Crowds and fireworks greeted the Hermione this morning [June 5, 2015] when it made landfall in Yorktown, VA. An authentic replica of the Marquis de Lafayette’s 18th-century frigate, it is retracing the voyage made in 1780 by the original vessel, whose mission was crucial to the American Revolution. The ship will make a series of commemorative stops at celebrations along the East Coast in June and July, including a stay in Philadelphia June 25-28.
According to Diane Windham Shaw, noted authority on the Marquis de Lafayette and college archivist at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., Lafayette arrived on America’s shores aboard the frigate Hermione in 1780, with French aid to help George Washington’s efforts against the British. “He also [came] to deliver the momentous news that the French were deploying substantial land and naval forces to America, as well as shipments of clothing and arms that he had helped procure,” she says. “On the personal side, Lafayette also brought word of a new son, whom he had named George Washington Lafayette.”
Lafayette’s decision to devote himself to the American cause in 1777 was born of his admiration for the spirit of the revolution, and his unselfish idealism made him a lasting hero in his adopted country. His triumphal return to America in 1824 prompted citizens of Easton who were forming a new college to name it Lafayette College as a testimonial of their respect.
Over the years, Lafayette College has turned its honorary connection with Lafayette into a true connection, becoming an important archive of Lafayette papers and memorabilia. Video: The Ship and the Sword of the Marquis de Lafayette.
Shaw can offer historical insight and shed light on the significance of the ship’s visit and Lafayette’s legacy as an important player in the Revolutionary War and later, during his return visits and extensive travels, in the early development of the United States as a nation.
Schedule of commemorative stops by the Hermione: Yorktown, VA June 4-7; Mount Vernon, VA, June 9; Alexandria, VA, June 10-11; Annapolis, MD, June 16-17; Baltimore, MD, June 19-21; Philadelphia, Pa., June 25-28; New York, NY, July 1-4; Greenport, NY, July 6-7; Newport, RI, July 8-9; Boston, Mass., July 11-12; Castine, ME, July 14-15.
More information on the Marquis and the Hermione voyage: http://sites.lafayette.edu/hermione/ and http://hermione2015.com/. Lafayette’s Diane Shaw will be taking part in some of the ship’s portside welcoming ceremonies in the days and weeks ahead. You can reach her at 610-330-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Higher resolution available, https://flic.kr/p/tUhzoc
Photo credit: Courtesy of Association Hermione-La Fayette
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