FAMED FRENCH GENERAL THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE, WHO FOUGHT IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND AGITATED FOR DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM LONG AFTER BOTH THE AMERICAN AND FRENCH REVOLUTIONS, DECLINES TRANSPORT FROM JOHN QUINCY ADAMS—"YOU KNOW THAT I HAVE ASKED THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT NOT TO DISPATCH THE NATIONAL VESSEL THAT CONGRESS HAD THE KINDNESS TO DECIDE TO DISPATCH"—AS HE PREPARES FOR HIS REVOLUTIONARY WAR "HEROES' WELCOME" TOUR OF THE U.S. IN 1824
LAFAYETTE, Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de. Autograph Letter Signed, "Lafayette." Paris: June 20, 1824. Quarto, one leaf of laid paper, folded once for two leaves, penned by Lafayette on recto of first leaf for one page (7 by 8 inches), addressed and sealed on conjugate, floated and framed with engraved portrait of Lafayette, entire item measures 21 by 15 inches. $15,000.
A fascinating Lafayette letter, penned entirely by him, in which he discusses his transportation options as he prepares for his Revolutionary War "Heroes Welcome" tour of the United States in 1824. A liberal French aristocrat, Lafayette played a critical role in convincing French leaders to aid Americans in their war for independence, and indeed led troops alongside George Washington, fighting in several crucial battles, including the Battle of Brandywine and the Siege of Yorktown. In his later years, he made a triumphant tour of the United States, where he was given lavish gifts for his services.
In this lovely autograph letter signed Lafayette alludes to his pending travels to the United States, writing just a month before his arrival in July 1824. From July 1824 to September 1825, the last surviving French general of the Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette, made a tour of the 24 United States. This tour was requested by President James Monroe, who desired to inculcate the "spirit of 1776" in the next generation of Americans, and partly to celebrate the nation's 50th anniversary.
Lafayette writes in full (translated): "Paris, June 20, 1824. You have asked me, Monsieur, to let you know the time of my departure to the United States it is not precisely set; nevertheless I see that I will benefit from an American liner which will set sail from Le Havre on July 10th at the earliest, 20th at the latest, I will ask my passport as soon as after tomorrow; you know that I have asked the United States President not to dispatch the National vessel that Congress had the kindness to decide to dispatch. I am going to La Grange; I will go back to Paris July 4th for the American dinner, and if I leave the 10th I will arrive the 8th or 9th in the evening; in case the vessel would leave a few days later I will give the extra days to my family. Positive information will reach me only after an expected vessel enters Le Havre; it would have been too late to let you know my start which, due to unforeseen circumstances, was only known to myself last night; I have informed the vessel administration in Le Havre that a passenger would probably be coming right away, but without committing yourself until I have received your answer to please send to Paris rue d'Anjou or at La Grange par Rozav Seine et Marne. [one line overscored] Please do not let your friends announce the time of my expected departure that I would not want to have to determine the schedule for the little time that I have left for my family. If your affairs allow to prefer the vessel on which I have to leave the United States, it would greatly satisfy me; if you could only leave later I will take your commissions and I will wait for you in this good country with the hope to meet you there soon. At any case please accept the very sincere expression of my high consideration and my attachment. Lafayette." Text in French. This item was bound into an extra-illustrated copy of the "History of the City of New York" circa 1872, in the possession of Emery E. Childs, and while the book—expanded to 21 volumes—has passed through several hands, this particular autograph letter has not been on the market since it was bound in, a happy circumstance that has also maintained this rare letter in excellent condition. Facsimile image of address and seal provided on verso of frame.
A few minor folds, faint offset from glue along left margin, not touching Lafayette's handwriting. Near-fine condition. An excellent and scarce Lafayette letter signed.