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Lecture is part of the Son and his Adoptive Father exhibit

Diane Windham Shaw, special collections librarian and College archivist, will present a brown bag lecture, “Lafayette in Philadelphia: Two Vignettes, 1777 and 1824,” at 12:15 p.m. Sept. 18 in room 108 of the Williams Center for the Arts.

The talk is part of the Son and his Adoptive Father: The Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington exhibit running Sept. 6- Oct. 28 in the Williams Center gallery. The historical exhibition is one of the main events in the College’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Marquis de Lafayette’s birthday. Shaw is co-editor of the exhibit’s companion book.

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 exhibit, major events will include a lecture series, entitled Lives of Liberty, featuring renowned speakers, and a birthday party on Sept. 6.

  • A web site dedicated to the celebration and to the Marquis’ unique connection to the College provides information and updates.

Shaw’s lecture will focus on two very different receptions the Marquis received from the American government and people during separate visits to Philadelphia.

When Lafayette and his fellow French officers arrived in Philadelphia on July 27, 1777, eager to report for duty with the Continental Army, they were met with a stinging rebuff from Congress. Yet a few days later, Lafayette was wearing the sash of a major-general and had taken his place at the very nerve center of the army, as an aid-de-camp to the commander in chief, George Washington.

Shaw will examine this abrupt about face and shed light on Lafayette’s arrival in America, his first meeting with General Washington, and his baptism by fire at the Battle of Brandywine.

Lafayette’s reception in Philadelphia during his “Farewell Tour” of 1824-25 could not have been more different from that of 1777, says Shaw. This time he came to America at the invitation of Congress and President James Monroe as the “Guest of the Nation.” All across America the countless communities he visited pulled out all the stops to welcome him, and none more so than the city of Philadelphia.

Shaw will provide a bird’s eye view of the pageantry of Lafayette’s eight-day visit to Philadelphia in September-October 1824, which included a parade with more than 7,000 participants, 13 triumphal arches constructed especially for the procession, a general illumination of the entire city, and a ball lasting until 5 a.m.

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