Visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to the United States

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Portrait of General Lafayette (by Matthew Harris) in 1825

From July 1824 to September 1825, the last surviving French General of the Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette, made a tour of the 24 states in the United States. At many stops on this tour he was received by the populace with a hero's welcome, and many honors and monuments were presented to commemorate and memorialize the Marquis de Lafayette's visit.

Reason for the visit[edit]

The Marquis de Lafayette led troops alongside George Washington in the American Revolution over 40 years earlier. He fought in several crucial battles including the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania, and the Siege of Yorktown in Virginia.

The Marquis had returned to France and pursued a political career championing the ideals of liberty that the fledgeling U.S. republic represented. While the Bourbon constitutional monarchy had been in place in France for at least ten years, in the spring of 1824, King Louis XVIII was wheelchair bound and suffering from severe health issues that would prove fatal by late summer.[1] Further, Lafayette was being monitored by the dying King.[2] After the Marquis left the French legislature in 1824, President James Monroe invited him to tour the United States, partly to instill the "spirit of 1776" in the next generation of Americans[3] and partly to celebrate the nation's 50th anniversary.[4]

The traveling party[edit]

During his trip, he visited all of the American states and travelled more than 6,000 miles (9,656 km).[5][6] Lafayette was accompanied by, among others, his son Georges Washington de La Fayette.[3] Part of the journey, Lafayette was also accompanied by social reformer Fanny Wright.[7] The main means of transportation for the Party were stagecoach, horseback, canal barge and steamboat.[8]

Welcoming celebrations[edit]

Landing of General Lafayette at Castle Garden, New York 16 August 1824

Different cities celebrated in different ways. Some held parades or conducted an artillery salute. In some places schoolchildren were brought to welcome the Marquis. Veterans from the war, some of whom were in their sixties and seventies, welcomed the Marquis and some dined with him. While touring Yorktown, he recognized and embraced James Armistead Lafayette, a free negro who adopted his last name to honour the Marquis (he was the first US double agent spy); the story of the event was reported by the Richmond Enquirer.[9]

General timeline[edit]

He left France on an American merchant vessel, the Cadmus, on July 13, 1824. Lafayette's extended tour began on August 15, 1824, when he arrived at Staten Island, New York. Lafayette toured the northern and eastern states in the fall of 1824, including stops at Monticello to visit Thomas Jefferson and Washington, D.C., where he was received at the White House by President James Monroe. Lafayette began his tour of the Southern United States in March 1825, arriving at the Fort Mitchell crossing of the Chattahoochee River on March 31.[3]

Detailed timeline[edit]

A lighthouse clock made by Simon Willard to commemorate the visit of the Marquis to the U. S. White House library.


  • July 13 – Lafayette leaves France.
  • August 15 – Lafayette arrives at Staten Island, New York.
  • August 20 – Leaves New York City[10] and makes several stops as he makes his way to Bridgeport, CT stopping in Harlem, New Rochelle,[10] Byram Bridge and Putnam Hill in Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Saugatuck (Westport) and Fairfield before reaching Bridgeport and staying at the Washington Hotel [11]
  • August 21–24 – Travels through and makes stops in New Haven, CT, Providence, RI, Stoughton, MA, and Boston, MA.[10]
  • August 25 – Arrives in Cambridge, MA.[10] During the following days he visits former President John Adams at the latter's estate, Peacefield, in Quincy, MA.
  • August 31 – Leaves Boston, travels through and made stops at Lexington, Concord, Salem, Marblehead, and Newburyport, MA.[10]
  • September 1 – Visits Portsmouth, NH.[10]
  • September 2 – Visits Boston, MA, and Lexington, MA.[10]
  • September 3 – Visits Worcester, MA, and Tolland, CT.[10]
  • September 4 – Visits Hartford, and CT, Middletown, CT.[10]
  • September 5 – Arrives in New York, NY.[10]
  • September 11 – Celebrates the 47th anniversary of the Battle of Brandywine with French residents in New York[12]
  • September 28 – Visit to Philadelphia with speech at the State House (Independence Hall) under Philadelphian architect William Strickland's Triumphal Arches.
  • October 6 – Lafayette escorted to Wilmington, Delaware by the Grand Lodge of Delaware Masons.[13]
  • October 12 – Lafayette arrives in the District of Columbia.[14]
  • October 15 – Spends the entire evening at Arlington House, although he returned to his hotel in Washington D.C. at night.[15]
  • October 17 – Lafayette visits Mount Vernon and George Washington's tomb (in Virginia).
  • October 18–19 – Lafayette arrives by steamer in Petersburg, VA for visit to Yorktown for festivities marking the 43rd anniversary of the battle.
  • October 19–22 – Lafayette visits Williamsburg and the College of William & Mary.
  • October 22 – Lafayette arrives in Norfolk, Virginia via steamer from Petersburg and spends four days there and in Portsmouth.[16][17][18]
  • October – Arrives in Richmond on a steamer from Norfolk.[19] Edgar Allan Poe was in the youth honor guard in Richmond that welcomed him when he arrived.
  • November 4 – Lafayette visits former President Thomas Jefferson at Monticello.
  • November 8 – Lafayette attended a public banquet at the University of Virginia in nearby Charlottesville.[20]
  • Early December – Lafayette stays in Washington, D.C. visiting the White House, meeting several times with President James Monroe, as well as George Washington's relatives. Visits the Navy Yard, and Columbian College. On December 8 and 9 he makes official visits to the Senate and addresses the U.S. Congress at the House of Representatives.[12]
  • December 15 – Lafayette was feted at the first commencement ceremony of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.[21]
  • December 17 - Lafayette arrives at Annapolis, MD at 3:00 pm, was received in the Senate chamber and visited Fort Severn. He attended a ball that night. He was formally received at the statehouse on December 20.[22]
  • December 24 - Layayette arrives at the "Jug Bridge" crossing the Monocacy River on the National Pike east of Frederick, MD.


  • Late August – Lafayette returns to Mount Vernon.[41]
  • September 6 – Lafayette arrives in Washington, D.C., where he meets the new U.S. President John Quincy Adams, addresses a joint session of Congress and celebrates his 68th birthday at a White House banquet with President Adams.[12]
  • September 7 – Lafayette leaves Washington D.C. and returns to France on the frigate USS Brandywine.[5]

Honors received during the trip[edit]

Fayetteville, North Carolina was named after him. The College of William and Mary on October 20, 1824, conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Late in the trip, he again received honorary citizenship of Maryland.[a] He was voted, by the U.S. Congress, the sum of $200,000 and a township of land located in Tallahassee, Florida to be known as the Lafayette Land Grant.[43][44]

1825: Conveying Marquis de Lafayette back to France[edit]

The Marquis had expressed his intention of sailing for home sometime in the late summer or early autumn of 1825. President John Quincy Adams decided to have an American warship carry the Marquis de Lafayette back to Europe. Adams chose a recently built 44-gun frigate (originally named Susquehanna) for this honor, and accordingly, as a gesture of the nation’s affection for Lafayette, the frigate was renamed Brandywine to commemorate the battle in which the Frenchman had shed his blood for American freedom. Launched on June 16, 1825, and christened by Sailing Master Marmaduke Dove, Brandywine was commissioned on August 25, 1825, Capt. Charles Morris in command.

Lafayette enjoyed a last state dinner to celebrate his 68th birthday on the evening of September 6, and then embarked in the steamboat Mount Vernon on the 7th for the trip downriver to join Brandywine. On the 8th, the frigate stood out of the Potomac River and sailed down Chesapeake Bay toward the open ocean.

Anecdote: As he sat on the Brandywine ready to depart, General Isaac Fletcher conveyed Revolutionary War compatriot General William Barton’s greetings as well as Barton’s situation with respect to being in debtor’s prison in Danville, VT for 14 years. Lafayette promptly paid this general’s fine and thus allowed him to return to his family in Rhode Island.[45]

After a stormy three weeks at sea, the warship arrived off Le Havre, France, early in October; and, following some initial trepidation about the government’s attitude toward Lafayette’s return to a France now ruled by King Charles X, Brandywine's honored passenger returned home.


  1. ^ Lafayette was already a "natural born" American citizen via his pre-Constitution Maryland citizenship.[42]


  1. ^ "1824." The People's Chronology. Ed. Jason M. Everett. Vol. 1. Gale Cengage, 2006. 12 December 2012.
  2. ^ Kent, Emerson. "The Man With 'Great Zeal to the Cause of Liberty'". Emerson Kent. Retrieved 12 December 2012. "Lafayette was very much against the Bourbon Restoration, including their excessive spending, and began to plot against the King, who in turn tried to monitor him closely." 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Lafayette's Visit to Alabama". Encyclopedia of Alabama. 2012-05-18. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  4. ^ Glatthaar, Joseph T.; James Kirby Martin (2007). Forgotten Allies, The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8090-4600-3.  , p.3
  5. ^ a b Clary, David (2007). Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution. New York, New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-80435-5. , pp. 443-444
  6. ^ Loveland, Anne (1971). Emblem of Liberty: The Image of Lafayette in the American Mind. LSU Press. ISBN 0-8071-2462-1. , p. 3
  7. ^ "Frances Wright". Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Barcousky, Len (March 9, 2008). "Eyewitness 1825: Pittsburgh honors 'The Nation's Guest'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Kimball, Gregg D. (2000). "Richmond+Enquirer"&source=bl&ots=Ux15ekQeWl&sig=7yG3WwLB-33l1-KewUf10UqAI3A&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NRRGU-GxE4PZigfXl4GICw&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=James Lafayette "Richmond Enquirer"&f=false "4. The Shaping of Black Memory in Antebellum Virginia 1790-1860". In William Fitzhugh Brundage. Where These Memories Grow: History, Memory, and Southern Identity. UNC Press Books. p. 60. Retrieved April 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Levasseur, Auguste. Alan R. Hoffman (trans.) Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825. Lafayette Press, Manchester, NH (2006).
  11. ^ An Officer in the Late Army A Complete History of Marquis de Lafayette Major-General in the American Army in the War of the Revolution. Columbus: J. & H. Miller, Publishers, 1858.
  12. ^ a b c William Jones (November 2007). "Rekindling the Spark of Liberty: Lafayette's Visit to the United States, 1824-1825". Retrieved September 13, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b "Gould's History of Freemasonry Throughout the World - Volume 5". Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  14. ^ a b Clark, Allen C. (1919). "General Roger Chew Weightman". In John B. Larner. Records of the Columbia Historical Society. pp. 67–75. 
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  16. ^ "Customs Today". Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
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  19. ^ "Newspaper Article: The Life of Edgar Allan Poe - Part 2". 1935-01-13. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  20. ^ "''Marquis de Lafayette'', Th. Jefferson Encyclopedia, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc". 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  21. ^ "Lafayette Hall - GWUEncyc". Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  22. ^ Niles' Register Dec. 25, 1824, 27:259.
  23. ^ Niles' Register Jan. 22, 1825, 27:386.
  24. ^ Murray, Elizabeth Reid (1983). Wake [Capital County of North Carolina]. Vol. 1. Raleigh, North Carolina: Capital County Publishing Company. pp. Pages 222–226. ASIN B000M0ZYF4. 
  25. ^ Levasseur, Auguste Reid (1829). Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825 [Journal of a Voyage to the United States]. Vol. 2. Philadelphia, PA: Carey and Lea. 
  26. ^ Beaufort: A History. The History Press. Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
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  28. ^ a b c d "Lafayette in Louisiana | Entries | KnowLA, Encyclopedia of Louisiana". Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  29. ^ Fortier, Alcée (1904). A History of Louisiana. New York: Manzi, Joyant & Co. , vol. 3, p. 207.
  30. ^ "General Lafayette's 1825 Visit to Baton Rouge". Historical Baton Rouge blog. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  31. ^ Lloyd's Steamboat Directory and Disasters on the Western Waters, Cincinnati, Ohio; James T. Lloyd & Co, 1856, pages 260-261; cited by, "Cannelton (Lafayette Spring), IN Steamer MECHANIC Sinking, May 1825". Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  32. ^ Rietveld, Ronald D. (2006). "Abraham Lincoln's Thomas Jefferson". In Pederson, William D. and Williams, Frank J. The Great Presidential Triumvirate at Home and Abroad: Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. New York, NY: Nova Science Publ. p. 42. ISBN 1600213189. 
  33. ^ Kleber, John E., The Kentucky Encyclopedia, University Press of Kentucky, 1992, pp. 528-529
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  36. ^ a b c A Day with Lafayette in Vermont By Jay Read Pember (1911)
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  38. ^ Bottle Hill and Madison by William P. Tuttle (1916)
  39. ^ The Madison Heritage Trail by Frank Esposito (1985)
  40. ^ Lafayette's Visit to Germantown, July 20, 1825: An Address ..." By Charles Francis Jenkins,+July+20,+1825&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Baq8Ucz3B4P89QSutYG4Dw&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAA
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  43. ^ "Historic Markers Program of America". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  44. ^ Holbrook, Sabra (1977). Lafayette, Man in the Middle. Atheneum. ISBN 0-689-30585-0. , p. 177
  45. ^ A Day with Lafayette in Vermont By Jay Read Pember (1911) pp 17-18


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