Marquis de Lafayette
Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de la Fayette (1757-1834), an only surviving heir became a teenage scion of aristocratic wealth and fortune. He had been raised on the principles of the “enlightenment” and was an aristocrat who felt social responsibility to ‘better his fellows.’
When he heard about George Washington and the American patriots, he was anti-British and eighteen. Then he met Ben Franklin and was encouraged to help the cause of ‘liberty’ with his wealth and position. The Royal party at Versailles thought him a traitor to his class and refused to assist him. Never one to shirk the limelight, but genuine in his love of the Americans. Lafayette began buying and sending supplies, encouraging his fellows to follow him off to join his hero, George Washington.
Washington was attempting to discourage aristocratic ‘adventurers’ from meddling in the guerilla war then underway in North America. Lafayette's arrival was not welcomed at first. In time, Lafayette’s relationship with Washington developed into a lifetime bonding of a father and son.
Lafayette proved himself a courageous soldier and a hero to the men fighting under him. He wanted the opportunity to engage the British in combat and never minded the fame and limelight that came with his victories.
He also returned to France several times to generate further support for the American cause. After the war was over, he returned to the United States to national acclaim and to see his beloved friend at Mount Vernon.