During the war for independence our nation had no stronger ally than France. Much of this support was due to the insistence of a French noble who sailed to the fledgling nation and offered his aid. His name: Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette.
Lafayette who presented himself to George Washington and leaders within the new government was commissioned as a Major General and fought as a member of George Washington’s Army of Independence until he was wounded and returned to France to recover. While in France he engaged in intense lobbying of King Louis XVI to secure support for Washington who was one of his close friends. He proved to be very convincing as the King agreed to support the colonies with 3,000 men, guns and treasure to assist in their struggle. Lafayette returned aboard a French frigate, the L’Hermione, and participated in numerous engagements and the blockade in Chesapeake Bay that proved to be the turning point in the war and led to the British surrender. Lafayette returned to France but was never forgotten by a grateful nation for his bravery and the support his country had provided during the War of Independence. His ship which was used to make his journey has been replicated by the French government, L’Hermione, with three sail masts and bright royal blue and gold markings, is a painstaking replica of an 18th century French frigate that fought with the United States’ founding fathers in the War of Independence.
This replica is the result of seventeen years of volunteer work of shipbuilding,in the tradition of 18th century, and crowfunding financing and is intended to celebrate the real work of her predecessor,sailing out France on April 18th 1780 and serving as coastal navy defense of the East Coast during the War for Independence War and also of transportation of some Rochambeau troops after the victory at Yorktown. It set sail in France on Saturday April 18, for Virginia to retrace a journey through American history.
The new L’Hermione will visit harbors on the East Coast from Virginia to Maine and land at Mount Vernon in June/July featuring statements from the presidents of France and the United States.
For more information and to follow the voyage of L’ Hermione click here
~Thanks to Jean-Pierre Medevielle and Craig Copelan for this post