Marginalized memories : Lafayette, American others, and revolution's legacy
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In American history, the Marquis de Lafayette is predominantly remembered for his military service in the Revolution, his lifelong friendship with the Founders, and his triumphal farewell tour of the United States from 1824-1825. Native Americans in the 1820s are mostly studied as part of the larger Jacksonian removal narrative, while African Americans' place in the decade is entangled within the ever-increasing national tensions over slavery. In visiting the United States for the final time, Lafayette received a nation-wide welcome from Americans, and helped President Monroe and the first post-Revolution generation celebrate the event's 50th anniversary. How Americans received and celebrated Lafayette tells us much about the 'Era of Good Feelings.' We know from the existing historiography that white Americans hosted lavish dinners and balls, gave admirable toasts, and conducted city-wide parades for Lafayette's return. Even with the increased popularity of African American and Native American histories, however, little work has been done on how people of color received the Revolutionary hero. This project explores how African and Native Americans interacted with Lafayette as a representation of the American Revolution, emphasizes its contested legacy, and further demonstrates that the 'Era of Good Feelings' was ripe with national discourse over the past and future of the United States.
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