When the Marquis de Lafayette returned to America in 1780 aboard the frigate L’Hermione, he cemented the role of the French as American allies in the War for Independence, and cemented his own role in American history. His military efforts in America had been followed by equally energetic work in France, building political support and raising funds. Lafayette’s decision to devote himself to the American cause was born of his admiration for the spirit of the revolution, and his unselfish idealism made him a lasting hero in his adopted country.
Lafayette made a final visit to America again in 1824, and his triumphal tour prompted citizens of Easton who were forming a new college to name it after General Lafayette, as a testimonial of their respect. Like Lafayette himself, the College chose its own path and created its own identity. Over the years, the College has turned its honorary connection with Lafayette into a true connection, becoming an important archive of Lafayette papers and memorabilia, and using Lafayette’s own writings and motto, “Cur Non?”, as a guiding spirit for the institution.
We were very excited to learn of the project under way in France over the past 18 years to build a replica of L’Hermione and sail it to America to commemorate his 1780 voyage. This opportunity could not be better timed, as the College itself just launched an important new phase of the capital campaign in November. We will be holding College events in connection with L’Hermione as it makes its way up the Eastern seaboard this summer. We hope this unique opportunity to honor the College’s namesake will help to reinforce the abiding spirit of his legacy at the College. The Marquis de Lafayette acted on his own convictions to create personal and political connections that transcended national boundaries, and he devoted his leadership to events that would change history. Lafayette College continues to be inspired by his example as we invite our community to “Live Connected, Lead Change.”