History From America's Most Famous Valleys
A MILITARY JOURNAL
During the American Revolutionary War,
From 1775 to 1783.
Describing Interesting Events and Transactions of this period;
with numerous Historical Facts and Anecdotes
From the Original Manuscript
By James Thacher, M. D.
Second Edition, Revised and Corrected.
Boston, Published by Cottons & Barnard, 1827.
THE MARQUIS DE LA FAYETTE.
The name and character of this illustrious French nobleman will occupy a conspicuous place in our revolutionary annals,
* He was born September 6th, 1757, and in 1774 married to the Countess Analtasic de Noailles, daughter of the Duke de Noailles, a lady of immense fortune aid the most brilliant accomplishments.
and be honored by posterity no less for his enthusiastic love of liberty, than for his heroism and military renown. There is something truly romantic in the history of this celebrated personage. In the year 1776, at the immature age of nineteen, he espoused the cause of the Americans, and nobly resolved to afford our country all possible assistance by his personal services and influence. At this era the affairs of America were bordering on despair, and were represented in France as so deplorable that it might be supposed sufficient to repress the most determined zeal. Reports were propagated in that country that our army, reduced to a mere rabble, was flying before an army of thirty thousand regulars, nor was this very wide from the reality. In consequence of this, our commissioners at Paris found it impossible to procure a vessel to convey the Marquis and their own despatches to Congress ; they could not therefore feel justified in encouraging his bold contemplated enterprise. This embarrassment, however, had the effect of increasing, rather than of restraining his youthful ardor and heroism. He imparted to the commissioners his determination to purchase and fit out a vessel to convey himself and their despatches to America. This project was deemed so extraordinary and important, that it did not fail to engage universal attention. The French court had not then declared even a friendly intention towards America, but on the contrary was extremely cautious of giving offence to the British government. Orders were therefore given prohibiting the departure of this nobleman, and vessels were even despatched to the West Indies to intercept him, in case he should take that route. The Marquis was well apprized that he exposed himself to the loss of his fortune by the laws of France ; and that, should he fall into the hands of the English, on his passage, he would be liable to a confinement of uncertain duration, and without a prospect of being exchanged. These considerations, however, did not deter him from the attempt, and bidding adieu to his amiable consort and numerous endeared connexions, and trusting to good fortune to favor his elopement, he embarked, and arrived safe in Charleston, S. C. on the 19th of April, 1777. He landed soon after, the noble defence made by General Moultrie at the fort on Sullivan's Island. Charmed with the gallantry displayed by that general and his brave troops, the Marquis presented him with clothing, arms and accoutrements for one hundred men. He met with a cordial reception from our Congress, and they immediately accepted his proffered services. He insisted that he would receive no compensation, and that he would commence his services as a volunteer. This noble philanthropist was received into the family of the Commander in Chief, where a strong mutual attachment was contracted, and he has often been called the adopted son of Washington. July 31st, 1777, Congress resolved, that, " Whereas the Marquis de la Fayette, out of his great zeal to the cause of liberty in which the United States are engaged, has left his family and connexions, and at his own expense come over to offer his services to the United States without pension or particular allowance, and is anxious to risk his life in our cause-Resolved, that his service be accepted, and that in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major general in the army of the United States." At the battle of Brandywine, September, 1777, the Marquis exhibited full proof of his undaunted bravery and military character, and received a wound in his leg. In May, 1778, with a select corps of two thousand five hundred men, he crossed the Schuylkill and took post about twelve miles in front, of our army at Valley Forge. A quaker in whose house he was to lodge, sent information to the enemy, who formed an instantaneous design of surprising him. General Gray, on the night of the 19th of May, marched with seven thousand men, and by a skillful movement got into the Marquis' rear, while another detachment was advancing to his front. The Marquis fortunately gained intelligence of their approach, and by a prompt decision effected his retreat and recrossed the river in season to defeat the design of the enemy. Had they succeeded, it must not only have proved fatal to the Marquis and his detachment, but placed the remainder of our army in a situation of extreme hazard. In August, 1778, the Marquis repaired to Rhode Island, to assist in the expedition under Major General Sullivan, in conjunction with the French fleet, and he received the particular approbation and applause of Congress, for his judicious and highly important services. In January, 1779, the Marquis embarked at Boston, on a voyage to France, and was subjected to imminent danger from a conspiracy among the sailors, a great part of whom were British. He returned in May, 1780, bringing the joyful intelligence that a French fleet and army would soon arrive on our coast. Through his great zeal for the cause of the United States, he exerted his influence with his government, no longer fearful of giving offence to the English, to afford money and troops and other important succors. He was soon put at the head of a select corps of light infantry for the service of the campaign. This afforded him a new opportunity for the display of his munificence. He presented to every officer under his command an elegant sword, and his soldiers were clothed in uniform principally at his expense. He infused into this corps a spirit of pride and emulation, viewing it as one formed and modeled according to his own wishes, and as deserving his highest confidence. They were the pride of his heart, and he the idol of their regard ; constantly panting for an opportunity of accomplishing some signal achievement worthy of his and their character. This corps was pronounced equal to any that could be produced in any country. In December, 1780, he marched with one thousand two hundred light infantry for Virginia, to counteract the devastations of Arnold and Phillips. He made a forced march of two hundred miles, and prevented General Phillips possessing himself of Richmond, and secured the stores at that place. At one period there was not a single pair of shoes in his whole command, and such was his zeal and generous spirit, and such the confidence and respect of the people, that he was enabled to borrow of the merchants of Baltimore two thousand guineas on his own credit, with which he purchased shoes and other necessary articles for his troops. The Marquis was employed in watching the motions of Lord Cornwallis in Virginia, with an inferior force ; in this arduous duty he displayed the judgment, skill and prudence of a veteran, with the ardor of youth. In a skirmish near Jamestown, not a man in the whole detachment was more exposed, and one of his horses was killed.
Lord Cornwallis having encamped near Jamestown, the Marquis La Fayette sent General Wayne with the Pennsylvania troops to take their station within a small distance of the British army and watch their motions. The two advanced parties were soon engaged, and General Wayne drove that of the enemy back to their lines, and without stopping there, attacked the whole British army, drawn up in order of battle and charged them with bayonets. The action was extremely severe for the little time it lasted, but the disproportion of numbers was so great that the enemy was on the point of surrounding our troops, when the Marquis arrived in person, just time enough to order a retreat, by which they were rescued from their hazardous situation, after suffering considerable loss.
General Henry Lee, in his Memoirs of the War in the Southern States, eulogizes the character and conduct of La Fayette when compelled to fly before the British commander, in the following language.
" In this period of gloom, of disorder and of peril, La Fayette was collected and undismayed. With zeal, with courage, and with sagacity, he discharged his arduous duties; and throughout his difficult retreat was never brought even to array but once in order for battle.-Invigorating our councils by his precepts ; dispelling our despondency by his example; and encouraging his troops to submit to their many privations, by the cheerfulness with which he participated in their wants; he imparted the energy of his own mind to the country, and infused his high toned spirit into the army."
Great encomiums were passed on the Marquis for his humanity and goodness in visiting and administering to the relief of the wounded soldiers. Lord Cornwallis having received a reenforcement, was so confident of success against to young antagonist, that he imprudently said in a letter which was intercepted, " the boy cannot escape, me." He planned the surprize of the Marquis while on the same side of James river with himself, but in this he was baffled by means of a spy, whom the Marquis sent into the enemy's camp to obtain some necessary intelligence. A combination of talents and skill defeated all the energies of physical power. During the siege of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, the Marquis was among the most active and intrepid of the general officers, and he commanded a detachment of our light infantry, which successfully assaulted the British redoubt on the right of our lines. Previous to his departure from Yorktown, he issued his last orders to his favourite corps of infantry, in which are contained the following expressions.
" In the moment the major general leaves this place, he wishes once more to express his gratitude to the brave corps of light infantry, who for nine months past, have been the companions of his fortunes. He will never forget that will them alone, of regular troops, he had the good fortune to manoeuvre before an army which after all its reductions is still six times superior to the regular force he had at that time."
The Marquis now perceiving that the mighty contest for American Independence, in which he has been so nobly engaged, was near its completion, was about to return with the well earned laurels on his brow to his king and country. Congress resolved Nov. 23d, 1781, " that major general the Marquis de la Fayette be informed, that, on a review of his conduct throughout the past campaign, and particularly during the period in which he had the chief command in Virginia, the many new proofs which present themselves of his zealous attachment to the cause he has espoused and of his judgment, vigilance, gallantry and address in its defence, have greatly added to the high opinion entertained by Congress of his merit and military talents." During his military career in America, the Marquis displayed that patriotism, integrity, humanity, and every other virtue which characterize real greatness of soul. His manners being easy, affable and engaging, he was particularly endeared to the officers and soldiers under his command ; they admired, loved, and revered him as their guide and support when in peril, and their warmest friend when in perplexity and trouble. The most affectionate attachment subsisted between him and the illustrious Chief under whose banners it was his delight to serve, and whose language was, " this nobleman unites to all the military fire of youth, an uncommon maturity of judgment."
His very soul burned with the spirit of enterprize, and he manifested a disinterestedness and devotion to the cause of freedom, ever to be admired and applauded by a grateful people. He ever discovered both in design and execution those traits of genius, and that intuitive knowledge of tactics, which designate the great man, and the successful warrior. The people of the United States are fully apprized of their high obligations to him, and their history will transmit the name of La Fayette with grateful acknowledgments to the latest posterity. It is gratifying to learn that Congress granted him a valuable tract of land, as a compensation in part for his disinterested patriotism and important services.
The Marquis returned to France in 1781, and in 1784, again came to the United States, to visit his friends and companions in arms, to whom he was attached by the strongest ties. In this visit, he received the most flattering marks of affection and esteem from every class of people, but especially from his fellow officers of the revolutionary army. In Boston, the Society of Cincinnati, then very numerous, hailed him, as a beloved friend and sharer with them in the services and honors, of the war for liberty and independence.
When in December, 1784, the Marquis was about to take his departure from America, Congress appointed a committee consisting of one member from each state, to receive him, and in the name of Congress to take leave of him a such manner as might strongly manifest their esteem aid regard for him. They were instructed to assure him, that Congress continue to entertain the same high sense of his abilities and zeal to promote the welfare of America, both here and in Europe, which they have frequently expressed and manifested on former occasions ; that the United States regard him with particular affection, and will not cease to feel an interest in whatever may concern his honor and prosperity, and that their best and kindest wishes will always attend him. Congress resolved also, " that a letter be written to his Most Christian Majesty expressive of the high sense which the United States, in Congress assembled, entertain of the zeal, talents and meritorious services of the Marquis de la Fayette, and recommending him to the favor and patronage of his majesty." The Marquis made a very respectful and affectionate reply, in which he expressed the lively feelings of a heart devoted to the welfare of our rising empire, and gratefully acknowledged, that at a time when an inexperienced youth, he was favoured with his respected friend's paternal adoption. He thus concludes his address. "May this immense temple of freedom ever stand as a lesson to oppressors, an example to the oppressed, a sanctuary for the rights of mankind ; and may these happy United States attain that complete splendor and prosperity which will illustrate the blessings of their government, and for ages to come rejoice the departed souls of its founders. Never can Congress oblige me so much as when they put it in my power in every part of the world to the latest day of my life, to gratify the attachment which will ever rank me among the most zealous and respectful servants of the United States."*
The part which General Lafayette took in the great revolution in France, in 1789-92, is known to every one, acquainted
* Grateful Reminiscence.-It is well recollected, that alter the great fire in Boston, in 1787, the Marquis de la Fayette, then in France, immediately wrote to Samuel Breck, Esq. his friend, to draw on him for £300 sterling, to be applied to the relief of the sufferers. The bill was accordingly drawn, and the bounty applied. Mr. Breck, a son of the above, now a Member of Congress from Pennsylvania, still preserves the letter of the Marquis as a precious memorial of his philanthropy and American feeling. The only son of the Marquis (who is, we believe, or has been a Member of the French Chamber of Deputies) bears the name of George Washington, and his two only daughters the names of Virginia and Carolina,-Centinel, Feb. 1824.
with the history of those times. He was an active and influential member of the Legislative Assembly of France at that eventful period ; and proved himself a decided and ardent friend of civil liberty in his own country, as well as in America. But he was not among the extravagant advocates of reform ; much less did he approve or assist in the cruel scenes of bloodshed, which were exhibited in that devoted country, during the Revolution. He wished for a limited, instead of an absolute, monarchy, with a legislative body composed of representatives elected by the people, who might be a check upon the despotic or oppressive measures of the ministry ; and no doubt he would have preferred a government entirely republican and elective, had it been practicable, at that period, in France ; but he was too wise, and too prudent, to risk all in attempting to gain every thing he wished. When the excesses took place in Paris, and the life of the King was threatened, he endeavoured to set bounds to the licentiousness of the populace, and to defend his person. Had other friends of liberty and of reform in France, in 1790, been as reasonable as he was, they might have had a better government than they now have, and that without such great expense of blood and treasure. His moderation rendered him obnoxious to the more ardent leaders of the revolution, and he was obliged to flee. He was taken, most unjustly treated as an enemy to his country, and cast into a dungeon in Germany, where he was detained nearly three years, and suffered every thing but death. But his integrity and innocence supported him under all his sufferings. When he was released and had returned to France, he was again, for a short time, in the legislative assembly, during the reign of Bonaparte; but was too sincere a friend to civil liberty and too great an enemy to arbitrary power, to be a favorite of that ambitious man. For several years, therefore, he remained on his extensive farm, La Grange, while Napoleon was ruling France with a rod of iron.
He had often expressed a desire to visit once more the land which had adopted him as a favorite son, where liberty dwells with all her ample train of social blessings, and where he might embrace the civil and military patriots, with whom he had long since been so closely associated. Many assurances were given him, that he would be received with open arms, and throbbing bosoms. A public invitation was given him to visit the United States, and a ship of war tendered him for his more comfortable accommodation. The latter, he declined ; though he accepted a similar conveyance, on his return to France, after his visit was accomplished.
He arrived at New York the 15th of August, 1824, where he was received by all classes of citizens, as well as by the municipal authorities, with uncommon demonstrations of joy. His reception was cordial and splendid ; and the whole population of that extensive city were eagerly engaged in displaying their gratitude for his services, and their attachment to his character. Before Gen. LaFayette left France, and when it was reported that he intended to visit America, the citizens of Boston had directed a letter of invitation to be forwarded him, with assurances of the great gratification they should derive from his company, and requesting him to spend as much time as possible in this ancient metropolis of New England, where he had so many friends and admirers. On his arrival at New-York, the invitation was repeated. After remaining a few days in that city, he commenced his journey for Boston, where he arrived on the morning of the 24th of August. In his tour, he visited New Haven, Providence, and some other cities. His approach was anticipated with great interest and exultation. He entered the city at 10 o'clock in the morning, and was met at the southern extremity by an immense concourse of the inhabitants; and by the members of the city council, the society of the Cincinnati, and distinguished strangers from all parts of the Commonwealth. Mr. Quincy, the mayor, in the name of the citizens, addressed him as follows :-
" SIR-The Citizens of Boston welcome you on your return to the United States; mindful of your early zeal in the cause of American Independence, grateful for your distinguished share in the perils and glories of its achievement.- When urged by a generous sympathy, you first landed on these shores, you found a people engaged in an arduous and eventful struggle for liberty with apparently inadequate means, and amidst dubious omens. After a lapse of nearly half a century, you find the same people prosperous beyond all hope and all precedent; their liberty secure ; sitting it its strength ; without fear and without reproach.
" In your youth you joined the standard of three millions of people, raised in an unequal and uncertain conflict. In your advanced age you return and are met by ten millions of people, their descendants, whose hearts throng hither to greet your approach and rejoice in it.
" This is not the movement of a turbulent populace, excited by the fresh laurels of some recent conqueror. It is a grave, moral, intellectual impulse.
" A whole people in the enjoyment of freedom as perfect I as the condition of our nature permits, recur with gratitude, increasing with the daily increasing sense of their blessings, to the memory of those, who, by their labors, and in their blood, laid the foundation of our liberties.
" Your name, sir,-the name of LAFAYETTE, is associated with the most perilous, and most glorious periods of our Revolution ;-with the imperishable names of Washington, and of that numerous host of heroes which adorn the proudest archives of American history, and are engraven in indelible traces on the hearts of the whole American people.
" Accept, then, sir, in the sincere spirit in which it is offered, this simple tribute to your virtues.
" Again, sir, the citizens of Boston bid you welcome to the cradle of American Independence, and to scenes consecrated with the blood shed by the earliest martyrs in its cause."
Shouts of joy and gratitude, frequently interrupted the address ; and were repeated at the close.
General La Fayette replied to the eloquent welcome, in a very animated and happy manner, and in substance, a follows :-
" The emotions of love and gratitude, which I have been accustomed to feel on my entering this city, have ever mingled with a sense of religious reverence for the cradle of American, and let me hope it will hereafter be said, of Universal, Liberty.
" What must be, sir, my feelings, at the blessed moment, when, after so long an absence, I find myself again surrounded by the good citizens of Boston-where I am so affectionately, so honourably welcomed, not only by old friends, but by several successive generations ; where I can witness the prosperity, the immense improvements, that have been the just reward of a noble struggle, virtuous morals, and truly republican institutions.
" I beg of you, Mr. Mayor, Gentleman of the City Council, and all of you, beloved citizens of Boston, to accept the respectful and warm thanks of a heart, which has, for nearly half a century, been particularly devoted to your illustrious city."
The reply of the General was received with new plaudits of the assembled people ; and " welcome, welcome La Fayette ! friend of Washington ! friend of America ! Friend of liberty !" was repeated again and again ; and the heights of Dorchester and Roxbury echoed with the joyful acclamation.
The procession was then formed, and passed through Washington, Milk, Broad, State, Court, and Common to Boylston-street, adjoining the south part of the Common in the following order-" Three marshals, the Boston corps of Light Dragoons, a battalion of Light Infantry, composed of the Fusiliers, Boston Light Infantry, Winslow Blues, Washington Light Infantry, New-England Guards, Rangers, and City Guards ; with a, full band of music. Then followed the chief marshal, attended by aids ; members of the City Council, Committee of Arrangements, the President of the Common Council and senior Alderman, all in carriages. Here was placed another marshal, immediately preceding the elegant barouche, drawn by four beautiful white horses, in which rode the distinguished guest of the city and of the nation, accompanied by the mayor, with marshals on either side. The son and friend of La Fayette, and gentlemen aldermen from New York, next followed in carriages ; and these were succeeded by the society of the Cincinnati, public characters, Judges and Legislators, and distinguished strangers, in carriages also. Immediately after, two marshals ; field and staff officers of the militia, mounted on horseback, and followed also by two marshals. The cavalcade of citizens, of all ranks and in great numbers, with marshals attending, closed the voluntary but triumphant procession.
The dwelling houses and stores on the streets through which the procession was conducted, were crowded with inhabitants in every part. The ladies thus situated, caught the enthusiasm of the occasion, waved their white handkerchiefs, and with smiles and gladness, greeted the veteran hero, who appeared affected and delighted by these demonstrations of a joyful welcome. The moment La Fayette arrived at the line of the city, the bells struck, and rang merry peals, while the procession was passing through the streets. Excepting the cavalcade, the procession passed through the Common from Boylston to Park-street, on the eastern margin, and between two lines of children of loth sexes, belonging to the several schools in the city. Their ages were from about eight to twelve, and nearly three thousand in number. Their dress was neat and uniform; the misses in white, and the masters in white pantaloons and blue spencers. They also wore ribbons in their breasts, stamped with a miniature likeness of La Fayette. As the carriage in which the general rode, was passing, one of the misses darted from the line where she was standing, and begged to speak with him. She was handed into the carriage, and by the Mayor presented to La Fayette, who pressed an affection kiss on her blooming, yet blushing cheek. She had confidence, however, to address him, and to place a wreath of flowers, which she held, on his hend. He made her a short but affectionate reply, and placed the wreath on the seat of the carriage. Attached to the wreath of flowers was a small piece of paper, carefully folded, which contained these lines: said to be composed by the mother of the child.
" An infant hand presents these blushing
Glowing and pure as childhood's artless hours,
Where roses bloom, and buds of promise smile,
repaying with their charms the culturer's toil-
On ! take them FATHER, they were culled for you,
(Still bright with warm affection's sacred dew-)
O let them live in thy benignant smile,
And o'er thy brow of glory bloom awhile !
'Twined with the laurel Fame on thee bestowed
When thy young heart with patriot ardor glow'd;
Self exiled from the charms of wealth and love,
And, home, and friends, thou didst our champion prove,
And, by the side of Glorious WASHINGTON,
" Didst make our grateful country all thine own !
Go, fragile offering, speak the ardent joy
Our bosoms feel, which Time can ne'er destroy !"
Arches were thrown across several of the principal streets,
through which La Fayette was conducted, covered with evergreens and flowers,
and containing appropriate mottos. There were two in Washington-street, the
largest, and part of the distance, the widest street in the City.-On one of
these was very legibly written-" 1776-WASHINGTON and LA FAYETTE. Welcome.
La Fayette-A Republic not ungrateful. On the other
" WELCOME LA FAYETTE.
" The Fathers in glory shall sleep,
Who gather'd with thee to the fight;
But the sons will eternally keep
The tablet of gratitude bright.
We bow not the neck
And we bend not the knee,
But our hearts, LA FAYETTE,
We surrender to thee."
The lines were from the pen of a citizen of Boston, whose poetic talents had often delighted the public, and who had received the highest praise from those capable of appreciating the productions of genius.
When the procession arrived at the steps of the State House, near the head of Park Street, salutes were fired by a battalion of artillery, on the eminence on the western part of the Common, and at the Navy Yard at Charlestown. Salutes were also fired by a battalion of artillery, placed on the heights of Dorchester, (now South Boston,) when General La Fayette reached the line of the city, at 11 o'clock. The President of the United States had caused an order to be issued, on the first arrival of La Fayette at New York, requiring, that he be received by the military officers of the nation, at all public posts, with the salutes and honors due to one of the highest rank in the army.
The Governor and Executive Council of the Common wealth, were assembled in the spacious Senate Chamber to receive La Fayette in the name of the Representatives of the people, and in pursuance of their resolve of June preceding, as well as in accordance with their own personal feelings and wishes. His Excellency the Governor, here addressed him with great feeling,* in the following concise and pertinent speech :
" SIR, OUR FRIEND,-" In the name of the government, and in behalf of the citizens of Massachusetts, I have the honor to greet you with a cordial, an affectionate welcome.
" We thank God, that he has been pleased to preserve you through the scenes of peril and of suffering, which have distinguished your patriotic and eventful life, and that we are indulged with this occasion of renewing to you our grateful acknowledgments for the important services which you have rendered to our common country.
" In the last surviving Major General of the American revolutionary army, we recognize a benefactor and friend, from a distant and gallant nation ; who, inspired by a love of liberty, subjected himself in his youth, to the toils and hazards of
* Governor Eustis was so affected, that he had to call on one of his aids to read the greater part of the address.
a military life, in support of our rights. Under our illustrious Washington, you were instrumental in establishing the liberties of our country, while your gallantry in the field, secured to yourself an imperishable renown.
" With the enjoyment of the blessings of independence, we shall never cease to associate the name of La Fayette, and our prayer to heaven will be for his health and prosperity."
To which the General, with much animation, replied ;- " SIR-When in the name of the people and government of this State, your Excellency is pleased so kindly to welcome an American veteran, I am proud to share the honors and enjoyments of such a reception with my revolutionary companions and my brother soldiers. Sir, I am delighted with what I see, I am oppressed with what I feel ; but I depend upon you, as an old friend, to do justice to my sentiments."
Afterwards a great number of gentlemen were introduced to La Fayette, in the Senate Chamber ; of whom were the Judges and other public officers of the United States, of the State and of the City ; members of the society of Cincinnati, with their venerable and distinguished President, Hon. John Brooks, late Governor of the Commonwealth. La Fayette recognized his old military and personal friend, at the first sight, and embraced him with great cordiality and affection. Some other veterans of the revolutionary army, who were present, he also recollected ; and discovered strong emotions as they approached him and took his hand. Indeed, he was so eager to meet them, that he very generally first seized them, and clung to them with all the affection of a brother. The scene was inexpressibly affecting. There was not a heart untouched-not a cheek unmoistened by the falling tear. To weep then was not weakness ; it was proof of gratitude and of a generous feeling, which is an honor to human nature.
By particular request, and to gratify the wishes of the people collected in front of the State House, General La Fayette appeared in the colonnade of this superb edifice, where he was greeted with loud and continued cheers. He was then conducted by the committee of arrangements, to the residence provided for him at the head of Park Street. A public dinner was given by the city authorities in honor of their noble guest; and the invitation was extended to Senators and Members of Congress, the Governor and Ex-Governor of the Commonwealth, judicial and other public characters.
A committee of the society of Cincinnati called upon General La Fayette at the residence of the Governor, in Roxbury, and before his entrance into Boston. They were anxious to offer him their congratulations at the earliest moment; and to bid him welcome to the land they had unitedly struggled to defend. And a few days after his arrival, the whole society waited on him, when their President made the following address ;-
" SIR-The Society of Cincinnati of the State of Massachusetts seize the earliest moment after your arrival in this city, of extending to you the hand of friendship and affection. We offer you our most cordial congratulations on your safe arrival again, after the lapse of forty years, on the shores of our favoured country, once the theatre of our united toils, privations, and combats with a powerful foe, but now the peaceful domain of a great, a free, and independent people. We hail you, sir, in unison with the millions of our fellow citizens; most respectfully hail you as a Statesman, a Philanthropist, and as the early, inflexible, and devoted friend, not only of our beloved country, but of the sacred principles of civil liberty and human rights. But we greet you under more tender and hallowed associations ; in the endearing relation of a brother-soldier, who, in the ardor of youth commenced in the field with us your career of glory, in the holy cause of Liberty and American Independence.
" But here recollections crowd upon our minds too powerful for utterance. Words would but mock the deep emotions of our hearts should we attempt so express them, in contemplating the character, attributes, and services of the parental Chief, under whose auspices we trod together the field of honor. To the profound veneration and love for his memory that penetrates your bosom, we refer you as to a transcript of your own. It would be vain to imagine the joy that would swell the great mind of Washington, were he still living to recognize with our nation, the generous disinterestedness, the glowing ardor, the personal sacrifices, and the gallant achievements of his much loved Fayette. But it is equally vain to endeavor on this occasion, to exclude such interesting reflections from the mind, or to deny it the melancholy pleasure of lingering on the solemn reality, that not a single individual of the General Staff of the army of the American Revolution now survives to participate in the joy that your presence in the United States has awakened.
" To us it is peculiarly grateful that you are permitted after a lapse of so long a period, to witness the consummation of the principles of our revolution. You will perceive, sir, that the hopes and predictions of the wise and good men who were your particular associates in the arduous struggle, have been fulfilled and surpassed. You will behold a great people united in their principles of jurisprudence, cemented together by the strong ties of mutual interests and happy under the fostering influence of a free and energetic government.
" You will, therefore, allow us to reiterate our felicitations on your safe arrival among as, and to welcome you once more to the good land which your youthful valor contributed to elevate and distinguish.
" May your future life be as tranquil and happy as your past has been useful, uniform, and glorious."
To which the General returned the following answer ; " Amidst the inexpressible enjoyments which press upon my heart, I could not but feel particularly eager and happy to meet my beloved brothers in arms. Many, many, I call in vain; and at the head of them, our matchless paternal Chief, whose love to an adopted son, I am proud to say, you have long witnessed-But while we mourn together, for those we have lost, while I find a consolation, in the sight of their relations and friends, it is to me a delightful gratification, to recognize my surviving companions of our revolutionary army-that army so brave, so virtuous, so united by mutual confidence and affection. That we have been the faithful soldiers of independence, freedom, and equality, those three essential requisites of national and personal dignity and happiness ; that we have lived to see those sacred principles secured to this vast Republic, and cherished elsewhere by all generous minds, shall be the pride of our life, the boast of our children, the comfort of our last moments.-Receive, my dear brother soldiers, the grateful thanks, and constant love of your old companion and friend."
The day following that of his arrival in Boston, General La Fayette attended the Commencement, at the University in Cambridge, where he was received with similar gratulations to those he met in Boston. The speakers eulogized him in an eloquent manner ; and his presence added greatly to the joy of the occasion.
While in Boston, the Society of Cincinnati assembled to offer him a tribute of affection ; and their meeting was very interesting. His venerable associates in arms were in tears when he addressed them, and he appeared highly affected by the interview. The Governor also ordered out the militia of Suffolk, with some from Essex and Middlesex, in honor of the patriot soldier, who assembled on the Common in Boston, in a greater number than was ever there collected at any previous time.
After visiting all the States in the union, and passing some time in Washington, the seat of the national government, Gen. La Fayette, again visited Boston, in June 1825. This was agreeable to a wish often before expressed to spend some more time in this city, where he had so many particular friends, as well as for the purpose of being present at the laying of the corner Stone of the Monument on Bunker's Hill, and at the commemoration of the battle there fought, fifty years before, between the British and the Americans ; which was soon after the commencement of hostilities, that terminated in the Independence of these United States.
This was indeed a memorable occasion : and an immense multitude of people collected from all parts of the nation to witness and to participate in the transactions of the day. Many of the veterans who were engaged in the war for Independence, and some who were in the battle itself, then commemorated, were among the thousands that congregated on this great national event. The scene was one of peculiar interest from having General La Fayette, and other heroes of the revolution on the spot, to join in the celebration. Fifty years only had elapsed from the period of our weakness and colonial dependence, to our present high station of oppulence and prosperity ; a rank comparatively great and respectable among the nations of the earth; and for civil liberty, superior to all others.
It was at this second and last visit in Boston, that General La Fayette accepted an invitation to dine with the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association of the city, which for numbers and useful objects may be ranked amongst the most respectable in the place. The officers of the Society, who are men of intelligence and enterprize, and friendly to improvement in the useful arts, were desirous of testifying their respect for a character so meritorious and so patriotic as La Fayette. He manifested great satisfaction in the interview; and was highly gratified in learning the objects of the association. For he is not a speculative philosopher, or a theoretic Statesman merely-but he rejoices in every thing which indicates a spirit of activity and enterprize.
On leaving Boston, Gen. La Fayette visited Washington ; and on his way delayed some time in other places, at the earnest solicitations of the inhabitants. The people seemed desirous to repeat their assurances of respect and affection for him, and their strong sense of the services he had rendered the country, in the days of her weakness and sufferings. After visiting the President of the United States, at the seat of Government, where he was cordially received, he took passage for France, on the 9th of September, 1825, in the new frigate Brandywine, which conveyed him safely to his family and his home, where he enjoys all the pleasures which can be found in the society of affectionate children, and grandchildren, and which springs from a consciousness of services devoted to the improvement and happiness of mankind.
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