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
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. Further, Lafayette was being monitored by the dying King. 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 and partly to celebrate the nation's 50th anniversary.
The traveling party
During his trip, he visited all of the American states and travelled more than 6,000 miles (9,656 km). Lafayette was accompanied by, among others, his son Georges Washington de La Fayette. Part of the journey, Lafayette was also accompanied by social reformer Fanny Wright. The main means of transportation for the Party were stagecoach, horseback, canal barge and steamboat.
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.
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.
- July 13 – Lafayette leaves France.
- August 15 – Lafayette arrives at Staten Island, New York.
- August 20 – Leaves New York
- August 20 – Arrives in New Rochelle, NY.
- August 21–24 – Travels through and makes stops in New Haven, CT, Providence, RI, and Boston, MA.
- August 25 – Arrives in Cambridge, MA. 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.
- September 1 – Visits Portsmouth, NH.
- September 2 – Visits Boston, MA, and Lexington, MA.
- September 3 – Visits Worcester, MA, and Tolland, CT.
- September 4 – Visits Hartford, and CT, Middletown, CT.
- September 5 – Arrives in New York, NY.
- September 11 – Celebrates the 47th anniversary of the Battle of Brandywine with French residents in New York
- 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.
- October 12 – Lafayette arrives in the District of Columbia.
- October 15 – Spends the entire evening at Arlington House, although he returned to his hotel in Washington D.C. at night.
- 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.
- October – Arrives in Richmond on a steamer from Norfolk. 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.
- 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 Dec. 8 and 9 he makes official visits to the Senate and addresses the U.S. Congress at the House of Representatives.
- December 15 – Lafayette was feted at the first commencement ceremony of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
- December 17 - Lafayette arrived at Annapolis, Md. at 3 pm, was received in the Senate chamber and visited Fort Severn. He attended a ball that night. He was formally received at the statehouse Dec. 20.
- December 24 - Layayette arrives at the "Jug Bridge" crossing the Monocacy River on the National Pike east of Frederick, MD.
- January 1 – Attends a banquet hosted by Congress.
- January 19 – Visits Baltimore and leaves Jan. 20 on a steam boat bound for Norfolk, on his way to visit the legislature of Virginia at Richmond.
- March 2–3 – Stays in Raleigh, North Carolina: Lafayette was reunited with Colonel William Polk who had fought beside him at the Battle of Brandywine where both had been wounded.
- March 15 - Lafayette arrives in Charleston, South Carolina and enjoys three days of balls, fireworks and reunions. The reunion with Francis Huger, son of his comrade Benjamin Huger was particularly significant in Charleston, since Francis had tried to free Lafayette from an Austrian prison around 1795.
- March 18 – Lafayette arrives in Beaufort, South Carolina to a 13 gun salute and speaks to citizens from the John Mark Verdier House.
- March 19 – Lafayette arrives in Savannah, Georgia.
- March 21 – In a ceremony on Johnson Square, Lafayette lays the cornerstone for a memorial dedicated to Revolutionary War hero General Nathanael Greene.
- March 27 – Lafayette spends the night at the Gachet house, Lamar County, Georgia
- March 31 – Lafayette crosses the Chattahoochee River into Alabama and stays in Fort Mitchell, Alabama. After staying overnight at the fort, they begin their route west to Montgomery, Alabama via military escort through former Creek territory.
- April 3 – Lafayette enters Montgomery.
- April 4–6 – Lafayette's party boards two boats, the Balize and the Henderson, and makes its way over the Alabama River through Selma, through the ill-fated, newly platted capital city of Cahaba and then met with members of the French Vine and Olive refugee colony (from near present day Demopolis, Alabama). The Party made a brief stop in Claiborne, Alabama.
- April 7 – Lafayette arrives in Mobile, Alabama
- April 8 – Governor Pickens accompanied Lafayette by steamboat down Mobile Bay to Mobile Point, where he joined an official welcoming party from Louisiana. He boarded the original steamer Natchez (built in 1823) which took him to New Orleans to continue his tour of America.
- April 11 – Lafayette arrives in Chalmette, Louisiana (site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans). Remaining in New Orleans for several days of festivities, he lodged in the The Cabildo (the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer ceremonies in 1803).
- April 15 – Lafayette departs New Orleans on the steamer Natchez up the Mississippi river towards Baton Rouge.
- April 16 – After stopping briefly at Duncan's Point, eight miles below Baton Rouge, Lafayette is received in Baton Rouge for a reception and banquet, leaving just before nightfall.
- May 4 – Lafayette arrives in Nashville, Tennessee.
- May 8–9 – The steamboat Mechanic, conveying Lafayette and party to Louisville, sinks on the Ohio. All passengers reach shore safely, but Lafayette loses property and money. The party is picked up the following day by the passing steamboat Paragon.
- May 11–13 – Lafayette stays in Louisville, Kentucky.
- May 14 – Attends dinner and a ball in Frankfort, Kentucky.
- May 15 – Spent the night at the home of Major John Keene, five miles from Lexington, Kentucky.
- May 16–17 – Attends a military parade and speaks at Transylvania University and the Lexington Female Academy in Lexington, Kentucky.
- May 18 – Arrives in Georgetown, Kentucky.
- May 19–20 – Stays in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- May 21 – Arrives in Maysville, Kentucky.
- May 24 – Visits Wheeling, Virginia
- May 25 – Visits Washington, Pennsylvania
- May 29 – Visits Braddock, Pennsylvania
- May 30–31 – Stays in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- June 1 – Arrives in Butler, Pennsylvania. Stays overnight.
- June 4 – Lafayette gives speech at Eagle Tavern, Lafayette Square, Buffalo. Lafayette followed part of the route of the still-uncompleted Erie Canal from Buffalo across New York.
- June 7 – Lafayette meets local Revolutionary War veterans at Silvius Hoard's Tavern, Rochester, New York.
- June 17- Lafayette lays the cornerstone of Bunker Hill Monument during celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, Charlestown in Boston, Massachusetts. He is accompanied by Daniel Webster, who gives a rousing speech
- June 27—Lafayette arrived late (~10PM) in Claremont NH.
- June 28—Early morning, Lafayette crossed into Vermont at the Cornish Bridge. He travelled north, passing through Woodstock at 11AM, took stagecoach through the mountains to Barnard and Royalton. He passed through Randolph, VT, here he is said to have met a young Justin S Morrill and eventual Senator Dudley Chase. He was escorted with Governor Cornelius P. Van Ness and others through Barre, Vermont to large festivities in Montpelier that included speeches by supreme Court Judge Elijah Paine and others. He spent the night in Montpelier at The Pavilion, an historic and politically important structure.
- June 29—On Wed in Montpelier, Lafayette met with women’s groups and then departed Montpelier for Burlington and Whitehall New York.
- July 14 - Lafayette attends a banquet held in his honor at Sansay House in Morristown, New Jersey
- July 15 - Lafayette attends a reception at Madison House in then Bottle Hill now Madison, New Jersey on his way to Springfield.
- July 20 – Lafayette visits Germantown and Chestnut Hill, near Philadelphia.
- July 25 – Lafayette again visits Wilmington, Delaware.
- July 26 – Lafayette departs Chester, Pennsylvania for the Brandywine Battlefield ending the day in West Chester.
- July 27 – Departs from West Chester, Pennsylvania for Lancaster.
- Late July – Departs from Lancaster for Baltimore, Maryland, via Port Deposit and Harve de Grace, Maryland. Spends two days in Baltimore.
- Late August – Lafayette returns to Mount Vernon.
- 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.
- September 7 – Lafayette leaves Washington D.C. and returns to France on the frigate USS Brandywine.
Honors received during the trip
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.[lower-alpha 1] 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.
1825: Conveying Marquis de Lafayette back to France
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.
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.
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- Levasseur, Auguste (1829). Lafayette in America, in 1824 and 1825: or, Journal of travels, in the United States, Volume II. Philadelphia: White, Gallaher & White. http://books.google.com/books?id=pPRIZqUYmoEC.
- His tour is the subject of an essay presented by writer Sarah Vowell in "Reunited", episode #291 of radio show This American Life.
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