Gilbert du Motier, Marquis De Lafayette

Born September 6, 1757 - Died May 20, 1834

The Marquis de Lafayette, whose full name was Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, Marquis de Lafayette, is often referred to in the United States as Lafayette.

Lafayette was a commissioned officer at the age of 13. He came to the United States during the Revolutionary War at the age of 19 because of his belief in the American cause and his desire to seek glory. Lafayette was quickly promoted to General and fought beside his friend General George Washington. Although he initially had no troops under him after his promotion to general he did distinguish himself in several battles.

Lafayette briefly left United States during the war to try and muster more support in France. After his return he became a key player in the lead up to the battle of Yorktown. Lafayette was able to keep Cornwallis busy long enough for American troops and French reenforcement to get into position.

After the American Revolution, Lafayette returned to France hoping to help the cause of freedom in his own country. After the storming of the Bastille he put in charge of the National Guard. In 1792 radical factions in France ordered his release. He attempted to flee through Belgium and was captured by Austrian troops. He would spend 5 years in prison.

Napoleon would finally secure his release in 1797. Napoleon offered Lafayette several positions in his new government. Lafayette flatly declined wanting nothing to with the new regime that Napoleon was creating.

Lafayette spoke regularly publicly about the importance of liberty. He helped write the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen" asking Thomas Jefferson for assistance.

Where and when Lafayette was made a mason is unknown. Some scholars feel that it was the influence of the fraternity that spurred his believe in freedom for all men.