“America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman” – Marquis de Lafayette in Fayetteville, NC
Fayetteville documents its connection to Lafayette with exhibits and a heritage trail
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FAYETTEVILLE, NC – Fayetteville was the first U.S. city named for “America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman,” (as Lafayette is recognized in the musical Hamilton) and the only namesake city he visited. When Lafayette came back to America in 1824/25 he was welcomed in cities like New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Touched by a friend’s story of the first town in America named for him, Lafayette included Fayetteville on his tour. Upon his March 4, 1825 arrival, Fayetteville rolled out the proverbial red carpet to welcome the famed nobleman and gentleman. In his speech of welcome, Judge Toomer proclaimed, “Never, never can we forget the youthful stranger who, in the darkest hour of adversity, so generously flew to our succor, and so gallantly fought the battle of freedom.”
Fayetteville Observer article about Lafayette’s visit to Fayetteville
Today the community recognizes its connection to Lafayette with several historical resources.
The Lafayette Cultural Heritage Trail guides visitors to 13 sites related to Lafayette’s visit on March 4 and 5, 1825. The trail provides a detailed history of the community’s connection to the Revolutionary War hero and the history of each site on the trail. Sites on the trail include:
- Grave of Isham Blake – Blake, a musician in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, also served as one of General Lafayette’s bodyguards at the Siege of Yorktown in 1781. Blake and Lafayette reunited during his visit to Fayetteville in 1825.
- Clarendon Bridge – On March 4, Fayetteville’s mayor welcomed Lafayette at the Clarendon Bridge. He was escorted into town by local militia units, including the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry.
The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum houses an exhibit of artifacts from Lafayette’s visit. The exhibit is filled with an array of artifacts, images and information connecting Lafayette to the City of Fayetteville. The exhibit includes letters written by Lafayette, period souvenirs from the visit, a rosette worn at the ball held in Fayetteville and other artifacts.
“Fayetteville and Cumberland County have a rich history dating back to before the Revolutionary War,” says John Meroski, Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (FACVB) President & CEO. “We’ve packaged that history into ten historical trails, including the Lafayette trail. Find them at www.FayettevilleNCTrails.com.”
ABOUT THE FACVB: The FACVB is a private, not-for-profit organization responsible for positioning the communities of Cumberland County as a destination for conventions, sporting events and individual and group travel. For additional information about America’s First Military Sanctuary Community, visit www.visitfayettevillenc.com or call 1-800-255-8217