JANUARY 25 = Robert Burns is Born

Robert Burns, widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland was born on today’s date, Jan, 25 in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland in the year 1759.  Now don’t worry. I’m not going to go into any kind of in-depth analysis of his poems, or his effect on the romantic movement in poetry other than to note that he was very much a part of it.  I simply don’t have the necessary knowledge of poetic literature to attempt any such thing.  No, this will not be a long posting. But I’ve always felt a connection to Scotland due mainly to my love for Scotch Whiskey, and also my love for the one Scots lass whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing well,  And that would be my life-long friend Lisa Nicol. I came to know Lisa at the University of Texas at Austin. We both have long since left Austin; Lisa is now happily married to Martin Glennie with whom she has a beautiful child.  She also is a percussion lecturer at the University of Aberdeen.  Anyway Lisa, this one’s for you! To most of you who are not Scottish, Robert Burns is not a name that you know at all well. But the fact is that this man wrote the lyrics to a song which nearly everyone of you has sung at one time or another.

A Bit About Robert Burns

But more about that in a moment first let me give you a few facts of the man’s life. Robert Burns was born on today’s date, the eldest son of tenant farmers William Burnes and Agnes Broun. (Burn’s boyhood home is pictured below). Burns had a basic education, and he loved

reading, indeed his parents encouraged him to read great writers such as Shakespeare. But the farm life was not for young Robert who found it bad for his health.  But Burns had discovered women, and conducted several affairs which brought the birth of several children out of wedlock. But, in July 1786, he published his first collection of verse, “Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect”. The work was  widely praised. Next came “The Scots Musical Museum”, which consisted of traditional Scot tunes. In 1788 he finally settled down and married Jean Amour. Together they would have nine children of whom only three would survive their infant years. It was during this year that he wrote this beautiful verse about his homeland:

“Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,

The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;

Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,

The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.


My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;

My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;

A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,

My heart’s in the Highlands wherever I go.


Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow;

Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;

Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;

Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.


My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;

My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;

A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,

My heart’s in the Highlands wherever I go.” 

In 1789 Burns included the following tune in the “Scots Musical Museum” with a note: “The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.”  And everyone of you out there has sung this, most likely on New Year’s Eve:


“Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and old lang syne?


CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.”


SO – A Happy New Year to us all, and a Happy Birthday to Mr. Robert Burns and his admirers wherever they may be!!!!!!!



Sources = 

DECEMBER 30 =Rasputin is Murdered

Gregori Rasputin (above) was assassinated on today’s date, December 30 in 1916. This man was as strange and mysterious a character as could have been invented by any novelist. He was a figure whom, as stated elsewhere in my Blog, belonged in a nightmare. And the circumstances surrounding his death on this date were equally mysterious, nearly to the point of being unbelievable.  But I shall try here to give the facts as best as I can manage. And you, my readers can judge for yourselves as to whether they are believable or not.

Rasputin, Alexei, and Alexandra

The basic problem was this: When the heir to throne, Alexei, was born on August 12, 1904 it was soon discovered that he suffered from hemophilia – an illness that prevents a clot from forming to stop any bleeding either external or internally.  Russia was a weak but extremely important player on the world stage especially by 1916 when she was embroiled on the Allied side against Germany and Austria during

World War One. If Alexei’s condition (that the heir to the throne was in such delicate health) had become public knowledge especially during the extreme political stress of wartime, the effect would have been enormously destabilizing. Thus his hemophilia was a closely kept secret. Rasputin was first presented to the Russian Emperor (Czar) Nicholas II and the Empress (Czarina) Alexandra (above) on Nov. 1, 1905. He was not a monk or even a priest – he was a “starets” a kind of wondering holy-man.  But when Alexei suffered from his episodes of bleeding and on at least or more occasions when Rasputin was present, the bleeding stopped, Empress Alexandra became totally convinced that he was the only salvation for her son. Thus this man was kept in the very bosom of the Imperial Family.

Rasputin Becomes a BIG Problem

As the course of the war ground on and on, the public popularity of the Imperial Family and the Empress in particular fell steeply.  The poor families were seeing their young men killed by the hundreds of thousands, seemingly for no reason, while they starved at home. The noble class didn’t starve, but they suffered the same losses of their sons for the same useless cause. And all of it in the service of an Imperial Family which kept this unkempt, monstrous man in their midst for no apparent reason. According to biographer Robert Massie: “He rose 

and slept and rose again without ever bothering to change his clothes. His hands were grimy, his nails black, his beard tangled and encrusted with debris.” And his influence extended to telling the Empress who should be appointed to the government and to important army commands. Having this man at the very heart of the government and the ruling family was indeed a nightmare. It was clear to anyone that this man had to go. And one man who determined to get rid of Rasputin was Prince Felix Yussoupov (above), one of the very richest men in Russia, and the husband of the Czar’s niece, Irina. Felix was a fairly thin. slight figure of a man. But he was very charming and was a social friend of Rasputin’s.

The Conspiracy to Murder Rasputin

This is where the story gets difficult to believe in its details. But I am following the account of Massie, which is based primarily on the account of Yussoupov himself. And different accounts have surfaced over the years to muddy the picture. As “Wikipedia” puts it: “So the murder of Rasputin has become something of a legend, some of it invented, perhaps embellished or simply misremembered.”

In any event Prince Felix invited Rasputin at a late hour to his basement apartment at the Moika (below) Palace in St. Petersburg, one

of his many family possessions. The lure was that Felix’s wife Princess Irina was supposedly there, and Rasputin had always wanted to meet her. Irina was actually in the Crimea, but Rasputin thought that she was waiting to meet him. The band of conspirators numbered five: Yussoupov, Vladimir Purishkevich a member of the Duma (the Russian Parliament), an officer named Sukhotin, Dr. Lazovert, a Doctor from the Army, and a young friend of Prince Felix: Grand Duke Dimitry Pavlovich. So late on the night of today’s date, they lured Rasputin to Prince Felix’s basement with plenty of wine, cakes and the promise of Princess Irina.

The Murder of Rasputin

So Rasputin entered Felix’s apartment with it’s low vaulted ceilings and rich furnishings and rugs. Upstairs a gramophone played of all tunes “Yankee Doodle” so Prince Felix could claim that there was another party going on which Irina was attending, but she would be with them shortly. There was an array of cakes which Rasputin gobbled

down, each of which had been laced with cyanide according to Dr. Lazovert. Only the poisoned cakes didn’t seem to be having any effect on Rasputin.He asked for some wine which Lazovert said he had laced with enough poison to kill several men. Still Rasputin showed no effect. So Felix went up and consulted with his cohorts as to what next? Purishkevich the elder of the group  (above) urged them to finish the man off.  Prince Felix went back down holding Dimity’s revolver behind his back, and found Rasputin seated and calling for more wine. Felix got him to take a look at a crucifix which he had on the shelf. When Rasputin turned his back, Prince Felix fired, and Rasputin screamed and fell backward onto the floor.

“…the green eyes of a viper…”

The rest of the group ran downstairs when they heard the shot.  Dr. Lazovert quickly took his pulse and declared Rasputin dead. But the Dr. spoke too soon. While Yussoupov was briefly alone with the “corpse”, it’s face twitched, then its eyes opened! “I then saw both eyes — the green eyes of a viper — staring at me with an expression of diabolical hatred” Prince Felix  recalled. Rasputin then leapt to his feet and grabbed Felix by the throat! Screaming, Prince Felix tore himself away and ran up the stairs with Rasputin on all fours roaring in fury right behind him. Purishkevich dashed outside to see Rasputinrunning across the snowy courtyard towards the iron gate to the street. Purishkevich fired two shots which missed, but got him in the shoulders with the third shot. Prince Felix reappeared and began hitting the body with a rubber club. When at last the body was dead it was wrapped up in a rope,  and then taken to a hole in the ice of the frozen Neva river and pushed through. When it was found three days later, Rasputin lungs were filled with water. Chained, riddled with bullets and full of poison  he had died from drowning.

Epilogue….

   That is the way that the story was told by Prince Felix Yussoupov and several of his cohorts. Dr. Lazovert later denied the part about the cyanide laced cakes and wine saying that his Hippocratic Oath as a Doctor would never permit him to do such things. Rasputin’s daughter, Maria disputed all of the details about the shots, saying that it was just one that had hit and killed her father.  Prince Felix was placed under arrest, but was never put on trial. Instead the Czar, had him exiled from Russia for life (above:Felix & Irina in exile). The other conspirators were exiled to distant fronts. Rasputin’s grave was ransacked by the Bolsheviks following their triumph in the Revolution.  Prince Felix lived until the ripe old age of 80, dying in Paris in 1967.  So there it is, much of it anyway. Look at he facts, or research it further on your own and believe what you will. But one thing is certain: Rasputin was the very embodiment of pure evil, and he got what he deserved – whatever the details.

Sources =


“Nicholas and Alexandra” by Robert K. Massie, Random House, New York, 1967

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigori_Rasputin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Yusupov

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Purishkevich

DECEMBER 21 =First Basketball Game is Played



“I showed them two peach baskets I’d nailed up at each end of the gym, and I told them the idea was to throw the ball into the opposing team’s peach basket. I blew a whistle, and the first game of basketball began.…”  – James Naismith

On today’s date, December 21 in 1891 the first basketball was played at the Springfield YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts.The sport had been developed by one Mr. James Naismith as a way of giving rowdy young men a way to blow off some steam during the long winter months in that part of the country when they mostly had to stay inside.

Naismith – the Athlete/Educator

James Naismith was born in 1861 in Almonte (now part of Mississippi Mills), Ontario. He enrolled in Almonte High School, in Almonte, Ontario graduating in 1883.Later that in same year, Naismith entered the Montreal’s McGill University (below). Naismith was not a

particularly imposing man, physically speaking. He weighed 178 pounds, and was 5 foot 10 ½ tall. Nevertheless he was apparently a skilled and versatile athlete, representing McGill in lacrosse, rugby, gymnastics, soccer, and Canadian football for which he held the tough and demanding position of center. He graduated McGill in 1888 with a BA in Physical Education. He then moved from Montreal to become a physical education teacher at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Naismith Develops a New Game

It was in this position that Naismith found himself with a bunch of young boys who were very rowdy and needed some sort of activity or game to keep them from getting even rowdier during the long harsh New England winters. He was given the task of coming

up with a game that would keep the track athletes in shape, but which it was clearly specified “make it fair for all players and not too rough.” So Naismith decided that the larger softer soccer ball was preferable to the objects used in lacrosse, or hockey. Next he determined that the most physical contact came when running with or hitting the ball, so he made passing the only way to move the ball from one player to the other.  And finally, he made thee goal unguardable, by making it a basket high above the players heads. Above is pictured the original court, with the ball on the floor (center), and the peach basket visible way above the door.  He called it “Basketball” and the first time it was ever played was on today’s date of Dec. 20, 1891.

Naismith on That First Game

Years later, in Dec. 1939, James Naismith recalled that first game:  “Well I didn’t have enough (rules), and that’s where I made my big mistake. The boys began tackling, kicking and punching in the clinches. 

They ended up in a free-for-all in the middle of the gym floor. Before I could pull them apart, one boy was knocked out, several of them with black eyes, and one with a dislocated shoulder. It certainly was murder. Well after that first match I was afraid they’d kill each other.  But they kept nagging me to let them play again.  So I made up some more rules. And the most important one was that there should be no running with the ball. That stopped tackling and slugging. So we tried out the game with those rules. And we didn’t have one casualty. We had a fine, clean sport.”  

NOVEMBER 25 = Evacuation Day

“So perfect was the order of march, that entire tranquility prevailed and nothing occurred to mar the general joy…”

This was he recollection of Major Benjamin Tallmadge of the general  joyousness among the crowds which greeted George Washington on his triumphant return to New York City (pictured above) on today’s date, November 25, 1783.“Every countenance” Tallmadge continued, “seemed to express the triumph of republican principles over the military despotism which had so long pervaded this new happy city.”


New York in British Hands Since 1776

Leaving the largest city in the 13 Colonies in the hands of the British had been an especially bitter pill for George Washington to swallow. In fact NYC back then was hardly “the Big Apple” of today. It occupied in it’s northern reach just the southern tip of Manhattan as far the modern day Wall Street area. Nevertheless it was the most important single port in the country. And it just stuck in General Washington’s heart that he had lost it and never did manage to re-take it.  His army had suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Long Island on August 26,

1776, and in subsequent action had had to retreat into New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and eventually taking shelter behind the banks of the Upper Delaware River.  From that point onward despite Washington’s fondest hope of re-capturing it,  New York City became the center of British planning and logistics for their war against the 13 Colonies. It was also the center of the American “Culper” Spy Ring under the leadership of the above quoted Major Benjamin Tallmadge (above) which continued to collect intelligence on British operations in the city.

The Fortunes of War Force the Brits Out

But the fortunes of war turned sharply against the Brits with their defeat at Yorktown on October 19, 1781. Yorktown was the largest single British offensive force in the Colonies, and once it had fallen all that they had left was New York City. The Treaty of Paris (signed Sept. 3, 1783), effectively recognized American Independence so on this date of Nov. 25 they moved out of the city, and at noon of that day General Washington rode in with his officers and troops in a group spreading

eight men across. It was a triumphant precision march down the center of Manhattan over Broadway to the Battery (the southern tip of the island). Of course there were a large number of Loyalist (pro-Brit Americans) who were obliged to scurry out along with their protectors. In fact some 29,000 such people were evacuated in the days leading up to this one. A British flag had been left atop a pole, which as a final prank had been covered with grease and all off it’s cleats removed. But ultimately new cleats were attached, and the American flag was in full view as the British ships sailed out of sight.


“It was indeed a joyful day…”

As Major Tallmadge wrote of the experience: “It was indeed a joyful day to the officers and soldiers of our army, and to all the friends of American Independence, while the troops of the enemy still in our waters, and the host of tories and refugees, were sorely mortified.  The joy of meeting friends, who had been separated by the cruel rigors of war, cannot be described.”

Sources =


“George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution” by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger, Sentinel Publ., New York, 2013

“Washington’s Spies – the Story of  America’s First Spy Ring” by Alexander Rose, Bantam Books,

New York, 2006


 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evacuation_Day_(New_York)

November 12 = Ellis Island Closes

“In America Life is golden/ In America the flowers are more beautiful/ In America life is much better/ And that’s what I’m longing to be my dear…”

The above is a song which some immigrants sung upon entering New York harbor and seeing the statue of liberty for the first time. It  speaks of their hopes for a better life in a land off freedom. Ellis Island closed on today’s date November in 1954. After the Statue of Liberty Ellis Island was the first view of America that most of the immigrants had.  It was the main clearing house for the over 12 million people passed through it’s gates in the time that it was in operation, starting in 1892.

Originally built on 3.3 Acres

Ellis Island started out quite small taking up a mere 3.3 acres of land. Eventually it was expanded to 27.5 acres mostly by using landfill produced by the excavation of the New York Subwway tunnel system.

Named after Samuel Ellis, the original owner of the land from colonial days. In 1892, the first station opened. Almost 450,000 immigrants were processed during that first year.  On June 15, 1897 a fire destroyed the main building along with most of its immigration records back to 1855. Plans were immediately made for it’s rebuilding with one condition: it had to be fireproof. The new building resembled rather castle-like railroad station.  The total cost for the new building was @ 1.5 million dollars.  It included a baggage room, a large kitchen and dining hall, (above) a dormitory with 600 beds. 4 hospitals, and an outdoor recreation area and garden on the roof.

The Six Second Physical

All immigrants to America had to pass through Ellis Island, but those in first of second class had only a brief shipboard examination.   Those in third class had a more rigorous course to navigate. Upon arrival the immigrants were inspected for any visible ailments; this became known as the “six second physical.”  Those who failed were marked with white chalk for a full physical. Those who passed were sent to the “Great Hall” to be processed.  This room (below) was a large cavernous place – 189 ft. long by 102 ft. wide with 60 ft. vaulted ceilings. The average

wait here was 4 hours. People coming through here asked three questions: their name, their occupation and how much money they carried.  About 2% of immigrants were denied entrance due to disease, criminal background, or mental instability.  About 1/3 remained in New York, and the rest spread out around the whole country.  This main island also known as the “Island of Hope” or the “Island of Tears” processed 1,004,756 immigrants in its peak year of 1907.  Among them were such men as Bob Hope (1908), Cary Grant (1920) and Irving Berlin (1893).

Ellis Island Winds Down

New legislation in the 1920’s effectively ended the era of mass immigration into the United States. Thus Ellis Islands operations slowed down considerably. It was used as a training and detainment facility during World War II. But over time neglect took it’s toll, and the old Ellis Island complex fell into disrepair. It was for a time a training and deportation station for illegal immigrants and other such detainees.  The last such detainee was a Norwegian merchant seaman, released in November of 1954 afterwhich the facility was closed for good. Happily, Ellis Island has since been restored as a public museum in recent years.  Visitors can research through millions of arrival records to find their own family history.  And this should be a useful endeavor, as it is estimated 40% of Americans can trace some portion of their heritage to Ellis Island!!

Sources =


 http://www.history.com/topics/ellis-island/videos/arrival-at-ellis-island

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellis_Island

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ellis-island-closes

http://www.history.com/topics/ellis-island/videos/hurdles-to-citizenship-on-ellis-island

SEPTEMBER 29 = Film Director Stanley Kramer is Born

On today’s date, September 29 in 1913, the celebrated Stanley Kramer, the director and producer was born in New York City. Throughout his career, Kramer had his share of flops, but his great films tackled previously taboo subjects as racism, nuclear war antisemitism – always putting the problem right there in the audiences face where it couldn’t ignored.  Many thought that his films lacked subtlety in this respect – became known as the maker of “message pictures”.  And while his best work was often nominated for Academy Award’s,  Kramer never won the Oscar Statue himself.

Kramer Arrives in Hollywood

Kramer arrived in Hollywood aspiring to be a writer and signed up to MGM, working various jobs such as carpenter, scenery mover, and then wound up as an Editor for three years.  He worked also for Columbia pictures, and on radio as well.  But in the early 1940’s he formed his own production company.  His first picture there bombed at the box office, but his next one, “The Champion”,

an exciting and intense anti-boxing picture was a hit, which propelled its star, Kirk Douglas to star status. Next came a string of hits, all of them hitting some nerve in American life. There was racial bigotry in “Home of the Brave” (1949). Then came the issue of disabled veterans in “The Men” (1950), and then the superb film “High Noon” (1952) which starred Gary Cooper (right) as a Martial who finds that the town whom he loved him was leaving him to face an old enemy on his own.

Kramer’s Best Period = 1954 – 1961 

Kramer then signed on with Columbia Pictures to make a string of films, all of them excellent. In 1954 he made “The Caine Mutiny” with Humphrey Bogart as the captain of a ship, who appears to go to pieces in a typhoon.  The Court Room scene where Bogie  breaks down, along with the party afterward where the attorney played by Jose’ Ferrer reads them all the riot act about who really was guilty is a classic. “The Defiant Ones” (1958), dealt with racism when Tony Curtis and Sydney

Portier play a pair of escaped convicts who were chained together. There was the drama “On the Beach” (1959) which dealt with nuclear war. Then came a pair of magnificent courtroom dramas; “Inherit the Wind” (1960) dealing with freedom of speech and my own favorite: “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961) which laid the question of responsibility for the Holocaust right there in the open. Spencer Tracy was in both off those last two, as were Gene Kelly in the first, and a whole raft of stars in the latter; Marlene Dietrich, Richard Widmark, Judy Garland, and Montgomery Clift to name just a few.

 

Kramer’s Later Years

Stanley Kramer took a wild comedy turn in “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World” (1963) (below) about a group of strangers run across an old man (Jimmy Durante) who with his dying breaths gives them the directions to a cache of gold.  This launches them on a wild cross country race to beat each other to the gold. This cast was simply to large to list them all here; let if suffice to say that the main roles are played by Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, and a completely hilarious Jonathan

Winters.  In 1967 Kramer directed “Guess Who’s Coming Together” which tackled, albeit in a rather sugary-sweet Hollywood fashion, the subject of inter-racial marriage. Yes it was a very sweet handling, but a handling nevertheless of an extremely taboo subject as late as 1967. And the screenplay by William Rose contained some excellent dialogue on the subject. Stanley Kramer died at the age of 87 in Woodland Hills, California, on February 19, 2001. His autobiography was titled  “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World – A Life in Hollywood.”



Sources =

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/message-filmmaker-stanley-kramer-is-born

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/person/105309%7C141975/Stanley-Kramer/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_a_Mad,_Mad,_Mad,_Mad_World


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judgment_at_Nuremberg


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Caine_Mutiny_(film)

SEPTEMBER 6 = The Marquis de Lafayette is Born

Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, more commonly known as simply the Marquis de Lafayette was born on today’s date, September 6 in 1757, in Chavaniac, in the province of Auvergne in south central France, This man (above) deserves a place of honor among America’s Founding Fathers for the role he played in not only securing French assistance during our Revolutionary War, but also for taking an actual combat role — even though he presented himself to George Washington at the young age of 19.

“My heart was enlisted…”

Young Gilbert came from one of France’s oldest fighting families, with ancestry dating back to the crusades and even to Joan of Arc.  When his mother died by the boy’s eleventh birthday, Lafayette inherited one of the largest fortunes in France.  Yet this very rich young man had little taste for the of an aristocrat; he sought military action. In 1763, he obtained a Captain’s Commission in the Army.  In 1775 he was having

dinner in the city of Metz with the Duke of Gloucester who spent much of the time complaining about the American Colonists an their uprising against British rule. The Duke mocked the Americans nonsense about the equality of man, and people ruling themselves. And especially of their having made this George Washington their leader. This made a very ill impression on the young Lafayette: “My heart was enlisted,” he later recorded in his memoirs, “and I thought only of joining my colors to those of the revolutionaries.”

Lafayette Sneaks to America and Meets George Washington

But it wasn’t such an easy matter just to go over to America.  First of all, King Louis XVI denied him permission to go. But the defiant young officer simply ignored the King’s order and left for America in early 1777. James Lovell, a Congressman  saw in the 19 years old was a man

of substance and recommended him for the rank of Major General. Lafayette met Washington on Aug. 5 (above), and the two men immediately formed a strong bond.  Washington had no natural son of his own so naturally he was warmed by Lafayette’s enthusiasm and positive attitude for the American cause. Lafayette stood in awe of Washington: “Although he was surrounded by officers and citizens, it was impossible to mistake for a moment his majestic figure and deportment; nor was he less distinguished by the noble affability of his manner.” he wrote later in his memoirs. Indeed, the two men would develop a father and son relationship during the war.

Lafayette Serves in Combat 

Washington assigned Lafayette to join in a tough battle to turn the American flank at the Battle of Brandywine Creek, where he served under the command of Gen. John Sullivan’s forces. Sullivan was being surrounded, and was obliged to retreat, but Lafayette distinguished himself in this action, sustaining a wounded leg. Washington sent his

own surgeons to tend to the wound telling them: “Treat him as if he were my son.” Lafayette gradually became a trusted member of Washington’s inner circle. He also shared in the misery of the brutal winter of 1777 at Valley Forge. The Marquis also took part in the Battle of Monmouth (June 28, 1778). After this he returned to France to take part in the organizing of troops to go to America as a part of the new Alliance between France and the new United States.  Overall command of these troops was given to the Comte de Rochambeau (above).

Lafayette is There at the End

By the summer of 1781, Lafayette had returned to the U.S. and was assigned to lead troops in Virginia along with other generals such as “Mad” Anthony Wayne to attack the British foraging parties as well as their rearguard. These various raids kept the British under Gen. Lord Cornwallis from bringing the Americans to full battle until he finally withdrew to the Peninsula at Yorktown, Virginia. There Cornwallis

found himself being encircled with his back to the sea, and the combined armies of the Americans and the French. On Sept. 5, 1781 in the Battle of Virginia Capes the British fleet was decisively defeated by the French. By now the land vice was tightening.  In fact, Washington’s own forces linked up with those of Lafayette on Sept. 14. With his sea escape cut off, and thee French and the Americans barking at the door, Cornwallis gave up the ghost and surrendered his army on Oct. 18, 1781 at a ceremony (above) in which Lafayette gladly took part.

“Hero of Two Worlds”

Upon his return to France in January of 1782 Lafayette was hailed as a national hero, in fact “A Hero of Two Worlds” for his service to France and to America. But revolution was in the air in France of a much bloodier kind than it had been in America. With help from Thomas Jefferson – the U.S. Ambassador – He was part writer of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. When the Bastille was stormed

in July of 1789 and a revolutionary government was formed, Lafayette sent the key to the old prison (above) to George Washington as a symbol of French freedom from tyranny. This “Hero of Two Worlds” attempted to steer a middle course between the extremes of the men who unleashed wholesale executions via the Guillotine during the Terror.  His arrest was ordered by radicals in Aug. of 1792.  He attempted to escape but was captured by the Austrians spending 5 years in jail. But the government of Napoleon Bonaparte restored his French citizenship on March 1, 1800. He made a grand tour of America in 1824 to an adoring reception.  He died on May 20 1834 at the age of 76.