“I read, I study, I examine, I listen, I reflect, and out of all this I try to form an idea into which I put as much common sense as I can.” – Lafayette, ‘Public Philosophy’
On June 10, 2023, “American Friends of Lafayette Day” will be celebrated in LaGrange, Georgia.
The Lafayette Alliance is inviting visitors from Atlanta, Columbus and beyond to Lafayette Square in LaGrange between 10 AM and 4 PM.
The Lafayette Trolley will give free rides starting at the Marriott, looping to Southbend Park, out to Hills and Dales, and back, every thirty minutes. Costumed Lafayette Stewards will greet guests and provide information about Lafayette and his influence before the trolley launches on each of its loops.
A talented Lafayette reenactor will be on the Square from 10 AM to 12 PM, his wife Adrienne from 12 PM to 2 PM, and James Armistead from 2 PM to 4 PM. Goody bags will be handed out to children from a tent at the side of the Square, and there will be plenty of other surprises for visitors of all ages. The LaGrange Visitor Center will also be open in celebration of “American Friends of Lafayette Day”, for visitors looking to learn more about our incredible city.
Those looking to dive deeper into the history and message of Lafayette can enjoy various dramatic tellings of period events throughout the weekend. The public is invited to join the Lafayette Alliance and American Friends of Lafayette for special presentations like “Spirit of Lafayette”, “Lafayette and Abolition” and “Conversations with George Washington”. These reenactments portray the progressive and revolutionary mind of Lafayette brilliantly, telling his story and spreading his message of virtue, integrity, tolerance, equality and a peaceful liberty.
In our excitement for this spectacular array of events, we prepared a brief biography on the prominent life of the Marquis de La Fayette. We hope you enjoy, and invite you to celebrate this influential figure with us on June 10, 2023.
Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette, was a French aristocrat, freemason, and military officer known for his contributions to the American Revolutionary War, as well as his role in the French Revolution. He commanded American troops in several battles, including the decisive siege of Yorktown, which was the turning point of the war.
La Fayette was born into a wealthy family in Chavaniac, a township in the south of France. His family had a long history of military leadership, and the young La Fayette, an orphan by the age of 13, was commissioned an officer in the musketeers in that same year. The Marquis, made a Major General at age 19, became convinced that the American revolutionary cause was noble and traveled to the New World seeking glory. He served in many notable battles, including being wounded at the Battle of Brandywine, and troops in his command were crucial to the American victory over Cornwallis at Yorktown.
After the success of the American Revolution, La Fayette returned to his home nation and became a key player in the French Revolution of 1789. As an elected member of the Estates General, he helped write the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen along with Abbé Sieyès and his close friend Thomas Jefferson. This document, largely based on the ideals of the Enlightenment, defined a set of collective and individual rights for men. Similar to the American Declaration of Independence, this document laid the foundation for the end of feudalism, although La Fayette felt it did not go far enough to ensure the natural rights of all men.
Appointed commander-in-chief of France’s National Guard after the storming of the Bastille, La Fayette tried to steer a middle course through the years of revolution. However, he was eventually ordered to be arrested by radical factions and fled to the Austrian Netherlands. Later captured, La Fayette would spend more than five years in prison. Napoleon Bonaparte secured his release in 1797, but La Fayette would refuse to take part in his government.
In 1824, nearly 50 years after the American Revolution, President James Monroe invited the Marquis de La Fayette to tour the nation. He was greeted as an honored guest, and asked to be introduced as an American General. La Fayette visited Georgia in March of 1825, where the local scenery reminded him of his home in France, le Château de La Grange Blenau. After this, LaGrange, Georgia assumed its name.
All over America, cities, towns, streets, and counties were named in honor of this champion of liberty and human rights. La Fayette is remembered and respected for his courage, loyalty, sacrifice, perseverance, and advocacy for the rights of all persons including the abolition of slavery in all situations in the world. He argued for expanded legal rights for women, he defended the rights of French Protestants and Jews during the French Revolution, and supported movements to spread the cause of liberty in South America, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Poland.