Georges Washington de La Fayette

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Georges Washington de La Fayette
Personal details
Georges Washington Louis Gilbert de Lafayette

24 December 1779
Died29 November 1849(1849-11-29) (aged 69)
Paris, France
Emilie de Tracy
(m. 1802)
Parent(s)Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette
Adrienne de Noailles
Military service
Allegiance French First Republic
 French First Empire
Years of service1800-1807
Battles/warsFrench Revolution:
 • Battle of Pozzolo
 • Battle of Eylau
The oath of La Fayette at the Fête de la Fédération, 14 July 1790. Talleyrand, then Bishop of Autun can be seen on the right. The standing child is the son of La Fayette, the young Georges Washington de La Fayette.[1] French School, 18th century. Musée Carnavalet.
Zoom-in of The oath of La Fayette at the Fête de la Fédération showing young Georges Washington de La Fayette

Georges Washington Louis Gilbert de La Fayette (24 December 1779 – 29 November 1849) was the son of Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, the French officer and hero of the American Revolution, and Adrienne de La Fayette. He was named in honor of George Washington, under whom his father served in the Revolutionary War.[2]

Early life[edit]

La Fayette was born on Christmas Eve in 1779, while his father was on a one-year return to France. He was christened the next day and named after George Washington, the victorious commanding general of America's Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. The elder Lafayette said the gesture was "a tribute of respect and love for my dear friend."[3]

From 1783, La Fayette grew up in the Hôtel de La Fayette at 183 rue de Bourbon, Paris. Their home was the headquarters of Americans in Paris. Benjamin Franklin, John and Sarah Livingston Jay, and John and Abigail Adams[4] met there every Monday, where they dined with the La Fayette family and with the liberal nobility, including Clermont-Tonnerre, Madame de Staël, Morellet, and Marmontel.

French Revolution[edit]

In 1789, the French Revolution began. After 10 September 1792, in the wake of the September Massacres, La Fayette went into hiding with his tutor, Felix Frestrel. His mother was put under house arrest and, later, in prison. On 22 July 1794, his great-grandmother, Catherine de Cossé-Brissac, duchesse de Noailles, his grandmother, Henriette-Anne-Louise d'Aguesseau, duchesse d'Ayen, and aunt, Anne Jeanne Baptiste Louise, vicomtesse d'Ayen, were guillotined.[5]

Exile from France[edit]

In April 1795, Georges was sent to America with Frestrel.[6] While there, he studied at Harvard University, and he was a house guest of George Washington at the presidential mansion in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and at the Washington family home, Mount Vernon in Virginia.

On 15 October 1795, Georges' mother was sent to join his father and his sisters, Anastasie and Virginie, in the prison fortress of Olmütz. All of their money and baggage were confiscated.[7] On 18 September 1797, the family was released under the terms of the treaty of Campo-Formio (18 October 1797). They recuperated at Lehmkuhlen, Holstein, near his aunt Madame de Montagu and great-aunt Madame de Tessé.

In 1798, Georges returned to France from the United States. In 1799, the family moved to Vianen, near Utrecht during the brief time it was the Batavian Republic.[8] Since Georges was turned back at the French border as an exile, he stayed behind with his father, while his mother Adrienne returned to France. After Napoleon's plebiscite, on 1 March 1800, he restored La Fayette's citizenship, and removed their names from the émigrés list.

Military service and Restoration[edit]

Georges entered the army and was wounded at the Battle of Pozzolo in 1800. Later, he was aide-de-camp to General Grouchy at the Battle of Eylau, 1807, where he gave up his horse, at the risk of his own life.[9] Napoleon's distrust of Georges' father's independence rendered promotion improbable, and Georges de La Fayette retired into private life in 1807.

He entered the Chamber of Deputies and voted consistently on the Liberal side. He was away from Paris during the revolution of July 1830, but he took an active part in the Campagne des banquets, which led up to the French Revolution of 1848.[10]

La Fayette's visit to America[edit]

Georges accompanied his father on the latter's triumphant visit to America in 1824 and 1825. Throughout most of the long tour, he kept close company with his father's secretary, Auguste Levasseur.[11] They observed a volunteer fire company turnout in New York City.[12]

He met George Washington Parke Custis at Arlington House. He visited Mount Vernon,[13] and he met Thomas Jefferson at Monticello.[14]

Personal life[edit]

In 1802, Georges Washington de Lafayette married Emilie Destutt de Tracy, daughter of the Comte de Tracy. Together, they had three daughters and two sons:

Lafayette and Tracy lived at their family estate LaGrange, outside Paris, where he spent the rest of his life until his death in 1849, at the age of 70.[3]


The appearance of the young Georges Washington is known from a painting, The oath of La Fayette at the Fête de la Fédération, 14 July 1790, in which he is standing on the right alongside his father.[1] The painting is on display at the Musée Carnavalet.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Notice at Musée Carnavalet
  2. ^ Marquis de La Fayette Gregory Payan, Alice B. McGinty p.51
  3. ^ a b "Georges Washington de Lafayette". Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  4. ^ ib. Maurois, André, p.113
  5. ^ Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer; Thomas Waters Griffith (1898). My Scrap-book of the French Revolution. A. C. McClurg. p. 393.
  6. ^ David A. Clary. Adopted Son. pp. 411, 421.
  7. ^ Unger, Harlow Giles (2002). Lafayette. John Wiley & Sons. p. 309. ISBN 0-471-39432-7.
  8. ^ Edith Helen Sichel, The Household of the Lafayettes, p. 260
  9. ^ Grouchy correspondence with his wife, Emmanuel Grouchy à Eylau
  10. ^ a b c  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "La Fayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 65–67.
  11. ^ Levasseur, Auguste (1929). Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825. New York: Gallaher & White. pp. 211–12. OCLC 847833282.
  12. ^ Auguste Levasseur. Lafayette in America. Translator Alan Hoffman. p. 16.
  13. ^ Auguste Levasseur. Lafayette in America. Translator Alan Hoffman. p. 197.
  14. ^ Auguste Levasseur. Lafayette in America. Translator Alan Hoffman. p. 234.
  15. ^ Jules Cloquet; Isaiah Townsend (1835). Recollections of the Private Life of General Lafayette. Baldwin and Cradock. p. 227.

Not to be confused with George Washington.