Biography and History

The Marquis de Lafayette was a French general and political leader born of a distinguished family. Enthusiastic over the news of the American Revolution, he left France to join George Washington's army. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1777, where Congress appointed him a major general. After a trip to France in 1779-80, where he negotiated for French aid, he returned to America and served with distinction in the Virginia campaign that ended with the surrender of the British general Lord Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781. After returning to France in 1782 and allying himself with the revolutionary bourgeoisie, he became one of the most powerful men during the first few years of the French Revolution. His prestige was largely responsible for the installation of Louis Philippe as king of the French. Lafayette's unswerving courage, integrity, and idealism made him a popular symbol of the bond between France and the United States. Lafayette was made an honorary Doctor of Laws by the Trustees of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1790 in recognition of his contribution to the American cause of independence. The Marquis named his son George Washignton Lafayette. His direct descendants, members of the Chambrun family, are honorary U.S. citizens. The modern French flag was created by Lafayette in July, 1789, by combining the royal white with the blue and red of Paris.

Source: From the finding aid for C1105

  • Marquis de Lafayette Collection. 1781-1834 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1105

    Consists of selected correspondence and documents of the Marquis de Lafayette, French soldier, statesman, and liberal leader, who was a general in the American Revolutionary army and a close friend of George Washington.

  • Marquis de Lafayette Collection. 1781-1834 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1105

    Consists of selected correspondence and documents of the Marquis de Lafayette, French soldier, statesman, and liberal leader, who was a general in the American Revolutionary army and a close friend of George Washington.