Lafayette's Return: The “Boy General," the American Revolution, and the Hermione
"She sails like a bird," the Marquis de Lafayette wrote about the Hermione, the ship that carried him and a decisive supply of arms across the Atlantic in aid of the nascent American Revolution. This summer, a recreated Hermione will set sail from France and spend July Fourth weekend in New York. The New-York Historical Society exhibition focuses on both the recreated ship and Lafayette himself, the Boy General whose close friendship with George Washington and diplomatic networks in Paris helped win the war. The show considers Lafayette's early years from his initial advocacy on behalf of the Revolution in the late 1770s to the Hermione's voyage in 1780 and the events leading to the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781.
An aristocrat with an unusually liberal view of the world, Lafayette saw in the American Revolution a future of freedom and enlightened world leadership. The exhibition explores Lafayette not only as a decisive military leader and political visionary but also as a young father and husband thousands of miles from home. The exhibition includes his personal letters to his wife and daughter, the codes he shared with Washington, his swords and medals, and his accounts of his allies Jefferson, Franklin, and Washington. La Grange, Lafayette's chateau from 1802 to 1834, will lend some of its greatest Lafayette-related treasures for the first time.