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Gilbert du Motier Lafayette (1757 – 1834)


French and American military officer and aristocrat who participated in the American revolution as a general and served in the Estates General and the subsequent National Constituent Assembly in the early phases of the French revolution.
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Gilbert du Motier Lafayette
Till the hour when the trump of the Archangel shall sound to announce that Time shall be no more, the name of Lafayette shall stand enrolled upon the annals of our race, high on the list of the pure and disinterested benefactors of mankind.
Lafayette quotes
No one deserves more than he the esteem which he enjoys here. He is a prodigy for his age, full of courage, spirit, judgment, good manners, feelings of generosity and of zeal for the cause of liberty on this continent.
Lafayette
He devoted himself, his life, his fortune, his hereditary honors, his towering ambition, his splendid hopes, all to the cause of liberty. He came to another hemisphere to defend her. He became one of the most effective champions of our Independence; but, that once achieved, he returned to his own country, and thenceforward took no part in the controversies which have divided us.




True republicanism is the sovereignty of the people. There are natural and imprescriptible rights which an entire nation has no right to violate, just as national sovereignty is above the secondary agreements of the government.
Lafayette is a young man of royal birth, with liberal politics and what Jefferson later called "a canine appetite for fame." Someone said he was "a statue in search of a pedestal." But he was intoxicated with, [had] a rather theoretical love of, liberty. It was theoretical because liberty wasn't known to many Europeans. [Lafayette] was a great romantic and he fell in love with America, the concept of America that the French had. This wild new world where you could start the world over, to use Tom Paine's phrase.
Lafayette avoided the factions jealous of Washington because he recognized that Washington was the Revolution and that should he be reduced in power or replaced, the whole cause would collapse. ... Washington was a shrewd judge of character and never would have warmed to Lafayette if he had been only a superficial ingratiating romantic.
Lafayette scrupulously looked after his men, spending his own money when Congress failed to provide them necessities. Nor was he backward in suggesting to Washington certain changes and innovations from French military practice.
Gilbert du Motier Lafayette
If the liberties of the American people are ever destroyed, they will fall by the hands of the Romish clergy.
Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights.
Lafayette
Lafayette, nous voil?!
Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country.
Gilbert du Motier Lafayette
I would never have drawn my sword in the cause of America, if I could have conceived that thereby I was founding a land of slavery.




Lafayette valued reputation and glory, but cared little for the power that generally results from them. Having one day been asked who was in his opinion the greatest man of this age: "In my idea," replied he, "General Washington is the greatest man, for I look upon him as the most virtuous."
Gilbert du Motier Lafayette
Humanity has gained its suit; Liberty will nevermore be without an asylum.
Lafayette quotes
Ambition, as that passion is generally understood, a strong desire to rise above others, to occupy the first place, formed no part of Lafayette's character. In him the passion was nothing more than a constant and irresistible wish to do good.
An irresistible passion that would induce me to believe in innate ideas, and the truth of prophecy, has decided my career. I have always loved liberty with the enthusiasm which actuates the religious man with the passion of a lover, and with the conviction of a geometrician. On leaving college, where nothing had displeased me more than a state of dependance, I viewed the greatness and the littleness of the court with contempt, the frivolities of society with pity, the minute pedantry of the army with disgust, and oppression of every sort with indignation. The attraction of the American revolution transported me suddenly to my place. I felt myself tranquil only when sailing between the continent whose powers I had braved, and that where, although our arrival and our ultimate success were problematical, I could, at the age of nineteen, take refuge in the alternative of conquering or perishing in the cause to which I had devoted myself.
I read, I study, I examine, I listen, I reflect, and out of all of this I try to form an idea into which I put as much common sense as I can. I shall not speak much for fear of saying foolish things; I will risk still less for fear of doing them, for I am not disposed to abuse the confidence which they have deigned to show me. Such is the conduct which until now I have followed and will follow.
Gilbert du Motier Lafayette
Humanity has won its suit and liberty will never more want an asylum.
When the government violates the people's rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.
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