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Post-Revolutionary War to Civil War
Circa 1824 "LAFAYETTE" Inscribed Presentation Sword Return and Tour of America Period also Engraved "Honneur au Gal: Lafayette" and "Chartre u Liberte"
c. 1824 Return and Tour of America Period, Highly Important "LAFAYETTE" Inscribed Commemorative Presentation Officer's Sword with its Original Scabbard, apparently presented to commemorate and memorialize the Marquis de Lafayette's visit, Extremely Fine.
The single-edged blade retains over 80 percent of its original Bluing, 28" curved blade, 33" overall length, with wonderfully detailed ornate gilt etchings of flags, military regalia, and two dedications reading: "Honneur au Gal: Lafayette" and "Chartre u Liberte" beautifully engraved on opposite sides. According to noted arms and militatia expert Sean Rich who has inspected this sword, it appears correct in manufacture and every way to this exact timeframe. Its handle with original leather grip and original spiral-bound wire. A shiny brass pommel is of the Phrygian helmet pattern, decorated along its forward border with a laurel garland. The knucklebow bends below the blade in a simple arc. Midway along the blade a single branch bears off on the obverse side and joins the oval counterguard directly opposite the center of the blade. There are elaborate floral decorations at the juncture of the knucklebow and pommel, at the beginning and termination of the obverse branch, and on the finial of the quillon. All metal parts of the hilt are gilded brass. The accompanying original scabbard also has a gilded brass funneled throat, a leather body and original gilded brass tip. This Presentation Sword is finely detailed, retaining almost all of its gilt etching, while the scabbard's leather portions show moderate actual wear and the brass tip is somewhat loose. Overall, it is impressive in its eye appeal and beautifully presentable. Most likely this special sword was prepared as a commemorative gift for presentation to Lafayette during his historic triumphant return and tour of America in 1824. President John Quincy Adams personally decided to have an American warship carry Lafayette back home to Europe. President Adams chose the recently built 44-gun frigate USS Brandywine to return Lafayette to France after his 1824-1825 historic Tour of the United States.
Visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to the United States took place from July 1824 to September 1825. As the last surviving French General of the American Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette made a tour of the 24 States in the United States. At many stops on this historic Tour he was received by the populace with a "Hero's" welcome, and many honors and monuments were presented to commemorate and memorialize the Marquis de Lafayette's visit. The Marquis de Lafayette led troops alongside George Washington in the American Revolution over 40 years earlier. He fought in several crucial battles, including the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania and the Siege of Yorktown in Virginia. The Marquis had returned to France and pursued a political career championing the ideals of liberty that the fledgling U.S. republic represented. While the Bourbon constitutional monarchy had been in place in France for at least ten years, in the Spring of 1824, King Louis XVIII was wheelchair bound and suffering from severe health issues that would prove fatal by late Summer. Further, Lafayette was being monitored by the dying King. After the Marquis left the French legislature in 1824, President James Monroe invited him to tour the United States, partly to instill the "spirit of 1776" in the next generation of Americans and partly to celebrate the nation's 50th anniversary. During his trip, he visited all of the American states and travelled more than 6,000 miles. Lafayette was accompanied by, among others, his son Georges Washington de La Fayette. For part of the journey, Lafayette was also accompanied by social reformer Fanny Wright. The main means of transportation for the party were stagecoach, horseback, canal barge, and steamboat. Different cities celebrated in different ways. Some held parades or conducted an artillery salute. In some places schoolchildren were brought to welcome the Marquis. Veterans from the war, some of whom were in their sixties and seventies, welcomed the Marquis, and some dined with him. While touring Yorktown, he recognized and embraced James Armistead Lafayette, a free negro who adopted his last name to honor the Marquis (he was the first US double agent spy); the story of the event was reported by the Richmond Enquirer. More than a century later, various towns continued to honor their own "Lafayette Day". On July 13, 1824 Lafayette left France on an American merchant vessel named the Cadmus. Lafayette's extended Tour officially began on August 15, 1824, when he arrived at Staten Island, New York. Lafayette then toured the northern and eastern states in the Fall of 1824, including stops at Monticello to visit Thomas Jefferson, and to Washington, D.C. where he was received at the White House by President James Monroe. Lafayette began his Tour of the Southern United States in March 1825, arriving at the Fort Mitchell crossing of the Chattahoochee River on March 31, 1825. Lafayette had expressed his intention of sailing for home sometime in the late summer or early autumn of 1825. President John Quincy Adams decided to have an American warship carry Lafayette back to Europe. Adams chose a recently built 44-gun frigate (originally named Susquehanna) for this honor, and accordingly, as a gesture of the nation's affection for Lafayette, the frigate was renamed Brandywine to commemorate the battle in which the Frenchman had shed his blood for American freedom. Launched on June 16, 1825, and christened by Sailing Master Marmaduke Dove, Brandywine was commissioned on August 25, 1825, Capt. Charles Morris in command. Lafayette enjoyed a last state dinner to celebrate his 68th birthday on the evening of September 6th, and then embarked in the steamboat Mount Vernon on the 7th for the trip downriver to join the warship Brandywine. On the 8th, the frigate stood out of the Potomac River and sailed down Chesapeake Bay toward the open ocean. As he sat on the Brandywine ready to depart, General Isaac Fletcher conveyed Revolutionary War compatriot General William Barton's greetings as well as Barton's situation with respect to being in debtors' prison in Danville, Vermont, for 14 years. Lafayette promptly paid Barton's fine and thus allowed him to return to his family in Rhode Island. After a stormy three weeks at sea, the American warship Brandywine arrived off Le Havre, France, early in October, and, following some initial trepidation about the government's attitude toward Lafayette's return to a France now ruled by King Charles X, Brandywine's honored passenger returned home.
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