September 21, 2016
Dear Friend of Lafayette,
It has been another half-year of growth and activity for the American Friends of Lafayette.
We continue to attract new members. Since March, 2016, 21 new members have joined – about one-third of them using the vehicle of PayPal.
Our June convention in Boston attracted 80 members who spent 4 days touring, learning and dining. At the annual banquet, professor and author John Stauffer presented his essay on “Lafayette and the American Abolitionists” which will be published in the catalogue of the exhibition that Diane Shaw is organizing at the Grolier Library in New York City. This exhibition – December 8, 2016 to February 4, 2017 – is thought to be the first that concentrates on Lafayette’s anti-slavery work and influence. Both the exhibition and the catalogue are entitled: “A True Friend of the Cause”: Lafayette and the Antislavery Movement.
During the annual meeting, Colonel Al Cleghorn suggested a new concept to make these gatherings even more substantive – break-out sessions on Saturday afternoon on topics related to Lafayette’s life, work and legacy. We intend to try this out at our 2017 meeting at Lafayette College.
During the Saturday morning session of the June meeting, Yorktown member David Bowditch proposed that the AFL undertake to commission and finance a Lafayette sculpture to be added to the Washington and DeGrasse on the River Walk. The original concept was a quartet – including Lafayette and Rochambeau – but York County and other funders were only able to fund two statutes which were installed in 2005.
By Sunday, AFL members had pledged $6,000 towards the $35,000 sculptor’s fee. By the end of July, the Celebrate Yorktown Committee of the Yorktown Foundation had pledged $10,000. As of this date, the AFL had raised an additional $9,680 from our generous members!
The plan is to have the sculpture inaugurated on October 19, 2017, Yorktown Day. In 2017, it is the AFL’s turn, as one of the 13 sponsoring organizations, to plan and coordinate the Yorktown Day events. How appropriate a time to reintroduce Lafayette to General Washington and Admiral De Grasse!
On September 14, 2016, I was privileged to address students at the Lafayette School in Everett, Massachusetts at the third annual Lafayette book presentation. Edward Everett, for whom the city was named, was an extremely accomplished man who held numerous important positions – including President of Harvard University, Congressman, Senator, Secretary of State, Ambassador to England and Governor of Massachusetts – as well as being a renowned orator. In that capacity, he barnstormed the country in the 1850’s to raise money for the Mount Vernon Ladies Association with his Washington speech. After the Civil War broke out he went on a speaking tour for the Union. He gave a typically long 2-hour address at Gettysburg moments before Lincoln’s considerably shorter, but iconic, Gettysburg Address.
A Lafayette School in the City of Everett is appropriate because Edward Everett was also a great admirer of Lafayette.
As a young professor, he gave Harvard’s welcoming speech to Lafayette in August 1824. In 1830, as editor of the North American Review, he reviewed Lafayette en Amérique en 1824 et 1825 by August Levasseur (the book that I translated) and gave it and the Farewell Tour a favorable review. After Lafayette’s death in 1834, Everett eulogized Lafayette at Faneuil Hall on what would have been Lafayette’s 77th birthday, September 6, 1834. His eulogy – available online – is 100 pages long!
Finally, although Yorktown Day 2016 is on a Wednesday, Chuck Schwam and our Yorktown representative, Lea Gryck, as well as Fort Monroe’s Robert Kelly and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation’s Peter Armstrong and Kate Gruber, have planned a wonderful two-day program. I hope to see many of you there.
Alan R. Hoffman, President