Today’s History Lesson is likely to be brief. Well, as brief as a name like Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier will allow. Every time I wrote the name Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, it’d be like adding another paragraph to the piece. So I’ll just use his title and, once I do that, not only will the lesson maintain its brevity, the person behind the name will probably become more familiar.
The Marquis de LaFayette.
Remember him from the American Revolution? The Frenchman’s participation in our War for Independence was the product of some “cloak-and-dagger” action. In December of 1776, Silas Deane (an envoy from the Colonies to France) had struck a deal with de LaFayette to lend his military expertise to America’s fight for freedom.
But things got complicated. King Louis XVI, whose was already in a bad way with the British, was concerned about further angering King George. So he forbade the 19-year-old military man from leaving the country, and ordered him to join his father-in-law’s regiment. LaFayette tried to leave anyway…and was preparing his own ship for departure (the Colonies were too poor to even pay for his transit), when the police swept in to arrest him.
LaFayette disguised himself as a tourist. Not actually, but he tried to make himself look as much like an innocuous courier as possible. He eluded capture and made his way to Spain. From there he set sail for America, where the next drama unfolded.
The ship he boarded had to stop in the West Indies to sell cargo, and LaFayette, facing arrest there, simply purchased the ship’s cargo, and ordered it delivered to the Colonies.
On June 13, 1777, the Marquis de LaFayette stepped onto American soil in South Carolina. He would journey north, join Washington’s army, endure Valley Forge, and serve with distinction in the Continental Army.
We’re sure to discuss this man again.