Lafayette Joins the American Revolution
The Marquis de Lafayette helps the American Cause
There is no doubt the Marquis de Lafayette loved the thirteen American states. It should be remembered by all Americans that without this young man’s help, America would be an entirely different country.
As an example, he wrote his wife in April of 1777:
“The happiness of America is intimately connected with the happiness of all mankind; she is destined to become the safe and venerable asylum of virtue, of honesty, of tolerance, and quality and of peaceful liberty.”
Later he wrote to Henry Laurens, then President of Congress:
“The moment I heard of America I loved her; the moment I knew she was fighting for freedom I burnt with a desire of bleeding for her; and the moment I shall be able to serve her, at any time, or in any part of the world, will be the happiest of my life.”
At the time the Marquis was about 19 years old. He wanted passionately to help and be a member of the American Army. So, with the recommendation of Silas Deane, then serving as an Envoy to France, to grant Lafayette a commision in the “Army of the United States,” Layfayette set out to find the American Army.
Lafayette as he looked when he first came to America in 1777.
The journey from France to America was to take several months–from April to July of 1777. He landed in South Carolina and had to make a nine hundred mile overland trek to Philadelphia. The roads must have not been what they were in France, for a journey that started out in grand fashion in carriages, soon found all the carriages broken and Lafayette on horseback.
When Lafayette arrived at the Moland House with a commission granted him by Congress for a rank in the Continental Army, Washington refused his request. The General’s explanation was that all ranks were occcupied by experienced and seasoned officers, while Lafayette had no formal military expertise. Washington invited him to join the American cause and in time Lafayette proved his loyalty to America and gained so much military experience that at Yorktown he was closely involved in Cornwallis’ surrender to the French.
At the Moland encampment, Lafayette stayed in a house near the Neshaminy Church. By all accounts his arrival to the Continental Army was welcome. One incident, in front of American troops, which happened presumably at the Moland House encampment:
We are told of a conversation that took place later in the camp between the two Generals soon after Lafayette’s arrival, which met with great satisfaction among our soldiers. “It is somewhat embarrassing to us to show ourselves to an officer who has just come from the army of France,” to which the Frenchman replied, “I am here to learn, and not to teach.” This was his attitude throughout the war. (1)
Lafayette’s Coat of Arms
If you take a look at The Arms of La Fayette you will see the words, “Cur Non?” For all of you having trouble with the Latin, this phrase means, “why not?” This signified Lafayette’s attitude when people would ask why he would choose to leave the safety of France and the luxury of his birthright.
(1) France and New England, Forbes, Allan and Paul F.Cadman (c) 1925, pp. 3-4