America’s “thank you” to Lafayette (1824)

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Once again, America welcomed the Marquis de Lafayette

The whole nation invited this Frenchman to be its guest so it could say “thank you” to the national hero, Lafayette

by JH Powell

Thirty, forty, fifty thousand people — no one knew for sure how many — gathered on the wharves, streets, and roof tops of New York just after noon.

It was Sunday, August 15, 1824. From Coney Island, early that morning, the merchantman Cadmus had been sighted, standing in from Le Havre. The news spread as if by magic through the city. Soldiers raced to the fort, seamen broke out signal flags and pennons, small boats darted from landings and piers, citizens flocked to the riverside. For the Cadmus was bringing Lafayette to America, and New York would be the first to receive him.

Never before had a government sent such an invitation to a private person. Lafayette was to be a guest of the nation, particularly invited by a resolution of Congress, further urged by President Monroe himself — Lafayette, the only surviving General of the Revolutionary Armies. French he might be, but he belonged to America and to Liberty. Acts of Maryland and Virginia had made him and his male heirs forever citizens of those states and of America.

America's thank you to Lafayette 1955

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