Lafayette in Woodstock
WHO WAS LAFAYETTE?
Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette was born in France in 1757 to a noble family of substantial means. Many of his ancestors had distinguished themselves in battles dating as far back as the Crusades. Lafayette’s father had been killed by the British in the Battle of Minden when Lafayette was just two years old. Lafayette was subsequently raised under the care of his grandmother, who was known for her generosity and the care she bestowed on peasants. A desire to uphold his family’s military legacy and avenge the death of his father (who was killed by the British), coupled with his grandmother’s example of compassion and altruism toward the “lower” classes, likely ignited Lafayette’s own zeal to intercede on behalf of the colonies during the Revolutionary War.
Lafayette’s impact on the War’s outcome was profound. Serving as a major general, his incisive strategic instincts and courage influenced the outcome of numerous battles. In addition, his diplomatic efforts also proved to be critical, as he was able to foment French sympathy for the American cause and mobilize French troops to join the war effort.