One of the most prominent figures of the French and American revolution, whose leadership was known and which bought laurels, both for his country an himself .
Marquis De Lafayette was born on September 6, 1757 to Michel Louis Christophe Roch Gilbert Paulette du Motier, marquis de La Fayette and Marie Louise Jolie de La Rivière. He is very often referred to as Marquis de La Fayette or simply, Lafayette.
He spelled his name as 'Lafayette', as well as 'LaFayette', at different times. Marshal of France Gilbert de La Fayette III, an ancestor of Lafayette, led the army of Joan of Arc, in Orléans.
When Lafayette's father died in the Battle of Minden, on August 1, 1759, Lafayette took over as Lord of Chavaniac. The estate was then inherited by his mother and after her, Lafayette. Lafayette was sent to the Collège du Plessis, at the age of eleven.
At the Versailles Academy he studied military matters. On April 9, 1771, Lafayette was designated as a second Lieutenant of the Mousquetaires. He married Marie Adrienne Françoise de Noailles on April 11, 1774.
In 1775, Lafayette met Charles-François, comte de Broglie and joined the Freemasons. With the American Revolutionary War being an issue for the group, Lafayette became committed to the cause.
In 1776, Lafayette entered the American military service as a major general. When he learned that the Continental Congress could not sponsor his trip to the United States, Lafayette took the responsibility of relocation upon himself.
On arrival, Lafayette made his way to Philadelphia. He was on the verge of being sent back to France according to the 'delayed commission' and on the grounds of 'glory seeking'.
However, he impressed the Congress by making an offer to 'serve without pay'. It was under the influence of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington that Lafayette's help was accepted, as a bait to attract more aid from France.
During his stay in America to serve the revolutionary cause, Lafayette was part of the Battle of Brandywine in 1777. He led British positions in the Battle of Barren Hill and the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. He also was the commander-in-chief during the Battle of Green Spring and the Siege of Yorktown in 1781.
He was credited by the Continental Congress for his gallantry and prudence. He was presented a gold-encrusted sword by Benjamin Franklin's grandson and regained his position in the dragoons. Thereafter, he returned to France in 1779.
At home, he was placed under two weeks of house arrest. Adrienne, his wife, gave birth to a son, Georges Washington Lafayette. Lafayette then pushed for additional French support for the American Revolutionary War. In March 1780, he boarded the 'Hermione' for the Americas.
Marquis De Lafayette served in the American Revolution as part of the Continental Army led by George Washington. Back home, he proved his commitment to the freedom of French commoners from the atrocities of the members of the First and Second Estate by accepting leadership at the meeting of the French Estates-General.
He is credited with the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Lafayette served as commander-in-chief of the Garde nationale or the National Guard of France.
He worked hard to curb the rising tide of violence during the revolution and was even persecuted by the Jacobins, in his attempt to maintain peace and order. When he tried to flee to the United States of America in 1791, he was captured by Austrians and sentenced to five years imprisonment.
On returning to France, after Bonaparte freed him from prison, Lafayette joined the Chamber of Deputies. He openly supported Louis Philipe instead of accepting dictatorship after the July Revolution of 1830, in France. In 1824, Lafayette was invited by President James Monroe as the 'nation's guest' to the United States.
Marquis De Lafayette died on May 20, 1834. He was buried in Paris, at the Picpus Cemetery.
He is not only honored throughout the United States, with many cities and monuments being named after him, but remains the 'first honorary United States citizen'.