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Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de, 1757-1834
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Princeton University Library Collection of Marquis de Lafayette Materials
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
2 boxes and 0.8 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-2


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.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of selected correspondence and documents of the Marquis de Lafayette, both original and facsimiles in English and French, some of which are related to his appointment with the Continental Army. Correspondents include Mr. Eymery, William S. Hart (the French minister of justice), Edward Livingston (Princeton Class of 1781), "Mr. Nipier," Benjamin Silliman, and Bushrod Washington. Included is a letter from Lafayette to Thomas Jefferson, dated 27 March 1781, regarding the American navy and the arrival of the French fleet and troops in Virginia, and a copy of a letter to George Washington about the vocabulary of Indian names. A letter (1829) to Lafayette from William S. Hart is written on a prospectus for a new literary institution in Philadelphia to be called the Jefferson Classical Institute. Other documents include a copy of an invitation (1824) to a ball in honor of Lafayette celebrating the surrender of Cornwallis and his army, and a printed invitation (1824) from Colonel Muir and officers with special autographed invitation to General Nicholas Fish to attend a ceremony honoring the Marquis of Lafayette with a presentation of a sword and belt in recognition of his services.

Collection Creator Biography:

Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de, 1757-1834

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.

Collection History


Some acquisitions include:

Letter to Thomas Jefferson and invitation to a ball were a gift of Stuart W. Jackson, Princeton Class of 1882, on January 8, 1954. .

Letters to Mr. Nipier and the minister of justice were a gift of Charles A. D. Burke in 1909 .

Letter to Prof. Silliman and regimental order from Col. Muir were a gift of Cyrus H. McCormick in March, 1947 .

Letter from William S. Hart was a gift of Alan Wolfe, Princeton Class of 1912, on May 4, 1961 .

Letter to Edward Livingston was purchased in November 1989 .

Letter to "My Dear Warner", Letter arranging a meeting, Letter from Patick Henry to Robert Carter are a gift of David S. Elkind in 2006.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

Collection title revised to "Princeton University Library Collection of Marquis de Lafayette Materials from "Marquis de Lafayette Collection" in July 2024.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Princeton University Library Collection of Marquis de Lafayette Materials; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-2