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On this historic day, September 6, 1757, the Marquis de Lafayette was born, hero of two revolutions


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The Marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman who rushed to the aid of the United States in its darkest hours, and a daring hero of two revolutions, was born on this day in history, September 6, 1757.

General George Washington “was gripped by the young man’s exuberance and deep devotion to the American cause,” writes the Washington Library at Mount Vernon.

The eldest American, then 45, and the 19-year-old French officer quickly bonded when Lafayette arrived at the Washington camp in the summer of 1777.

Major General Lafayette notably helped lead the Continental Army’s victory at Yorktown, Virginia, which ended the American Revolution in October 1781.

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He returned to France where he helped to inspire the revolution in 1789 by drafting the Declaration of the Rights of Man, with the help of this American friend Thomas Jefferson.

He is also credited with creating the red, white and blue tricolor French flag.

Lafayette was born Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier to a wealthy family in Chavaniac, in France’s Loire Valley.

The first meeting of Washington and Lafayette in Philadelphia, August 3, 1777. Artist Nathaniel Currier, James Merritt Ives, Currier and Ives, 1876.
(Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images)

“By 1770 he had amassed a large inheritance after the deaths of his mother, father, and grandfather,” reports the American Battlefield Trust.

“His wealth and prestige have given him many opportunities in life.”

He used these opportunities to pay his own way to the United States – in defiance of his superiors, including King Louis XVI.

Lafayette quickly proved his commitment to the cause.

Portrait of Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert Motier (1757-1834), marquis de Lafayette, French general, politician.  Engraving by Hopwood from Histoire de la Révolution française (History of the French Revolution), Volume I, by Adolphe Thiers, published by Furne, Jouvet et Compagnie, Paris, 1880.

Portrait of Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert Motier (1757-1834), marquis de Lafayette, French general, politician. Engraving by Hopwood from Histoire de la Révolution française (History of the French Revolution), Volume I, by Adolphe Thiers, published by Furne, Jouvet et Compagnie, Paris, 1880.
(Photo by Icas94/De Agostini via Getty Images)

He was wounded at the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777, just days after his 20th birthday, when a musket ball struck him in the leg during the American defeat.

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He then suffered his first winter in America near Washington at Valley Forge, amid disease and starvation.

He was also committed to American freedom with his personal treasure.

Lafayette fought for the new nation without pay while spending the equivalent of $200,000 to cover salaries, uniforms and other expenses for his staff, reports Mount Vernon.

George Washington meets the Marquis Lafayette at Valley Forge, where the Continental Army suffered from the winter cold of the American Revolution.

George Washington meets the Marquis Lafayette at Valley Forge, where the Continental Army suffered from the winter cold of the American Revolution.
(Painting by Alonzo Chappel/Getty Images)

“Lafayette returned to France in December 1781 and continued to serve in the French army,” writes the National Park Service.

“A moderate in the French Revolution, Lafayette sought reforms in French society but was suspicious of French radicals. Captured and imprisoned by the Austrians for a year, he was freed by Napoleon in 1797.”

The Marquess was celebrated as a national hero in the United States when he returned for a major tour in 1824-1825 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the start of the American Revolution.

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It was greeted by “outbursts of frenzied enthusiasm unparalleled or paralleled in American history,” writes the NPS.

The Marquis de Lafayette celebrated the 50th anniversary of the American Revolution with a tour in 1824-25 of the 24 states then in the union.  Stops included the Hermitage in Nashville – the home of Andrew Jackson, war hero, senator and future president.

The Marquis de Lafayette celebrated the 50th anniversary of the American Revolution with a tour in 1824-25 of the 24 states then in the union. Stops included the Hermitage in Nashville – the home of Andrew Jackson, war hero, senator and future president.
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

Among many other honors, he was greeted by American dignitaries and laid the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston, honoring the 1775 battlefield.

The Lafayette Trail website chronicles dozens of major milestones on its spectacular United States Victory Tour.

Lafayette was made an honorary U.S. citizen, one of six foreigners in history, by Congress in 2002.

Lafayette’s moving contributions to the cause of human freedom were deeply cherished by previous generations of Americans.

He is the namesake of hundreds of cities, towns, counties, schools, roads, squares and monuments across the United States.

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Among the most notable: the city of Lafayette, Louisiana; Lafayette Square across from the White House in Washington, DC; and Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

Lafayette was made an honorary U.S. citizen, one of six foreigners in history, by Congress in 2002, according to HIstory.com.

Snow covers the statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square in front of the White House in Washington, DC, February 16, 2015.

Snow covers the statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square in front of the White House in Washington, DC, February 16, 2015.
(AFP Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

His hometown of Chavaniac was renamed Chavaniac-Lafayette in his honor in 1884.

The Lafayette Escadrille, a unit of volunteer American pilots, fought on behalf of France in World War I before the United States officially joined the war in 1917.

The American Expeditionary Force, led by General John Pershing, began arriving in France in June and July 1917 and gave Lafayette the ultimate honor. American troops were welcomed in an official ceremony at Lafayette’s grave in Paris’ Picpus Cemetery on July 4, with invading Germans just 80 km from the city.

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“Here and now, in the presence of the illustrious dead, we pledge our hearts and our honor to bring this war to a successful conclusion,” Colonel Charles Stanton said on behalf of General Pershing, according to the Lafayette College preview of the July 4 speech. .

“Lafayette, we are here!

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