Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier was born in 1757 in Auvergne, France, and was destined to become one of the great patriots of the American Revolution.
Orphaned at a very young age, he inherited a noble heritage and a great deal of money. Following in his father’s example, and that of his ancestors before him, the young French nobleman became a soldier and attained the rank of captain in the French cavalry at the age of 16. The Marquis de Lafayette, as history came to know him, was impassioned by the ideas, and the ideals, of the revolutionary activity occurring in the American colonies, It was actually said in the late 18th Century, on both the American and European continents, that the American Revolution was far more fashionable in the cafes of Paris than it was in the taverns of the future United States of America.
A relation of King Louis XVI, and a nephew-in-law to the French Ambassador to the Court of St. James, (the Duke de Noailles), the young French nobleman was ordered to curtail his obvious enthusiasm for the American Revolutionary activities. Instead, though he was already married to a devoted Adrienne de Noailles, a father with another child on the way, at the age of 19, he fled his home, (despite the royal disapproval of his actions), and escaped to Bordeaux. It was at this seaside city that he, again contrary to royal orders, purchased an oceangoing ship and set off across the Atlantic Ocean in order to join in the fight for American independence.
This extraordinary young man did not yet speak any English, nor did he personally know anyone in the American colonies. What the Marquis de Lafayette did have, and had in spades, was a belief in the first fight of its kind in history to achieve freedom and the rights of man. These intellectual ideas had actually started in Paris, and were being realized for the first time in America.
Another factor of this amazing young man’s actions was also the French visceral reaction to ‘le perfide Albion,’ which is how France had referred to their bitterest rival, England, for centuries, and which was shared by every Frenchman.
Back to the extraordinary histoire of Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier:
The Marquis landed in South Carolina in June, 1777, commandeered some horses (he was an excellent horseman), and rode to where he thought he could locate General George Washington. He felt that personal contact was necessary, and he was proven to be entirely right. The Marquis persevered until the two finally met in Philadelphia in July of that year, and it was to be the beginning of a life-long relationship of extraordinary closeness. He eventually became a Major-General of the American Revolution, at the age of 22, and served with great distinction during his entire American military career
He was also instrumental in convincing his distant cousin, the French king, who eventually forgave his relation’s transgressions, to come to the aid of the nascent country. The Marquis accomplished this by travelling back and forth between the two countries several times during the Revolutionary War, in a series of successful efforts to secure French aid, not only in the form of funds, uniforms, guns and ammunition, among other things military, but also with what proved to be vital French army and naval participation. As a result of what the French contributed to the American Revolution, thanks to the Marquis de Lafayette, ably assisted by the great diplomat, (and so many other things) Benjamin Franklin, we were able to win our war.
The young French nobleman did eventually learn English, though it was always spoken by him in a largely incorrect but always charmingly melodramatic way. Nonetheless, the greatest of our Founders, George Washington, came to love this extraordinary young man, and this was thoroughly reciprocated by Lafayette. They came to feel about each other as if they were a son and his adoptive father, and in the 67 years of George Washington’s life, no one was more consistently devoted and loyal to the General than the Marquis de Lafayette.
He named his only son, the descendant of two of the greatest families of France, George Washington de Lafayette. He also named his second daughter Virginie, after the American state of Virginia.
Perhaps the most remarkable demonstration of this relationship was when Lafayette, who after his return to France after the American Revolution had been won, was made head of the National Guard at the beginning of the Revolution in France in 1789. As such, he was in charge of the demolition of the political prison, the Bastille, whose destruction by Parisian mobs in 1789 started the French Revolution. He retrieved the key to the front door of the prison, and sent the key, along with an engraving of the destruction of the prison, to his beloved General George Washington. He did so, as he said in his communication accompanying these extraordinary objects, that they were to be accepted:
“as a tribute – from a son to my adoptive father
as an aide-de-camp – to my General
and as a missionary of liberty – to its patriarch.”
The key to the Bastille remains in George Washington’s home, from that time to this day. There is also, in Mount Vernon, an original engraving of King Louis XVI, which was a gift from the King to General Washington to represent the King’s great regard for the American leader. One can see the Bourbon crest on the original frame surrounding the portrait. This was just a few years before the murder of the French King during the Terror in Paris.
One can accurately infer that the relationship between the United States of America and France, its first and vital ally was as close as close could be, in large part due to the personal relationship between two extraordinary men.
The start, in the late 18th Century, of international relations between the future United States of America and its first European ally was embarked upon rather well, don’t you think?
Clearly, a positive relationship with strong and resolute allies is a necessary part of American foreign policy and national security, so shall we now examine the relationship between our first and perhaps former ally 2010?
The 21st Century beginning was a brief introduction between the French and American leaders, when Obama first met French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and literally 45 minutes later, he publically referred to him as “my dear friend, Nicholas Sarkozy.” Such obvious insincerity is not looked well upon by the French.
After an initial flurry of approval on the part of the French people that the wretched America of Vietnam and ‘Georges Boosh’ had the wisdom (who knew ‘les Amerlocks,” pejorative term used by the French re: Americans, were capable of such a thing?) to elect the first African American President. The resulting love fest was, despite the rejection of the French-clone John Kerry by ‘les stupides Americans’ in the last election, considerable, and all, seemingly, was forgiven.
Then, after Obama humiliated the United States at his next meeting with Sarkozy by pleading with Russia to achieve a nuclear free world, (to our detriment, of course), and he announced these naïve foreign policy views in front of a jaded United Nations’ audience, and in front of an embarrassed French President. The more realistic (and equally jaded) of the two world leaders, Mr. Sarkozy observed that Obama must try to understand that he was living in a real, nuclear, world, not a “virtual world” of his utopian desires.
Soon thereafter, French President Sarkozy said the following in a French newspaper article: “Obama has been in power for a year, and he has already lost three special elections. Me, I have won two legislative elections and the EU election. What can one say I’ve lost?”
True, one can detect a bit of what is classically Gallic in this quote, but Gallic hubris doesn’t know from hubris until you’ve see the like in Barack Hussein Obama.
A theme seems to have been developed vis a vis the American President by the French President since the beginning of the Obama Administration. The cluelessness of this Administration regarding foreign policy in general and to the rest of the West in particular is actually terrifying to our former Western allies. One cannot be sure that Obama understands this, but America accepted the defense of the West after the Second World War and continues to do so to this day. With the new and voluntary acquiescence to weakness on the part of America under Obama, Europeans have seen for the first time what might happen if America were not there to protect them. If America, under its current leadership, is unwilling, or unable, to defend the rest of the free world, who would do it? We, along with our former European allies, all know the answer to that question. The French word is ‘personne,’ which means, no one.
Yet another remarkable difference between the two Western leaders can be seen in the differing remarks of the two leaders about certain aspects of Islamic practice. Nicholas Sarkozy recently determined the following about the use of the burka (the full body covering Muslim women are forced to wear) in his country: “The (face-covering) veil is not a sign of religion, but a sign of subservience. We cannot accept to have in our country, women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from social life, deprived of identity.”
The former was from the President of France. The following is from the President of the United State of America, formerly the citadel of freedom in the world.
“The U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, (partial burka), and to punish those who would deny it. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal.”
I repeat, this quote expresses the concern of the President of the United States of America about women, living in America, being forced to cover themselves according to the rules of Muslim men.
Obama protects these inhuman rules, Sarkozy fights them.
The final straw for Sarkozy actually seems to have been when Obama was most recently in France, and responded to the French President’s formal invitation to dinner in Paris at the Elysee Palace with President Sarkozy and his wife. The response to the French President’s invitation was that Obama just didn’t have the time. As it turned out, Michelle and the girls had shopping to do before they flew back to Washington on Air Force One, minus Obama who had other things to do, primary among them blowing off the President of France, our first and former ally.
Let me be perfectly clear (in the words of our current President), the American President, in an unnecessary and unprecedented diss to our oldest ally, made it very clear to the French that they were just one country among many; nothing particularly special to America. The result of this was, to those who comprehend the unique nation of France and who understand our special and necessary relationship, that nothing more insulting could have been done.
And honor still matters in France, as it did in the 18th Century in both countries.
The love for America on the part of the first French patriot who fought so hard for the establishment of our republic, and who was as American as the Generals with whom he fought, was so great that he brought something precious back with him when he returned from his last trip to his beloved America, which was shortly before he died..
This precious burden was used after his death, when he was buried in at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. At the request of the Marquis de Lafayette, soil he had brought back with him from Bunker Hill in Massachusetts, was used to bury the. American patriot who so loved his adopted nation
Thus, the Marquis de Lafayette, centuries ago, demonstrated more love for and devotion to, the United States of America than Barack Hussein Obama has done in over a year as our tragically elected 44th President.