"Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country."
~Marquis de Lafayette
This week in 1777, a 19-year-old French aristocrat, Marie-Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, accepted a commission as a major-general in the Continental Army.
He was recruited to serve in the Continental Army in France by Silas Deane, and an agreement was struck with French military expert, Baron Johann DeKalb, and his protege, the Marquis de Lafayette, to offer their military knowledge and experience to the American cause. Of course, as it turns out, the young Lafayette had no military experience, but was more than willing to learn.
But King Louis XVI feared angering Britain by sending aid to America and prohibited Lafayette's departure. The British ambassador to the French court at Versailles demanded the seizure of Lafayette's ship, which resulted in Lafayette's arrest. Lafayette managed to escape, set sail and elude two British ships dispatched to recapture him. Following his safe arrival in South Carolina, Lafayette traveled to Philadelphia, expecting to be made General George Washington's second-in-command. Congress was reluctant to promote him over more experienced colonial officers because of his age and inexperience, but the young Frenchman's willingness to volunteer his services without pay won their respect and Lafayette was commissioned as a major-general.
|Lafayette and Washington|
Dr. George W. Chaytor was a noted Masonic scholar and past master. Addressing the Lafayette Lodge No. 14 in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 18, 1875, on the occasion of the lodge’s fiftieth anniversary of its constitution, he made the following statement on the subject of Lafayette’s admission into the Masonic order:
He [Lafayette] was not a Mason when he landed in America, nor was he a Mason at the Battle of Brandywine. The Army under Washington, in December, 1777, retired to Valley Forge, where they wintered. Connected with the Army was a Lodge. It was at Valley Forge that he was made a Mason. On this point there should be no second opinion—for surely Lafayette knew best where he was made a Mason.Lafayette’s own remarks do support the fact he was made a Mason in America, after having met General George Washington. Lafayette said, “After I was made a Mason, General Washington seemed to have received a new light—I never had, from that moment, any cause to doubt his entire confidence. It was not long before I had a separate command of great importance.”
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