Statue of Marquis de Lafayette
The statue created by sculptor Joel Randell that stands on the Fayette County Courthouse ground depicts Marquis de Lafayette gazing off into the world. Born on September 6, 1757, in Chavaniac, France, Marquis de Lafayette grew to be a successful military officer during the Revolutionary War serving the Continental Army. Lafayette made his way to the United States in 1777 after being inspired by the colonists’ fight against the British through stories and signing an agreement to become a Major General in the Continental Army after being appointed by General George Washington. Lafayette was also a member of the Royal Army in France, serving as a Sous-lieutenant with the Kimp Musketeers. By serving in armies in two different countries, Marquis de Lafayette became known as the “Hero of Two Worlds.”
Backstory and Context
Lafayette’s first real taste of colonial combat came in 1777 during the Battle of Brandywine. This was certainly not his most successful battle since he was shot in the leg upon trying to organize a retreat. However, General George Washington urged doctors to take special care of Lafayette during his recovery, which began a special bond between the two Generals. Once recovered, Lafayette was eventually given command over Virginia Troops. Lafayette then fought in the Battle of Monmouth in 1778 after spending the winter with General George Washington in Valley Forge. He then returned to France and returned in 1779 with word that the French would be sending troops to America to help.
Lafayette’s shining moment with the Continental Army came in the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, where he commanded a third of the army. Here he “helped keep British Lieutenant-General Lord Cornwallis' army pinned at Yorktown, Virginia, while divisions led by Washington and France's Comte de Rochambeau surrounded the British and forced surrender in the last major battle of the Revolutionary War” (Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette).
In 1789, Lafayette had a leading role in the French Revolution. He also became a member of the National Assembly and contributed to the creation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which was based upon the Virginia Declaration of Rights. The Declaration of the Rights of Man served as a source for the American Declaration of Independence. He went on to command the French National Guard and join the Feuillants, a political party that advocated for a constitutional monarchy.
Lafayette gained leadership of the French division in 1792 in the war with Austria. The radical Jacobins in his unit made him flee to Flanders where he was imprisoned by the Austrian government for five years. After he returned to France, he avoided Napoleon Bonaparte politics. However, after Napoleon's defeat in Waterloo, Lafayette restarted his political career and became a member of the Chamber of Deputies in 1815 and again from 1818 to 1824.
The statue's origins come from a countrywide tour he embarked on from July 1824 to September 1825, the last surviving French general of the Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette, made a tour of the 24 states in the United States. At many stops on this tour, he was received by the populace with a hero's welcome, and many honors and monuments were presented to commemorate and memorialize the Marquis de Lafayette's visit. The town of Fayetteville, West Virginia was named after the Marquis de Lafayette, and Lafayette's statue looks upon the town from the Fayette County Courthouse lawn.
"Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 21 May 2014. . "The Marquis de Lafayette." ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, n.d. Web. 21 May 2014. . "Marquis de Lafayette Marker." Marquis de Lafayette Marker. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2014. .
Klein, Christopher. "10 Things You May Not Know About the Marquis de Lafayette." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 20 Oct. 2015. Web. 02 May 2017. <http://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-marquis-de-lafayette>.
Marquis de Lafayette, NYC Parks. Accessed October 19th 2019. https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/union-square-park/monuments/884.
Sculptures , Sculptor Joel Randall . Accessed October 19th 2019. https://www.sculptorjoelrandell.com/sculptures.html.
History, Visit Fayetteville, West Virginia. Accessed October 19th 2019. https://visitfayettevillewv.com/history/.