Lafayette

Lafayette

Lafayette

Lafayette

Excerpt

THE Victoire , wide-beamed and clumsy, was a slow sailer. She crept over the ocean like a man crawling on all fours. Fifty- four days at sea had terribly bored the young marquis and his companions, but all voyages come to an end at last. On June 13, 1777, the green and white coast of South Carolina was in sight. Green trees and a glittering white beach with the surf breaking into foam against it. There were no houses--only the beach, the surf, and the darkgreen palmettos.

The Marquis de Lafayette, who was then a youth of nineteen, owned the ship. He had bought the vessel and was sailing in her to join the struggling American revolutionary army as a volunteer officer. The original destination of the Victoire was Charleston, but those on board learned from a passing American vessel that the port was blockaded by a British squadron. The blockade was not very effective; the British ships were frequently away from their stations for three or four days at a time. Lafayette did not know this until he and his party had landed.

Besides Lafayette there were fifteen officers aboard. Among them was Baron De Kalb, a soldier of experience and ability. He was in his fifty-sixth year; all the others were young. All of them were guests of the marquis, and their voyage had cost them nothing. He had known some of them for years; others were almost unknown to him. They had appeared with letters of introduction and said they wanted to accompany the expedition. After a sketchy examination of their credentials they were invited aboard. The marquis cared nothing for expense. He was--at that time--so rich that he did not know the extent of his fortune, and he was accustomed to spending money with generous abandon.

Not one of them, so far as we know or the record shows, cared anything for the democratic notions of liberty and equality for which . . .

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