The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered

The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered

Laura Auricchio

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0307387453

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Marquis de Lafayette at age nineteen volunteered to fight under George Washington and became the French hero of the American Revolution. In this major biography Laura Auricchio looks past the storybook hero and selfless champion of righteous causes who cast aside family and fortune to advance the transcendent aims of liberty and fully reveals a man driven by dreams of glory only to be felled by tragic, human weaknesses.

Drawing on substantial new research conducted in libraries, archives, museums, and private homes in France and the United States, Auricchio, gives us history on a grand scale revealing the man and his complex life, while challenging and exploring the complicated myths that have surrounded his name for more than two centuries

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Days Through the Federation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973. ———. Lafayette in the French Revolution: Through the October Days. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969. Gottschalk, Louis, Phyllis S. Pestieau, and Linda J. Pike, eds. Lafayette: A Guide to the Letters, Documents and Manuscripts in the United States. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975. Grell, Chantal. Le dix-huitième siècle et l’antiquité en France, 1680–1789. 2 vols. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1995. Gruder,

bedraggled crew plagued by fever and dysentery. No military campaign in all of Europe, Dubuysson complained, could have been “harder than this voyage,” which offered no pleasures to mitigate the pain. But the men had been buoyed by the infectious “zeal of Lafayette” and now, with the thirty-two-day journey ended, a grateful Congress would soon welcome the travelers—or so the Frenchmen imagined. The reception they received was in fact rather cold. John Hancock of Massachusetts was serving as

(© Musée de l’Armée / dist. RMN–Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY) 20.1 Honoré Daumier (French, Marseilles 1808–1879 Valmondois). Rue Transnonain, le 15 Avril 1834. Printer: Delaunois (French, active Paris). August–September 1834. Lithograph. Dimensions: image: 11¼ × 17⅜ in. (28.6 × 44.1 cm) sheet: 145/16 × 2111/16 in. (36.4 × 55.1 cm). Rogers Fund, 1920. Accession Number: 20.23. (Image copyright � The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY) INTRODUCTION On a rainy April

Lafayette was proud to call himself a moderate in an era of extremes. Explaining his philosophy later in life, he insisted that “true moderation consists, not as many people seem to think, in always seeking the middle between any two points … but in trying to recognize the point of truth and holding to it.” Rarely has a man held to moderate principles with such tenacity. By 1791, partisans on both the left and the right (these political terms emerged precisely during this period) came to see him

repudiated. Although Lafayette emerged victorious, he was not entirely happy with the deals he cut. He regretted the hodgepodge of instructions he accepted, referring to them, in a letter to his friend and ally the Auvergnat Charles César de Fay de La Tour-Maubourg, as “a composite of great principles and petty details, of popular ideas and feudal ideas.” Summing up the intractable problem at the heart of a document that had one foot in the past and one in the future, Lafayette lamented that

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