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Marquis de Lafayette Monument in Mount Vernon

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Washington Place & Mt Vernon Place (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 49.86″ N 76° 36′ 56.48″ W

History

Marquis de Lafayette was a wildly-popular French military hero of the American Revolution. Lafayette served in the Continental Army under General George Washington, hence the proximity of his monument (just south) to Washington’s memorial in the heart of Mount Vernon. Lafayette’s involvement in the American Revolution, though it went against the orders of the King of France, was instrumental in solidifying bonds of friendship and military alliance between the fledgling United States and France, along with such diplomatic contemporaries as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

After rising through the ranks of both the American and French armies, Lafayette ultimately returned to France as a special adviser to the king in 1788, and presented in council session a draft of a document fundamental to the French Revolution, The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. But as the French Revolution mounted in intensity, Lafayette as commander of the French National Guard worked to maintain order, for which he was persecuted and eventually imprisoned by the more radical elements of the Revolution.

In 1824-25, President James Monroe invited Lafayette to tour the United States. Lafayette was given a hero’s welcome wherever he went. He visited all twenty-four states and traveled some 6,000 miles. Huge crowds gathered to salute the man, towns were named after him, memorials were erected in his honor and he was even granted honorary United States citizenship by a direct act of Congress – one of only six individuals to have been given this civic honor. One hundred years later on September 6, 1924, Baltimore dedicated its own monument to this great general, with sculpture by Andrew O’Connor and landscape architecture by Thomas Hastings. Lafayette was buried in France under American soil from Bunker Hill.

Notes

Baltimore’s Washington Monument looms atop a spire directly north of Lafayette, who sits upon his horse facing south down the hill towards the Inner Harbor. Washington’s huge arm is outstretched, so that it seems almost like he’s commanding Lafayette to ride off into the distance. Apparently the Oneida tribe, whom Lafayette recruited to the American cause, referred to him as Kayewla (“fearsome horseman”). Lafayette’s monument sits directly between the Peabody Conservatory, part of Johns Hopkins University, and the Walters Art Gallery, which houses a fabulous collection of cultural and artistic treasures from around the world and is open to the public for free.

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Written by monumentcity

May 15th, 2009 at 1:36 pm

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