The last result of wisdom stamps it true

ON the 12th of July, 1824, La Fayette, accompanied by his son, George
Washington, and his private secretary, M. Levasseur, set sail from Havre
for his last visit to America. When the fact became known that La
Fayette contemplated this journey, the French police immediately
endeavored to spy out his motives for so doing, to discover if they had
any political significance.
This incident is taken from a French paper:—
“As soon as it was known that M. de La Fayette was going to the United
States, M. Delavau became anxious to find out what preparations he was
making for his departure, and everything that passed in his hotel. For
this purpose a list of subscribers for the relief of an old officer was
forged, and to it were attached the names of Messrs. Ternaux, Lafitte,
Benjamin Constant, and other deputies. A police officer named Placi was
employed on this occasion; and he called at the house of M. de La
Fayette, and saw M. Levasseur, his secretary, who questioned him with
great caution; and from the awkward answers of the policeman discovered
the trick. M. Levasseur told him that M. de La Fayette was not within at
that moment, and if he would return in half an hour he would be sure of
meeting the general, who, no doubt, would afford him every assistance in
his power. The policeman, confident of the success of his visit,
returned many thanks, and promised to come back at the appointed time.
“M. Levasseur ordered a servant to follow him, and he was traced to a
house where other police agents were assembled; and they were heard
congratulating each other upon the capital breakfast which they could
eat the next morning at the expense of General La Fayette. The policeman
returned in half an hour, and was introduced to M. de La Fayette, who
received him in the kindest manner, and addressed him thus:—
“‘Well, sir, what are you?’
“‘I am, sir,’ said the policeman, ‘an old officer, who has been greatly
“‘Probably,’ said the general, ‘you belong to M. Delavau’s regiment?’
“‘No,’ said Placi.
“‘Well,’ continued the general, ‘as you will not tell the truth, I will
try and force you to do so.’
“The general, then addressing himself to his secretary, told him to
order up the servants and direct them to tie the policeman in a chaise,
and carry him to his château in the country and burn him. They obeyed
the general’s orders, and fastened Placi with cords in the post-chaise;
but soon as he saw it was no joke (not being able to move hand or foot),
he begged to be allowed to speak a few words to the general; and on
being brought before him, threw himself upon his knees, and asked for
pardon, and at the same time delivering up the paper which he had
received as instructions. M. de La Fayette granted him his liberty, and
transmitted the instructions, with a letter to M. Delavau, which the
latter (of course, through modesty) has not thought proper to publish in
the newspapers.”
The following account of the arrival of La Fayette in America is taken
from the files of the _Niles Register_, a newspaper published in
Baltimore at that time. The date is August, 1824.
“It is with feelings of the utmost pleasure we announce the arrival of
this distinguished soldier and patriot of the Revolution. He came a
passenger in the _Cadmus_ from Havre, accompanied by his son, George
Washington La Fayette, and arrived at the quarantine ground, near New
York, on the 15th inst. He landed from the _Cadmus_ at an early hour in
the morning, and repaired to the dwelling of the Vice-President on
Staten Island.
“Immediately on his arrival being known, he was waited on by a committee
of the corporation of New York and a great number of distinguished
citizens. He is in excellent health, full of conversation, and rejoiced
beyond measure in having his foot upon American ground. On the following
day he was conducted to the city, amidst every demonstration of joy that
a grateful people could bestow, reflecting the highest credit on the
patriotic citizens of New York, and a just tribute to the veteran whose
blood and treasure so essentially contributed to the enjoyment of our
present blessings.”
The following interesting particulars are extracted from the New York
_Commercial Advertiser_:—
“The committee, having chartered the steamship _Robert Fulton_ and the
steamboats _Chancellor Livingston_, _Oliver Ellsworth_, _Henry Eckford_,
_Connecticut_, _Bellona_, _Olive Branch_, _Nautilus_, etc., they were
all superbly dressed with flags and streamers of every nation, and
directed to meet and form an aquatic escort between the south part of
the Battery and Governor’s Island, and thence proceed in order to Staten
Island. The squadron, bearing six thousand of our fellow-citizens,
majestically took its course toward Staten Island, there to take on
board our long-expected and honored guest. At one o’clock the fleet
arrived at Staten Island, and in a few minutes a landau was seen
approaching the hotel near the ferry. The general, the Vice-President,
and ex-governor Ogden of New Jersey having alighted, a procession was
formed, and the venerable stranger, supported by these gentlemen,
followed by all the officers of the island and a crowd of citizens,
passed through a triumphal arch, round which was tastefully entwined the
French and American colors. He was here met by the committee of the
common council, who conducted him on board the _Chancellor_. On entering
this splendid vessel, the marines paid him military honors. He was now
introduced to the committees from most of our honored associations and
the general officers representing the infantry. The West Point band all
this time were playing, ‘See! the conquering hero comes,’ ‘_Ou peut on
être mieux_,’ ‘Hail Columbia,’ and the ‘Marseillaise Hymn.’
“The steamship now fired a salute, and the whole squadron got under way
for the city. Decidedly the most interesting sight was the reception of
the general by his old companions in arms, Colonel Marinus Willet, now
in his eighty-fifth year, General Van Cortland, General Clarkson, and
other Revolutionary worthies. He knew and remembered them all. It was a
reunion of a long-separated family.
“After the ceremony of embracing and congratulations were over, he sat
down alongside of Colonel Willet, who grew young again and fought all
his battles over. ‘Do you remember,’ said he, ‘at the battle of Monmouth
I was a volunteer aid to General Scott? I saw you in the heat of battle.
You were but a boy; but you were a serious and sedate lad.’ ‘Aye, aye; I
remember well. And on the Mohawk I sent you fifty Indians; and you wrote
that they set up such a yell that they frightened the British horse, and
they ran one way and the Indians another.’ No person who witnessed this
interview will ever forget it; many an honest tear was shed on the
“La Fayette landed amidst the cheers and acclamations of 30,000 people,
who filled the Castle, Battery, and surrounding grounds within sight.
After partaking of some refreshment, the whole cavalcade moved in the
direction of the City Hall. The general rode uncovered, and received the
unceasing shouts and the congratulations of 50,000 freemen, with tears
and smiles, which bespoke how deeply he felt the pride and glory of the
“After the ceremonies of presentation at the City Hall, he was conducted
to his lodgings at the City Hotel; and he had the extraordinary
condescension and good feeling to come out and shake hands with six or
seven hundred American youths, the future conservators of his fame. This
circumstance has planted in the minds of these little ones the strongest
affection for the man, which will go with them through life and endure
till its close.
“Such is a faint outline of the proceedings of a day which shines
proudly in the annals of our country; proceedings which were more
brilliant than any that have ever been witnessed in America, and which
will rarely, if ever, be equalled.”
Deputations from various cities called upon La Fayette: among them was a
deputation from the corporation of Baltimore, to whose greeting La
Fayette replied in expressive terms. “Ah, Baltimore!” he exclaimed;
“well do I recollect Baltimore, and with feelings of peculiar gratitude;
for to the merchants of Baltimore, and particularly to the ladies of
Baltimore, I was indebted for assistance which enabled me to open the
Virginia campaign. Without them, I do not know what I could have done.”
General La Fayette visited the following places during his triumphal
journey through America, between the time of his arrival in August,
1824, and his departure in September, 1825, being received everywhere
with the warmest enthusiasm and honored with the most distinguished
attentions. At New York, Boston, Providence, Philadelphia, Baltimore,
Washington,—and, in fact, everywhere,—he was honored with such ovations
as the country had never before witnessed. We can only name the various
cities which were honored by his presence, and a few incidents which
occurred. After his reception at New York, he visited successively the
following places: Providence, Boston; then returned to New York; and
having been again received by crowds of people whose desire to behold
him was unabated, he attended a splendid civic FÊTE at Castle Garden,
and then proceeded to visit West Point, Newburg, Poughkeepsie, Clermont,
Catskill, Hudson, Albany, Troy, Jersey City, Newark, Elizabethtown, New
Brunswick, Princeton, Trenton, Morrisville, Philadelphia, Wilmington,
Frenchtown, Baltimore, Washington, Alexandria, Yorktown, Williamsburg,
Norfolk, Richmond, Fredericksburg, Monticello, Charlottesville,
Annapolis, from whence he returned to Washington and Baltimore.
The _Magazine of American History_ of December, 1887, quotes the
following description, taken from the New York _Evening Post_ of 1824,
regarding the brilliant _fête_ given at Castle Garden on the 14th of
September, 1824, in honor of the nation’s guest, General La Fayette:—
“We hazard nothing in saying it was the most magnificent _fête_ given
under cover in the world. It was a festival that realizes all that we
read of in the Persian tales or Arabian Nights, which dazzled the eye
and bewildered the imagination, and which produced so many powerful
combinations by magnificent preparations as to set description almost at
defiance. We never saw ladies more brilliantly dressed; everything that
fashion and elegance could devise was used on the occasion. Their
head-dresses were principally of flowers, with ornamented combs, and
some with plumes of ostrich feathers. White and black lace dresses over
satin were mostly worn, with a profusion of steel ornaments, and neck
chains of gold and silver, suspended to which were beautiful gold and
silver badge medals bearing a likeness of La Fayette, manufactured for
the occasion. The gentlemen had suspended from the button-holes of their
coats a similar likeness, and with the ladies, had the same stamped on
their gloves. A belt or sash with the likeness of the general, and
entwined with a chaplet of roses, also formed part of the dress of the
“Foreigners who were present admitted that they had never seen anything
equal to this _fête_ in the several countries from which they came, the
blaze of light and beauty, the decorations of the military officers, the
combination of rich colors which met the eye at every glance, the
brilliant circle of fashion in the galleries,—everything in the range of
sight being inexpressibly beautiful, and doing great credit and honor to
the managers and all engaged in this novel spectacle. The guests
numbered several thousands; but there was abundant room for the dancing,
which commenced at an early hour and was kept up until about three
o’clock in the morning.”
At a public dinner given to General La Fayette at Westchester, Dr.
Darlington, late member of Congress from that district, offered the
following classic toast:—
“THE FIELDS OF BRANDYWINE! … irrigated on the _Cadmean_ system of
agriculture, with the blood of revolutionary patriots … the teeming
harvest must ever be _independent freemen_.”
The _Niles Register_, of Baltimore, gives the following interesting
descriptions of the reception of La Fayette at Albany, and the memorable
public welcome given him by Congress:—
“On alighting at the capitol, the general was conducted to the senate
chamber, where he was received by the mayor and the members of the
corporation. He was addressed by the mayor of Albany, as follows:—
“‘Your visit in this country is received with universal and heart-felt
joy. Your claims upon the gratitude and friendship of this nation arise
from your heroic devotion to its freedom, and your uniform assertion of
the rights of man. The progress of time has attested the purity of your
character and the lustre of your heroism, and the whole course of your
life has evinced those exalted virtues which were first displayed in
favor of the independence and liberty of America.
“‘In the hour of difficulty and peril, when America, without allies,
without credit, with an enfeebled government, and with scanty means of
resistance, confiding in the justice of her cause, and the protection of
Heaven, was combating for her liberties against a nation powerful in
resources and all the materials of war, when our prospects of success
were considered by many more than doubtful, if not desperate, you
devoted all your energies and all your means to our defence; and, after
witnessing our triumphant success, your life has been consecrated to the
vindication of the liberties of the Old World.
“‘When Franklin, the wisest man of the age, pronounced you the most
distinguished person he ever knew; when Washington, the illustrious hero
of the New World, honored you with friendship the most sincere, and with
confidence the most unlimited, they evinced their just discernment of
character, and foresaw the further display of faculties and virtues
which would identify your name with liberty, and demonstrate your
well-founded claims to the gratitude, the love, and the admiration of
“‘The few surviving statesmen and soldiers of the Revolution have
gathered around you as a friend and a brother; the generation that has
risen up since your departure cherish the same feelings; and those that
will appear in the successive future ages will hail you as the
benefactor of America and the hero of liberty. In every heart you have a
friend, and your eulogium is pronounced by every tongue. I salute you as
an illustrious benefactor of our country; and I supplicate the blessings
of Heaven on a life sanctified in the sublime cause of heroic virtue and
disinterested benevolence.’”
To which the general returned the following reply:—
“SIR: The enjoyments of my visit to the beautiful country and happy
shores of the North River cannot but be highly enhanced by the
affectionate reception and the civic testimonies of esteem which are
conferred upon me in this city, and the manner in which you are pleased
to express sentiments so gratifying to my heart. Not half a century has
elapsed since this place, ancient, but small, was my headquarters, on
the frontiers of an extensive wilderness, since, as commander in the
northern department, I had to receive the oath of renunciation to a
royal distant government, of allegiance to the more legitimate
sovereignty of the people of the United States.
“Now, sir, Albany, become a considerable city, is the central seat of
the authorities of the state of New York. Those wildernesses rank among
the most populous and best cultivated parts of the Union. The rising
generation has, in two glorious wars, and still more so in her admirable
institutions, asserted an indisputable superiority over the proud
pretender to a control upon her.
“To these happy recollections, sir, you have the goodness to add
remembrances of my early admission among the sons and soldiers of
America, of friendships the most honorable and dear to me. I will not
attempt to express the feelings that crowd on my mind, and shall only
beg you, sir, and the gentlemen of the corporation to accept the tribute
of my respectful and devoted gratitude.”
The reception of La Fayette by Congress, in the Hall of Representatives,
was peculiarly flattering and gratifying.
“At an early hour the galleries began to fill with spectators; and soon
after eleven o’clock, many ladies entered the hall and took possession
of the sofas and seats which were appropriated for their reception. The
doors were afterwards thrown open, and the Senate entered in procession
and took seats on the right side of the chair.
“At one o’clock, George Washington La Fayette and Colonel Levasseur, the
general’s secretary, entered the house, and took their seats on one of
the sofas by the side of the Secretary of State.
“In a few moments General La Fayette entered the house, supported on his
right by Mr. Mitchell, the chairman of the select committee, and on his
left by Mr. Livingston, and followed by the committee. The speaker and
members then arose, and the procession advanced towards the centre of
the house. Mr. Mitchell introduced La Fayette in the following words:—
“‘MR. SPEAKER: The select committee, appointed for that purpose, have
the honor to introduce General La Fayette to the House of
“The general was then conducted to the sofa placed for his reception,
when the speaker, Mr. Clay, addressed him in the following words:—
“‘GENERAL: The House of Representatives of the United States, impelled
alike by its own feelings and by those of the whole American people,
could not have assigned to me a more gratifying duty than that of
presenting to you cordial congratulations upon the occasion of your
recent arrival in the United States, in compliance with the wishes of
Congress; and to assure you of the very high satisfaction which your
presence affords on this early theatre of your glory and renown.
Although but few of the members who compose this body shared with you in
the war of our Revolution, all have, from impartial history, or from
faithful tradition, a knowledge of the perils, the sufferings, and the
sacrifices which you voluntarily encountered, and the signal services,
in America and in Europe, which you performed for an infant, a distant,
and an alien people; and all feel and own the very great extent of the
obligations under which you have placed our country. But the relations
in which you have ever stood to the United States, interesting and
important as they have been, do not constitute the only motive of the
respect and admiration which the House of Representatives entertain for
you. Your consistency of character, your uniform devotion to regulated
liberty, in all the vicissitudes of a long and arduous life, also
commands its admiration. During all the recent convulsions of Europe,
amidst, as after the dispersion of every political storm, the people of
the United States have beheld you, true to your old principles, firm and
erect, cheering and animating, with your well-known voice, the votaries
of liberty, its faithful and fearless champion, ready to shed the last
drop of that blood which here you so freely and nobly spilt in the same
holy cause.
“‘The vain wish has been sometimes indulged that Providence would allow
the patriot after death to return to his country and to contemplate the
intermediate changes which had taken place,—to view the forests felled,
the cities built, the mountains levelled, the canals cut, the highways
constructed, the progress of the arts, the advancement of learning, and
the increase of population. General, your present visit to the United
States is a realization of the consoling object of that wish. You are in
the midst of posterity. Everywhere you must have been struck with the
great changes, physical and moral, which have occurred since you left
us. Even this very city, bearing a venerated name, alike endeared to you
and to us, has since emerged from the forest which then covered its
site. In one respect you behold us unaltered, and this is in the
sentiment of continued devotion to liberty, and of ardent affection and
profound gratitude to your departed friend, the father of his country,
and to you, and to your illustrious associates in the field and the
cabinet, for the multiplied blessings which surround us, and for the
very privilege of addressing you which I now exercise. This sentiment,
now fondly cherished by more than ten millions of people, will be
transmitted, with unabated vigor, down the tide of time through the
countless millions who are destined to inhabit the continent to the
latest posterity.’

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“While the speaker was addressing him, General La Fayette was very
visibly affected. At the close of the address he seated himself for a
moment to regain composure, and then rose, and in tones made thrilling
by intense feeling, he made the following reply:—
people of the United States and their honorable representatives in
Congress have deigned to make a choice of me, one of the American
veterans, to signify in his person their esteem for our joint services
and their attachment to the principles for which we have had the honor
to fight and bleed, I am proud and happy to share those extraordinary
favors with my dear Revolutionary companions; yet it would be, on my
part, uncandid and ungrateful not to acknowledge my personal share in
those testimonies of kindness, as they excite in my breast emotions
which no words are adequate to express.
“‘My obligations to the United States, sir, far exceed any merit I might
claim; they date from the time when I had the happiness to be adopted as
a young soldier a favored son of America; they have been continued to me
during almost a half-century of constant affection and confidence; and
now, sir, thanks to your most gratifying invitation, I find myself
greeted by a series of welcomes, one hour of which would more than
compensate for the public exertions and sufferings of a whole life.
“‘The approbation of the American people and their representatives for
my conduct during the vicissitudes of the European revolution is the
highest reward I could receive. Well may I _stand firm and erect_, when
in their names, and by you, Mr. Speaker, I am declared to have in every
instance been faithful to those American principles of liberty,
equality, and true social order, the devotion to which, as it has been
from my earliest youth, so it shall continue to be to my latest breath.
“‘You have been pleased, Mr. Speaker, to allude to the peculiar felicity
of my situation, when, after so long an absence, I am called to witness
the immense improvements, the admirable communications, the prodigious
creations, of which we find an example in this city, whose name itself
is a venerated palladium. In a word, all the grandeur and prosperity of
those happy United States, who, at the same time they nobly secure the
complete assertion of American independence, reflect on every part of
the world the light of a far superior civilization.
“‘What better pledge can be given of a persevering national love of
liberty, when those blessings are evidently the result of a virtuous
resistance to oppression, and institutions founded on the rights of men
and the republican principle of self-government?
“‘No, Mr. Speaker, posterity has not begun for me, since, in the sons of
my companions and friends I find the same public feelings, and, permit
me to add, the same feelings in my behalf which I have had the happiness
to experience in their fathers.
“‘Sir, I have been allowed, forty years ago, before a committee of a
congress of thirteen states, to express the fond wishes of an American
heart; on this day I have the honor and enjoy the delight to
congratulate the representatives of the Union, so vastly enlarged, on
the realization of those wishes, even beyond every human expectation,
and upon the almost infinite prospects we can with certainty anticipate;
permit me, Mr. Speaker, and gentlemen of the House of Representatives,
to join to the expression of those sentiments a tribute of my lively
gratitude, affectionate devotion, and profound respect.’
“Both the address of the speaker of the House, and the reply of General
La Fayette, were listened to with the most intense and admiring
attention. As soon as the general had concluded his reply, Mr. Mitchell
moved that the House should adjourn. After the adjournment, the speaker
left his chair, and advancing to General La Fayette, offered his
personal congratulations, while shaking him warmly by the hand. The
members of the House were then introduced individually to their honored
guest, by the speaker, and after some time spent in receiving and
shaking hands with those who pressed forward to claim the honor of thus
welcoming personally the distinguished guest of the nation, General La
Fayette retired, bearing with him the admiring devotion and profoundest
love of the people of his adopted country.”
Regarding an incident which occurred during La Fayette’s last journey in
America, the _Niles Register_ says:—
“To preserve, in some small degree, an account of the _feelings_ which
the arrival of our venerable friend has elicited, we have noticed a few
of the exhibitions of it that have taken place, but every narrative of
them falls far short of the reality of what has happened. The people are
wild with joy, and the gratitude and love of all persons, of every age,
sex, and condition, seems hardly to be restrained within the bounds of
propriety—as if it would cause many to forget what was due to themselves
and the general, whom they delight to honor. At one place they failed so
far in self-respect as to contend with _horses_ for the privilege of
drawing the Revolutionary chief in his carriage! It is hoped that the
general will not be thus _insulted_ again—for insulted he must be, when
he sees the sovereigns of this great and glorious country aiming at the
most magnificent destinies, converted into asses or other beasts of
burden. It is his desire to be treated like a _man_, not as a titled
knave or brainless dandy. Let him be hugged to the heart of all who can
approach him, so far as not to endanger his health, and incur the risk
of ‘killing him with kindness’—let the trumpet to the cannon speak, the
cannon to the heavens, and the ardent prayers of free millions ascend to
the throne of the Omnipotent, that blessings may be heaped upon him;
but, in all this, let us remember that we are _men_ like unto himself
and _republicans_.”
Among the many interesting incidents of La Fayette’s tour in America
given by his secretary, M. Levasseur, in a work entitled “La Fayette in
America,” we have space for only three or four. M. Levasseur thus
recounts an incident of their visit to Ex-President Monroe:—
“General La Fayette was daily making preparations for his return to
Europe, but before leaving the soil of America he was anxious to revisit
some of his old friends in Virginia, and especially he desired to see
him who, as chief magistrate, had received him at the seat of
government, and who, now retired to private life, continued in
cultivating his moderate patrimonial estate, to give his fellow-citizens
an example of every virtue. The general mentioned his wish to President
Adams, who immediately offered to accompany him in the visit, saying
that ‘he would gladly avail himself of such an occasion to go and offer
to his predecessor his tribute of respect and attachment.’
“On the 6th of August, accordingly, we started for Oak-hill, the
residence of Mr. Monroe, thirty-seven miles from Washington. Mr. Adams
took the general in his carriage, together with George La Fayette and
one of his friends; I followed in a tilbury with a son of the President,
and thus, without suite or escort, we left the city.
“At the bridge over the Potomac we stopped to pay toll—the
toll-gatherer, after counting the number of persons and horses, received
from the President the sum required and we went on; scarcely, however,
had we proceeded a few steps when we heard behind us a voice, saying,
‘Mr. President, Mr. President, you have paid me a shilling short!’ and
immediately the toll-gatherer came running up with the money in his
hand, explaining how the mistake arose. The President heard him
attentively, went over the calculation with him, and finding that the
man was right, put his hand out to pay him, when all at once the
toll-gatherer recognized General La Fayette in the carriage, and
forthwith insisted upon returning the amount of his toll, saying, ‘All
bridges and all gates are free to the Guest of the Nation.’
“Mr. Adams, however, observed that on this occasion the general was not
travelling officially nor as the Guest of the Nation, but simply as an
individual and a friend of the President, which character gave him no
title to exemption. This reasoning struck the toll-gatherer as just: he
took the money and withdrew. Thus during the whole course of his travels
in the United States the general was once only subject to the customary
tolls, and that was precisely on the occasion when he was accompanied by
the chief magistrate of the nation—a circumstance which in any other
country would probably have insured him the privilege of exemption.”
Regarding this incident a writer remarks:—
“We do not know how this simple narrative may strike others, but to us
it affords a more remarkable illustration of the simplicity and real
equality resulting from our institutions than the most elaborate
argument could do.”
M. Levasseur also thus relates the visit of La Fayette to General
Jackson at the Hermitage:—
“At one o’clock we embarked with a numerous company to go to dine with
General Jackson, residing at the distance of some miles up the river. We
there found many ladies and neighboring farmers who had been invited by
Mrs. Jackson to come and take part in the _fête_ she had prepared.
“The first thing that struck me on arriving at the residence of General
Jackson was the simplicity of his habitation. Still a little governed by
my European habits, I demanded if this could really be the dwelling of
the most popular man in the United States; of him whom the country
proclaimed one of its most illustrious defenders; and in fine, of him
who, by the will of the people, had been on the point of arriving at the
supreme magistracy!
“General Jackson showed us, in all their details, his garden and his
farm, which appeared to be cultivated with the greatest intelligence. We
remarked everywhere the greatest order and the most perfect prosperity,
and might readily have believed ourselves with one of the richest and
most skilful farmers of Germany.
[Illustration: Andrew Jackson]
“On re-entering the house, some friends of General Jackson, who probably
had not seen him for a long time, begged him to show them the arms that
he had received after the last war. He yielded with a good grace to
their request, and caused to be placed on the table a sabre, a sword,
and a pair of pistols. The sword was presented to him by Congress, and
the sabre, I believe, by the body of the army who fought under his
orders at New Orleans. These two arms of American manufacture are
remarkable for the elegance of the workmanship, and yet more for the
honorable inscriptions with which they are covered. But it was
particularly to the pistols that the general wished to draw our
attention. He presented them to General La Fayette, and asked if he
recollected them. The latter, after some moments of attentive
examination, answered that he did remember them to be those which he had
offered in 1778 to his paternal friend Washington, and that he
experienced sincere satisfaction in now finding them in the hands of a
man so worthy of such an inheritance. At these words the countenance of
Old Hickory was suffused with a modest blush, and his eyes sparkled as
in the days of victory.
“‘Yes,’ said he, ‘I believe myself worthy of it’ (pressing at the same
time to his bosom his pistols and the hands of La Fayette), ‘if not for
what I have done, at least for what I desire to do for my country.’
“All the citizens applauded this noble confidence of the patriot-hero,
and felt convinced that the arms of Washington could not be in better
hands than those of Jackson.”
But the most impressive scene pictured by M. Levasseur is the following
description of La Fayette’s visit to the tomb of Washington:—
“Leaving Washington and descending the Potomac, after a voyage of two
hours, the guns of Fort Washington announced that we were approaching
the last abode of the Father of his Country. At this solemn signal, to
which the military band accompanying us responded by plaintive strains,
we went on deck, and the venerable soil of Mount Vernon was before us;
at this view an involuntary and spontaneous movement made us kneel. We
landed in boats and trod upon the ground so often worn by the feet of
Washington. A carriage received General La Fayette, and the other
visitors silently ascended the precipitous path which conducted to the
solitary habitation of Mount Vernon.
“Three nephews of General Washington took La Fayette, his son, and
myself, to conduct us to the tomb of their uncle; our numerous
companions remained in the house; in a few minutes after, the cannon of
the fort, thundering anew, announced that LA FAYETTE rendered homage to
the ashes of WASHINGTON. Simple and modest as he was during life, the
tomb of the citizen-hero is scarcely perceived amid the sombre cypresses
by which it is surrounded. A vault slightly elevated and sodded over, a
wooden door without inscriptions, some withered and some green garlands,
indicate to the traveller who visits this spot the place where rest in
peace the puissant arms which broke the chains of his country. As we
approached, the door was opened, La Fayette descended alone into the
vault, and a few minutes after re-appeared with his eyes overflowing
with tears. He took his son and me by the hand and led us into the tomb,
where by a sign he indicated the coffin of his paternal friend,
alongside of which was that of his companion in life, united to him in
the grave. We knelt reverently near his coffin, which we respectfully
saluted with our lips, and rising, threw ourselves into the arms of La
Fayette, and mingled our tears with his.”
On the 1st of January, 1825, a dinner was given to General La Fayette by
the members of both houses of Congress. The scene is thus described by
one of the Washington papers:—
“At half-past four o’clock the front rooms of Williamson’s buildings,
now occupied by private families, were thrown open for the company,
having been politely tendered for that purpose. In about half an hour
afterwards the President of the United States entered the room
accompanied by his secretaries. At half-past five General La Fayette
arrived attended by his son, Mr. George Washington La Fayette, and his
secretary, M. Levasseur; and at six o’clock the company (which,
including the invited guests, amounted to about two hundred) sat down to
dinner. Mr. Gaillard, the president _pro tem._ of the Senate, and Mr.
Clay, the speaker of the House of Representatives, presided. On the
right of Mr. Gaillard sat the President of the United States, and on his
left General La Fayette, _supported by his Revolutionary brethren_. On
the right of Mr. Clay sat the Secretary of State, and on his left the
Secretary of War.
“The hall was adorned with pictures and flags arranged with elegance and
taste. The flags from the war and navy departments were obtained for the
occasion, and contributed to revive in the mind associations dear to the
heart of every American.”
Among many toasts we can only mention the one to the memory of
Washington, and the following to La Fayette:—
“General La Fayette, the great apostle of rational liberty. Unawed by
the frowns of tyranny, uninfluenced by the blandishments of wealth, and
unseduced by popular applause; the same in the castle of Olmütz, as in
the active scenes of his labor and height of his renown.”
After this toast was drunk, General La Fayette rose and thus responded:—
“GENTLEMEN OF BOTH HOUSES: I want words to express the respectful,
grateful sense I have of all the favors and kindnesses you are pleased
to confer upon me. I hope you will do justice to the warm feelings of an
American heart, and I beg leave to propose the following toast:—
“_Perpetual union among the United States—it has saved us in our time of
danger—it will save the world._”
This toast was received with the wildest enthusiasm, and after many
others in behalf of the army, navy, people of America, free press, etc.,
the distinguished guests withdrew.
On the first day of January, 1825, a joint committee of both Houses
waited upon General La Fayette, and presented to him a copy of the
following act of Congress concerning him:—
“_Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America, in Congress assembled_:—
“That in consideration of the services and sacrifices of General La
Fayette in the War of the Revolution, the Secretary of the Treasury be,
and he is hereby, authorized to pay to him the sum of two hundred
thousand dollars, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise
“SEC. 2. _And be it further enacted_, That there be granted to the said
General La Fayette and his heirs one township of land; to be laid out
and located under the authority of the President, on any of the
unappropriated lands of the United States.
“Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“President of the Senate, _pro tempore_.
“Washington: Approved Dec. 28, 1824.
The address of the committee was as follows:—
“GENERAL: We are a committee of the Senate and House of Representatives
charged with the office of informing you of the passage of an act, a
copy of which we now present. You will perceive from this act, sir, that
the two Houses of Congress, aware of the large pecuniary as well as
other sacrifices which your long and arduous devotion to the cause of
freedom has cost you, have deemed it their privilege to reimburse a
portion of them, as having been incurred in part on account of the
United States. The principles which have marked your character will not
permit you to oppose any objection to the discharge of so much of the
national obligation to you as admits of it. We are directed to express
to you the confidence as well as request of the two Houses of Congress
that you will, by an acquiescence in their wishes in this respect, add
another to the many signal proofs you have afforded of your esteem for a
people whose esteem for you can never cease until they have ceased to
prize the liberty they enjoy, and to venerate the virtues by which it
was acquired. We have only to subjoin an expression of our gratification
in being the organs of this communication, and of the distinguished
personal respect with which we are,
“Your obedient servants,
“S. SMITH, )
“ROBERT Y. HAYNE, ) Committee of the
“D. BOULIGNY, ) Senate.
“W. S. ARCHER, ) Committee of the
“ S. VAN RENSSELAER } House of
“PHILIP S. MARKLY, ) Representatives.
Washington, Jan. 1, 1825.”
To this address of the committee the general returned the following
“WASHINGTON, Jan. 1, 1825.
“The immense and unexpected gift which, in addition to former and
considerable bounties, it has pleased Congress to confer upon me calls
for the warmest acknowledgments of an old American soldier and adopted
son of the United States, two titles dearer to my heart than all the
treasures in the world.
“However proud I am of every sort of obligation received from the people
of the United States, and their representatives in Congress, the large
extent of this benefaction might have created in my mind feelings of
hesitation, not inconsistent, I hope, with those of the most grateful
reverence. But the so very kind resolutions of both Houses delivered by
you, gentlemen, in terms of equal kindness, precludes all other
sentiments except those of the lively and profound gratitude, of which,
in respectfully accepting the munificent favor, I have the honor to beg
you will be the organs.
“Permit me, also, gentlemen, to join a tender of my affectionate
personal thanks to the expression of the highest respect, with which I
have the honor to be, your obedient servant,