Lafayette

Printed Souvenirs of Lafayette's Tour of the United States

Two hundred years ago a hero of the American Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), also known in America as General Lafayette, accepted Congress and President James

75_15_2DP1MC glove

Souvenir Glove, ca. 1824. Gift of George A. Newbury, 75.15.2.


Monroe's invitation to come from his home in France for an extended visit to the United States. When he landed at Castle Garden in New York City on August 16, 1824, throngs of well-wishers greeted Lafayette. As he made his way to City Hall accompanied by a military escort and local dignitaries, cheering admirers—estimated to number 50,000—lined the streets. The party-like atmosphere continued for the next thirteen months as Lafayette visited cities and towns in each of the twenty-four United States. During his tour Lafayette traveled to battlefields, addressed Congress, paid his respects at George Washington’s grave, participated in Masonic ceremonies, and met with friends, among them former comrades in arms and all the living U. S. Presidents. Crowds, church bells, and militias welcomed him at every turn; he was honored by a dazzling number of processions, receptions, and balls.

GL2004_1403DS1
Commemorative Ribbon, ca. 1824. United States. Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.1403.


Many of the Americans who flocked to see Lafayette and celebrate him as a living connection to the nation's origins sought to display their affection for the hero. Some citizens wore ribbons and badges bearing Lafayette's portrait as they participated in parades and civic events.  An enterprising Boston stationer advertised ribbons adorned with Lafayette’s portrait in 1824. He described his stock as “intended to be worn as a compliment to the General.” The same year the New York City engraving firm of Durand & Wright created “an elegant likeness of the General printed on white satin ribbon, as a badge” that they retailed for 25 cents. The New-York Gazette suggested citizens wear this ribbon “as a token of respect and gratitude to the friend of Washington and our country.”

Countless ribbons (similar to the one below) were printed and worn. On September 1, 1824, Lafayette traveled to Salem, where "two hundred sailors in a neat uniform with Lafayette ribbons upon their hats, greeted the...illustrious benefactor of our country with hearty cheers...." Soon after, in Brooklyn, Lafayette witnessed a demonstration of firefighting at which "Each fireman wore the likeness of Lafayette, with the figures of an engine, on [a] satin ribbon, and the words "Welcome La Fayette, the Nation's Guest." In Boston a group of 2,500 public school students turned out to greet the hero, each with a printed ribbon "bearing a Portrait of Fayette" pinned to their dress or coat.

In addition to ribbons, consumers could purchase other festive items bearing Lafayette's image. Merchants in New Orleans, Nashville, Newport, and Raleigh advertised “Lafayette Gloves,” long for women and short for men, that came from New York—the epicenter of Lafayette-inspired souvenirs and fashions. Dry goods sellers offered sashes, handkerchiefs, cravats, and printed yard goods, all bearing Lafayette’s likeness, to the public. This man's glove (above), an example of one of several styles available to Lafayette fans, bears the legend “Lafayette the Companion of Washington” and "Republican."

Lafayette’s journey through the United States prompted an outpouring of affection for the hero and sparked patriotism throughout the nation. Come learn more about the hero's tour and see these and other souvenirs at an exhibition in the reading room of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. "Lafayette: The Nation's Guest" is on view now through September 13, 2024. 

 

References:

"From the New-York Gazette," Hancock Gazette (Belfast, ME), August 25, 1824, 3.

"Reception in Salem," Knoxville Register (Knoxville, TN), September 24, 1824, 2.

"Friend of Washington," American Statesman and City Register (Boston, MA), September 14, 1824, 2.

 

Auguste Levasseur, Alan R. Hoffman, translator, Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825 (Manchester, NH: Lafayette Press Inc., 2006)

 

 

 

 


Have Cartographer, Will Travel

Carte du theatre de la guerreWhen you travel for work, do you bring your own mapmaker to document your plans and triumphs?  Gilbert du Motier, the marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) did when, in 1777, he sailed from France for South Carolina to help fight in the American Revolution.  Among the over 40 maps, books and objects in “Journeys and Discoveries:  The Stories Maps Tell,” on view at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, is an intriguing map based on the work of Lafayette’s very own cartographer, Michel Capitaine du Chesnoy (1746-1804).   

Talented, experienced and about ten years older than his boss, Capitaine du Chesnoy (who, confusingly, held the rank of captain when he first arrived in the colonies) drew maps of the conflicts in which Lafayette participated in 1777, 1778 and after.  Eighteenth-century military officers valued mapmaking skills.  Understanding landscape, waterways and structures helped military strategists plan campaigns, stage retreats and organize travel.  Officers also used maps and drawings to communicate important ideas and information to their colleagues, superiors and supporters.   

Capitaine du Chesnoy made several manuscript maps portraying some of Lafayette’s different militaryA Plan of the Action at Bunkers Hill 1775 activities.  At least eighteen of these maps survive in American and European collections.  Six ink and watercolor maps now form part of the collection of the Library of Congress.  You can view them on the library’s website.  When Lafayette traveled to France in 1779, he asked Capitaine du Chesnoy to put together a cartographic summary of the battles of the American Revolution up to that point for Lafayette to share with King Louis XVI (1754-1793). A Paris printer produced an engraved version of the summary map and made it available to the public in 1779.  One of these printed maps--the only one of Capitaine du Chesnoy’s manuscript maps known to have been engraved--is on view in “Journeys and Discoveries.” Come see it and compare Captiaine du Chesnoy’s work with other 1700s maps portraying military events--such as Thomas Hyde Page's (1746-1821) summary of the battle of Bunker Hill--and others. 

Sources:

Paul E. Cohen, “Michel Capitaine de Chesnoy, the marquis de Lafayette’s Cartographer,” The Magazine Antiques, January 1998, 170-177.

Photo credits:

Carte du Theatre de la Guerre, 1779.  Cartography by Michel Capitaine du Chesnoy.  Paris, France.  Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, 029-75. Photograph by David Bohl.

A Plan of the Action at Bunkers-Hill…, 1775-1778. Compiled by Lieutenant Thomas Hyde Page.  Engraved and published by William Faden (1749-1836), London England.  Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, 071-86.  Photograph by David Bohl.