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James McCune's Address to General Lafayette

James McCune's Address to General Lafayette

General Lafayette visited several public schools in New York City on September 10, 1824. Lafayette was celebrated in the United States for his leading role in the American and French Revolutions. Lafayette was friendly with John Jay (a founding member of the New York Manumission Society, and an advocate of the NYAFS)—both men were keenly concerned with providing training and education for slaves in order to prepare them for freedom.

Student: James McCune Smith
Date: 1824
Collection: Original Literary Work
Page: 26


An Address Delivered by James M. Smith, Aged 11 years, in the New York African Free School, to General Lafayette, on the day he visited the institution Sept 10th, 1824

General Lafayette. In behalf of myself and fellow schoolmates, may I be permitted to express our sincere and respectful gratitude to you for the condescension you have manifested this day, in visiting this institution, which is one of the noble specimens of New York Philanthropy. Here, Sir, you behold hundreds of the poor children of Africa sharing with those of a lighter hue, in the blessings of education, and while, it will be our pleasure to remember the great deeds you have done for America, it will be our delight also to cherish the memory of General La Fayette as a friend to African emancipation, and as a member of this institution.

The General’s reply:
“Thank you, my dear child”