Make Way for Lafayette
Posted: September 1, 2021
“General Lafayette is coming!”
Who? You might not remember him. But the people living in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1825 certainly did. Marquis de Lafayette was the last living general who had fought in the Continental Army. And look! There he was, walking down the street!
Do you remember learning about the Continental Army? Think blue coats, George Washington, and musket balls. The Continental Army fought for the 13 American colonies during the Revolutionary War. General Lafayette helped. But he wasn’t American. He wasn’t British either. He was French. He was part of the French Revolution too. (Busy guy!)
Back during the Revolutionary War, General Lafayette was barely 20. But as he walked through Natchez in 1825, he was almost 70. Americans in Natchez greeted him as a hero. General Lafayette kept going. He journeyed through the United States for two years. He visited 320 cities and towns. His stopped in every state in the union. (Back then, there were just 24!)
General Lafayette’s tour helped bring unity in a hard time. The country was about 50 years old. It was facing an election. In 1824, votes were split. No candidate won an electoral majority. Because of the tie, the U.S. House of Representatives chose the new president: John Quincy Adams. Not everyone was happy about that choice. But the election sent a message. America was still independent. It would stick together no matter what.
Nearly 200 years have passed since General Lafayette’s tour. But people haven’t forgotten it. Now they work to mark where he made stops. About 25 signs have been installed in 13 states so far. About 175 signs will be added in all. The marker in Natchez describes what General Lafayette did during his visit. It stands on land overlooking the Mississippi River.