March 1, 2011

I had known a bit about Lafayette and heard that he was like an adopted son to George Washington. But that description wasn’t enough to bring him to life. However when I started to read about the French involvement in the American War for Independence, I became intrigued.

Part of what makes Lafayette’s role in the war astonishing is his age. His military career had started early in France. At age 15 he became an officer in a bodyguard of the French king, Louis XVI. And at 16, he married into a family of nobility. Maybe it was because of his youth that he reacted as he did when he learned about the American colonists’ struggle for political freedom. He was struck, and inspired, by the idea of liberty, and he dedicated his life to this purpose. “Never,” he later wrote with emotion about the colonists’ cause, “had so noble a purpose offered itself to the judgment of men!”

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