In history, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette, Marquis de La Fayette, more commonly known as ‘Lafayette,’ was a French aristocrat and military officer. He participated in the American Revolution and commanded the Garde nationale during the French Revolution. After serving as a major-general in the Continental Army under George Washington, Lafayette returned to France as a hero and became the most influential factor in fostering commerce and trade relations between the United States and France. He addressed the House of Delegates in the United States on the subject of emancipation and liberation of all human beings, for which he gained widespread acclaim. In reaction to the escalating violence in France during the French Revolution, he was chosen commander-in-chief of the Garde nationale. During Austrian raids, he was arrested by the Austrians but ultimately liberated after five years. During the July Revolution of 1830 in France, Lafayette rejected the recommendation to become a dictator and instead supported Louis-desire Philippe to become a constitutional monarch. Due to his significant contributions to both France and the United States, he is referred to as “The Hero of the Two Worlds.” The United States honored him by naming numerous monuments and localities around the country after him.
Youth and Early Life
Lafayette was born in Chavaniac, near Le Puy-en-Velay, in the contemporary department of Haute-Loire to Michel Louis Christophe Roch Gilbert Paulette du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette, and Marie Louise Jolie de La Riviere.
His father was a colonel of grenadiers who were slain in battle during the Seven Years’ War. His mother and grandmother both passed away in 1770, leaving Lafayette with a substantial estate.
In 1771, after attending College du Plessis (Lycee Louis-le-Grand), he began his training to become an officer with the Musketeers of the Military Household of the King of France.
Marquis De’s Career
After hearing various accounts of the American Revolution, Lafayette became increasingly encouraged to enlist, and in 1776, he arranged through an American agent in Paris to join the American army as a major general.
In 1777, after being warned by the British government that his ship would be seized and he would be imprisoned if he disobeyed the orders, he sailed to America disguised as a woman.
The Continental Congress in America commissioned him as a major-general, and George Washington accepted him as his aide-de-camp due to his foreign birth, which prevented him from commanding a division.
At the Battle of Brandywine, where he was shot in the leg, he assumed his first important military responsibility.
George Washington asked the physicians to take special care of Lafayette, which strengthened their relationship.
In 1778, he outmaneuvered the British army sent to imprison him at Bunker Hill, which was later renamed ‘Lafayette Hill,’ and prepared an unstable Continental offensive at Monmouth Courthouse in order to induce a stalemate.
In 1781, Lafayette returned to France and was greeted as a hero at Versailles. Together with Thomas Jefferson, he strove to establish trade relations between France and the United States.
On his return to America in 1784, he addressed the issue with the House of Delegates, where he asked for the “liberty of all people” and urged for emancipation.
In 1786, King Louis XVI appointed Lafayette to the Assembly of Notables to confront the escalating fiscal situation in France. Lafayette proposed reducing wasteful expenditures, including the purchase of useless lands and presents for courtiers.
In 1789, Lafayette was appointed commander-in-chief of the French National Guard, an armed force established to maintain order under the supervision of the Assembly. After ladies marched there because of a bread shortage, he led the National Guard army to Versailles.
Lafayette swore the civic oath on the Champs de Mars in 1790, pledging to “be ever true to the nation, the law, and the monarch; to uphold with all our might the constitution declared by the National Assembly and recognized by the king.”
Lafayette was responsible for the royal family’s care, and when he nearly failed to do so in 1791, he was labeled a royalist, and his standing in the eyes of the public continued to erode.
As a result of ‘Flight to Varennes’ and ‘Champs de Mars Massacre,’ people’s mistrust of Lafayette grew. He resigned from the National Guard and then lost the mayoral election against Jerome Petion de Villeneuve.
With the outbreak of war against Austria and Prussia in 1792, Lafayette resumed his military career as the leader of the Ardennes army. He was captured and held as a prisoner of war for the following five years.
He was released in 1797 when Napoleon obtained his release from prison, but he was not permitted to return to France. After a few years, he returned with a military pension and permission to reside in Lagrange.
Lafayette was elected to the Legislative Chamber when Napoleon resigned in 1814, but after his restoration to the monarchy, he was forced to serve as the opposition leader to King Louis XVIII and King Charles X.
In 1824, he returned to America, and Congress recognized him for his role to the American Revolution. He was referred to as the “Hero of Two Worlds” upon his return to France.
Honors & Accomplishments
During his 1784 visit to America, Lafayette received an honorary degree from Harvard, a painting of George Washington from Boston, and a bust from Virginia.
In recognition of his participation in the American Revolution, he was made a natural-born citizen of the United States.
The entirety of Lafayette’s life is a source of inspiration, a symbol of friendship between the United States and France, and of a better future where rights and liberties are worth fighting for. His participation in the American Revolution is his most significant accomplishment.
Personal History and Legacy
Lafayette was married to 14 year old Marie Adrienne Franoise de Noailles, marquise de La Fayette, the daughter of Jean de Noailles, and Henriette Anne Louise d’Aguesseau.
Due to their youthful ages at the time of their marriage, Adrienne’s mother oversaw their relationship and kept them apart for a year. Four children were born to the couple: Henriette, Anastasie, George Washington, and Virginie.
Lafayette died in Paris in 1834. To keep the people away, he was buried next to his wife at the Picpus Cemetery with a military burial. They gathered to protest their exclusion at Lafayette’s funeral.
The last words spoken by Lafayette’s wife before her death were, “Je Suis tout toi”
Lafayette was linked romantically to Madame de Simiane and the Comtesse Aglae d’Hunolstein.
President Andrew Jackson ordered that Lafayette have the same burial rites as John Adams and George Washington. As a result, 24 gun salutes were fired from military installations and ships, with each shot symbolizing a state in the United States.
In his honor, the United States government named Lafayette Park.
Colonel Charles E. Stanton visited the grave of Lafayette and spoke the famous words “Lafayette, we are here” after the United States entered World War I. After the war, a permanent American flag was erected at the cemetery site.
Congress granted Lafayette honorary citizenship in the United States in 2002.
Estimated Net Worth
Marquis is one of the wealthiest and most prominent War Heroes. According to our investigation, Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Gilbert Du Motier has an estimated net worth of $1.5 million.