Even as a boy in France, Lafayette was conscious of the evils of excessive power, although he was born into a noble family and at the age of fourteen fell heir to a large fortune and the title of Marquis. The young Marquis de Lafayette became a member of the King's famous Black Musketeers, and one day he had to ride up to the King at Versailles and ask for the orders of the day. It was one of the big moments of his life but, even in that moment, he could not help wondering at the tremendous power of the King over his subjects.
At sixteen he married the daughter of a duke and for a time led a very gay life until suddenly he realized that there were more important things to do. Inspired by the American fight for freedom from England, Lafayette, with a few of his friends, sailed for America to offer his help, although the French King had forbidden him to go. He was received coolly by the Americans in Philadelphia, but Lafayette offered to serve without pay in the American Army and he soon became a major general. At this time he met Washington, who came to look upon the young Frenchman almost as a son. From then on, until Cornwallis' defeat at Yorktown, Lafayette gave his services and his money to the American cause and in so doing earned the gratitude and friendship of the American people.
No youngster can fail to be thrilled by Hazel Wilson's superlative story of Lafayette who, though a Frenchman, was one of the great heroes in the American fight for Independence.
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