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Party features food, music, Revolutionary War re-enactors, and the Marquis himself

Lafayette is throwing a huge party Sept. 6, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Marquis de Lafayette’s birthday. There will be food, music, dancing, a lecture by award-winning Marquis biographer Lloyd Kramer, Revolutionary War re-enactors, and even an appearance by the Marquis himself.

The College is planning a yearlong celebration during 2007-08 in recognition of the life and legacy of the man for whom it is named. In addition to the birthday party, major events will include a lecture series, entitled Lives of Liberty, featuring renowned speakers, and a historical exhibit at the Williams Center for the Arts, entitled A Son and his Adoptive Father: The Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington.

  • A web site dedicated to the celebration and to the Marquis’ unique connection to the College provides information and updates.
  • Sept. 6 Birthday Celebration Schedule of Events.

Headlining the Sept. 6 celebration will be Lloyd Kramer, award-winning author of Lafayette in Two Worlds: Public Cultures and Personal Identities in an Age of Revolution. He will present “Lafayette’s Historical Legacy: Politics, Culture, and the Modern World” 4:10 p.m. in the Williams Center for the Arts. The talk will be the John L. Hatfield ’67 Lecture hosted by Friends of Skillman Library.

Most of the other activities for the birthday party will take place on the Quad.

Throughout the day, re-enactors from the New Jersey 2nd Regiment will set up a “living history” camp and give visitors a sense of what life was like during the Revolutionary War. The re-enactors work very hard to maintain historical accuracy in everything from their clothing, to their presentation of camp life, to the way they talk.

The original 2nd New Jersey Regiment was formed, on Oct. 9, 1775, at Trenton, N.J., for service with the Continental Army under the command of Colonel William Maxwell. The soldiers in the regiment saw action in a number of Revolutionary War battles as part of both Washington and Lafayette’s armies. Some of the conflicts the regiment participated in include the Battle of Brandywine, the Battle of Germantown, the Battle of Monmouth, and the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, which was the decisive victory for American and French troops over the British.

The All College Birthday Bash will officially begin at 5:15 p.m. with Contra Dancing demonstrations and audience participation. At 5:30 p.m., there will be an All-College Dinner with a Revolutionary War theme. All other campus dining facilities will be closed from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The ringing of South College bell at 6 p.m. will mark the arrival of the Marquis by carriage in front of Skillman Library. The Marquis will be officially welcomed to campus and he will also provide his greetings to the campus community. The cutting of the birthday cake and singing of “Happy Birthday” will take place at 6:45 p.m.

Throughout the evening, students can have their photo taken in Revolutionary Era garb with life size images of the Marquis, take carriage rides around the Quad, and listen to traditional Zydeco music

Earlier in the day around noon, there will be a dedication ceremony of a historical marker to commemorate the founding and naming of the College in 1824. The marker, which was approved by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, will be placed in a pocket park in the northeast corner of Centre Square. The Marquis re-enactor will make brief remarks at the marker ceremony.

Sept. 6 will also mark the official opening of the Son and his Adoptive Father exhibit at 10 a.m. in the Williams Center for the Arts gallery. The exhibition focuses on the close “father-son” relationship between the Marquis and Washington. It is currently on display through Aug. 5 at Mount Vernon’s new F.M. Kirby Foundation Gallery. A reception will be held in the Williams Center gallery at 3 p.m.

The College is the primary lender to the exhibit, with materials drawn from its extensive collections of manuscripts, prints, books, memorabilia, and works of art. Other contributors include Harvard College, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Life Guard Society of Mount Vernon, Society of the Cincinnati, and Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.

Items from the College’s Marquis de Lafayette Collections include portraits, engravings, documents, a sword that belonged to Lafayette, china, glassware, medals, textiles, and sheet music. Many of these objects were produced as souvenirs during Lafayette’s 1824-1825 Farewell Tour of America. The paintings come from the Lafayette College Art Collection and include Thomas Sully’s portrait of Lafayette from the Farewell Tour and Jean-Baptiste Le Paon’s “Lafayette at Yorktown.”

The exhibit is organized by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association in partnership with Lafayette College and made possible by the F.M. Kirby Foundation, the Florence Gould Foundation, The Founders, Washington Committee for Historic Mount Vernon, and the Embassy of France. Additional support for the exhibition at Lafayette College is provided by gifts from Lafayette Ambassador Bank and Jere G. Oren ’50. Oren’s gift was made in memory of his parents, Samuel and Sophie Oren.

The exhibit will run at Lafayette until Oct. 28 when it will move to the New-York Historical Society in New York City from Nov. 13, 2007-March 9, 2008.

Lloyd Kramer’s research and teaching focus on modern European history with an emphasis on nineteenth-century France. He is the Dean E. Smith Distinguished Term Professor of History and chair of the history department at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he has taught since 1986.

His biography of Lafayette, Lafayette in Two Worlds (1996), received the Gilbert Chinard Prize from the American Society for French Historical Studies and the Annibel Jenkins Biography Prize from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

His other publications include Threshold of a New World: Intellectuals and the Exile Experience in Paris, 1830-1848 (1988), and Nationalism: Political Cultures in Europe and America, 1775-1865 (1998). He is also co-author, with R. R. Palmer and Joel Colton, of A History of the Modern World, 10th edition (2007) and, co-editor with Sarah Maza, of A Companion to Western Historical Thought (2002).

He received a Ph.D. in European intellectual history from Cornell University, an M.A. in history at Boston College, and a B.A. from Maryville College.

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