3 Things I Learned About Lafayette
From reading Sarah Vowell’s Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, a funny, quick nonfiction read that isn’t even a little bit intimidating. Give it a try even if nonfiction usually puts you to sleep!
1. Terrible dancer
Marie Antoinette literally laughed him off the dance floor.
2. America loved him (so, you know, that hasn’t changed)
But just to paint you a picture, when Lafayette returned to New York in 1824 for a Revolution victory tour, 80,000 people turned out to welcome him. For comparison, only about 4,000 screaming fans met the Beatles when they visited.
3. World’s biggest Washington fanboy
Lafayette wrote this about Washington in a letter: “His graceful bearing on horseback, his calm and deportment which still retained a trace of displeasure… were all calculated to inspire the highest degree of enthusiasm. … I thought then as now that I had never beheld so superb a man.”
He also named his kid after him, and I don’t mean he named him “George” - he gave his son both names: Georges Washington de Lafayette.
Bonus Washington Fact:
The man could swear.
General Charles Scott described it thus: “Yes, sir, he swore on that day till the leaves shook on the trees. Charming! Delightful! Never have I enjoyed such swearing, before or since. Sir, on that memorable day, he swore like an angel from Heaven.”