Video: Lecture on the Marquis de Lafayette

The Marquis de Lafayette, who came from a long line of French military men dating to the Crusades, wanted honor and glory from a young age. But he had to leave the comforts of his native France and sail to America in order to find them.

Born in nobility and considerable wealth, the Marquis was seemingly destined for greatness from an early age and in any endeavor he chose. Against just about everyone’s wishes, including his own personal family’s plans for the future military leader, he stole out of France with the object of becoming nothing less than a general in the Continental Army. Once in America, he found favor with General Washington, who made him a division, then army commander. Lafayette proved extremely able, loyal, and brave, and his connection to Versailles helped secure aid that eventually turned the tide of the war.

Then biographer Marc Leepson takes the reader back to France with Lafayette where this still youthful soldier and idealist carried on his mission to bring democracy to his own country. Leepson depicts the courage, dedication, and brilliance of a political statesman. Risking the anger and rejection of the French establishment, Lafayette worked passionately and tirelessly to free his own people. True to the adage that a prophet is seldom appreciated in his own land, the Marquis not infrequently risked the guillotine as payment for his political efforts.

Moving fluidly from scene to scene of Lafayette’s adventures in France and America, the book reads almost like the screenplay for a movie. The love interest is only marginally the hero’s teenage bride Adrienne. The true love interest is Lafayette’s passion for glory and the cause of liberty.