fullscreen

JULY 31, 1777: Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-GIlbert du Motier, better known as the Marquis de Lafayette, is appointed the rank of major-general in the Continental Army and goes on to become a hero of the American Revolution. A rich nobleman from Auvernge, Lafayette yearned for glory as a soldier but arrived in the colonies with no combat experience. Striking up an unlikely friendship with General George Washington, he distinguished himself at the Battle of Brandywine, helped secure French support for the war effort, and later commanded an army in Virginia against British Lord Cornwallis, trapping him at Yorktown. Returning to France, he advocated for the liberties embodied in the French Revolution. America’s debt to the French nobleman was famously expressed in the 1917 exhortation “Lafayette, we are here!” as American troops arrived to fight in WWI. In 2002 Congress granted him honorary citizenship.