Hermione leads New York Parade of Ships


L’Hermione arrived in New York City on July 1st, firing its cannons in salute to the city that welcomed the Marquis de Lafayette with a screaming throng of 50,000, a third of the city’s population at the time, in 1824. It docked at Pier 15 on the East River in Lower Manhattan right across from the South Street Seaport Museum and opened for visitors to explore the replica of the ship that brought Lafayette back to America in 1780 bearing reinforcements of troops and ships to support the neonate nation in its fight for independence from the British Empire.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/sWmw17Pc6Ss&w=430]

Today the Hermione led the Parade of Ships past the Statue of Liberty to celebrate the 239th anniversary of the American independence that Lafayette fought for with such dedication and at no small personal cost.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/9E-8FQ5bVW0&w=430]

The Hermione YouTube channel has a great video showing the ship’s arrival in New York from the perspective of the crew.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/hAsjUUVuu6I&w=430]

There are tons more videos of Hermione previous stops along the east coast of the United States and I suspect the channel will soon have better footage of today’s parade than I was able to find.

New York will continue to celebrate Lafayette and the Hermione even after she leaves. The New-York Historical Society Museum’s exhibition Lafayette’s Return: The “Boy General,” the American Revolution, and the Hermione examines Lafayette’s youth when, still a teenager, he became a tireless advocate on behalf of US independence, his involvement in the war and his continuing close ties to the people who know now as the Founding Fathers after the war was over. On display are artifacts that have never been seen before from Lafayette’s chateau La Grange. There are letters he wrote to and from his family, swords, medals, secret codes he shared with Washington, locks of hair from Washington and Jefferson that he was given as fond keepsakes.

Three of my favorite pieces on display in the exhibition are written materials. One is the letter announcing his arrival that Lafayette wrote to Washington from the Hermione after it dropped anchor in Boston Harbour in 1780. Datelined “At the entrance of Boston Harbour 27th April 1780,” the letter opens with a beautiful glimpse into the genuine love Lafayette bore Washington: “Here I am, My dear General, and in the Mist [sic] of the joy I feel in finding Myself again one of Your loving soldiers.”

The second is an almost unbearably adorable letter written to George Washington by Lafayette’s six-year-old daughter Anastasie in 1784 (all idiosyncratic spellings hers).

Dear Washington, I hope that papa whill come back son here. I am verry sorry for the loss of him, but I am verry glade for you self. I wich you a werry good health and I am whith great respect, Dear Sir, your most obedient servent, anastasie la fayette.

Washington was reportedly charmed to bits by this letter, and how could he fail to be? Not only are the sentiments expressed so sweet and brave and polite, but look at how great her handwriting is! She was six years old and using a quill pen, for crying out loud. In response, Washington asked Lafayette to convey his warmest regards and an invitation from his wife Martha for the Marquis, his wife Adrienne, their daughters Anastasie and Virginie and son Georges Washington Lafayette to visit Mount Vernon someday.

The third is an invitation to dinner Lafayette sent to Benjamin Franklin in Paris in 1785. Lafayette’s house on the Rue de Bourbon served as the unofficial headquarters of the Americans in Paris. Dinners with the likes of Franklin, John Adams, John Jay and Madame de Staël were weekly events and the invites, like the conversation, were always in English. I am in deeply love with the capital W and F.

Lafayette’s Return: The “Boy General,” the American Revolution, and the Hermione is at the New-York Historical Society through October 4th, 2015.

Share

RSS feed

3 Comments »

Comment by Jerry
2015-07-05 06:24:24

The Duc de Choiseul, Étienne François, Foreign Minister of France under Louis XV sent people like John de Kalb over in 1768, apparently ‘to determine the level of discontent among colonists’. Therefore, it seems as if ‘to separate’, or ‘to assist in a separation’, from Britain had been part of a longer French strategy. De Kalb, however, would return to the later US together with Lafayette in 1777 on the ‘La Victoire’, as Lafayette would himself return in 1780 on the Hermione. In 1778 France recognized the United States of America as a sovereign nation.

In all, as it reads, ‘the French spent about 1.3 billion livres (in modern currency, approximately thirteen billion U.S. dollars) to support the Americans directly, not including the money it spent fighting Britain on land and sea outside the United States’. Unsure of the significance of those ‘1.3 billion livres’, some of their later strategies seem to have gone wrong, and a financial crisis preluded the French Revolution in 1789.

 
Comment by BCJBishop
2015-07-09 00:51:30
 
Comment by Gioia
2015-09-21 17:48:55

The letter from Anastasie Lafayette is particularly interesting to me because of her excellent penmanship. The debate about Anne Boleyn’s age seems to be centered on a letter she wrote while young. If she was still a child at the time, Anne Boleyn was displaying remarkable — and to our modern minds, uncharacteristically neat — handwriting. But Anastasie’s letter illustrates that some classically educated children were capable of that gorgeous script even at such a young age.

 
Name (required)
E-mail (required - never shown publicly)
URI