Newswise — A newly-launched replica of the Marquis de Lafayette’s 18th century French frigate l’Hermione has crossed the Atlantic and has made landfall at Yorktown Virginia, retracing the voyage http://hermione2015.com/voyage2015/ made in 1780 by the original vessel, whose mission was crucial to the American Revolution. The ship will make a series of commemorative stops at celebrations along the East Coast (see below), including visits to ports near Washington, D.C., and to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Newport, R.I., Boston and other cities.
According to Diane Windham Shaw, noted authority on the Marquis de Lafayette and college archivist at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., Lafayette arrived on America’s shores aboard the frigate Hermione in 1780, with French aid to help George Washington's efforts against the British. “He also [came] to deliver the momentous news that the French were deploying substantial land and naval forces to America, as well as shipments of clothing and arms that he had helped procure,” she says. “On the personal side, Lafayette also brought word of a new son, whom he had named George Washington Lafayette.”
Shaw can offer historical insight and can shed light on the significance of the sailing ship’s visit and Lafayette’s legacy as an important player in the Revolutionary War and later, during his return visits and extensive travels, in the early development of the United States as a nation. During the first voyage of the original Hermione, Shaw says the Marquis was met with a warm outpouring from the residents of Boston. “Lafayette received a hero’s welcome because he was bringing fresh energy to an American [military] campaign that hadn’t been going particularly well,” she notes.
Lafayette’s voyages to America and travels in later years were met with growing support, particularly as he visited cities and town and met with America’s new citizens in his travels in the 19th century. “This June and July when l’Hermione makes her ports of call up the eastern seaboard from Yorktown, Virginia, to Castine, Maine, she will undoubtedly be greeted with an enthusiasm that calls to mind Lafayette’s welcome of 1824,” she says, “and yet another generation of Americans will learn of the legacy of America’s greatest friend.”
Schedule of commemorative stops by l’Hermione: Yorktown, VA June 5-7; Mount Vernon, VA, June 9; Alexandria, VA, June 10-11; Annapolis, MD, June 16-17; Baltimore, MD, June 19-21; Philadelphia, Pa., June 25-28; New York, NY, July 1-4; Greenport, NY, July 6-7; Newport, RI, July 8-9; Boston, Mass., July 11-12; Castine, ME, July 14-15.
A traveling photography exhibit covering the 17 years of the Hermione's reconstruction will be free to the public in each port--with companion exhibits at The New York Historical Society, the Museum of the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C., and The Athenaeum in Boston. Philadelphia will host a recreation of the meal aboard the Hermione that the Continental Congress enjoyed with Washington and Lafayette at City Tavern, the oldest tavern in America.
Additional information on the voyage of l’Hermione by Diane Shaw and her colleagues at Lafayette College http://sites.lafayette.edu/hermione/ document the history on which Americans can reflect and much-anticipated events planned for this summer and offer opportunities to attend events in-person and via social media. She will be taking part in some of the ship’s port-side welcoming ceremonies in the days and weeks ahead and, as archivist, is responsible for many of the writings and personal items of the Marquis de Lafayette, including his sword, which Lafayette College has in its special collections.
A video of Diane Shaw and Miles Young, president of Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America, discussing the sword of the Marquis de Lafayette as a key piece of history: https://youtu.be/HcmugY7BX8o