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.