Timeline - 1757 to the Present

1757 Sept 6: Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, is born at Chateau Chavaniac in the Auvergne region of southern France.

1759 August 1:
Lafayette's father, Michel Louis Christophe Roch Gilbert Motier--a colonel in the Louis XV's army--is killed in action in Minden, Germany while fighting against the British during the Seven Years' War.

1759 November 2: Adrienne de Noailles, the future wife of the Marquis de Lafayette, is born in Paris.

1768 September
: At age 11, Gilbert moves to Paris and attends the
Collège du Plessis.

1770 April 3
: Lafayette's mother,
Marie Louise Jolie de La Rivière, dies at the age of 33.

1770 April 11: Gilbert decides to join the King's Musketeers
, influenced by his grandfather's military experiences in the unit.

1770 April 24: Lafayette's maternal grandfather dies. He inherits great wealth from the La Rivière estate that includes a thousand acres of land, farms in Brittany, and business investments in the Indies. At 13, he becomes one of the wealthiest aristocrats in Europe.

1770 September: Lafayette makes application for appointment to the King's Musketeers in the corps d'élite.

1771 April 9: He receives official appointment to serve in the King's Musketeers and begins his martial education at the Military Academy at Versailles.

1773 April: Thanks to the influence of his future father-in-law, the Duc de Noailles, Lafayette becomes a Brevet Lieutenant in the prestigious Noailles Regiment.

1774 April 11: Gilbert, 16, and Adrienne, 14, marry in the Noailles family chapel.

1775 August 8: On a date Lafayette will always remember, he meets the Duke of Gloucester, brother of King George III, while on maneuvers at Metz, France. Here the young Frenchman learns about the rebellious Colonists in America who are defying their king to protest a system of taxation. He also learns of several important events: the Battle of Lexington, the taking of Fort Ticonderoga, and the appointment of George Washington by the Continental Congress to commander-in-chief of the Continental Congress. He decides to enlist as a volunteer in the American army and fight for the Americans. This date is a turning point in his life. He now has a mission with a command focus on political reform.

1776 July 4: The signing of the American Declaration of Independence. A sacred document even for Lafayette who adopts it as his clarion call to action.

1776 November: Johann DeKalb introduces Lafayette to Silas Deane, the American agent hired by Congress to recruit foreign officers to serve in the Continental Army for the American cause.

1776 December 7: Lafayette signs a contract with Silas Deane in Paris and accepts the commission as Major General in the American Army. Because Congress has no funds to transport him and other volunteers to America, he uses his wealth to buy his own ship and calls it La Victoire.

1777 March 16: Lafayette and DeKalb secretly leave for Bordeaux where they make plans to sail to America.

1777 April 20: Lafayette recruits a dozen other men and uses a disguise to hide from the police who were ordered to arrest him for leaving without permission. Lafayette escapes across the Spanish border and boards ship off the coast of San Sebastian. He sails on this date.

1777 June 13: He arrives in South Carolina.

1777 July 31: Having arrived in Philadelphia to receive his commission as major general in the Continental Army, Lafayette meets General George Washington at the City Tavern and the two form a friendship of mutual respect that will last the rest of their lives.

1777 August 10: He becomes an aide-de-camp for General Washington at Moland Headquarters in Bucks County, PA

1777 August: With General Washington and General Nathanael Green (35, a former Quaker who was expelled from his Rhode Island meeting), they reconnoiter the British from Grey's Hill near the village of Head of the Elk in the Chesapeake Bay.

1777 September: Sets up his HQ at Chadds Ford with General Washington in preparation for the defense of the city of Philadelphia to stop the British invasion of the capital city.

1777 September 11: General Lafayette receives his baptism of fire in the Battle of Brandywine in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and is wounded with a bullet through his left leg

1777 September: Is carried by chair to a Moravian Hospital at Bethlehem, PA.

1777 November: Lafayette joins Washington at Peter Wentz' farm in Worcester Township, PA, near Philadelphia.

1777 November 24: On orders from General Nathanael Greene, Lafayette is given command of Continental troops to reconnoiter British General Cornwallis in New Jersey. Although outnumbered, his troops attack Hessians near Gloucester, New Jersey and send them reeling in defeat.

1777 December 19: Lafayette marches into Valley Forge with Washington and the Continental Army with 12,000 troops.

1778 February 6: The French Alliance is signed in Paris, the treaty of alliance and commerce between America and France.

1778 February 17: Congress sends Lafayette to invade Canada. Arrives at Albany. Mission aborted. Congress unable to give Lafayette the needed amount of troops to complete the mission successfully.

1778 February 24
: Great Britain declares war on France.

1778 March: Lafayette accomplishes projects in New York State. He gets pledges from the Oneida Nation to support the American cause. He recruits forty-seven (47) Oneidas and sends them to Valley Forge to join him there.

1778 April: Lafayette returns to Valley Forge.

1778 April 13: D'Estaing's twelve ships of the line and four frigates of size leave France.

1778 May 15
: Oneida recruits arrive at Valley Forge.

1778 May 18: 2,200 troops under Lafayette's command move from Valley Forge to 
Barren Hill to scout British in Philadelphia.

1778 May 20: Lafayette's spectacular escape from 16,000 troops commanded by British generals Howe, Grant, Clinton and Grey.

1778 June 18: The British leave Philadelphia for New York via New Jersey.

1778 June 19: Washington orders General Benedict Arnold to march back into Philadelphia and take over as military governor. 

1778 June 28: Battle of Monmouth Court House (Freehold) New Jersey.

1778 July 8: French squadron arrive and anchor at the entrance of Delaware Bay.

1778 August: Lafayette commands troops during the Battle of Rhode Island in the invasion of Aquidneck Island. 

1778 September: Lafayette is assigned to lead the defense of the Rhode Island mainland.

1778 December: British invade and conquer Savannah, Georgia.

1779 January 11: Lafayette returns to France on board American ship The Alliance to get aid from the French government. Washington is desperately in need of military supplies, including land troops.

1779 February 12: Has important conference with Vergennes and Maurepas and argues for more aid to be sent to General Washington.

1779 July: Lafayette submits a carefully prepared plan to foreign minister the Count de Maurepas, giving General Washington military help with a French expeditionary force. This is the same project put into effect a year later under the command of the Count de Rochambeau,
the French lieutenant general. Lafayette argues for French troops to come under the overall command of General Washington including French senior ranking general Rochambeau of the French Expeditionary Forces.

1779 September 12: 3,500 French soldiers come ashore at Savannah under the command of the Count d'Estaing in an attempt to retake it from the British. They meet with failure. The count Casimir Pulaski, a friend and comrade-in-arms of Lafayette and a superb cavalry commander, is killed.

1779 Fall: Washington takes his troops into winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. The American economy and currency collapses. American farmers refuse to take Continental money for payment.

1779 October 25: British troops led by Sir Henry Clinton leave Newport to go to New York.

1779 December 24: Adrienne, the Marquise de Lafayette, gives birth to a baby boy. Lafayette names the infant George Washington Lafayette.

1780 January 25: To emphasize and speed up Washington's much needed military aid, Lafayette submits to the Count de Maurepas an elaborate paper discussing the dangers of a British victory in their southern campaign and the precarious condition of Washington's forces in the North. The King and his ministers are convinced and accede to Lafayette's persuasive arguments.

1780 February 29: Lafayette, dressed in his American major general's uniform, goes to the Court of Versailles to take formal leave of the King and Queen of France on his mission to resume his duties for General Washington. He is given a formal send-off.

1780 March 14: Before boarding the ship called The Hermione to return to America, King Louis gives Lafayette a secret message for General Washington.

1780 March 17: Embarks on The Hermione to America.

1780 April 28: Lafayette arrives at Boston Harbor and is enthusiastically greeted as a hero.

1780 May 10: Lafayette arrives at Morristown Headquarters and greets Washington with King Louis' message: the French Expeditionary Force will arrive in America with more than 6,000 elite troops, artillery pieces, munitions, ships, and money. Lieutenant General the Count de Rochambeau will command the troops. Washington is elated as his morale soars. He credits Lafayette with the help that will turn the tide of the war toward an American victory.

1780 May: Report arrives of 4,000 men setting sail from France to America, bringing a commission from Louis XVI appointing Washington lieutenant general of the armies of France and vice-admiral of its fleets.

1780 May 15: Congress, by resolution, honors Lafayette as gallant and meritorious.

1780 August: The Battle at Camden, South Carolina is yet another British victory that takes the life of Lafayette's friend and mentor, major general Johan De Kalb.

1780 September: Conference held at Hartford, Connecticut. Washington, Lafayette, Rochambeau, Chastellux and General Henry Knox are present. 

1781 January: Continental unrest. Pennsylvania and New Jersey troops mutiny. Washington hopes such actions inspire no repeat performances in other battalions.

1781 February: Nathanael Greene commands Continentals in the Southern campaign. He asks General Washington to send Lafayette to help him counter Benedict Arnold's destruction of Virginia. Lafayette takes command of a corps of troops and saves Virginia from the British army's scorched earth policy.

1781 July 4: Cornwallis, now in command of British forces in Virginia, attempts to flee from Lafayette and evacuates Williamsburg, Virginia. He maneuvers toward Yorktown, where Lafayette hopes to corner him. Washington orders Lafayette to delay him at Yorktown until he arrives with Rochambeau and the French-American forces.

1781 August through September: After maneuvering more than a thousand miles, Lafayette pursues, harasses, and finally corners Cornwallis at Yorktown. The French West Indian fleet under Admiral de Grasse arrives. 

1781 September 14: Lafayette meets Washington and Rochambeau at Williamsburg to assure them that Cornwallis is trapped.

1781 September 17: The siege of Yorktown begins. French and American forces dig trenches (thus the Vauban method of siege warfare). Washington gives Lafayette command of American forces. General Baron Von Steuben and John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg are under his command. The British use germ warfare by releasing scores of African slaves infected with small pox to infiltrate American and French troops to spread the disease.

1781 October: French and American troops cannonade the British into surrender after nine days of blistering artillery fire.

1781 October 19: Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown. The last major engagement of the American Revolution concludes.

1781 December 23: Lafayette gets permission from Congress to return to France. He leaves Boston Harbor on the ship Alliance on a diplomatic mission bearing congratulatory documents to the King of France.

1782 January 22
: A formal reception is given to Lafayette at the Court of Versailles by King Louis XVI with Queen Marie Antoinette joining the victory celebration. Lafayette has returned to France in triumph and becomes the most celebrated man in Europe. Voltaire, before his death in 1778, called him the Hero of Two Worlds. Lafayette is promoted to marechal de camp: major general or field marshal in the French army.

1783: Adrienne gives birth to a daughter, Virginie, named after George Washington's state of Virginia.

1783 September: The Treaty of Paris, signed by Benjamin Franklin and French and British officials, officially ends the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain. America wins its complete independence.

1784 June: Lafayette leaves Paris to visit the United States and spends time at Mount Vernon as Washington's honored guest.

1784: Lafayette receives honorary doctor of law degree from Harvard University.

1784-1787: Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts make Lafayette an honorary American citizen.

1787: Lafayette receives an honorary doctor of law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

1789: Lafayette is elected as representative of the nobility to the Estates General at Paris. He becomes a leader of the liberal aristocrats and an outspoken advocate of religious freedom and the abolition of the slave trade.

1789 May: Lafayette supports maneuvers to gain control of the Estates General to convert it into a revolutionary National Assembly. 

1789 July 11: Lafayette becomes the first Frenchman to introduce a version of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
at the National Assembly in Paris

1789 July 13: Lafayette is elected vice president of L'Assemble.

1789 July: Created the Flag of France

1789 July 14-15: The French Revolution begins. Lafayette orders the destruction of the Bastille, a symbol of the feudal injustices. He sends the key of the Bastille as a souvenir to General Washington at Mount Vernon where it is displayed today. 

1789 October 6: Lafayette's troops save King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette from a furious crowd that invades Versailles. He escorts them to Paris where they become hostages of the Revolutionaries. 

1789-1790: Lafayette supports measures for a transfer of power from the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie.

1790: Lafayette is awarded an honorary doctor of law degree from Princeton University. The degree is actually conferred on him when he visits Princeton in 1824.

1791 December: Lafayette is appointed commander of the army at Metz to check the Austrian invasion of France. Lafayette hoped to suppress the radical democrats who were taking control of the French Revolution.

1792 April: France declares war against Austria.

1792 August 10: The French monarchy is overthrown in a popular insurrection.

1792 August 14: Danton and Robespierre demand the arrest of Lafayette and all other aristocrats and plan to prosecute them for treason and execute them.

1792 August 19: Lafayette leaves France and flees to Belgium, where he is turned over to Austria and held prisoner. Lafayette claims American citizenship and argues for his release but Austrian officials ignore his protestation.

1792 September 10: Adrienne de Lafayette is arrested by police at Chateau Chavaniac and is confined there indefinitely.

1793-1794: The duration of the Reign of Terror. One of the blackest marks in French history. Terrorists like Danton and Robespierre take control of the government, arrest suspects with little or no evidence, give them quick trials and guillotine more than a thousand people, most of whom are aristocrats.

1794: Lafayette is made prisoner in Olmutz Prison in Austria (now in the Czech Republic). 

1794 May: Adrienne is transferred to a prison in Paris. Adrienne's mother, sister, and grandmother are all guillotined.

1795 January: Adrienne is liberated thanks to pressure put on French officials by minister plenipotentiary, James Monroe, Elizabeth Monroe, and other Americans.

1795 April: Fifteen-year-old George Washington Lafayette is sent to America to stay with George Washington until the crisis ends.

1795 September: Adrienne de Lafayette asks permission from the Austrian monarchy to allow her and her daughters Anastasie and Virginie to visit Lafayette in prison at Olmutz. They leave during this month.

1795 October 15: The Lafayette ladies arrive at Olmutz  and join him in prison. Lafayette is overwhelmed by their sacrifice. Their living conditions in adjoining cells are abominable and unsanitary.

1795 November: The Directoire
 is established as a revolutionary government.

1797 September 19: Lafayette and his family are liberated thanks to Napoleon's military victories and American help given with the blessing of President George Washington.

1798 February: Georges Washington Lafayette returns to Europe from the United States and joins the rest of the Lafayette family in exile.

1799 November: The Directoire ends in failure. Organized in reaction to the Reign of Terror, it goes down in French history as one of the most corrupt and complicated governments--with the possible exception of the corruption and barbarism of the Empire under  Emperor Napoleon.

1799 December 25: The government of the First Consul puts France under the military dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte. This "Constitution" did not guarantee the rights of man as Lafayette has so long defended and proposed in his Declaration on July 13, 1789.

1799: Napoleon refuses to let Lafayette into the country because of his liberal democratic ideas. Lafayette defies him by ignoring intimidation and returns anyway to become a gentleman farmer at his wife's chateau La Grange.

1807: Adrienne, the Marquise de Lafayette, dies at age 47.

1815: Napoleon is defeated at Waterloo by British General Wellington. Napoleon is sent into exile. Lafayette is relieved that France has survived another political catastrophe.

1814-1824: Lafayette sits in the Chamber of Deputies and continues to support liberal policies to help the common people.

1824 August 15: Lafayette arrives in America as an honored guest of the United States of America at President James Monroe's invitation. He is received with wild adulation. When asked by hosts how he wished to be introduced to his audiences, he replies: "As an American General."

1824 August: Lafayette visits the spot where the Boston Liberty Tree had once stood. 

1824 September 28-October 6: Lafayette makes a memorable visit to Philadelphia with his unforgettable speech at the State House, today's Independence Hall.

1824 October: The town fathers at Easton, Pennsylvania decide to name their institution of higher learning in honor of General Lafayette after listening to his State House speech in Philadelphia. Lafayette College becomes one of America's greatest memorials to General Lafayette.

1825 June 17: Lafayette helps to lay the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill monument in Charlestown, Massachusetts on the 50th anniversary of the battle.

1825 September 9: Gilbert departs for France after his spectacular visitation to each of the 24 states of the Union. He sails aboard The Brandywine, a frigate named in his honor.

1826: Lafayette College officially founded to honor the great soldier-statesman

1830 July: Lafayette commands the National Guard that helps overthrow King Charles X and installs Louis-Philippe on the throne of France.

1830: Lafayette actively supports the Polish Revolution. He gives endless speeches in the Chamber of Deputies; he gives financial support, entertains exiled politicians, and becomes a founding member of the Polish Committee.

1831 January: Lafayette organizes and launches a public campaign to rally French governmental support for Poland and demands changes in the weak government policy against the Russian despotism. Fifty French politicians, journalist, and writers supported him. When the Revolution is crushed, he raises money for and houses Polish refugees.

1834 May 20: Lafayette dies in Paris four months shy of his 77th birthday.

1834 May 23
: Lafayette is buried at Picpus Cemetery in Paris next to his wife. His son George Washington Lafayette scatters American soil around his casket. He rests as he wished--buried in American soil. Since the 1890's an American flag has flown at his grave site as a mark of respect for a man who risked his life and fortune for a country he loved as much as his own beloved France.

2002 August 6:
The Marquis de Lafayette becomes the sixth honorary citizen of the United States of America by the virtue of legislation sponsored Senator John Warner of Virginia.

2007 May 22: The House of Representatives of the United States passes resolution honoring Lafayette on the 250th anniversary of his birth.

Copyright The American Friends of Lafayette 2016
"The American Friends of Lafayette" is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Mail correspondence to: 302 Hart Rd., Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Email: americanfriendsoflafayette@gmail.com

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