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shores, hailed by twelve millions of joyous and happy citizens, ready to receive him with open arms, and disposed to impute their present felicity in a great degree to his exertions. History furnishes no record of an individual's receiving so universal and spontaneous a demonstration of respect. At the entrance of New York bay, he was received and conducted to the residence of Governor Tompkins, on Staten Island. On the next day, preparations were made for his reception in the city. Business was suspended, and at an early hour the whole population was in motion, to witness the landing of their respected guest. The ringing of bells, the roar of cannon, the waving of the national flag, and the parade of the military, proclaimed it a day of universal joy. Before twelve, the battery, the wharves, and every place commanding a view of the passage from Staten Island to the city, appeared one dense mass of human beings. The numbers collected, were estimated at least at fifty thousand. At ten o'clock in the morning, a steam ship, manned with two hundred Americans, and decorated with the flags of the various nations whose ships were in the harbor, put off for Staten Island, accompanied with six large steamboats crowded with passengers, and animated with bands of martial music. The committee of arrangements, the officers of the United States army and navy, the general officers of the New York militia, and the committee of the Cincinnati society, proceeded to the island, and received the general on board. The squadron, accompanied by the shipping in the harbor, then moved for the city. At two o'clock the general landed at the battery, and was received by a salute from the military, accompanied by the reiterated cheers of the immense concourse of citizens, assembled to bid him welcome. After resting a few minutes, he proceeded in an elegant barouche, escorted by the dragoons and troops of the city, through Broadway, to the city hall, where he was received by the municipal authorities, and conducted to the city hotel, fitted up for his reception. The mayor* took him by the hand, and bade him welcome, in the following appropriate and affectionate terms. "In the name of the municipal authority of the city, I bid you a sincere welcome to the shores of a country, of whose freedom and happiness you will ever be considered one of the most honored and beloved founders. Your cotemporaries in arms, of whom indeed but few remain, have not forgotten, and their posterity will
*Stephen Allen, Esq
never forget, the young and gallant Frenchman, who consecrated his youth, his talents, his fortune, and his exertions to their cause, who exposed his life, and shed his blood, that they might be free and happy. They will recollect with profound emotions, so long as they remain worthy of the liberties they enjoy, and of the exertions you made to obtain them, that you came to them in the darkest period of their struggle, that you linked your fortunes with theirs, when it appeared almost hopeless, that you shared in the dangers, privations, and sufferings of that bitter struggle, nor quitted them for a moment, until it was consummated on the glorious field of Yorktown. Half a century has elapsed since that great event, and in that time, your name has become as dear to the friends as it is inseparably connected with the cause of freedom, both in the old and new world. The people of the United States look up to you as one of their most honored parents, the country cherishes you as one of her most beloved sons. In behalf of my fellow-citizens of New York, and speaking the common and universal sentiments of the whole people of the United States, I repeat their welcome to our common country." The general's reply, as might be expected, was full of warm expressions of affection and respect. He said, “the sight of the American shore, after so long an absence, the recollection of the many respected friends and dear companions no more to be found in this land, the pleasure to recognize those who survive, the immense concourse of a free republican population, who so kindly welcome me, have excited sentiments which no language is adequate to express. It is the pride of my heart to have been one of the earliest adopted sons of America." The general remained in New York four days, visiting the public places, and receiving the congratulations of the citizens. Thence he proceeded to Boston, in an elegant carriage provided by the corporation, and attended by four aldermen of the city. His tour eastward as far as Portsmouth, New Hampshire, southward as far as Savannah; south-westward to New Orleans, and westward to St. Louis, in the state of Missouri, and back to Boston, a journey of upwards of five thousand miles, which he performed in the course of the year, was every where marked with the same respectful attentions and congratulations. The manner of his reception at New York with the variations necessarily resulting from the magnitude of the places which he visited, and other circumstances, affords a fair specimen of the modes of welcoming him, throughout the United States. Welcome Lafayette.
Health, happiness, honor, and long life to the nation's guest, resounded from every quarter of the union. In no one object was America so united, as in honoring her favorite adopted son. The scene throughout exhibited a contest between French and American politeness, in which republican manners approached very nearly to the etiquet of polished courts.
Among the thousands that welcomed him at Cincinnati, was an old German female, who was one of the first of human beings that he saw on leaving the prison of Olmutz, and who then presented him, all she had to give, a cup of milk, and a three franc piece for his journey. Poverty had driven this good woman from her humble dwelling near that prison, to the banks of the Ohio, where she enjoyed the exquisite pleasure of greeting him who had once been the object of her compassion and charity.
Proceedings in congress. At Washington, on the 10th of December, he was introduced by a committee of one from the representation of each state, into the hall of the house of representatives, and by the speaker, in the name of the whole people of the United States, bid a cordial welcome. The general replied in language expressive of his high sense of gratitude for the distinguished honor. On this occasion, the members of the senate, the officers of state, the foreign ministers, and the beauty and fashion of the city attended. After the mutual congratulations, the house immediately adjourned, and the speaker introduced each member individually to the general. Congress however could not satisfy themselves, or do justice to the public feeling, without giving their illustrious guest a more substantial token of the nation's gratitude. By the sacrifices he had made to the American cause, and the confiscation of his property by the revolutionists in his own country. Lafayette had become poor. A numerous family looked to him for support. Out of favor, and without employment in his own government, he had not the means of supporting them in the style which their rank in society required. In his message at the opening of the session, Mr. Monroe noticed in appropriate and affectionate terms, the arrival of Lafayette, and recommended to congress, that, "considering his very important services, his losses and sacrifices, such provision should be made and tendered to him, as should correspond with the sentiments and be worthy the character of the American people. A committee of the senate, to whom the subject was referred, reported two
resolutions, one granting him the sum of two hundred thousand dollars, to be raised by creating a stock to that amount, bearing six per cent interest, irredeemable for ten years, that he might either enjoy the interest as an annuity, and leave the principal to his family, or convert it immediately into money, if his necessities required. The other granting him a township of six miles square, to be located in any of the unappropriated lands where the president should direct.
In their report, the committee make an estimate of the property expended, sacrifices made, and services rendered by the general in the cause of America, evincing that the grants contemplated in the resolutions were due to him in point of justice, as well as on the score of gratitude. As a further reason for adopting the resolutions, the committee stated, that congress had heretofore granted him eleven thousand acres of land, to be located in any unappropriated territory of the United States. That in 1804, his agent located it in the neighborhood of the city of New Orleans. That in 1807, congress confirmed the title in the city council, to all lands lying within six hundred yards of the limits of the city, which embraced a considerable portion of the grant as located by the agent of Lafayette. The general, being informed of these circumstances, and also being advised that his title, being the eldest, was superior to that of the city, replied that having received this as a bounty from the United States, he should have no controversy with any of their citizens respecting the title, and directed his agent to enter a relinquishment. And that this land was now worth five hundred thousand dollars. These resolutions, after encountering some opposition, on the ground that there were many meritorious officers, citizens of the United States, now living in poverty and dependence, whose services were unrewarded, passed both houses by large majorities, and were presented to the general by a joint committee, accompanied with a highly complimentary address, to which he replied, that "the immense and unexpected gift, which in addition to former and considerable bounties it has pleased congress to confer upon me, calls for the warmest acknowledgments of an old American soldier, an adopted son of the United States, two titles dearer to my heart than all the treasures of the world."
His return to France. The general, after making a second visit to Boston, to witness the laying the corner stone of the Bunker hill monument, erected in commemora
tion of the memorable battle fought on that spot on the 17th of June 1775, just half a century before, returned to Washington, preparatory to leaving the United States. The Brandywine, a newly built American frigate, had been prepared for his accommodation, and on the 7th of September, 1825, he took an affectionate leave of the president, and numerous citizens assembled on the occasion, and embarked for his native country. His last act before he left America was evincive of the goodness of his heart. Having heard that General Barton, an old fellow-officer of the revolution, had been incarcerated in a jail in Vermont, for debt, for thirteen years, he addressed a letter to General Fletcher, enclosing a draft to the amount of the demand, and requesting his discharge.
The extraordinary marks of respect shown to Lafayette by the republicans of America, were not calculated to allay the jealousies of the French monarch. Such attentions were considered as due only to crowned heads, and it seemed a kind of profanation to bestow them on any object short of royalty. The jealousy and distrust with which any thing of this kind is viewed by the monarchs of Europe, show by how precarious a tenure, in their own estimation, they hold their thrones. The editors of French journals were strictly prohibited from publishing from the American papers the accounts of the respect shown Lafayette. The editors are obliged to send their papers to the police office before publication, where they are examined by a censor, and every thing offensive to the government stricken out. By this operation the French journals were purged of every thing relating to the reception of Lafayette in America. Notwithstanding the injunctions of the French ministry against showing him any marks of respect, the friends and neighbors of the marquis, by whom he was universally beloved, assembled in great numbers, and greeted his return with a joyous welcome.
Free people of color. The number of free colored people of the United States, in which there is a greater or less proportion of African blood, amounts to two hundred and thirty-eight thousand.* With many honorable exceptions, this population is of a vicious character. Though not slaves, they are not admitted to the privileges of freemen; have no voice in the election of their rulers; and are not themselves eligible to office. Their degradation de
* Census of 1820.