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Text: Fredericksburg, VA 1824 Lafayette 2024 Black and White drawing of Marquis de Lafayette with the US flag to his left and the French flag to his right

Who was Lafayette? And why the Commemoration?

General Lafayette was born into French aristocracy; his family had a long tradition in military service. From an early age, he was trained in military arts. At 14, Lafayette was made a French officer. He became convinced that the American cause was noble, and at 19, invested a considerable amount of his personal fortune to support the American Revolution.

He sailed to Charleston, South Carolina, on his own well-equipped ship, and, with his troops and supplies, marched to Philadelphia to offer his services. He was soon commissioned a Continental Army major general. He served effectively and admirably in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He formed close ties with Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Gen. George Washington, who became a surrogate father to the young Frenchman.

Many years later, President James Monroe invited Gen. Lafayette to visit the cities and towns of the country he helped form. In celebration of his invaluable service, America eagerly welcomed this hero of the Revolution. In 1824-25, Lafayette embarked on his Farewell Tour, where throngs of well-wishers wildly cheered him. They knew that General Lafayette, and President Monroe, were the last living leaders of the American Revolution.

As the hometown of George Washington and the early home of James Monroe, Fredericksburg was especially honored to welcome Gen. Lafayette. Our commemoration is based in large part on the nineteenth century pamphlet by Rufus B. Merchant, a Fredericksburg civic leader and Publisher of the Fredericksburg Daily Star newspaper, titled “Reception of General Lafayette in Fredericksburg,” which records the events and speeches of the Lafayette’s 1824 three-day visit. We are honored to once more welcome “America’s Guest” to our historic city.

The 2024 Commemoration

The Commemoration Weekend  – November 23-24, 2024

Commemoration Weekend opens with a recreation of Lafayette’s arrival to Old Town Hall by horse and carriage, and includes period music and costumed participants, followed by a reception line with the General. Other events include walking tours of Lafayette’s Fredericksburg, the Lafayette Ball (ticketed event), a re-enactment of Lafayette’s reception at Masonic Lodge #4, a service of prayer and thanksgiving at St. George’s Episcopal Church, and displays at various museums and venues. 

🔗 See Commemoration Weekend details here. 


The Lecture Series March-November 2024

Starting in March, a program of lectures and exhibits will be presented in the city, beginning with the March 1 opening of Fredericksburg Area Museum’s exhibit, “Lafayette’s World: Revolutionary Ideals and the Limits of Freedom.” 

Following the Museum’s exhibit opening, the Commemoration lecture series continues for several months, with programming that focuses on aspects of Lafayette’s life, his world, and his influence on the American Revolution and our early Republic. 

🔗 See Lecture Series and other event details here.