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Marquis de Lafayette


Born Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch Gilbert du Motier at Chateau Chavaniac, France. He became wealthy upon the death of his mother. Educated at College du Plessis in Paris. Married Adrienne de Noailles in 1774. They had a son and two daughters.

Lafayette became a lieutenant in the King's musketeers in 1771. He supported the cause of American independence before his government did. He bought his own ship and sailed for America in April 1777. In July Congress reluctantly accepted him as an unpaid volunteer on Washington's staff. He and Washington would become lifelong friends. He was wounded in the battle of Brandywine in September 1777. By November he had been given command as a major general.

Lafayette requested a leave to return to France in 1779. His son, George Washington Lafayette, was born during his period. He returned in 1780 with news that Rochambeau was coming with French troops to support the revolution. Lafayette was sent to Virginia with 2000 troops. Against him were 6000 troops under Lord Cornwallis. The British surrendered October 19, 1781.

Lafayette returned to France and was rewarded with the rank of major general in the French Army. He became involved with the French Revolution. On July 11, 1789, he introduced a Declaration of the Rights of Man. The Bastille fell on July 14. The next day he was named commander of the Paris National Guard.

Lafayette visited America during 1824 to 1825. He toured every state and was welcomed as a hero. He died in Paris.

Lafayette appears on paper money:

$5 Southern Bank of Indiana at Terre Haute

$5 Lafayette Bank, Massachusetts

$10 Mississippi and Alabama Railroad Company in Brandon, Mississippi.

Lafayette appears on the Lafayette Commemorative Silver Dollar. The design was by Charles Barber. The coin dated 1900 was sold to raise funds for an equestrian statue of Lafayette to be erected in Paris. Lafayette appears on both sides; with Washington on the obverse and with his horse on the reverse.

In the July 1871 issue of AJN, W. S. Appleton published a list of 27 Lafayette medals from his collection.

bio: ApCAB; DAB; Drake; NCAB 1; TCBDA; WAB; WWWA-H

Source credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies


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