Gilbert Motier Lafayette

GILBERT MOTIER LAFAYETTE, (formerly marquis de,) was born at Chavagnac, near Brioude, in Auvergne, Sept. 6, 1757, was educated in the college of Louis le Grand, in Paris, placed at court as an officer in one of the guards of honor, and, at the age of 17, was married to the granddaughter of the duke de Noailles. It was under these circumstances that the young marquis de Lafayette entered upon a career so little to be expected of a youth of vast fortune, of high rank, of powerful connections, at the most brilliant and fascinating court in the world. He left. France secretly. for America, in 1777, and arrived at Charleston, South Carolina, April 25, being then 19 years old. The state of this country, it is well known, was at that time most gloomy: a feeble army, without clothing or arms, was with difficulty kept together before a victorious enemy; the government was without resources or credit, and the American agents in Paris were actually obliged to confess that they could not furnish the young nobleman with a conveyance. . Then,' said he, will fit out a vessel myself, and he did so. The sensation produced in this country, by his arrival, was very great: it encouraged the almost disheartened people to hope for succor and sympathy from one of the most powerful nations in Europe. Immediately on his arrival, Lafayette received the offer of a command in the continental army, but declined it, raised and equipped a body of men at his own expense, and then entered the service as a volunteer without pay. He lived in the family of the commander-in-chief, and won his full affection and confidence. He was appointed major general in July, and, in September, was wounded at Brandywine. He was employed in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island in 1778, and, after receiving the thanks of his country for his important services, embarked at Boston, in January, 1779, for France, where it was thought that he could assist the cause more effectually for a time. The treaty concluded between France and America, about the same period, was, by his personal exertions, made effective in our favor, and he returned to' America with the intelligence that a French force would soon be sent to this country. Immediately on his arrival, he entered the service, and received the command of a body of infantry of about 2000 men, which he clothed and equipped, in part, at his own expense. His forced march to Virginia, in December, 1780, raising 2000 guineas at Baltimore, on his own credit, to supply the wants of his troops; his rescue of Richmond; his long trial of generalship with Cornwallis, who boasted that the boy could not escape him;' the siege of Yorktown, and the storming of the redoubt, are proofs of his devotion to the cause of American independence. Desirous of serving that cause at home, he again returned to France for that purpose. Congress, which had already acknowledged his merits on former occasions, now passed new resolutions, Nov: 23, 1781, in which, besides the usual marks of approbation, they desired the American ministers to confer with him in their negotiations. In France, a brilliant reputation had preceded him, and he was received with the highest marks of public admiration.