Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Salute to the Marquis de Lafayette- A "Founding Son" of the American Revolution

On Friday July 30th, 2010 I had the good fortune to be invited up to Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. to tour their Special Collections unit, which is dedicated to the Marquis de Lafayette. The unit houses thousands of documents, busts and other collectibles about the great man, including original letters signed by Lafayette to famous statesmen of the late 1700's and early 1800's. I was invited to the College as I had donated a copy of my new historical novel "Lafayette's Gold- The Lost Brandywine Treasure" to the collection. Although the space given to the artifacts is relatively small- the gems in the collection are priceless.

The Curator Diane Shaw showed me several wonderful items, including a letter written by Lafayette to General George Washington on December 31, 1777 as the two men were at Valley Forge during that terrible and trying Winter. Just seeing- and briefly touching the page gave me a wonderful feeling- as if I had touched his hand as he was writing this important document. I also viewed three other letters from Lafayette to Washington, including one written on February 5, 1783 in which Lafayette recommends an "experiment" to set up a colony of freed slaves, an early effort at the abolition of this dreaded practice which unfortunately would cause almost 600,000 casualties 80 years later. Also remarkable was a letter he sent after the storming of the Bastille on March 17, 1790 written in disbelief of the chaos and anarchy that had gripped Paris and most of France.

Lafayette was a wealthy landowner in France before he chose to risk his life and fortune in coming to the aid of the Colonials in their fight for independence from Great Britain. He was wounded on September 11, 1777 at the Battle of the Brandywine (which I describe in "Lafayette's Gold"), yet remained to help with the cause until the final battle at Yorktown in 1781. Lafayette is and always will be a true patriot- a "Founding Son" of the American Revolution.