convictions, never called himself or allowed
himself to be addressed as the Marquis de Lafayette, but was always
known simply as General Lafayette.

Lafayette did all he could to ease the difficult position of King
Louis, though relations between the two men were necessarily strained,
since the King could hardly look with pleasure on the commander of the
National Guard, who held his office from the Assembly and people and
not from the crown. Louis chafed at having to stay in the Tuileries and
wanted to go hunting in the country, but the people would not allow
this. And it fell to Lafayette to urge the King to show as little
discontent as possible, which naturally made the sovereign resentful
toward the General.

During the winter of 1789-90 Lafayette was busy trying to keep order
in Paris and drilling the Guard. He sent the Duke of Orleans, who had
been stirring up the worst elements to dethrone Louis XVI. and make him
king instead, in exile from the country. Violent bread riots broke out
and mobs tried to pillage the convents, but Lafayette and his Guards
prevented much damage being done. It took all his tact and perseverance
to handle these soldiers under his command; they were quick-tempered
and restive under any authority, and only too ready to follow the last
excitable speaker they had heard. Lafayette said to his officers,
“We are lost if the service continues to be conducted with such great
inexactitude. We are the only soldiers of the Revolution; we alone
should defend the royal family from every attack; we alone should
establish the liberty of the representatives of the nation; we are the
only guardians of the public treasury. France, all Europe, have fixed
their eyes on the Parisians. A disturbance in Paris, an attack made
through our negligence on these sacred institutions, would dishonor us
forever, and bring upon us the hatred of the provinces.”

He did not want any great office or power for himself, his desires were
always very much like those of George Washington, he simply wanted to
serve the sacred cause of liberty. Yet he was at that time the most
powerful and the most popular man in France. The court, though it
disliked him as the representative of the people, depended on him for
its personal safety. The Assembly relied on him as its guardian, the
soldiers trusted him as their commander, and the people considered him
their bulwark against any return to the old despotism.

Through all this time he wrote regularly to Washington, and when, by his
orders, the Bastille was torn down he sent the keys of the fortress to
his friend at Mount Vernon. The keys were sent, he wrote, as a tribute
from “a son to an adopted father, an aide-de-camp to his general, a
missionary of liberty to her patriarch.”

On the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, July 14,
1790, a great celebration was held in Paris. A vast crowd of more than
three hundred thousand persons, including the court, the Assembly, the
National Guard, and men from the provinces as well as from the city, met
in the amphitheatre of the Champs de Mars to swear obedience to the new
constitution which was to govern them all. First Louis XVI. took the
oath, and then Lafayette, who was made for that day commander-in-chief
of all the armed forces of France, stepped forward, placed the point of
his sword on the altar, and took the oath as the representative of the
French people. A great roar of voices greeted the commander’s words.

But although Lafayette meant to remain faithful to the principles of a
constitutional monarchy, the mass of his countrymen soon showed that
they had no such intention. Disorder and rioting grew more frequent,
the people demanded more of the Assembly than the latter felt it could
grant, the Guards grew increasingly unpopular as the symbol of a law
and order the mob did not like. Within the Assembly itself there were
many quarrels and wrangles; sometimes the mob vented its feelings on
an unpopular member by attacking his house. And as often as not the
National Guards, when they were sent to protect property, joined with
the crowd and helped to destroy it instead.

In February, 1791, a crowd from Paris attacked the fortress of
Vincennes, which had once been a state prison, but had been unused
for some time. Lafayette, with his staff and a considerable number of
National Guards, marched out to the place, quelled the disturbance, and
arrested sixty of the ringleaders. When he brought his prisoners back to
the city he found the gates of the Faubourg St. Antoine closed against
him, and he had to threaten to blow the gates open with cannon before
the people would allow him to enter. All the way to the Conciergerie,
where he took his prisoners, the General and his soldiers were targets
for the abuse of the crowds.

On the same day some of the nobles who lived in the neighborhood of the
royal palace of the Tuileries, hearing of the attack at Vincennes,
thought that the King might also be in danger, and went to the palace,
armed with pistols and daggers. This angered the National Guards who
were posted about the Tuileries and who thought that the noblemen were
poaching on their territory. The King had to appear in person to settle
the dispute, and even then some of the nobles were maltreated by the
soldiers. Immediately revolutionary orators made use of the incident
to inflame the people’s mind, representing that the King’s friends had
planned to murder officers of the Guards.

It was clear that the National Guards were growing less and less
trustworthy, and equally evident that the people of Paris were becoming
more and more hostile to their King. Louis disliked staying at the
Tuileries, where he was constantly under the eyes of enemies, and at
Easter decided to go to the palace of St. Cloud, which was near Paris,
and celebrate the day there. Word of this got abroad, and the people
grumbled; more than that they said that Louis should not go to St.

On the morning of April eighteenth the King and his family entered their
traveling-carriage, only to have an angry crowd seize the horses’ heads
and forbid the King to move. Louis appealed to the National Guards
who were in attendance, but the soldiers took the side of the people
and helped to block the way. The mob swarmed close to the carriage,
insulting the King and his servants. Louis had courage. He put his head
out at the window and cried, “It would be an astonishing thing, if,
after having given liberty to the nation, I myself should not be free!”

At this point Lafayette and the mayor, Bailly, arrived, and urged
the mob and the Guards to keep the peace and disperse. The crowd was
obstinate; most of the Guards were openly rebellious. Then Lafayette
went to the royal carriage, and offered to use force to secure the
King’s departure if Louis would give the word. The King answered
promptly, “It is for you, sir, to see to what is necessary for the due
fulfilment of your constitution.” Again Lafayette turned to the mob and
addressed it, but it showed no intention of obeying his orders, and at
last he had to tell Louis that it would be dangerous for him to drive
forth. So the King and his family returned to the Tuileries, fully
aware now that they were prisoners of the people and could not count on
the protection of the troops.

Everywhere it was now said that the King must obey “the supreme will of
the people.” Louis protested; he went to the National Assembly and told
the deputies that he expected them to protect his liberty; but Mirabeau,
the leader who had used his influence on behalf of the sovereign in
earlier meetings, was dead, and the party of Robespierre held the upper
hand. The Assembly had no intention of opposing the people, and paid
little heed to the King’s demands.

Lafayette saw that a general whose troops would not obey him was a
useless officer, and sent in his resignation as commander of the Guards.
But the better element in Paris wanted him to stay, and the more loyal
of the troops begged him to resume his command. No one could fill his
place, and so he agreed to take the office again. He went to the Commune
of Paris and addressed its members. “We are citizens, gentlemen, we
are free,” said he; “but without obedience to the law, there is only
confusion, anarchy, despotism; and if this capital, the cradle of
the Revolution, instead of surrounding with intelligence and respect
the depositaries of national power, should besiege them with tumult,
or fatigue them with violence, it would cease to be the example of
Frenchmen, it would risk becoming their terror.”

The Commune applauded his words, and he went forth again as
Commander-in-chief, the Guards taking a new oath to obey the laws. But
at the same time the Jacobins, or revolutionaries, placarded the walls
of Paris with praises of the soldiers who had rebelled and feasted them
as models of patriotism.

Meantime King Louis and his closest friends determined that the royal
family must escape from the Tuileries. Careful plans were laid and
a number of the nobles were told of them. Rumors of the intended
escape got abroad, but such rumors had been current for the past year.
Lafayette heard them and spoke of them to the King, who assured him that
he had no such design. Lafayette went to the mayor, Bailly, and the two
men discussed the rumor, concluding that there was nothing more to it
than to the earlier stories.

The night of June twentieth was the time chosen by the King and his
intimate friends. Marie Antoinette placed her children in the care of
Madame de Tourzel, her companion, saying, “The King and I, madame, place
in your hands, with the utmost confidence, all that we hold dear in the
world. Everything is ready; go.” Madame de Tourzel and the children went
out to a carriage, driven by the Count de Fersen, and rode along the
quays to a place that had been decided on as the rendezvous.

Lafayette and Bailly had spent the evening with the King. As soon as
they had gone, to disarm suspicion Louis undressed and got into bed.
Then he got up again, put on a disguise, and walked down the main
staircase and out at the door. He reached his carriage, and waited a
short time for the Queen, who presently joined him; and then the royal
couple drove out of Paris.

The flight was not discovered until about six o’clock in the morning.
Then Lafayette hurried to the Tuileries with Bailly. He found that a
mob had already gathered there, vowing vengeance on all who had had
charge of the King. With difficulty he rescued the officer who had
been on guard the night before. He sent messengers in every direction
with orders to stop the royal fugitives. He went to the Assembly, and
addressed it. At the Jacobin Club, Danton, the fiery orator, declared,
“The commander-general promised on his head that the King would not
depart; therefore we must have the person of the King or the head of
Monsieur the commander-general!” But Lafayette’s reputation was still
too great for him to be reached by his enemies.

The unfortunate royal family were finally arrested at Varennes and
brought back to Paris. Louis was received in an ominous silence by his
people. Lafayette met him at the gates and escorted him back to the
palace. There Lafayette said, “Sire, your Majesty is acquainted with my
personal attachment; but I have not allowed you to be unaware that if
you separated your cause from that of the people I should remain on the
side of the people.”

“That is true,” answered King Louis. “You have acted according to your
principles; it is an affair of party. At present, here I am. I will tell
you frankly, that up to these last days, I believed myself to be in a
vortex of people of your opinion with whom you surrounded me, but that
it was not the opinion of France. I have thoroughly recognized in this
journey that I was mistaken, and that this opinion is the general one.”

When Lafayette asked the King for his orders, the latter laughed and
said, “It seems to me that I am more at your orders than you are at

The commander did all that he could to soften the hard position of the
royal captives, but he took care to see that the Tuileries was better
guarded after that.

Some Jacobins now petitioned the Assembly to dethrone the King, and
a great meeting was held in the Champs de Mars on the seventeenth
of July. As usual the meeting got out of hand and the mob turned to
murder and pillage. Lafayette and Bailly rode to the field with some of
their soldiers; Bailly proclaimed martial law and ordered the crowd to
disperse. Jeers and threats followed, and at last Lafayette had to give
his men the command to fire. A dozen of the mob were killed, and the
rest took to flight.

This seemed to bring peace again, but it was only the quiet that
precedes the thunder-storm. The Assembly finished its work on the
new constitution for France and the King signed it. Then Lafayette,
tired with his constant labors, resigned his commission and stated his
intention of retiring to private life. Paris voted him a medal and a
marble statue of Washington, and the National Guards presented him with
a sword forged from the bolts of the Bastille. At last he rode back
to his country home at Chavaniac, looking forward to rest there as
Washington looked for rest at his beloved Mount Vernon.

To friends at his home in Auvergne the General said, “You see me
restored to the place of my birth; I shall leave it only to defend or
consolidate our common liberty, if attacked, and I hope to remain here
for long.” He believed that the new constitution would bring liberty
and peace to his country. But the French Revolution had only begun its
course, and he was destined soon to be called back to its turmoil.

He had several months of rest in his home in the mountains, happy months
for his wife, who for two years had hardly ever seen her husband leave
their house in Paris without fearing that he might not return. She had
been a wonderful helpmate for the General during the turbulent course
of events since his return from America and had loyally entertained
the guests of every varying shade of political opinion who had flocked
to his house in the capital. But she liked to have her husband away
from the alarms of Paris and safe in the quiet of his country home at
Chavaniac. There he had more time to spend with her and their three
children, Anastasie, George Washington, and Virginia, who had been named
after the State where her father had won his military laurels.

The Legislative Assembly of France, which was trying to govern the
country under the new constitution, was finding the making of laws which
should satisfy every one a very difficult task. There were countless
cliques and parties, and each had its own pet scheme for making the
land a Utopia. The court party hoped that the more reckless element
would lose all hold on the people through its very extravagance, and so
actually encouraged many wildly absurd projects. The royalists were
always expecting that a counter-revolution would bring them back into
power, and the nobles who had left the country filled the border-towns
and plotted and conspired and used their influence to induce foreign
sovereigns to interfere and restore the old order in France. Naturally
enough news of these plots and conspiracies did not tend to make King
Louis or his nobles any more popular with the lawgivers in Paris.

In August, 1791, the King of Prussia and the Emperor of Austria met the
Count d’Artois and the Marquis de Bouillé at the town of Pilnitz and
formed an alliance against France, making the cause of Louis XVI. their
own. The royalists who had emigrated were delighted, and filled Europe
with statements of what they meant to do to the revolutionary leaders
when they won back their power. The revolutionists grew more and more
angry, and as they saw foreign troops gathering on the French frontiers
they decided that it was high time to oppose force with force. Narbonne,
the Minister of War, announced that the King and government meant to
form three armies of fifty thousand men each, and that the country had
chosen as commanding generals Rochambeau, Luckner, and Lafayette.

Lafayette at once returned to Paris from Chavaniac, paid his respects
to the King, and going to the Assembly thanked the members for his new
appointment and declared his unalterable devotion to the maintenance and
defense of the constitution. The president of the Assembly answered that
“the French people, which has sworn to conquer or to die in the cause of
liberty, will always confidently present to nations and to tyrants the
constitution and Lafayette.”

In view of what happened afterward it is important to remember that
Lafayette accepted his appointment under the constitution of France
and that he felt himself bound to support and obey it under all

Then he departed from Paris for the frontier, the cheers of the people
and the National Guards ringing in his ears. He was popular with all
parties except those of the two extremes, the friends of the King
considering him a rebel and the Jacobins calling him a courtier.

At Metz Lafayette met Rochambeau, Luckner, and Narbonne, and it was
arranged that the three generals should make their headquarters at
Liège, Trèves, and Coblentz. News of these military measures somewhat
cooled the ardor of the alliance against France and enemy troops stopped
collecting along the border. Lafayette took advantage of this to prepare
his raw recruits for a possible struggle. They needed this preparation,
for the army of France, which had once been the proudest in Europe, had
been allowed to scatter during the past few years.

He accomplished much in the way of discipline, was called to Paris to
consult on a plan of campaign, found the leaders there as much at odds
as ever, and returned to his post at Metz. Again the emigrant nobles and
their allies were uttering threats against the French government, and
finally, on April 20, 1792, the government declared war on its enemies.

Lafayette’s orders were to proceed against the Netherlands, marching
from Metz to Givet, and thence to Namur. Meantime Rochambeau’s army
was to attack the Austrians. But there was so much discord among
Rochambeau’s divisions that the attack turned into a retreat, and
Lafayette, learning this when he arrived at Givet, was obliged to wait
there instead of marching farther. The conduct of his soldiers so
discouraged Rochambeau that he resigned his commission and the territory
to be defended was divided between Lafayette and Luckner. The former
concentrated his troops at Maubeuge, and spent the month of May drilling
and occasionally making sorties.

In Paris the cause of law and order was having a hard time. The Jacobins
wanted to upset the constitution, dethrone the King, and establish
a republic, and they were steadily growing stronger. The spirit of
revolution was spreading through the country, and everywhere the
people gave the greatest applause to the most revolutionary orators.
The Assembly was treating Louis XVI. with insolence and the King was
retaliating by regarding the deputies with unconcealed contempt. The
monarchy and the constitution were fast falling to pieces, and the news
of the defeat of the army on the frontier helped to hasten the climax.
Gouverneur Morris wrote to Thomas Jefferson in June, 1792, “The best
picture I can give of the French people is that of cattle before a
thunder-storm.” And a week later he wrote, “We stand on a vast volcano;
we feel it tremble and we hear it roar; but how and where and when it
will burst, and who may be destroyed by its irruption, are beyond the
ken of mortal foresight to discover.”

Lafayette, in camp at Maubeuge, alarmed at the reports from Paris, felt
that the cause of liberty and order would be lost unless some effective
blow could be dealt at the power of the Jacobins. If some one would take
the lead in opposing that group, or club, he believed that the Assembly
and the rest of the people would follow. So he wrote a letter to the
Assembly, and in this he said, “Can you hide from yourselves that a
faction, and, to avoid vague terms, the Jacobite faction, has caused all
these disorders? It is this club that I openly accuse.” Then he went on
to denounce the Jacobins as the enemies of all order.

When the letter was read in the Assembly the Jacobins attacked it
furiously, charging that the General wanted to make himself a dictator.
His friends supported him, but the Jacobins were the more powerful.
Through their clubs, their newspapers, and their street orators they
soon led the fickle people to believe that Lafayette, their idol of a
few years before, was now a traitor to them and their greatest enemy.

Another quarrel arose between King Louis and the Assembly, and the
former dismissed his ministers. The Jacobins seized on this to
inaugurate a reign of terror. The streets were filled with mobs,
passionate orators harangued the crowds, men and women pushed their way
into the meetings of the Assembly and told the deputies what they wanted
done. June twentieth was the anniversary of the Tennis Court Oath, and
on that day a great rabble invaded the Assembly, denounced the King, and
then marched to the Tuileries, where it found that the gates had been
left open. The mob surged through the palace, singing the revolutionary
song “_Ça ira_,” and shouting “Down with the Austrian woman! Down with
Marie Antoinette!” The Queen and her children fled to an inner room,
protected by a few grenadiers. The King watched the crowd surge by him,
his only concession to their demands being to put a liberty cap on his
head. After three hours of uproar the leaders felt that Louis had been
taught a sufficient lesson and led their noisy followers back to the

A story is told that a young and penniless lieutenant by the name of
Napoleon Bonaparte was dining with a friend in the Palais Royal when
the mob attacked the Tuileries. Taking a position on the bank of the
Seine he watched the scene with indignation. When he saw the King at the
window with the red liberty cap on his head, he exclaimed, “Why have
they let in all that rabble? They should sweep off four or five hundred
of them with cannon; the rest would then set off fast enough.” But the
time had not yet come for this lieutenant to show how to deal with the

Lafayette heard of the mob’s invasion of the Tuileries and decided to
go to Paris to see what he could do to check the spirit of revolution.
General Luckner had no objection to his leaving his headquarters at
Maubeuge, but warned him that if the Jacobins once got him in their
power they would cut off his head. Undaunted by this idea Lafayette
went to the capital, and arrived at the house of his friend La
Rochefoucauld, entirely unexpected, on the twenty-eighth of June.

His visit caused great excitement. He went to the Assembly and made a
stirring speech in which he said that the violence committed at the
Tuileries had roused the indignation of all good citizens. His words
were cheered by the more sober deputies, but the Jacobins protested
loudly. One of the latter asked how it happened that General Lafayette
was allowed to leave his army to come and lecture the Assembly on its
duties. The General’s speech had some influence in restoring order, but
the power of the Jacobins was steadily increasing.

Lafayette then went to the Tuileries, where he saw the royal family.
Louis was ready to receive any assurance of help that the General
could give him, for the King saw now that his only reliance lay in the
constitution he had signed, and felt that might prove a slight support.
Marie Antoinette, however, refused to forgive Lafayette for the part he
had taken in the early days of revolution, and would have no aid at his

When he left the Tuileries some of his former National Guards followed
his carriage with shouts of “Vive Lafayette! Down with the Jacobins!”
and planted a liberty pole before his house. This gave Lafayette the
idea of appealing to the whole force of the National Guard and urging
them to stand by the constitution. He asked permission to speak to them
at a review the next day, but the mayor, fearing Lafayette’s influence,
countermanded the review. Then the General held meetings at his house
and did all he could to persuade Guards and citizens to oppose the
Jacobins, who, if they had their way, would, in his opinion, ruin the

At the end of June he returned to the army. Daily he heard reports of
the growing power of his enemies, the Jacobins. Then he resolved to make
one more attempt to save the King and the constitution. He received
orders to march his troops by a town called La Capelle, which was about
twenty miles from Compiègne, one of the King’s country residences.
His plan was that Louis XVI. should go to the Assembly and declare
his intention of passing a few days at Compiègne; there Lafayette’s
army would meet him, and the King would proclaim that he was ready
to send his troops against the enemies of France who had gathered on
the frontiers and should reaffirm his loyalty to the constitution. The
General thought that if the King would do this it would restore the
confidence of the people in their sovereign.

But neither the King nor the nobles who were with him at the Tuileries
were attracted by this plan, which meant that Louis would openly
declare his hostility toward those emigrant nobles who had gathered
on the borders. And when the Jacobins learned that Lafayette had been
communicating secretly with the King they used this news as fresh fuel
for their fire. So the result of the scheme was only to add to the
currents of suspicion and intrigue that were involving Paris in the
gathering storm.

The power of the Assembly grew weaker; its authority was more and more
openly thwarted; the deputies wanted to stand by the constitution, but
it appeared that the country did not care to live under its laws. The
government of Paris was now entirely under the control of the Jacobins.
They filled the ranks of the National Guards with ruffians in their
pay. On July fourteenth the King reviewed soldiers who were secretly
ready to tear the crown from his head and was forced to listen to bitter
taunts and jibes.

Then, at the end of July, the allied armies of Austria and Prussia,
accompanied by a great many French noblemen, crossed the frontier and
began their heralded invasion. The general in command, the Duke of
Brunswick, issued a proclamation calling on the people of Paris to
submit to their king, and threatening all sorts of dire things if they
persisted in their rebellion. The proclamation acted like tinder to
powder. The invasion united all parties for the moment. If the Duke of
Brunswick succeeded, no man who had taken part in the Revolution could
think his life or property secure, and France would return to the old
feudal despotism, made worse by its dependence on foreign armies.

The people of Paris and of France demanded immediate and vigorous
action; the Assembly could not lead them, and the Jacobins seized their
chance. Danton and his fellows addressed the crowds in the streets and
told them that France would not be safe until the monarchy and the
aristocracy had been exterminated. The people heard and believed, and by
August first were ready to strike down any men their leaders pointed out
to them.

Danton and the Jacobins made their plans rapidly. They filled the floor
and the galleries of the Assembly with men whose violent threats kept
the deputies constantly in fear of physical force. They taught the
people to hate all those who defended the constitution, and chief among
the latter Lafayette, whom the Jacobins feared more than any other man
in France. So great was their fury against him that Gouverneur Morris
wrote to Jefferson at the beginning of August, “I verily believe that if
M. de Lafayette were to appear just now in Paris unattended by his army,
he would be torn in pieces.”

On August tenth the mob, armed with pikes, surrounded the Tuileries.
The King looked out on a crowd made up of the most vicious elements of
the city. He tried to urge the National Guards to protect him, but they
were demoralized by the shouts of the throngs. Finally he decided to
take refuge with the National Assembly, and with the Queen and their
children succeeded in reaching the Assembly chamber.

The Swiss guards at the Tuileries attempted to make some resistance, but
the mob drove them from their posts and killed many of them. The reign
of terror spread. Nobles or citizens who had opposed the Jacobins were
hunted out and murdered. When the Assembly adjourned the deputies found
armed bands at the doors, waiting to kill all those who were known to
have supported the constitution.

Meantime the royal family had found the Assembly a poor refuge. A
deputy had moved that the King be dethroned and a convention summoned
to determine the future government of the country. The measure was
instantly carried. Louis XVI. and his family were handed over to
officers who took them to the Temple, which then became their prison.

The Jacobins had won the day by force and violence. They formed a
government called the “Commune of August 10th,” filled it with their
own men, drove all respectable soldiers out of the National Guard and
placed Jacobin pikemen in their places. All nobles and friends of the
King who were found in Paris were thrown into the prisons, which were
soon crammed. The Reign of Terror had begun in fact. Only a short time
later the prisoners were being tried and sent to the guillotine.

Lafayette heard of the events of August tenth and begged his troops to
remain true to the King and the constitution. Then the Commune of Paris
sent commissioners to the armies to announce the change of government
and to demand allegiance to the Commune. Lafayette met the commissioners
at Sedan, heard their statements, and declaring them the agents of a
faction that had unlawfully seized on power, ordered them imprisoned.

News of Lafayette’s arrest of the commissioners added to the turmoil
in Paris. Some Jacobins wanted to have him declared a traitor at once;
others, however, feared that his influence with the army might be too
great for them to take such a step safely. But troops in the other parts
of France had come over to the Commune, and so, on the nineteenth of
August the Jacobin leaders felt their power strong enough to compel the
Assembly to declare Lafayette a traitor.

Lafayette now had to face a decision. France had declared for the
Commune of Paris and overthrown King and constitution. He had three
choices. He might accept the rule of the Jacobins and become one of
their generals; he might continue to oppose them and probably be
arrested by his own soldiers and sent to the guillotine; he might leave
the country, seek refuge in some neutral land, and hope that some day
he could again be of service to liberty in France. To accept the first
course was impossible for him, because he had no confidence in Jacobin
rule. To take the second would be useless. Therefore the third course
was the one he decided on.

He turned his troops over to other officers, and with a few friends,
who, like himself, had been declared traitors because they had supported
the constitution, rode away from Sedan and crossed the border into
Belgium at the little town of Bouillon. He was now an exile from his
own country. The cause of liberty that he had fought so hard for had
now become the cause of lawlessness. His dream of France, safe and
prosperous under a constitution like that of the young republic across
the sea, had come to an end, at least for the time being. He could do
nothing but wash his hands of the Reign of Terror that followed on the
footsteps of the Revolution he had helped to start.



Lafayette knew that he could expect to find no place of refuge on either
side of the French frontier; on the one hand were the Jacobin soldiers
of the Reign of Terror who held him to be a traitor, and on the other
the emigrant noblemen and their allies who regarded him as in large part
responsible for all the troubles that had befallen Louis XVI. and his
court. He had got himself into a position where both sides considered
him an enemy; and his best course seemed to be to make his way to
England and there take ship for America, where he was always sure to
meet a friendly welcome.

Austrian and Prussian troops held the northern border of France and
garrisoned the outpost towns of Belgium. Lafayette and his companions
crossed the frontier on their road to Brussels, but were stopped at the
town of Rochefort because they had no passports. One of the party,
Bureaux de Pusy, rode to Namur, the nearest large town, to try to get
the necessary papers, but when he told the officer in charge there that
the passports were wanted for General Lafayette and several friends
there was great commotion. “Passports for Lafayette, the enemy of the
King and of order!” the Austrian officer exclaimed. Lafayette was too
important a man to let escape in any such fashion. And at once the
command was given to arrest the Frenchman and his companions.

They were found at Liège and arrested. Lafayette protested that he
and his friends were now non-combatants, and moreover were on neutral
territory in Belgium. In spite of that they were held as prisoners,
although a secret message was sent to Lafayette that he could have
his freedom if he would forswear his republican principles and give
certain information about conditions in France. Indignantly he refused
to buy his liberty in any such way, and then was sent to the Prussian
fortress of Wesel on the Rhine. On the journey there he was questioned
several times about the French army he had commanded, but the haughty
contempt with which he refused to make any answers quickly showed his
captors the sort of man they had to deal with. At one town an officer
of the Duke of Saxe Teschen came to him and demanded that Lafayette
turn over to the Duke the treasure chest of his army that his enemies
supposed he had taken with him. At first Lafayette thought the request a
joke; but when the demand was repeated he turned on the officer. “I am
to infer, then, that if the Duke of Saxe Teschen had been in my place,
he would have stolen the military chest of the army?” said he. The
officer backed out of the room in confusion, and afterward no one dared
to doubt the Frenchman’s honesty.


The prison at Wesel was mean and unhealthy, and the cells so small and
cold and damp that the prisoners suffered greatly. Yet to every protest
of Lafayette the only answer vouchsafed was that he should have better
treatment if he would tell his captors the military plans of the army
of France. His reply was always the same, an indignant refusal. The
Jacobins had declared him a traitor to the government of the Commune,
but he never repaid them by any treachery.

The Prussians and Austrians, arch-enemies of liberty, felt that in
Lafayette they had caught the chief apostle of freedom in all Europe,
and for greater security they presently moved him from the prison at
Wesel to the stronger fortress at Magdeburg on the Elbe. There Lafayette
had a cell about eight feet by four in size, under the outer rampart,
never lighted by a ray of sun. Its walls were damp with mould, and
two guards constantly watched the prisoner. Even the nobles in Paris,
victims of the Terror, were treated better than the Prussians treated
Lafayette. For five months he stayed there, with no chance for exercise
or change, proof against every threat and bribe. Then the King of
Prussia, seeing that he would soon have to make peace with France, and
unwilling that this leader of liberty should be set free, decided to
hand Lafayette and his comrades over to the Emperor of Austria, the
bitterest foe of freedom and of France.

So Lafayette and several of the others were secretly transferred across
the frontier to the fortress of Olmutz, a town of Moravia in central
Austria. Here they were given numbers instead of names, and only a few
officials knew who the prisoners were or where they were kept. Lafayette
practically disappeared, as many other famous prisoners had disappeared
in Austrian dungeons. Neither his wife and friends in France nor
Washington in America had any inkling of what had become of him.

When he had first left France on his way to Brussels he had written to
his wife at Chavaniac. “Whatever may be the vicissitudes of fortune,
my dear heart,” he said, “you know that my soul is not of the kind to
give way; but you know it too well not to have pity on the suffering
that I experienced on leaving my country.... There is none among you who
would wish to owe fortune to conduct contrary to my conscience. Join me
in England; let us establish ourselves in America. We shall find there
the liberty which exists no longer in France, and my tenderness will
seek to recompense you for all the enjoyments you have lost.” Later,
in his first days in prison, he wrote to a friend in England, using a
tooth-pick with some lemon juice and lampblack for pen and ink. “A
prison,” he said, “is the only proper place for me, and I prefer to
suffer in the name of the despotism I have fought, than in the name of
the people whose cause is dear to my heart, and which is profaned to-day
by brigands.”

For as brigands he thought of Robespierre and his crew who were making
of France a country of horror and fear. From time to time he had news
of the execution in Paris of friends who had been very near and dear to
him. When Louis XVI. was beheaded he wrote of it as “the assassination
of the King, in which all the laws of humanity, of justice, and of
national faith were trampled under foot.” When his old friend La
Rochefoucauld had fallen at the hands of the Terror he said, “The name
of my unhappy friend La Rochefoucauld ever presents itself to me. Ah,
that crime has most profoundly wounded my heart! The cause of the people
is not less sacred to me; for that I would give my blood, drop by drop;
I should reproach myself every instant of my life which was not devoted
to that cause; _but the charm is lost_.”

The lover of liberty saw anarchy in the land he had worked to set free;
king, nobles and many citizens swept away by the fury of a mob that
mistook violence for freedom. Few things are more bitter than for a man
who has labored for a great cause to see that cause turn and destroy his

Meantime Madame Lafayette was suffering also. She was arrested at the
old castle of Chavaniac and for a time imprisoned, persecuted, and even
threatened with death. The state had denounced Lafayette as an _émigré_,
or runaway, and had confiscated all his property. Yet through all these
trials his wife remained calm and determined, her one purpose being to
learn where her husband was and secure his release if possible. She
wrote to Washington, who was then the President of the United States,
begging him to intercede for her husband, and when she finally managed
to find out where Lafayette was imprisoned she urged the Austrians to
allow her to share his captivity.

The Emperor of Austria turned a deaf ear to all requests made on behalf
of Lafayette. The United States, however, was able to do something for
the man who had befriended it, and deposited two thousand florins in
Prussia, subject to his order, and obtained permission of the King of
Prussia that Lafayette should be informed that his wife and children
were alive.

The prisoner might well have thought that his own family had shared the
fate of so many of their relatives and friends. The name of Lafayette
was no protection to them, rather an added menace in a land where the
Jacobins held sway. On September 2, 1792, when the Reign of Terror was
in full flood in Paris, Minister Roland ordered that Madame Lafayette
should be arrested at Chavaniac. She was taken, with her aunt and her
elder daughter, who refused to leave her, as far as the town of Puy, but
there she wrote such vigorous letters of protest to Roland and other
officials that she was allowed to return to her home on parole. In
October of the next year she was again arrested, this time under the new
law that called for the arrest of all persons who might be suspected of
hostility to the government, and now she was actually put into a country
prison. In June, 1794, Robespierre’s agents brought her to Paris, and
she was imprisoned in the College du Plessis, where her husband had
gone to school as a boy. From there her next journey, according to the
custom of that time, would have been to the guillotine.

At this point, however, Gouverneur Morris, the Minister of the United
States, stepped upon the scene. He had already advanced Madame Lafayette
large sums of money, when her property had been confiscated; now when
he heard that she was to be condemned to the guillotine by the butchers
of the Revolution he immediately bearded those butchers in their den.
He wrote to the authorities, the Committee of Safety, as the officials
grotesquely called it, and told them that the execution of Madame
Lafayette would make a very bad impression in America.

The Committee of Safety were not disposed to listen to reason from any
quarter. Yet, when they heard Gouverneur Morris say, “If you kill the
wife of Lafayette all the enemies of the Republic and of popular liberty
will rejoice; you will make America hostile, and justify England in
her slanders against you,” they hesitated and postponed ordering her
execution. But, because of his protests against such violent acts of
the Reign of Terror, Gouverneur Morris was sent back to America, on the
ground that he had too much sympathy with the victims of “liberty!”

Madame Lafayette was brought into court, and the Committee of Safety did
its best to insult her. Said the Chief Commissioner, “I have old scores
against you. I detest you, your husband, and your name!”

Madame Lafayette answered him fearlessly, “I shall always defend my
husband; and as for a name--there is no wrong in that.”

“You are insolent!” shouted the Commissioner, and was about to order her
execution when he remembered Morris’s words and sent her back to her
prison instead.

With her husband in prison in Austria, her young children left
unprotected and far away from her, the plight of Madame Lafayette was
hard indeed. But she was very brave, though she knew that any day might
take her to the scaffold. Almost all the old nobility were brave.
While Robespierre and his rabble made liberty and justice a mockery
the prisoners maintained their old contempt for their jailers and
held their heads as high as in the old days when they had taken their
pleasure at Versailles.

On July 22, 1794, Madame Lafayette’s grandmother, the Maréchale de
Noailles, her mother, the Duchess d’Ayen, and her sister, the Vicomtesse
de Noailles, were beheaded by the guillotine, victims of the popular
rage against all aristocrats. A few days later the Reign of Terror came
to a sudden end, the prey of the very excesses it had committed.

The people were sick of blood; even the judges and executioners were
weary. On July twenty-eighth Robespierre and his supporters were
declared traitors and were carted off to the guillotine in their turn.
The new revolution opened the prison doors to most of the captives,
but it was not until February, 1795, that Madame Lafayette obtained
her freedom, and then it was largely owing to the efforts of the new
Minister of the United States, James Monroe. At once she flew to her
children, and sent her son George to America to be under the protection
of Washington. A friend had bought Chavaniac and gave it back to her,
but another Reign of Terror seemed imminent and Madame Lafayette
wanted to leave France. A passport was obtained for her, and with her
daughters she went by sea to Hamburg. There the American consul gave her
another passport, made out in the name of “Madame Motier, of Hartford,
in Connecticut.” Then she went to Austria and at Vienna presented
herself to the grand chamberlain, the Prince of Rosemberg, who was an
old acquaintance of her family. He took her to the Emperor, and from the
latter she finally won permission to share her husband’s captivity at

Meantime Lafayette’s health had suffered under his long imprisonment. In
the dark damp fortress, deprived of exercise, of company, of books, he
had passed many weary days. But the Fourth of July he remembered as the
birthday of American freedom and spent the hours recollecting the happy
time he had known in the young republic across the Atlantic.

At last his wife and daughters joined him in his prison and told him
of what had happened in France. Imprisonment was easier to bear now
that his family was with him, but the confinement was hard on all of
them, and presently the prison authorities, seeing Lafayette in need of
exercise, gave him more liberty, allowing him to walk or ride each day,
but always strongly guarded.

His friends in America were not idle. Washington had earlier sent
a letter to Prussia asking the liberation of Lafayette as a favor.
But the prisoner had already been transferred to Austria. In May,
1796, Washington wrote to the Emperor of Austria, and the American
Minister, John Jay, presented the letter. “Permit me only to submit
to your Majesty’s consideration,” wrote Washington, “whether his long
imprisonment and the confiscation of his estate and the indigence and
dispersion 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, on this
occasion, to be its organ; and to entreat that he may be permitted to
come to this country, on such conditions and under such instructions as
your Majesty may think it expedient to prescribe.”

Austria, however, did not intend to release the prisoner. She had too
much fear of him as a leader of liberty. When at an earlier time a
friend of Lafayette had asked for his release an official of Frederick
the Great had refused the request on the same ground that Austria’s
emperor now took. “Monsieur de Lafayette,” said this official, “is too
fanatic on the subject of liberty; he does not hide it; all his letters
show it; he could not keep quiet, if out of prison. I saw him when he
was here, and still remember a statement of his, which surprised me very
much at that time: ‘Do you believe,’ said he to me, ‘that I went to
America to make a military reputation for myself? I went for the sake of
liberty. When a man loves it, he can rest only when he has established
it in his own country.’”

Before Madame Lafayette had joined her husband in the prison at Olmutz a
friend had tried to help the captive to escape. At the time the Austrian
officials were allowing Lafayette a little more freedom, although he
was practically never out of the watchful sight of guards. The friend
was a young man who had come to Vienna to try to find out where the
famous Frenchman was imprisoned, the young American, Francis Kinloch
Huger, who, as a small boy, had stood in the doorway of his father’s
house in South Carolina at midnight and helped to welcome Lafayette and
his companions when they first reached American soil. Francis Huger’s
father had been attached to Lafayette’s command during the campaign in
Virginia, and the son had retained so deep an admiration for his hero
that he had come to Europe to help him if he could.

After he had been in Vienna some time Francis Huger met a German
physician, Doctor Bollman, who was as great an admirer of Lafayette as
the young American. Bollman said to Francis Huger, “Lafayette is in
Olmutz,” and then explained how he had found out the place where their
hero was hidden. He had become acquainted with the physician who was
visiting the Frenchman in prison, and had used this doctor, who knew
nothing of his plans, as a go-between. By means of chemically-prepared
paper and sympathetic ink he had actually communicated with Lafayette
and had arranged a method of escape to be attempted some day when the
prisoner was outdoors.

Francis Huger entered eagerly into the plot, and the two conspirators
made ready their horses and signals and other preparations for escape.
Lafayette had learned part of their plans. As he rode out one day in
November, 1794, accompanied by an officer and two soldiers, his two
friends were ready for him. Lafayette and the officer got out of the
carriage to walk along the road. The carriage, with the two soldiers,
drove on. When it was far ahead, Huger and Bollman, who had been
watching from their saddles, charged on the officer, while Lafayette
turned on the latter, snatched at his unsheathed sword, and tried to
disarm him.

The Austrian officer fought gamely, and while Huger held the horses
Bollman ran to the aid of the Frenchman, whose strength had been sapped
by his long imprisonment. The two soldiers, alarmed at the sudden
assault, made no effort to help their officer, but drove away for aid.
Meantime the officer was thrown to the ground and held there by Doctor

Francis Huger, holding the restive horses with one hand, helped to gag
the Austrian officer with his handkerchief. Then one of the horses
broke from his grasp and dashed away. Bollman thrust a purse full
of money into Lafayette’s hand, and, still holding the struggling
Austrian, called to Lafayette in English, so that the officer should not
understand, “Get to Hoff! Get to Hoff!”

Lafayette, who was very much excited, was too intent on escaping to pay
special attention to Bollman’s directions. He thought the latter was
merely shouting, “Get off; get off!” and so, with the help of Francis
Huger, he sprang to the saddle of the remaining horse and galloped away
as fast as he could go. He did not take the road to Hoff, where his
rescuers had arranged to have fresh horses waiting, but took another
road which led to Jagerndorf on the German frontier. Before he reached
Jagerndorf his horse gave out, and while he was trying to get a fresh
mount he was recognized, arrested, and taken back to his prison at

So the attempted escape failed. Huger and Bollman were arrested while
they were hunting for the lost Lafayette. They were thrown into
prison, put in chains, and nearly starved to death. And for some time
after that the officials made Lafayette’s life in prison even more
uncomfortable than it had been before.

Fortunately neither Huger nor Bollman died in their Austrian prison.
After eight months in their cells they were set free and sent out of
the country. Both went to America, where in time Doctor Bollman became
a political adventurer and aided Aaron Burr in those schemes which
ultimately brought Burr to trial for treason. Then Bollman might have
been punished had not Lafayette remembered what he had done at Olmutz
and begged President Jefferson to set him free. Francis Huger was among
the Americans who welcomed Lafayette to the United States in 1824.

The Frenchman, however, had to continue in prison in Austria. After his
wife and daughters joined him the imprisonment grew less hard. But after
a time his daughters fell ill of prison-fever, and soon their mother was
sick also. She appealed to the Emperor for permission to go to Vienna to
see a doctor. The Emperor answered that she could go to Vienna “only on
condition that you do not go back to Olmutz.”

She would not desert her husband. “I will never expose myself to the
horrors of another separation from my husband,” she declared; and so
she and her daughters stayed with Lafayette, enduring all manner of
privations and sufferings for his sake.

The world, however, had not forgotten Lafayette. America worked
constantly to free him, Washington and Jefferson and Jay, Morris and
Marshall and Monroe used all their influence with Austria, but America
was not loved in the tyrannical court of Vienna and the appeals of her
statesmen passed unheeded. England was generous also toward the man
who had once fought against her. The general who had commanded the
forces against him at the Brandywine moved Parliament again and again
to interfere on behalf of the French hero, and Charles James Fox,
the great English orator, pleaded in favor, as he said, “of a noble
character, which will flourish in the annals of the world, and live in
the veneration of posterity, when kings, and the crowns they wear, will
be no more regarded than the dust to which they must return.”

Help finally came from his own land, though in a very strange guise.
While Lafayette lay in his cell at Olmutz a new star was rising in the
skies, a planet succeeding to the confusion of the Reign of Terror in
France. A Corsican officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, was winning wonderful
laurels as a general. From victory he strode to victory, and by the
spring of 1797 he had broken the power of Austria, had crossed the
Italian Alps, and in sight of the Emperor’s capital was ready to
dictate the terms of the treaty of Campo Formio. Then he remembered
that a Frenchman, Lafayette, was still in an Austrian dungeon. Neither
Bonaparte nor the Directory that now governed France wanted Lafayette
to return to that country, but both were determined that Austria must
give him up. Napoleon wrote that demand into the treaty. The Austrian
Emperor objected, but Napoleon insisted and finally threatened, and he
held the upper hand. The Emperor sent an officer to demand a written
acknowledgment of his past good treatment from Lafayette and a promise
never to enter Austria again. Lafayette refused to say anything about
his past treatment but agreed to the second condition. Dissatisfied
with this the Austrians represented to General Bonaparte that the
prisoner had been set free and urged him to sign the treaty. Bonaparte
saw through the ruse. He sent an officer to see that Lafayette was
liberated, and only when he was satisfied of this would he make peace
with the crafty Emperor.

On September 17, 1797, Lafayette, after five years in prison, walked out
of Olmutz with his wife and daughters a free man. Even then, however,
the Emperor did not hand him over to the French; instead he had him
delivered to the American consul, with the statement that “Monsieur the
Marquis de Lafayette was released from imprisonment simply because of
the Emperor’s desire to favor and gratify America.”

The French Revolution had swept away Lafayette’s estates and fortune,
but his friends came to his assistance and helped to provide for him.
Especially Americans were eager to show their appreciation of what
he had done for their country. Washington, who had been caring for
Lafayette’s son at Mount Vernon, now sent him back to Europe, with a
letter showing that the great American was as devoted as ever to the
great Frenchman.

Lafayette knew that his liberation was due to the brilliant young
general, Bonaparte, and he wrote a letter to the latter expressing his
gratitude. But there was considerable jealousy in the French government
at that time; the letter was distasteful to some of the Directory, and
they took their revenge by confiscating the little property that still
belonged to Lafayette. Two Englishwomen, however, had left money to the
Frenchman as a tribute to his “virtuous and noble character,” and this
enabled him to tide over the period until he could get back some of his
native estates.

The Netherlands offered Lafayette a home, and he went to the little
town of Vianen, near Utrecht, to live. Here he wrote many letters to
his friends in America, studied the amazing events that had happened
in France since the day on which the States-General had first met at
Versailles, and watched the wonderful course of the new leader, Napoleon
Bonaparte, across the fields of Europe. Bonaparte puzzled him; he was
not sure whether the Corsican was a liberator or a despot; but he saw
that the General was restoring order to a France that was greatly in
need of it, and hoped that he might accomplish some of the ends for
which Lafayette and his friends had worked. Presently the time came when
the exile felt that he might safely return to his home.



After the treaty of Campo Formio with Austria, which had secured the
liberation of Lafayette, Napoleon Bonaparte returned to Paris the
leading man of France. The government in Paris, which had gone through
one change after another since the end of the Reign of Terror, was now
in the hands of what was known as the Directory. But the members of
this, divided in their views, were not very popular with the people,
who were so tired of disorder that they desired above everything else a
strong hand at the helm of the state. The people were already looking to
the brilliant young general as such a helmsman, and the Directors knew
this, and so grew increasingly jealous of Bonaparte.

Having settled his score with Austria Bonaparte suggested to the
French government that he should strike a blow at England by invading
Egypt. The Directory, glad to have him out of the country, agreed to
this, and in May, 1798, Bonaparte departed on such an expedition. As
soon as Bonaparte was safely away the enemies of France resumed their
attacks, and when the French people saw that the Corsican was their
surest defender they began to clamor more loudly against the Directory.
Bonaparte kept himself informed of what was happening at home, and when
he thought that the proper moment had come he left his army in Egypt
and appeared in France. His welcome there made it clear that the people
wanted him for their leader; they were weary of turmoil and constant
changes in government, they were ready for a strong and able dictator.

France had known ten years of disorder, bloodshed, anarchy, democratic
misrule, financial ruin, and political failure, and the people were no
longer so much concerned about liberty as they had once been. Bonaparte
was crafty; he pretended that he wanted power in order to safeguard
the principles that had been won in the Revolution. He went to Paris,
and there, on November 9, 1799, was made First Consul, and the real
dictator of France. The country was still a republic in name, but at
once the First Consul began to gather all the reins of authority in his
own hands.

Under the Directory Lafayette had been an exile, forbidden to enter
French territory. But with Napoleon in power conditions changed.
Lafayette felt the greatest gratitude to the man who had freed him from
Olmutz, he had the deepest admiration for the general who had won so
many brilliant victories for France, and he was disposed to believe that
Napoleon really intended to secure liberty for the country. When he
heard of Napoleon’s return from Egypt he wrote to his wife, who was in
France at the time, “People jealous of Bonaparte see in me his future
opponent; they are right, if he wishes to suppress liberty; but if he
have the good sense to promote it, I will suit him in every respect. I
do not believe him to be so foolish as to wish to be only a despot.”

He also sent a letter to Napoleon, in which he said, “The love of
liberty and country would suffice for your arrival to fill me with joy
and hope. To this desire for public happiness is joined a lively and
profound sentiment for my liberator. Your greetings to the prisoners of
Olmutz have been sent to me by her whose life I owe to you. I rejoice in
all my obligations to you, citizen-general, and in the happy conviction
that to cherish your glory and to wish your success is an act of civism
as much as of attachment and gratitude.”

Friends procured the exile a passport and he returned to Paris. But
Bonaparte was not glad to have him come back; the First Consul was in
reality no friend of the principles of the Revolution, and he felt
that such a man as Lafayette must inevitably oppose him and might even
prejudice the people against him. He showed his anger unreservedly when
friends told him of Lafayette’s arrival, and the friends immediately
advised the latter that he had better return to the Netherlands. But
Lafayette, having made up his mind to come, would not budge now. “You
should be sufficiently acquainted with me,” he said to the men who
brought him the news from the First Consul, “to know that this imperious
and menacing tone would suffice to confirm me in the course which I have
taken.” And he added, “It would be very amusing for me to be arrested
at night by the National Guard of Paris and imprisoned in the Temple the
next day by the restorer of the principles of 1789.”

Madame Lafayette called on the First Consul, who received her kindly.
She pleaded so eloquently for her husband, pointing out his natural
desire to be in France, that Napoleon’s anger vanished. He said that
he regretted Lafayette’s return only because it would “retard his
progress toward the reëstablishment of Lafayette’s principles, and
would force him to take in sail.” “You do not understand me, madame,”
he continued, “but General Lafayette will understand me; and not having
been in the midst of affairs, he will feel that I can judge better than
he. I therefore conjure him to avoid all publicity; I leave it to his
patriotism.” Madame Lafayette answered that that was her husband’s wish.

Believing that Lafayette had no desire to oppose him, Napoleon soon
restored him to citizenship. Different as the two men were, each admired
the strong qualities of the other. The First Consul could appreciate
Lafayette’s devotion to the cause of liberty, and Lafayette said to
Napoleon, “I have but one wish, General,--a free government and you at
the head of it.”

Napoleon, however, had no real liking for a free government. He had
forgotten any belief in liberty that he might have had in the days
when he was a poor and obscure lieutenant. He had tasted power, and
was already looking forward to the time when he should be not only the
most powerful man in France but in the whole world. To do that he must
make his countrymen forget their recently won liberties. He must keep
Lafayette, the greatest apostle of freedom, in the background, and
not allow him to remind the people of his liberal dreams. So Napoleon
adopted a policy of silence toward Lafayette. In February, 1800, the
celebrated French orator Fontanes delivered a public eulogy on the
character of Washington, who had lately died. Napoleon forbade the
orator to mention the name of Lafayette in his address, and saw to it
that Lafayette was not invited to the ceremony, nor any Americans. The
bust of Washington was draped in banners that the First Consul had taken
in battle.

Lafayette’s son George applied for and was given a commission in one of
Napoleon’s regiments of hussars. When his name was erased from the list
of exiles Lafayette himself was restored to his rank of major-general
in the French army, but he did not ask for any command. He went to
Lagrange, an estate that his wife had inherited from her mother, and
set himself to the work of trying to pay off the debts that had piled
up while he was in prison in Austria. Like all the old aristocracy
that returned to France after the Revolution he found that most of his
property had been taken by the state and now had new owners and that the
little that was left was burdened by heavy taxes.

Chavaniac and a few acres near it came into his possession, but there
were relatives who needed it as a home more than he did and he let them
live there. He himself cultivated the farm at Lagrange, and was able in
a few years to pay off his French creditors. But he was still greatly
in debt to Gouverneur Morris and other Americans who had helped his
wife with money when she had need of it, and these were loans that were
difficult to pay.

Lafayette was living quietly on his farm when Napoleon returned with
fresh triumphs from Italy. The man who had been a general could not help
but admire the great military genius of the First Consul. The latter
felt that he had little now to fear from Lafayette, and the relations
between the two men became quite friendly. Had they only been able to
work together they might have accomplished a great deal for the good of
France, but no two men could have been more fundamentally different in
their characters and ideals than Lafayette and Napoleon.

Occasionally they discussed their views on government, and Lafayette
once said to the First Consul, “I do not ignore the effect of the crimes
and follies which have profaned the name of liberty; but the French are,
perhaps, more than ever in a state to receive it. It is for you to give
it; it is from you that it is expected.” Napoleon smiled; he had his own
notions about liberty, and he felt himself strong enough to force those
notions upon France.

Yet the First Consul did wish for the good opinion and support of
Lafayette. It was at his suggestion that certain friends urged the
latter to become a Senator. Lafayette felt that, disapproving as he did
of some of the policies of the new government, he must decline, and did
so, stating his reasons frankly. Then Napoleon’s minister Talleyrand
offered to send him as the French representative to the United States,
but this Lafayette declined also. His political views and the need
of cultivating the farm at Lagrange were sufficient to keep him from
accepting office.

Lafayette enjoyed his talks with Napoleon, though the latter was often
inclined to be domineering. Lord Cornwallis came to Paris in 1802 to
conclude the Treaty of Amiens between France and England, and Lafayette
met his old opponent at dinner at the house of Joseph Bonaparte, the
brother of Napoleon. The next time Napoleon and Lafayette met the former
said, “I warn you that Lord Cornwallis gives out that you are not cured

“Of what?” answered Lafayette. “Is it of loving liberty? What could have
disgusted me with it? The extravagances and crimes of the tyranny of the
Terror? They only make me hate still more every arbitrary system, and
attach me more and more to my principles.”

Napoleon said seriously, “I should tell you, General Lafayette, and I
see with regret, that by your manner of expressing yourself on the acts
of this government you give to its enemies the weight of your name.”

“What better can I do?” asked Lafayette. “I live in retirement in the
country, I avoid occasions for speaking; but whenever any one comes to
ask me whether your system is conformant to my ideas of liberty, I shall
answer that it is not; for, General, I certainly wish to be prudent, but
I shall not be false.”

“What do you mean,” said Napoleon, “with your arbitrary system? Yours
was not so, I admit; but you had against your adversaries the resource
of riots.... I observed you carefully.... You had to get up riots.”

“If you call the national insurrection of July, 1789, a riot,” Lafayette
answered, “I lay claim to that one; but after that period I wanted no
more. I have repressed many; many were gotten up against me; and, since
you appeal to my experience regarding them, I shall say that in the
course of the Revolution I saw no injustice, no deviation from liberty,
which did not injure the Revolution itself.”

Napoleon ended the conversation by saying, “After all, I have spoken to
you as the head of the government, and in this character I have cause to
complain of you; but as an individual, I should be content, for in all
that I hear of you, I have recognized that, in spite of your severity
toward the acts of the government, there has always been on your part
personal good-will toward myself.”

And this in truth expressed Lafayette’s attitude toward Napoleon,
admiration and friendship for the General, but opposition to the growing
love of power of the First Consul.

That love of power soon made itself manifest in Napoleon’s election
to the new office of “Consul for life.” Meantime Lafayette was busy
cultivating his farm, work which he greatly enjoyed. And to Lagrange
came many distinguished English and American visitors, eager to meet the
owner and hear him tell of his adventurous career on two continents.

The United States treated him well. While he was still in prison at
Olmutz he was placed on the army list at full pay. Congress voted to
him more than eleven thousand acres on the banks of the Ohio, and when
the great territory of Louisiana was acquired a tract near the city
of New Orleans was set aside for him and he was informed that the
government of Louisiana was destined for him. But Madame Lafayette’s
health had been delicate ever since those trying days in Austria, and
that, combined with Lafayette’s own feeling that he ought to remain in
France, led him to decline the eager invitations that were sent him to
settle in America.

Napoleon’s star led the Corsican on, farther and farther away from the
path that Lafayette hoped he would follow. In May, 1804, the man who
was “Consul for life” became the Emperor of France, and seated himself
on the most powerful throne in Europe. Lafayette was tremendously
disappointed at this step. Again Napoleon’s friends made overtures to
the General, and the latter’s own cousin, the Count de Segur, who had
wanted to go with him to America to fight for freedom, and who was now
the Grand Master of Ceremonies at the new Emperor’s court, wrote to him
asking him to become one of the high officers of the Legion of Honor.
Lafayette refused the invitation, and from that time the friendship
between him and Napoleon ceased. The Emperor had now no use for the
lover of liberty, and carried his dislike for the latter so far that
Lafayette’s son George, though a brave and brilliant officer in the
army, was forced to resign his commission.

Napoleon went on and on, his victories over all the armies of Europe
dazzling the eyes of his people. Those who had been aristocrats under
Louis XVI. and those who had been Jacobins during the Reign of Terror
were glad to accept the smallest favors from the all-powerful Emperor.
But Lafayette stayed away from Paris and gave all his attention to his
farm, which began to prove productive. In his house portraits of his
great friends, Washington, Franklin, La Rochefoucauld, Fox, kept fresh
the memory of more stirring times.

But France, and even the Emperor, had not forgotten him. Once in an
angry speech to his chief councilors about the men who had brought about
the French Revolution, Napoleon exclaimed, “Gentlemen, this talk is not
aimed at you; I know your devotion to the throne. Everybody in France is
corrected. I was thinking of the only man who is not,--Lafayette. He has
never retreated an inch.”

And at another time, when a conspiracy against the life of the Emperor
was discovered, Napoleon was inclined to charge Lafayette with having
been concerned in it. “Don’t be afraid,” said Napoleon’s brother Joseph.
“Wherever there are aristocrats and kings you are certain not to find

Meantime at Lagrange Madame Lafayette fell ill and died in December,
1807. No husband and wife were ever more devoted to each other, and
Lafayette expressed his feelings in regard to her in a letter to his
friend Maubourg. “During the thirty-four years of a union, in which
the love and the elevation, the delicacy and the generosity of her
soul charmed, adorned, and honored my days,” he wrote, “I was so
much accustomed to all that she was to me, that I did not distinguish
her from my own existence. Her heart wedded all that interested me. I
thought that I loved her and needed her; but it is only in losing her
that I can at last clearly see the wreck of me that remains for the rest
of my life; for there only remain for me memories of the woman to whom I
owed the happiness of every moment, undimmed by any cloud.”

Madame Lafayette deserved the tribute. Never for one moment in the
course of all the storms of her husband’s career had she wavered in her
loyal devotion to his ideals and interests. The little girl who had met
him first in her father’s garden in Paris had stood by him when all
her family and friends opposed him, had been his counselor in the days
of the French Revolution, and had gone to share his prison in Austria.
History rarely says enough about the devoted wives of the great men who
have helped the world. No hero ever found greater aid and sympathy when
he needed it most than Lafayette had from his wife Adrienne.

From his home at Lagrange the true patriot of France watched the
wonderful course of the Emperor of France. It was a course amazing in
its victories. The men who had been an undrilled rabble in the days of
the Revolution were now the veterans of the proudest army in Europe.
The people did not have much more liberty than they had enjoyed under
Louis XVI.; they had exchanged one despotic government for another, but
Napoleon fed them on victories, dazzled their vision, swept them off
their feet by his long succession of triumphs.

The treaty of Tilsit, made in July, 1807, followed the great victories
of Eylau and Friedland, which crushed the power of Prussia and changed
Russia into an ally of France. Napoleon’s might reached its zenith then.
No European nation dared to contest his claim of supremacy. He was the
ruler of France, of Northern Italy, of Eastern Germany; he had made
Spain a dependency, and placed his brothers on the thrones of Holland,
Naples, and Westphalia. For five years his power remained at this
height. In 1812 he set out to invade Russia with an army of five hundred
thousand men, gathered from half the countries of Europe. He stopped at
Dresden, and kings of the oldest lineage, who only held their crowns at
his pleasure, came to do homage to the little Corsican soldier who had
made himself the most powerful man in the world. Only one country still
dared to resist him, England, who held control of the seas, but who was
feeling the effect of the commercial war he was waging against her.

But the very size of Napoleon’s dominion was a source of weakness. The
gigantic power he had built up depended on the life and abilities of one
man. No empire can rest for long on such a foundation. When Napoleon
left the greater part of the grand army in the wilderness of Russia
and hurried back to Paris the first ominous signs of cracks in the
foundation of his empire began to appear. France was almost exhausted
by his campaigns, but the Emperor needed more triumphs and demanded
more men. He won more victories, but his enemies increased. The French
people were tired of war; there came a time when they were ready to
barter Napoleon for peace. The allied armies that were ranged against
him occupied the hills about Paris in March, 1814, and on April fourth
of that year the Emperor Napoleon abdicated his throne at Fontainebleau.

The illness of relatives brought Lafayette to Paris at the same time,
and seeing the storms that again threatened his country he did what
he could to bring order out of confusion. His son and his son-in-law
Lasteyrie enlisted in the National Guard, and his other son-in-law,
Maubourg, joined the regular army. When the allies entered Paris
Lafayette witnessed the downfall of the Empire with mixed emotions.
He had never approved of Napoleon, but he knew that he had at least
given the country a stable government. And when the allies placed the
brother of Lafayette’s old friend Louis XVI. on the throne, with the
title of Louis XVIII., he hoped that the new king might rule according
to a liberal constitution, and hastened to offer his services to that

The people, tired of Napoleon’s wars, wanting peace now as they had
wanted it after the Revolution, agreed passively to the change of
rulers. But Louis XVIII., a true Bourbon, soon showed that he had
learned nothing from the misfortunes of his family. Lafayette met the
Emperor of Russia in Paris, and the latter spoke to him with misgiving
of the fact that the Bourbons appeared to be returning as obtuse and
illiberal as ever. “Their misfortunes should have corrected them,” said

“Corrected!” exclaimed the Emperor. “They are uncorrected and
incorrigible. There is only one, the Duke of Orleans, who has any
liberal ideas. But from the others expect nothing at all.”

Lafayette soon found that was true. The new king proved the saying about
his family, that the Bourbons never learned nor forgot. Louis XVIII. was
that same Count of Provence whom Lafayette had taken pains to offend
at Versailles when he did not want to be attached as a courtier to his
staff. The King remembered that incident, and when Lafayette offered to
serve him now showed his resentment and anger very plainly.

Seeing that there was nothing he could do in Paris, Lafayette retired
again to Lagrange, and there watched the course of events. Napoleon, in
exile on the island of Elba in the Mediterranean, was watching too, and
he soon saw that France was not satisfied with her new sovereign. Agents
brought him word that the people were only waiting for him to overthrow
the Bourbon rule, and on March 1, 1815, he landed on the shores of
Provence with a few hundred soldiers of his old Guard to reconquer his

He had judged the situation rightly. As he advanced the people rose to
greet him, the cities opened their gates, the soldiers sent to oppose
him rallied to his standard. As Napoleon neared Paris Louis XVIII. fled
across the frontier.

Again Lafayette went to the capital. “I had no faith in the conversion
of Napoleon,” he said, “and I saw better prospects in the awkward
and pusillanimous ill-will of the Bourbons than in the vigorous and
profound perversity of their adversary.” But he found that the people of
Paris wanted Napoleon again, and he heard with hope that the restored
Emperor had agreed to a constitution and had established a Senate and a
Representative Assembly elected by popular vote. These decisions sounded
well, and as a result of them Lafayette allowed himself to be elected a
member of the Representative Assembly, or Chamber of Deputies.

The other nations of Europe were furious when they heard of Napoleon’s
return. They collected their armies again and prepared for a new
campaign. Exhausted though France was, the Emperor was able to raise
a new army of six hundred thousand men. With these he tried to defeat
his enemies, but on the field of Waterloo on June 18, 1814, he was
decisively beaten and hurried back to Paris to see what could be done to
retrieve defeat.

He found the Chamber of Deputies openly hostile; its members wanted
him to abdicate. He held meetings with the representatives, among whom
Lafayette now held a chief place. At last the Assembly gave Napoleon
an hour in which to abdicate the throne. Finally he agreed to abdicate
in favor of his son. The Assembly did not want the young Napoleon as
Emperor, and decided instead on a government by a commission of five
men. Napoleon’s hour was over, his star had set; he was sent a prisoner
to the far-distant island of St. Helena to end his days.

Lafayette wanted to see the new government adopt the ideas he had
had in mind when France had first wrung a constitution from Louis
XVI., and would have liked to serve on the commission that had charge
of the country. Instead he was sent to make terms of peace with the
allied armies that had been fighting Napoleon. And while he was away
on this business the commission in Paris was dickering behind his
back to restore Louis XVIII. The allies had taken possession of the
French capital with their soldiers, the white flag of the Bourbons was
everywhere replacing the tricolor of the Empire, and when Lafayette
returned he found the King again upon his throne. Lafayette was
disgusted with what he considered the folly and selfishness of the
rulers of his country; he protested against the return of the old
autocratic Bourbons, but the people were now more than ever eager for
peace and harmony and accepted meekly whomever their leaders gave them.

Louis XVIII. was a weak, despotic ruler; the members of his house
were equally narrow-minded and overbearing. Lafayette opposed their
government in every way he could. In 1819 he was elected a member of
the new Assembly, and for four years as a deputy he fought against
the encroachments of the royal power. He took part in a conspiracy to
overthrow the King, and when his friends cautioned him that he was
risking his life and his property he answered, “Bah! I have already
lived a long time, and it seems to me that I would worthily crown my
political career by dying on a scaffold in the cause of liberty.”

That conspiracy failed, and although Lafayette was known to have been
connected with the plot, neither the King nor his ministers dared to
imprison him or even to call him to account. A year later he joined with
other conspirators against the Bourbons, but again the plans failed
through blunders. The Chamber of Deputies attempted to investigate the
affair, but Lafayette so boldly challenged a public comparison of his
own and the government’s course that the royalists shrank from pursuing
the matter further. They knew what the people thought of their champion
and did not dare to lay a hand upon him.

He retired from public life after this second conspiracy and went
to live with his children and grandchildren at his country home of
Lagrange. From there he wrote often to Thomas Jefferson and his other
friends in the United States. If the Revolution in France had failed to
bring about that republic he dreamed of the struggle in America had at
least borne good fruits. More and more he thought of the young nation
across the sea, in the birth of which he had played a great part, and
more and more he wished to visit it again. So when he was invited by
President Monroe in 1824 he gladly accepted, and for the fourth time set
out across the Atlantic.



The first half century of American independence was drawing near, and
the Congress of the United States, mindful of the days when Lafayette
had offered his sword in defense of liberty, voted unanimously that
President Monroe be requested to invite the General to visit America as
the guest of the nation. President Monroe joyfully acted as Congress
requested, and placed at Lafayette’s service an American war-ship.
The Frenchman, now sixty-seven years old, was eager to accept, but he
declined the use of the war-ship, and sailed instead, with his son
George Washington Lafayette and his private secretary on the American
merchantman _Cadmus_, leaving Havre on July 13, 1824.

As he sailed out of Havre the American ships in the harbor ran up their
flags in his honor and fired their guns in salute, an intimation of the
welcome that was awaiting him on the other side of the Atlantic. The
_Cadmus_ reached Staten Island on August fifteenth, and the guest landed
in the midst of cheering throngs. Most of the men who had taken part
with him in the birth of the country had now passed off the scene, and
to Americans Lafayette was a tradition, one of the few survivors of the
nation’s early days of strife and triumph. He was no longer the slim and
eager boy of 1777; he was now a large, stout man, slightly lame, but his
smile was still the same, and so was the delight with which he greeted
the people.

The United States had grown prodigiously in the interval between this
visit and his last. Instead of thirteen separate colonies there were
now twenty-four united States. The population had increased from three
to twelve millions. What had been wilderness was now ripe farmland;
backwoods settlements had grown into flourishing towns built around
the church and the schoolhouse. Agriculture and commerce were thriving
everywhere, and everywhere Lafayette saw signs of the wisdom, honesty,
and self-control which had established a government under which men
could live in freedom and happiness.

His visit carried him far and wide through the United States. From New
York he went by way of New Haven and Providence to Boston, from there
to Portsmouth by the old colonial road through Salem, Ipswich, and
Newburyport. From there he returned to New York by Lexington, Worcester,
Hartford, and the Connecticut River. The steamer _James Kent_ took him
to the old familiar scenes on the banks of the Hudson, reminding him
of the day when he and Washington had ridden to the house of Benedict

Starting again from New York he traveled through New Jersey to
Philadelphia, the scene of the stirring events of his first visit, and
thence to Baltimore and Washington. He went to Mount Vernon, Yorktown,
Norfolk, Monticello, Raleigh, Charleston, and Savannah. In the spring of
1825 he was at New Orleans, and from there he ascended the Mississippi
and Ohio Rivers, sailed up Lake Erie, saw the Falls of Niagara, went
through Albany and as far north as Portland, Maine. Returning by Lake
Champlain he reached New York in time for the great celebration of the
Fourth of July in 1825. He had made a very comprehensive tour of the
United States.

The whole of this long journey was one triumphal progress. He constantly
drove through arches bearing the words “Welcome, Lafayette!” Every
house where he stopped became a Mecca for admiring crowds. The country
had never welcomed any man as it did the gallant Frenchman. Balls,
receptions, dinners, speeches, gifts of every kind were thrust upon him;
and the leading men of the republic were constantly by his side.

He was present at the laying of the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill
Monument and heard the great oration of Daniel Webster. “Fortunate,
fortunate man!” exclaimed the orator turning toward Lafayette. “With
what measure of devotion will you not thank God for the circumstances
of your extraordinary life! You are connected with both hemispheres and
with two generations. Heaven saw fit to ordain that the electric spark
of liberty should be conducted, through you, from the New World to the
Old; and we, who are now here to perform this duty of patriotism, have
all of us long ago received it from our fathers to cherish your name and
your virtues. You now behold the field, the renown of which reached you
in the heart of France and caused a thrill in your ardent bosom. You see
the lines of the little redoubt, thrown up by the incredible diligence
of Prescott, defended to the last extremity by his lion-hearted valor,
and within which the corner-stone of our monument has now taken its
position. You see where Warren fell, and where Parker, Gardner,
M’Cleary, Moore, and other early patriots fell with him. Those who
survived that day, and whose lives have been prolonged to the present
hour, are now around you. Some of them you have known in the trying
scenes of the war. Behold, they now stretch forth their feeble arms to
embrace you! Behold, they raise their trembling voices to invoke the
blessing of God on you and yours forever!”

The welcome he received in New York and New England was equaled by that
of Philadelphia and Baltimore and the South. At Charleston Colonel
Huger, the devoted friend who had tried to rescue Lafayette from his
Olmutz prison, was joined with him in demonstrations of the people’s
regard. A great military celebration was given in Lafayette’s honor at
Yorktown, and in the course of it a box of candles was found which had
formed part of the stores of Lord Cornwallis, and the candles were used
to furnish the light for the evening’s entertainment.

Lafayette first went to Washington in October, 1824. He was met by
twenty-five young girls dressed in white and a military escort. After
a short reception at the Capitol he was driven to the White House.
There President Monroe, the members of his cabinet, and officers of the
army and navy were gathered to receive him. As the guest of the nation
entered, all rose, and the President advanced and welcomed him in the
name of the United States. Lafayette stayed in Washington several days
and then went to make some visits in the neighborhood.

During his absence Congress met and received a message from the
President which set forth Lafayette’s past services to the country, the
great enthusiasm with which the people had welcomed him, and recommended
that a gift should be made him which should be worthy of the character
and greatness of the American nation. Senator Hayne described how the
rights and pay belonging to his rank in the army had never been claimed
by Lafayette and how the land that had been given him in 1803 had
afterward through a mistake been granted to the city of New Orleans.
Then Congress unanimously passed a bill directing the treasurer of the
United States to pay to General Lafayette, as a recognition of services
that could never be sufficiently recognized or appreciated, the sum of
two hundred thousand dollars.

When he returned to Washington he went to the Capitol, where Congress
received him in state, every member springing to his feet in welcome
to the nation’s guest. Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, held out his hand to the gallant Frenchman. “The vain
wish has been sometimes indulged,” said Henry Clay to Lafayette,
“that Providence would allow the patriot, after death, to return to
his country and to contemplate the immediate changes which had taken
place; to view the forests felled, the cities built, the mountains
leveled, the canals cut, the highways constructed, the progress of the
arts, the advancement of learning, and the increase of population.
General, your present visit to the United States is a realization of
the consoling object of that wish. You are in the midst of posterity.
Everywhere you must have been struck with the great changes, physical
and moral, which have occurred since you left us. Even this very city,
bearing a venerated name, alike endeared to you and to us, has since
emerged from the forest which then covered its site. In one respect you
behold us unaltered, and this is the sentiment of continued devotion to
liberty, and of ardent affection and profound gratitude to your departed
friend, the Father of his Country, and to you, and to your illustrious
associates in the field and in the Cabinet, for the multiplied blessings
which surround us, and for the very privilege of addressing you which
I now exercise. This sentiment, now fondly cherished by more than ten
millions of people, will be transmitted with unabated vigor down the
tide of time, through the countless millions who are destined to inhabit
this continent to the latest posterity.”

Henry Clay was a great prophet as well as a great orator. We know now
how the affection of the United States for Lafayette has grown and grown
during the century in which the republic has stretched from the Atlantic
to the Pacific and its people increased from ten millions to more than a
hundred millions.

In his journey through the country Lafayette passed through thousands
of miles of wilderness and had several opportunities to renew his old
acquaintance with the Indians. He had won their friendship during the
Revolution by his sympathy for all men. Now he found that they had
not forgotten the young chief whom they had called Kayoula. A girl of
the Southern Creeks showed him a paper she had kept as a relic which
turned out to be a letter of thanks written to her father by Lafayette
forty-five years before. In western New York he met the famous chief Red
Jacket, who reminded him that it was he who had argued the cause of the
Indians at the council at Fort Schuyler in 1784. Lafayette remembered,
and it delighted him greatly that the Indians were as eager to greet him
as their white brothers.

Only one mishap occurred during the many journeys which might easily
have proved full of perils. While ascending the Ohio River on his way to
Louisville his steamer struck on a snag on a dark and rainy night. The
boat immediately began to fill. Lafayette was hurried into a small boat
and rowed ashore, in spite of his protests that he would not leave the
steamer until he secured a snuff-box that Washington had given him. His
secretary went below and got the snuff-box and his son George saved some
other articles of value. All the party were safely landed, but they had
to spend some hours on the river-bank with no protection from the rain
and only a few crackers to eat. The next morning a freight steamer took
them off and they proceeded on their journey.

When he was in Washington Lafayette made a visit to Mount Vernon, and
spent some time in the beautiful house and grounds where he had once
walked with the man whose friendship had been so dear to him. Like
Washington, almost all the men of the Revolution had departed. The
Frenchman found few of the soldiers and statesmen he had known then.
One, however, Colonel Nicholas Fish, who had been with him at the
storming of the redoubt at Yorktown, welcomed him in New York and went
with him up the Hudson. “Nick,” said Lafayette, pointing out a certain
height to Colonel Fish, “do you remember when we used to ride down that
hill with the Newburgh girls on an ox-sled?” Many places along the
Hudson served to remind him of incidents of the time when Washington had
made his headquarters there.

In New York the Frenchman visited the widow of General Montgomery and
Mrs. Alexander Hamilton. He found some old friends in Philadelphia and
Baltimore. In Boston he saw again the venerable John Adams, who had been
the second President of the country. He went to Thomas Jefferson’s home
of Monticello in Virginia, and passed some days with the man whom he
revered almost as much as he did Washington. With Jefferson he talked
over the lessons that were to be learned from the French Revolution and
the career of Napoleon. And he met foreigners in the United States who
called to mind the recent eventful days in his own land. He visited
Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, at Bordentown in New Jersey. At
Baltimore he found Dubois Martin, the man who as secretary to the Duke
de Broglie had helped Lafayette to secure the ship in which he had first
sailed to America. And at Savannah he discovered Achille Murat, the son
of Joachim, the ex-king of Naples, one of the men Napoleon had placed
upon a temporary throne, and learned that Murat was now cultivating an
orange-orchard in Florida.

A man named Haguy came one hundred and fifty miles to see the General,
and proved to be one of the sailors who had crossed on the _Victory_
with him and had later fought under him in the Continental Army. Here
and there he found veterans of his campaign in Virginia, and Lafayette
was as glad to see his old soldiers as they were to welcome him.

Before he left for Europe John Quincy Adams, the son of the second
President, was elected to succeed Monroe. The new President invited
Lafayette to dine at the White House in company with the three
ex-Presidents Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, all of them old and
trusted friends of the Frenchman. What a dinner that must have been,
with five such men at the table!

Perhaps the thing that delighted him most in America was the
self-reliant independence that marked the people everywhere. This type
of democracy was most inspiring to a man who had seen the constant
turmoil and bickerings of the Revolution and Napoleonic era in France.
America was young and her citizens were too busy developing their
country to pay much attention to class distinctions or the social
ambitions that were so prominent in Europe. They felt quite able to run
their government to suit themselves, and it seemed to Lafayette that
they were working out their problems in a most satisfactory manner.

In 1824 he witnessed a Presidential election with four candidates,
Adams, Jackson, Clay, and Crawford. Party feelings ran high, and there
was great excitement. But when the election was over the people settled
down to their work again in remarkable harmony and the government
continued its course serenely. This Lafayette, with his knowledge of
other countries, regarded as evidence of a most unusual genius for
self-control in the American nation.

All parties, all classes of men, praised and venerated him as they
praised and venerated the founders of their republic. His tour was a
tremendous popular success, the greatest reception ever given to a
guest by the United States. It must have made up to him for the many
disappointments of his career in France. And when he sailed for home he
knew that the country to which he had given all he had in youth would
never cease to love and honor him.

President John Quincy Adams at the White House, standing beside
Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, said to Lafayette, “You are ours,
sir, by that unshaken sentiment of gratitude for your services which
is a precious portion of our inheritance; ours by that tie of love,
stronger than death, which has linked your name for the endless ages
of time with the name of Washington. At the painful moment of parting
with you we take comfort in the thought that, wherever you may be, to
the last pulsation of your heart, our country will ever be present to
your affections. And a cheering consolation assures us that we are not
called to sorrow,--most of all that we shall see your face no more,--for
we shall indulge the pleasing anticipation of beholding our friend
again. In the name of the whole people of the United States, I bid you a
reluctant and affectionate farewell.”

An American frigate, named the _Brandywine_, in compliment to
Lafayette’s first blow for liberty in America, carried the guest of the
nation back to France. And the memory of that visit, and of what it
stood for, has been kept green in American history ever since.



The frigate _Brandywine_ reached Havre on October 5, 1825. The French
people had heard of the wonderful reception given Lafayette by the
United States and now they, in their turn, wanted to welcome the
returning hero of liberty. But the Bourbon king who sat on the throne
of France and the royalists disliked Lafayette so much that they did
their best to prevent the people from greeting him. It was only after
a long discussion that the forts of the harbor at Havre were permitted
to return the salute of the _Brandywine_, and at Rouen, while citizens
were serenading their hero beneath the windows of the house where he
was staying, officials of the government ordered a troop of soldiers to
charge upon the crowd and disperse it with drawn swords. The people,
however, insisted on honoring their famous fellow-countryman. They,
as well as the Bourbon king, saw in him the patriot and champion of
independence. Louis XVIII. had been succeeded on the throne by his
brother, Charles X., and the latter said of Lafayette, “There is a man
who never changes.” And the people knew this, and honored the General
for his lifelong devotion to their cause.

He went back to his quiet family life at Lagrange. Prominent statesmen
came to him for advice, but he rarely went to Paris. The nobility had
been restored to their ancient social standing, and Lafayette was urged
to resume his title of marquis. He refused to do this, however, and the
refusal embittered the royalists even more against him. The Bourbon
government feared his influence in 1825, just as the aristocrats had
feared it in 1785, the Jacobins in 1795, and Napoleon in 1805.

Yet Charles X. could not always conceal the fact that he had a strong
personal liking for the old republican. One day in 1829 the newspapers
announced that Lafayette was ill. The King met several members of the
Chamber of Deputies. “Have you any news of Monsieur de Lafayette?” asked
King Charles. “How is he?”

“Much better, sire,” answered a deputy.

“Ah! I am very glad of it!” said the King. “That is a man whom I like
much, and who has rendered services to our family that I do not forget.
We have always encountered each other, although moving in opposite
directions; we were born in the same year; we learned to ride on
horseback together at the Versailles riding-school, and he belonged
to my bureau in the Assembly of the Notables. I take a great deal of
interest in him.”

King Charles and his friends, however, paid no attention to the new
spirit that was awake in France. The people had won a constitution, but
the King tried to limit it as far as he could and to override it in some
ways. He roused the resentment of the country by trying to bring back
the old extravagance of his ancestors, and he even dared to attempt to
intimidate the Chamber of Deputies. In 1829 he dissolved the National
Assembly and appointed as ministers men who had won the hatred of the
nation for their autocratic views. The gauntlet was thrown down between
king and people, and the latter were not slow to pick it up.

At this time Lafayette happened to be traveling to Chavaniac, where
his son now lived. He was greeted at every town with the usual marks
of respect. At Puy he was given a public dinner, and toasts were drunk
to “The charter, to the Chamber of Deputies, the hope of France!” When
he reached the city of Grenoble he was met by a troop of horsemen, who
escorted him to the gates. There citizens presented him with a crown
of oak leaves made of silver “as a testimony of the gratitude of the
people, and as an emblem of the strength with which the inhabitants
of Grenoble, following his example, will sustain their rights and the

All along his route he was greeted with cheers and expressions that
showed the people looked to him to protect their rights. At Lyons a
speaker protested against the recent unlawful acts of the King and spoke
of the situation as critical. “I should qualify as critical the present
moment,” Lafayette replied, “if I had not recognized everywhere on my
journey, and if I did not perceive in this powerful city, the calm and
even scornful firmness of a great people which knows its rights, feels
its strength, and will be faithful to its duties.”

Through the winter of 1829-30 the hostile attitude of Charles X. to his
people continued. The new Chamber of Deputies was rebellious, and again
the King dissolved it and ordered fresh elections. The country elected
new deputies who were even more opposed to the King than the former
ones had been. Then King Charles, urged on by his ministers, resolved
to take a decisive step, to issue four edicts revoking the liberty of
the press and taking from the deputies their legal powers. “Gentlemen,”
said the King to his ministers as he signed the edicts, “these are grave
measures. You can count upon me as I count upon you. Between us, this is
now a matter of life and death.”

The King had virtually declared war on the country. The country answered
by taking up arms. The royal troops in Paris, moving to take control
of important points in the city, were met by armed citizens who fought
them in the streets. Marmont, head of the King’s military household,
sent word to Charles, “It is no longer a riot, it is a revolution. It
is urgent that your Majesty should adopt measures of pacification. The
honor of the crown may yet be saved; to-morrow perhaps it will be too

King Charles paid no heed. The citizens defeated the royal troops, and
in a few days had them besieged in their headquarters. Then the deputies
turned to Lafayette and urged him to accept the position of commander
of the National Guard, the same position he had held many years before.
“I am invited,” he answered, “to undertake the organization of the
defense. It would be strange and even improper, especially for those who
have given former pledges of devotion to the national cause, to refuse
to answer the appeals addressed to them. Instructions and orders are
demanded from me on all sides. My replies are awaited. Do you believe
that in the presence of the dangers which threaten us immobility suits
my past and present life? No! My conduct at seventy-three years of age
shall be what it was at thirty-two.”

Lafayette took command of the Guards and quickly had the city of Paris
in his possession. Only then did King Charles, fearing alike for
his crown and his life now, consent to sign a new ordinance revoking
his former edicts. Commissioners brought the ordinance of the King
to Lafayette at the Hôtel de Ville. “It is too late now,” Lafayette
declared. “We have revoked the ordinances ourselves. Charles X. has
ceased to reign.”

The question now was as to the new form of government for the country.
The people still remembered the days of the Reign of Terror and were
not ready for a real republic. The Duke of Orleans, who had opposed
King Charles, was very popular, and it was decided to appoint him
lieutenant-general of the nation. The people would have liked to have
Lafayette as their governor. The French captain of the ship that carried
the fugitive Charles X. away from France, said to the ex-King, “If
Lafayette, during the recent events, had desired the crown, he could
have obtained it. I myself was a witness to the enthusiasm that the
sight of him inspired among the people.”

But Lafayette did not want the crown, nor even to be the constitutional
head of the nation. It seemed to him best that the Duke of Orleans
should receive the crown, not as an inheritance, but as a free gift of
the people accompanied by proper limitations. So he took steps to have
the country accept the Duke as its new ruler.

The people of France had at last become an important factor in deciding
on their own form of government. The Duke of Orleans, better known as
Louis Philippe, did not seize the crown, as earlier kings had done;
he waited until the Chamber of Deputies and Lafayette, representing
the nation, offered it to him, and then he accepted it as a republican
prince. The deputies marched with the Duke to the Hôtel de Ville, and
as they went through the streets there were more shouts of “_Vive la
liberté!_” than there were of “_Vive le Duc d’Orléans!_” Liberty meant
far more to the people now than a king did, and Prince Louis Philippe
knew it. As he went up the stairs of the Hôtel de Ville he said
conciliatingly to the armed men among whom he passed, “You see a former
National Guard of 1789, who has come to visit his old general.”

Lafayette had always wanted a constitutional monarchy for France; he
knew Louis Philippe well, being allied to him through marriage with
the Noailles family, and he believed that the Duke would make a capable
ruler, his authority being limited by the will of the people. So when
Louis Philippe came to him at the Hôtel de Ville Lafayette placed
a tricolored flag in the Duke’s hand, and leading him to a window,
embraced him in full sight of the great throng in the street. The people
had been undecided; they did not altogether trust any royal prince; but
when they saw Lafayette’s act, they immediately followed his lead, and
cheers for the constitution and the Duke greeted the men at the window.

Lafayette had given France her new ruler, declining the crown for
himself, even as Washington had done in the United States. He made it
clear to the new king that he expected him to rule according to the
laws. He said to Louis Philippe, “You know that I am a republican and
that I regard the Constitution of the United States as the most perfect
that has ever existed.”

“I think as you do,” answered Louis Philippe. “It is impossible to have
passed two years in America and not to be of that opinion. But do you
believe that in the present situation of France and in accordance with
general opinion that it would be proper to adopt it?”

“No,” said Lafayette; “what the French people want to-day is a popular
throne surrounded by republican institutions.”

“Such is my belief,” Louis Philippe agreed.

Charles X. had fled from his kingdom before Lafayette and the people
even as his brother Louis XVIII. had once fled from it before Napoleon
and the people. On August 9, 1830, the Duke of Orleans entered the
Palais Bourbon, where the Chambers were assembled, as lieutenant-general
of the kingdom, and left it as Louis Philippe, King of the French. The
constitution which he had sworn to obey was not, like former charters, a
favor granted by the throne, but was the organic law of the land, to the
keeping of which the sovereign was as much bound as the humblest of his
subjects. Lafayette and the people had at last won a great victory for
independence after all the ups and downs of the Revolution and the days
of Napoleon.

As Lafayette marched his reorganized National Guard, thirty thousand
strong, in review before the King, it was clear that the General was the
most popular, as well as the most powerful, man in France. And at the
public dinner that the city of Paris gave him on August fifteenth, when
he congratulated his fellow-citizens on the success and valor with which
they had defended their liberties and besought them to preserve the
fruits of victory by union and order, he could justly feel that a life
devoted to the cause of freedom had not been spent in vain.

The coming years were to show that the people of France had much yet
to learn about self-government, but when one contrasts the results of
the revolution of 1830 with that of 1789 one sees how far they had
progressed in knowledge.

Lafayette’s presence was needed at Louis Philippe’s court to act as a
buffer between the sovereign and the people, and again and again he saw
revealed the truth of the old adage, “Uneasy lies the head that wears
a crown.” Presently a revolution in Belgium left the throne of that
country vacant and it was offered to Lafayette. “What would I do with
a crown!” he exclaimed. “Why, it would suit me about as much as a ring
would become a cat!”

The duties of his office as Commander of the National Guard, the tact
that was constantly required of him as intermediary between the people
and the royal court began to wear upon him, and he soon resigned his
position as Commander. Then, as a member of the Chamber of Deputies,
he continued his political labors. In time he saw many incidents that
pointed in the direction of new aggressions on the part of the King,
and he even came to believe that the fight for liberty was not yet
won and never would be so long as a Bourbon occupied the throne of
France. But he wanted the desired end to be reached by peaceful means,
constantly preached loyalty to the government they had founded as the
chief duty of the nation, and when, in 1832, a new revolution seemed
imminent he would have no part in it and by his indignant words quickly
brought the attempt to an end. He was now seventy-seven years old and
great-grandchildren played about his knees at his home at Lagrange.

His work for France and for America and for the world was done. In the
spring of 1834 he caught a severe cold, which sapped his strength. On
May twentieth of that year he died, having worked almost to the last
on problems of government. As his funeral wound through the streets
of Paris to the little cemetery of Picpus, in the center of the city,
a great throng followed. On that day church-bells tolled in France,
Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, and England. All nations that loved
liberty honored the great apostle of it. In the United States the
government and the army and navy paid to Lafayette’s memory the same
honors they had given to Washington, the Congress of the United States
went into mourning for thirty days and most of the people of the nation
followed its example. America vowed never to forget the French hero; and
America never has.

Men have sometimes said that Lafayette’s enthusiasm was too impulsive,
his confidence in others too undiscriminating, his goal too far beyond
the reach of his times; but these were the marks of his own sincere and
ardent nature. He was remarkably consistent in all the sudden shiftings
of an age full of changes. Other men had sought favor of the Jacobins,
of Napoleon, and of Louis XVIII. as each came into power; but Lafayette
never did. All men knew where he stood. As Charles X. said of him,
“There is a man who never changes.” He stood fast to his principles, and
by standing fast to them saw them ultimately succeed.

He was a man who made and held strong friends. Washington, Jefferson,
and Fox loved him as they loved few others. Napoleon and Charles X.
could not resist the personal attraction of this man whom neither could
bribe and whom both feared. Honesty was the key-note of his character,
and with it went a simplicity and generosity that drew the admiration of
enemies as well as of friends.

He had done a great deal for France, he had done as much for the United
States. His love of liberty bound the two nations together, and when, in
1917, one hundred and forty years after his coming to America to fight
for freedom, the United States proclaimed war as an ally of France in
that same great cause, the thought of Lafayette sprang to every mind.
The cause for which he had fought was again imperiled. The America
in which Lafayette had believed was now to show that he had not been
mistaken in his vision of her.



There have been many great changes in all the countries of the world
since the time of Lafayette, and in most nations liberty has become more
and more the watchword and the goal. The French Revolution was like a
deep chasm between the era of feudalism and the era of the rights of
man, and though the pendulum has sometimes seemed to swing backward for
a short time it has almost constantly swung farther and farther forward
in the direction of independence. The right of the common man to life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness has gradually taken the place of
the so-called divine right of kings to do as they pleased with their

In a sense the United States blazed the trail and led the way. The men
of 1776 proclaimed the principles of liberty and drew up a constitution
which has required few changes to the present day. They were
remarkably wise men; and the people of America were almost as wise,
for they appreciated the laws under which they lived and showed no
disposition to thwart or overthrow the statesmen they themselves elected
to guide the nation. The United States grew and grew, crossed the
Mississippi, crossed the Rocky Mountains, reached the Pacific coast, and
fronted on two oceans. As pioneers from the east had pushed out into
the middle of the continent, cleared the wilderness, and filled it with
prosperous cities and villages, so pioneers from the middle-west went
on across the deserts and the mountains and made the far west flourish
like the rose. The great northern territory of Alaska became part of the
republic; to the south Porto Rico; far out in the Pacific Hawaii and the
Philippines joined the United States; the Panama Canal was cut between
the two oceans; and the republic that had begun as thirteen small states
along the Atlantic seaboard became one of the most powerful nations in
the world. Her natural resources were almost limitless and the energy of
her people made the most of what nature had provided.

[Illustration: “AMERICA’S ANSWER”]

The republic fought several wars. That with Mexico settled boundary
disputes. The Civil War between the North and the South resulted in
the abolition of slavery and made the country a united whole, no State
having a right to secede from the rest. The war with Spain freed Cuba
and other Spanish possessions in the western hemisphere. But none of
these wars changed the system of government of the country. The United
States was still the great republic during all the eventful happenings
of the Nineteenth Century.

Meantime what had happened in France? Louis Philippe had shown himself
in his true lights as a Bourbon, had been driven from his throne, and
had been followed by various kinds of government. A new Napoleon, the
nephew of the first one, had come into power, had made himself Emperor
as Napoleon III., and had tried to restore the glories of the First
Empire. For a time France seemed to prosper under his rule, but it came
to a sudden end when the King of Prussia defeated the armies of France
in 1871 and drove Napoleon III. into exile. France lost her provinces of
Alsace and Lorraine and William I. of Prussia was proclaimed Emperor
of Germany in the great hall of Versailles. There followed in Paris
the days of the Commune, which almost equaled the Reign of Terror for
lawlessness. Gradually order was evolved under a new constitution with a
President at the head of the government, and ever since France has been
a real republic. From much turmoil and bloodshed she had won the liberty
that Lafayette had dreamed of.

Other countries in Europe had won independence too. England required
no revolution; by peaceful means she grew more liberal; her sovereign
became largely a figurehead, and the House of Commons, elected by the
people, was the real seat of government. Italy, which in Lafayette’s
time was mainly a collection of small kingdoms and duchies, ruled by
Austrian archdukes or by the Pope, united under the leadership of Victor
Emmanuel, the King of Savoy, drove out the Austrians, deprived the
Papacy of its temporal power, and became a nation under a constitutional
king. The west of Europe was really republican, like the United States;
it was only in the east that the ideas of feudalism still held sway.

Russia had her Czar, an autocrat of the worst type, Turkey her Sultan,
a relic of the Dark Ages, Austria her Hapsburg Emperor, a thorough
Bourbon, who learned nothing and forgot nothing. And Germany had her
Hohenzollern and Prussian Emperor, the descendant of a long line of
autocratic rulers, the sovereign made by Bismarck, “the man of blood and
iron,” the stanch believer in the old doctrine of the divine right of
kings. Germany had become an empire by the power of the sword, and her
Emperor never allowed his people to forget that fact.

Power goes to the head of a nation like strong wine. The true test of
the greatness of a nation is its ability to use its power for the good
of the world rather than for selfish ends. Prussia had always been
selfish. She had fought a number of successful wars, against Denmark,
against Austria, and against France, and each time she had taken
territory from her adversary. Her statesmen regarded her power only as
a means to gain greater material strength, and from the birth of the
empire they trained the people to think only of that end.

It was inevitable that the forces of freedom and those of autocracy
should come into conflict some day. Germany knew this, and her autocrats
carefully prepared themselves for the coming strife with the lovers of
freedom. They paid little or no attention to programs for peace offered
by other nations, they refused to agree to limit their armaments, they
openly showed their contempt for the conferences at the Hague. Like a
fighter who feels his strength they were constantly wanting to force
other people to acknowledge their power; time and again they could
barely restrain themselves from leaping at some opponent; they only
waited for the most auspicious moment to strike.

What they regarded as the right moment came in July, 1914. The
assassination of the heir apparent to the Austrian throne by a Servian
gave the rulers of Germany a pretext to make war on the world. Austria,
always haughty, always greedy, always weak and blind, was simply the
catspaw of the Hohenzollerns. Austria sent an overbearing message to
Servia, and Russia, taking the rôle of protector of the small Balkan
states, made it clear that she sided with Servia. Germany pretended to
take fright and warned Russia not to attempt to oppose Austria. England
and France tried to keep peace in Europe by suggesting a conference to
discuss the matter. But the Kaiser of Germany and his generals did not
want peace; they wanted to show the world how strong they were, they
wanted the world to bow down absolutely before them; they precipitated
the crisis and, pretending that they acted in self-defense, declared war
on Russia, France, and England.

In the first days of August, 1914, the enemy of liberty began its march.
With a ruthlessness that has no counterpart except in the acts of those
barbarian hordes that swept across Europe in the Dark Ages Germany
marched into Belgium, a small and peaceful country, giving as the only
excuse for her wanton invasion the fact that the easiest road to France
lay across that land. She expected Belgium to submit. The giant, swollen
with power, would do as it pleased with the pigmy. And when the British
Ambassador remonstrated with the German Chancellor over this illegal
treatment of a nation that all the powers of Europe had promised to
protect the Chancellor answered that the treaty of Germany with Belgium
was simply “a scrap of paper.” Germany knew no treaties that opposed her
desires; Germany has cared for nothing but her own selfish goal. And the
great German people consented to this infamous course, because they had
been taught that their first duty was blind obedience to the will of the
Fatherland, which meant the will of the House of Hohenzollern. Never in
history has a people,--and in this case a people that was supposed to be
civilized and thoughtful,--bowed its neck so meekly to the yoke of its

But as the hordes of power-drunk Germans,--whom civilization has rightly
named the Huns, in memory of those earlier barbarian invaders of western
Europe,--advanced through the peaceful fields of little Belgium they
found, to their great surprise, that the Belgian people did not intend
to submit to such an outrage without protest. Led by their heroic king,
Albert, the Belgians threw themselves in the path of the Huns and
checked them for a few days. They could not save their country, but they
saved precious days for the French and English, and the Huns found
that their march to Paris was not the easy, triumphal progress they had

Yet the German army was a mighty and effective machine in that autumn of
1914, built by men who had devoted their lives to perfecting instruments
of destruction. It rolled on and on, across Belgium, southward and
westward into France, crushing the small Belgian army, forcing the
outnumbered British into retreat, driving back the French by sheer
weight of cannon and men. The Kaiser thought to repeat the act of his
grandfather and make the French sign a treaty with him at Versailles,
taking more territory and wealth from them as the next step toward
making the House of Hohenzollern the greatest power in the world. As the
Huns drove on their over-mastering pride and self-conceit grew and grew,
inflating them like over-swollen frogs, until a chorus of what the rest
of the world had formerly considered intelligent professors, scientists,
and writers, actually dared to announce that the German will to victory
was the supreme achievement of the ages. Cæsar, Charlemagne, Napoleon,
at the height of their power, never lost some sense of proportion, some
human notion of justice; it was left to this Germany of 1914 to show how
blind, how mad, how intolerant the mind of man can be.

Rapidly the Huns marched toward Paris; and then something happened. The
French turned at bay, held, drove the invaders back. Over the ground
they had crossed in triumph the Huns retreated, back and back until they
had reached the line of the River Marne. And when the French General
Joffre drove them back to the Marne he won one of the greatest victories
for civilization in the annals of history.

Meantime Russia was attacking in the east and the Germans had to look
to the protection of their own territory. Europe was now ablaze,
England was training men, France was digging trenches, the flames of
war, lighted by Germany’s reckless torch, were spreading across the
world. Italy, true to the principles of her great leaders of the last
century, Mazzini, Cavour, Garibaldi, Victor Emmanuel, hating that
power of Austria whose history had been one long record of deceit and
enslavement, joined hands with the countries that stood for liberty
and justice. The Turk, true to his nature, united with the Hun. The war
raged back and forth, its battle-fields the greater part of Europe.

The issue was clearly drawn between liberty and tyranny. The Germans
were now the Bourbons, the Allied Powers were the true descendants of
Lafayette and Washington. The land of Lafayette lay next to the Menace
and her fair breast had been the first to bear the scars of war. The
land of Washington, however, lay far across the Atlantic, and one of
her guiding principles had been to avoid taking part in the affairs of
Europe. Some of her sons, loving Lafayette’s country for what she meant
to the world, volunteered in the French army, joined the French flying
corps, worked in the hospital service; but the great republic across the
sea proclaimed herself a neutral, although the hopes of her people lay
on the side of France and England.

But Germany knew no law, either that of Christ or man. The Sermon on the
Mount, the merciful provisions of the Hague Conventions, might never
have been given to the world as far as she was concerned. See what
some of her writers, men supposedly human, dared to say. “Might is
right and ... is decided by war. Every youth who enters a beer-drinking
and dueling club will receive the true direction of his life. War in
itself is a good thing. God will see to it that war always recurs. The
efforts directed toward the abolition of war must not only be termed
foolish, but absolutely immoral. The peace of Europe is only a secondary
matter for us. The sight of suffering does one good; the infliction of
suffering does one more good. This war must be conducted as ruthlessly
as possible.” And another German said, “They call us barbarians. What of
it? The German claim must be: ... Education to hate.... Organization of
hatred.... Education to the desire for hatred. Let us abolish unripe and
false shame.... To us is given faith, hope, and hatred; but hatred is
the greatest among them.”

This was indeed a strange religion for a nation that was supposed to
have heard of the Sermon on the Mount; a religion that might have been
made by Satan himself, with hate for its foundation instead of love. Yet
this was the German religion; if any one dare to deny that the words of
these writers truly represent Germany let him look at Germany’s acts,
let him think of the treatment of Belgium, the bombing of unprotected
cities and towns, the enslavement of women and children, the destruction
of hospital ships and of Red Cross camps, the murder of Edith Cavell,
the sinking of the _Lusitania_!

The submarine captain who fired the torpedo that sank the _Lusitania_
was a true son of Germany. He sent non-combatants to their death in the
sea as ruthlessly as might a demon of darkness. There was no humanity in
him, nor in those who commanded the deed. But there is no act of evil
that does not bear its own just consequences. The innocent men, women
and children who went down with the _Lusitania_ called forth the hate
of the world on the Huns, and set America on fire with indignation. For
every victim there Germany was to pay a thousandfold in time.

The United States had a great President, a man who knew the temper
of his people far better than those who criticized him. He knew the
history of the country, he knew that its people loved peace and hated
war, that Europe was far from the vision of most of them, and that they
still cherished Washington’s advice against the making of “entangling
alliances.” He tried to be patient, even with Germany, though he
knew her for what she was; he waited, urging her to obey the laws of
civilization, hoping that he might act as a peacemaker between the
warring nations, feeling that peace might lie in the power of America,
provided she kept neutral. But his efforts meant nothing to Germany; she
believed in insincerity and the piling of lies on lies.

In many ways the United States had been very successful. It had grown
tremendously, it had carried out many of the ideals of its founders.
But in some ways it had fallen from its true course. Special privileges
had allowed some men to grow enormously rich at the expense of their
neighbors, city governments were too often the playthings of grafting
politicians, men were often apt to prefer the liberty of the individual
to the welfare of the state. The real question of the country was not
as to whether we had won success, but as to whether liberty was still
worth striving for. A nation is very much like an individual, and an
individual often loses his ideals as he wins material success. Had
America grown to be like a rich and torpid man who cares more for his
ease and comfort than for the dreams of his youth? Had America forgotten
Lafayette’s vision of her, forgotten that liberty is the one priceless
gift? Were the youths, few in number but great in spirit, who were
offering their lives for freedom in the airplanes and trenches of Europe
the only part of the nation that still saw the vision clear?

Woodrow Wilson never doubted his people in that time of stress and
strain. He knew what their answer must be when the call came to them.
They had forgotten their heritage no more than he. The Declaration of
Independence was still their testament; the hundred millions were the
true sons of the few millions of the days of Washington. And when the
German Menace dared to forbid Americans to travel in safety on the seas
the answer of America came instantly. Yes, there was something better
than comfort and peace and wealth; there was freedom, there was the
goal of helping humanity to throw off the beasts of prey! The world
must be made safe for all men! The mailed fist must be shown that might
_does not_ make right!

Germany notified the United States that she intended to carry on
unrestricted submarine warfare, to become the lawless pirate of the
seas. President Wilson handed the German Ambassador his passports and
waited to see if Germany intended to carry out her threat. As usual, the
House of Hohenzollern would not listen to reason. Germany turned pirate,
throwing away the last vestige of any respect for law. And when this was
plain the President went to Congress on April 2, 1917, and advised the
representatives of the nation to accept the challenge of war thrust upon
us by the German Empire.

“Let us be very clear,” said the President, “and make very clear to
all the world what our motives and our objects are.... Our object ...
is to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the
world as against selfish and autocratic power and to set up amongst
the really free and self-governed peoples of the world such a concert
of purpose and of action as will henceforth ensure the observance of
those principles. Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where
the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and
the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic
governments backed by organized force which is controlled wholly by
their will, not by the will of their people....

“We are now about to accept gauge of battle with this natural foe to
liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation
to check and nullify its pretentions and its power.... The world must
be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested
foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We
desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves,
no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are
but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied
when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom
of nations can make them.”

Let us be thankful that our President could voice the same spirit in
1917 that Jefferson wrote into the Declaration of Independence and that
Lincoln proclaimed on the field at Gettysburg. Our country bore malice
toward none, we wanted to be friends to all, we had no selfish desires
for power or dominion. But as Lafayette heard the call to battle for the
freedom of men in America in 1776, so America now heard the same call
from the fields of Europe. On April 6, 1917, the United States formally
declared war against the autocracy of Germany.

What were we fighting against? Against the old idea of feudalism that
the ruler need respect no rights of the ruled, against the old Bourbon
theory that the sovereign need obey none of the laws that govern the
rest of humankind, against the principles of Hapsburgs and Hohenzollerns
that the people exist solely for the benefit of the ruling dynasties.
All this Prussia had converted into the principle that the Fatherland
is supreme, and that the people must obey the Fatherland in everything;
and the autocrats of Prussia had made the Fatherland a savage monster,
ruthless, unjust and cruel, devouring all it could to satisfy its greed.
If you look back through history you will see that the crimes of all
the despots are the crimes of Germany to-day and that whenever men were
fighting tyranny, rapacity and cruelty they were fighting the same
battle that America and her allies fight to-day.

More than that. In fighting for freedom we are fighting for our
preservation. The world cannot exist one half slave, the other half
free. Let tyranny succeed in Europe and it can only be a short time
before it will look hungrily at America. The Menace must be destroyed
before it grows so powerful that none can withstand it. “The time has
come,” wrote President Wilson shortly after the declaration of war, “to
conquer or submit.” Submission would have been to surrender all the
principles of the republic, the country to which lovers of liberty had
looked for more than a century to prove the actual realization of their

It is the German machine-made government, the autocratic ruling military
caste, the idea that might makes right, and that small nations have no
rights that big nations need respect, it is all these old and hideous
beliefs of the Dark Ages and the era of despots that the liberty-loving
nations are fighting to-day. The individual German is, after all, a
human being like ourselves, though warped and twisted in his ideas of
what is right and wrong by his selfish and barbarous government. The
individual German may become a civilized man again, provided he can come
to see the monstrous tyranny of his government. And for this reason
President Wilson said to Congress in his speech of April 2, 1917, “We
have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling toward them
but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that
their government acted in entering this war. It was not with their
previous knowledge or approval. It was a war determined upon as wars
used to be determined upon in the old, unhappy days when peoples were
nowhere consulted by their rulers and wars were provoked and waged in
the interest of dynasties or of little groups of ambitious men who were
accustomed to use their fellow-men as pawns and tools.”

It was a war in fact deliberately determined upon and brought about
by that same dark enemy of liberty that thrust Lafayette into an
Austrian dungeon a century ago, that oppressed the people of Italy and
wantonly imprisoned some of the noblest patriots that ever lived, that
tore Alsace-Lorraine from France, and that has rattled its sabre and
clanked its spurs and declared that war and destruction are the noblest
objects of man. But the people have let themselves be treated like
galley-slaves, have allowed that dark enemy of liberty to chain them to
the benches and make them row that ship of state which is nothing less
than a pirate bark upon the seas of the world. The people have been
blind. Our President has tried to help them to see the light of freedom.

Treachery, deceit, lies, these have been the watchwords of the rulers
of the Huns. When our government was still at peace with Germany her
statesmen tried to make a secret agreement with Mexico that in case we
should declare war the latter country should attack us and take our
southwestern states. Again and again they lied to our Ambassador at
Berlin and tried to intimidate him. Nothing has been sacred to them.
They talk of religion and God and in the same breath outrage every
teaching of Christianity. They have no respect for the great works
of art of the world; cathedrals, libraries are destroyed without a
thought other than to impress the enemy peoples with the frightfulness
of their warfare. The world must be taught to fear them is their creed.
And they have no more sense of humor than a stone. Over the slaughter
of thousands of poor slave-driven soldiers the Kaiser can still send
decorations to his sons, complimenting them and extolling their valor
and generalship while all the world knows them to be mere pawns and
puppets tricked out in the gaudy dress of the Hohenzollerns. Neither
Kaiser nor generals nor statesmen have the least sense of humor, and a
sense of humor is more than a saving grace, it is the mark of a sanity
of judgment. But how can any sane judgment be found in a nation that
thinks to frighten the rest of the world into submission by bombing
hospital camps and Red Cross workers? There is no health in the monster.
All the poisons of the past ages have collected in his blood.

America has never forgotten Lafayette. As John Quincy Adams said to
him, he was ours “by that unshaken sentiment of gratitude for ...
services which is a precious portion of our inheritance; ours by that
tie of love, stronger than death, which has linked” Lafayette’s “name
for the endless ages of time with the name of Washington.” In 1916
the old Château of Chavaniac, Lafayette’s birthplace, one hundred and
fifty miles to the south of Paris, was put up for sale by the owner,
a grandson of George Washington Lafayette. Patriotic Americans bought
it, desiring to make a French Mount Vernon of the historic castle and
grounds. At first it was intended to convert the château into a museum,
to be filled with relics of Lafayette and Washington and the American
Revolution, but the great needs that were facing France led to a change
of plan. The castle should become more than a museum; it should be a
home and school for as many children of France as could be provided
for. This would have been Lafayette’s own wish, and in doing this the
American society known as the French Heroes Lafayette Memorial has paid
the noblest tribute to the great patriot. And the people of France, the
most appreciative people in the world, have welcomed the gift and the
spirit that underlay it.

Anatole France, the great French writer, has summed up the sentiment
of his nation in glowing words. “American thought,” he says, “has
had a beautiful inspiration in choosing the cradle of Lafayette, in
which to preserve memoirs of American independence and to establish
an institution for the public good. In preserving in the Château de
Chavaniac d’Auvergne the testimonies and relics of the war which united
under the banner of liberty, Washington and Rochambeau, and in founding
the Lafayette museum, ties which have bound the two great democracies to
an eternal friendship have been commemorated. But this was not enough
for the inexhaustible liberality of the Americans. It went further,
and it was decided that upon this illustrious corner of France, the
children of those who died in defense of liberty, should find a refuge
and home, and that, deprived of their natural protection, some of these
children should be adopted by the great American people, while others of
delicate constitution should recover health and strength on this robust
land. It is a large heart that these men reveal in preserving a grateful
remembrance of past services, and in coming to the assistance of the
orphaned of a past generation who fought for their cause a hundred and
forty years ago. May I venture, as an aged Frenchman and a lover of
liberty, to proffer to America the tribute of my heartfelt homage?”

And so the castle where Lafayette was born and the fields and woods he
knew so well in his boyhood among the Auvergne Mountains are now to be
the home of generations of French children whose fathers gave their
lives that the world might be set free from tyrants and war cease to be.
What could be more fitting! It is one of the beautiful things of history
that Americans could do this for France. It is in such ways that the
spirit of brotherly love may some day encircle the earth.

For all wise men know that it is not riches, nor material possessions
nor great territories that make either men or nations noble. The United
States might cover half the globe, her wealth be beyond what man has
ever dreamed of, her population run into the hundreds of millions, and
yet our country be only hated and feared by other peoples. That was the
future the rulers of Germany had been planning for their nation; so
they might possess material things they were willing, nay, they were
glad that the rest of the world should hate them. They had no wisdom at
all; they had forgotten all the lessons of history. Christ might never
have taught, churches never been more than bricks and stone, patriots
and poets never have striven to show men their ideals, so far as these
rulers, and through them their people, were concerned. Lafayette knew
the truth, but the spirit of Lafayette was what Germany and Austria most
hated; they are trying to-day to imprison that spirit just as they did
imprison the man himself when they had the chance.

Nations, like men, live to serve, not to conquer for the lust of power.
Only when nations have learned that are they worthy of admiration.
Had America drawn her cloak about her, said “I am safe between my two
oceans,” made money out of the sufferings of other peoples, held fast
to safety and ease, then America would have betrayed every ideal of her
founders, every hope of the men who have loved and worshipped their
“land of the free.” Only when America said there were greater things
than ease and safety, that the liberty of all peoples was indissolubly
bound up with her own freedom, did she show herself as the great
republic in spirit as well as in name; only when she was willing to
serve others did she rise to the true heights of her national soul.

One of our poets, James Russell Lowell, has written the beautiful line,
“‘Tis man’s perdition to be safe, when for the truth he ought to die!”
The truth of that was known to the farmers of 1775 who took their guns
and at Lexington and Concord fired “the shot heard round the world.” And
the same truth was known to the men of 1861 who went out to keep the
republic their fathers had given them. For we have all received a great
legacy from those who have gone before, and now we know what it is, and
have again gone forth to fight for truth.

We know that this is the greatest of all crusades. We know that men must
be set free. Tyrants, whether they be emperors and kings or governments
that place greed above justice, must be cleared from the earth. This
last and greatest of tyrants, this league of the Hohenzollerns and
Hapsburgs, has by its very brutality and injustice opened men’s
eyes and let loose a new spirit in the world. Russia was autocratic,
her ruling house of Romanoff was in many ways true brother of the
other tyrants, but the people of Russia felt the new spirit and have
already driven their Czar from his throne. When we think of the French
Revolution, the Reign of Terror, Napoleon, and all that France had to
endure on the hard road to liberty we may well imagine that dark days
lie before the Russian people, but in time France rose like a phœnix
from the ashes of revolt, and when we see what France is to-day we may
look confidently to the future of this other great people.

For the spirit liveth! The truest words that were ever spoken! And the
spirit that fills France to-day, the spirit that fills England and
Belgium and America and all the allies, yes, even that same spirit in
Russia, will carry mankind a long way on the road to liberty. For no one
can conquer that spirit; it is the immortal part of man.

Let us read again the glorious lines of Julia Ward Howe in “The
Battle-Hymn of the Republic,” lines as true in this crusade as they
were in the crusade against slavery for which they were written.

   “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
    He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
    He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
                His truth is marching on.

   “I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
    They have builded Him an altar in the evening’s dews and damps;
    I have read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps.
                His day is marching on.

   “I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel:
   ‘As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
    Let the hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
                Since God is marching on.’

   “He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
    He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
    Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
                Our God is marching on.

   “In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea,
    With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
    As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
                While God is marching on.”

America heard the call; America saw that there were no limits to the
evils of the powers of darkness unless the powers of light should fight
them; and on April 6, 1917, America declared her purpose to do so. As
the small American republic once heard with rejoicing and confidence the
word that Lafayette and Rochambeau were to bring aid westward across the
Atlantic, so now the great French republic heard with the same emotions
the declaration that American soldiers were to bring succor to them
eastward across the same sea. The last great neutral nation, immense in
power of men and wealth and energy, had cast in its lot with the forces
that were fighting for freedom. The Allies, weary and worn with more
than two years of fighting, looked to this fresh, great people to bring
them victory.

A month after we joined the cause of liberty French generals and
statesmen came to America. At their head was Marshal Joffre, the hero
of the Marne. He visited Mount Vernon and laid a wreath on the tomb of
Washington; he traveled through the country and everywhere he found
statues of Lafayette and Joan of Arc and memories of great Frenchmen.
To America Joffre stood for the ideals of France, courage, endurance,
nobility of thought and action. Not since Lafayette’s visit in 1824 had
the people of the United States welcomed any visitor with such love and

The tour of Marshal Joffre was the outward symbol of the new union.
Instantly the United States, a peaceful nation with a very small
standing army, an insignificant merchant marine, its farms devoted
to supplying its own needs, its factories busy with the commerce of
peace, changed to a nation at war. It faced a stupendous problem. From
its untrained men it must create great armies, fitted to cope with and
defeat the fighting machine that the enemy had spent years in building.
It must have the ships to carry those millions of soldiers to Europe and
it must supply them in Europe with the food, the clothing, the guns,
the ammunition they would need. That in itself was a task beside which
the greatest military achievements in history paled into insignificance.
Napoleon crossed the Alps, but he could feed his army on the supplies
of the countries on the other side of the mountains. We must supply
everything, must transport America into Europe, and then keep America
there by an unending bridge of boats.

More than that, we must do our part in building ships to provision our
allies, ships that should replace those the pirates of the sea were
sinking daily. And we must feed not only our own people, but the people
of starving countries, and particularly the people of Belgium, whom
we had helped since the war began. Here in the broad and fertile land
that lay between the two oceans was to be the granary and factory and
training-camp that were to make liberty victorious. The nation turned
to its new task with the same indomitable energy that had conquered the
wilderness in the days of the pioneers.

At the call of the love of country men instantly volunteered. Congress
passed the Conscription Act, and young men who had dreamed of peaceful
occupations went to be trained as soldiers. Ceaselessly, tirelessly
the great work went on. Americans landed in France to reinforce the
volunteers who were already there as engineers, as motor-drivers, as
aviators. Railroads had to be built, and docks and factories; the most
skilled men in every line of work hurried to be in the vanguard. Then
General Pershing reached France as commander-in-chief of the vast
American army that was to come. As we had received Joffre so France now
welcomed Pershing. And he went to Lafayette’s tomb and laid a wreath
upon it, declaring that America had come to the aid of France.

Great armies are not built in a day, nor are gigantic fleets of merchant
ships. Mistakes must always be made, and there are always critics. But
in spite of critics and mistakes the American government, and under it
the people, went on with the work in hand. Men became skilled soldiers
and ships were launched, and at the end of the first year after our
entrance into the war our troops were in the trenches, fighting side by
side with their allies, and a steady stream of more troops flowed day
by day from west to east. America had already thrown the first part of
her power into the conflict and given earnest of the greater power to

Americans have already given their lives for freedom. First there were
the eager, intrepid young spirits who volunteered as flying-men, in the
French Foreign Legion, in the regiments of England, in the driving of
ambulances at the call of mercy. How gloriously their sacrifices will
live in the pages of history and in the hearts of their countrymen! And
then there have been men of the first American army, such men as the
private soldiers Hay, Enright, and Gresham, above whose graves in France
is the inscription “Here lie the first soldiers of the Illustrious
Republic of the United States who fell on French soil for Justice and
Liberty November 3, 1917.” Truly have they proved the truth of the Latin
motto, “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.”

What is the lesson of Lafayette, of Washington, of Lincoln, of all men
who have put the ideal of justice and liberty above their material
wants, of the men who have fought in France and in all parts of the
world for the cause of freedom? The lesson is simply this, that service
and self-sacrifice for others is the noblest goal of man, that life is
given us not to keep but to spend, and that to follow the teachings of
Christ is the only road to happiness for men or nations.

“Where there is no vision the people perish.” History is filled with
instances of the truth of that; the greatest empires of the world became
decadent, were defeated by enemies, and vanished from the earth when
their rulers and people saw no vision beyond wealth and power. Nineveh
and Babylon and Troy, Byzantium, Persia, the Macedonia of Alexander the
Great, Carthage and Imperial Rome all fell because gold and possessions
had blinded their eyes. Material power, and the wealth that often goes
with it, has been as dangerous to nations as it has been to individual
men. It is only too apt to lead to the greed for greater and greater
power, to bend other peoples to its will, to magnify itself at the
expense of everything else in the world. It is easy for power to make
nations forget their dreams of nobler things, of freedom and justice,
of the rights of men everywhere to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness.” Strength is a splendid thing, but it must be used to help
other and weaker people, not to aggrandize oneself.

That the great nations of the ancient world forgot, and that such
empires as the Ottoman Turks and Austria-Hungary have never known.
Has the Turk ever held any vision of helping other peoples? Have the
rulers of Austria ever cared for the welfare of their subject races?
The history of both empires shows that the men in power have thought
only of themselves. And what vision those countries have ever known has
been that of a few devoted patriots who struggled for liberty and were

Now in the past century Germany has been blinded by her growing
power. Her rulers lost their vision, they made might their God; then
her people were tempted, as Satan tempted Christ with a prospect of
the world’s dominion, and the people fell and were blinded, and so
the spirit perished in them as it has perished in other and greater
peoples. They talked of German “culture,” of the blessings of German
civilization; and they wanted to thrust it by force on the rest of the
world, not for the good of that world, but for the glory of Germany
alone. Their God became the God of the savage tribe, a God who belonged
to them and to them only.

There are times when all peoples are apt to forget the vision, times
when ease and plenty wrap them about. Few men are like Lafayette, who
from youth to old age hold fast to their ideals, no matter what comes.
Then, in a time of stress, the question is put to them: What will you
do? Take the easy road of blindness or follow the rough road of vision?
Belgium had her choice; she chose to lose all her worldly possessions
rather than lose her soul. France had her choice, and England and Italy:
to each the vision of liberty was greater than safety of life. And as
each has had to pay in countless suffering so the soul of each nation
has risen to greater heights. Their people do not perish like the blind;
they have seen the vision of a more Christlike world when the tyrants
have been destroyed.

America had her choice. Under all the power and wealth that her hundred
years and more had brought her she had kept her vision; she too knew
that liberty is priceless, immeasurably above all things else in the
world. And this is the America that we all love. For unless we would go
the way of the great nations of the old world, the nations that have
perished in their blindness, we must have ever in mind the sacred duty
to set and keep all men free. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
And lasting peace comes only with liberty to men and nations.

We cannot read the story of Lafayette without feeling that in his
generous youth he gave us the best he had, his love and devotion, his
courage and perseverance, his dauntless spirit that would not be denied
its purpose to fight for liberty. All this Lafayette gave us because
he saw in us the hope of the world. And now our precious opportunity
has come to repay that great debt. It is for us to give the land of
Lafayette all that he brought to us, and we do it for the same reason,
because we see in France and her allies the present hope of the world.

It is for youth to fight, for age to counsel and help youth in the
combat. Glorious is the opportunity that lies before the youth of our
country now; as glorious as was the opportunity that called to the boy
of seventeen in the days of Louis XVI. We may not all accomplish as much
as he did, but we can all thrill to the same generous impulses, see the
same great vision, resolve that we will do all that lies within our
power to win the crusade of freedom against tyrants. Every boy and man
in America should learn the lesson of Lafayette’s life and then go into
the struggle with the feeling that he is following in the footsteps of
that great idealist, that great patriot whose country was not limited to
his own nation but to all men who yearned for liberty. The greatest gift
of patriots is not the material things they may build, but the devotion
to ideals they show to other men. We may each be Lafayettes in our own

“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and
beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.”
So is liberty built; founded upon a rock; as unconquerable as the soul
of man. Liberty must win after floods and storms; its beacon-light must
in the time to come illumine the whole world. Its enemies are strong and
well-prepared; they call to their aid all the powers and devices of
darkness; but as truth is greater than falsehood so is liberty greater
than all the oppressors of man can bring against it.

America answers France and her answer is clear and dauntless. It is
as ringing as the Declaration of Independence, the rock upon which
America built her house. The power of Prussia, the power of the Hun,
the power of tyrants, must be utterly crushed before the world can be
free. Germany sought this war in all wickedness and greed; to satisfy
her ambition she has pulled down all the piers that support the house of
civilization that men have been building for ages; she would destroy the
world in her purpose to dominate it. And America intends that Germany
shall have war until all the devils are driven out of her.

America can do it. America came to this conflict with clean hands and a
clean soul; no selfishness was in her; she fights for no ends of her own
save the highest end to make the world safe for democracy. And as she
has truth and justice on her side she fights with a spirit unknown to
the servile bondsmen of autocracy. She is young and immensely strong,
she is still the land of freedom. And when she rises in full, relentless
might, thrice armed in that she has a just cause, she will destroy the
serpent and cast him from the earth. The greatest page in our history is
being written; we shall write it so that the better world to come shall
call us blessed.

“We are coming, Lafayette!” What a call to victory is that! We have
already come. We have joined with the descendants of that youth of
France who came to us in our hour of need. The spirit of Washington must
glory in that fact. The great Father of our country loved the Frenchman
as his son. To what nobler end could Washington’s children dedicate
themselves than to help their brethren? And the spirit of Lafayette must
rejoice to see his dreams fulfilled, his dreams of the great republic
and of the dawn of the brotherhood of men!

Lover of liberty and justice, we salute you! The time has come for us
to show that what you hoped of us we now are, and to show it to the end
that liberty shall not perish from the earth, that all men be free,
and that in truth man was endowed by his Creator with the inalienable
rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


This text has been preserved as in the original, including archaic and
inconsistent spelling, punctuation and grammar, except as noted below.

Obvious printer’s errors have been silently corrected.

Illustration notation has been moved to below any enclosing paragraph.

Text in italics in the original work is represented herein as _text_.

Small capitals in the original work are represented herein as all

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