13¢ Lafayette’s Landing
Issue Date: June 13, 1977
City: Charleston, SC
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Giori press
Color: Blue, black and red
U.S. #1716 commemorates the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette arrived on the coast of South Carolina in 1777 and played a critical role in the American Revolution.
The Arrival of the Marquis de Lafayette in America
Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette was born in Chavaniac, in Haute Loire, France. His father died on the battlefield when Lafayette was two years old. His mother and grandmother died when he was 13. The young orphan inherited a great fortune. Descended from a long line of soldiers, Lafayette studied at the Military Academy at Versailles. When he was 16, he married Marie Adrienne Françoise de Noailles, the daughter of one of the most powerful families in France. Shortly after his marriage, Lafayette became a captain in the cavalry. However, he disliked court life, and soon grew interested in the events of the American Revolution.
This wealthy French aristocrat believed so strongly in the American independence movement that he purchased a ship with his own money and sailed for America in 1777. He had convinced several French officers to accompany him. On June 13, 1777, he arrived near Charleston, South Carolina, and volunteered his services to the war effort.
At first, the Continental Congress was unimpressed with Lafayette, who spoke little English. But, when he agreed to serve without pay, the cash-poor Continental Congress appointed him a major general. Lafayette joined George Washington’s staff. Washington developed a fatherly affection for the young man, and the two developed a life-long friendship.
Lafayette served with distinction at the battle of Brandywine, where he was wounded. His victory over Hessian troops at Gloucester earned him the command of a division. He served at Valley Forge during part of the terrible winter of 1777-78. Lafayette also fought at the battles of Barren Hill and Monmouth, and during the campaign to capture Rhode Island.
In 1779, Lafayette returned to France to participate in an invasion of Britain. Although the invasion never took place, Lafayette secured French aid for the Americans. He returned to America in April 1780. In 1781, Lafayette played an important role in the American victory at Yorktown. When he returned to France in 1782, Lafayette was received as a “hero to two worlds.”