Marquis de Lafayette “The Boy General”
In 1777, Lafayette at the age of only 19, secretly and against the wishes of the French government, sailed to America and volunteered to fight on the side of America in the Revolutionary War. General George Washington welcomed Lafayette as a son and a deep bond of friendship was formed. Lafayette served with distinction, most notably rallying the troops at the Battle of Brandywine.
Serving Washington & Securing France
Lafayette served with General Washington through the winter at Valley Forge. Then he returned to France in 1778 to lobby for the American cause. The French King finally agreed to support the Americans with a military force. Frigate Hermione sailed Lafayette back to America in 1780. When Lafayette met Washington in Morristown, NJ, with news of the French support, he said these immortal words, ‘Here I am, My Dear General.”
Victory at Yorktown and America’s Greatest Friend
French forces helped trap Cornwallis at Yorktown and L’Hermione was part of the naval blockade which led to the British surrender. With the American Revolution secured, Lafayette returned to France. For the rest of his life, Lafayette would remain an ardent friend of the United States. In 1824, President James Monroe invited Lafayette to celebrate the nation’s 50th Anniversary and help instill the “Spirit of 1776” in the next generation. Lafayette received a hero’s welcome and many honors and monuments commemorated his visit.
The L’Hermione Project
Over Twenty years ago a small group put together plans to build a replica of L’Hermione. A few years later specialists and craftsmen were enlisted to build an authentic replica using original drawings of her sister ship. As the raw materials evolved into a beautiful tall ship, so did plans to relive Lafayette’s voyage, and sail L’Hermione to the shores of America. Completed in 2014, the blue, black, and gold L’Hermione stands 117 feet tall and 210 feet long, with three masts, 19 sails, and 34 cannons. Soon she will make her way across the Atlantic and visit port cities of historical significance. This voyage will be a significant cultural event which re-affirms the historic relationship between France and the United States of America.