Lafayette Receives the City’s 'Sword for the Defense of Liberty'
During the Revolution the most visible connection between America and France was Lafayette, who had volunteered for service in the American Revolution and had been mentored by Washington and Jefferson. This special status vaulted him to prominence in 1789 as he became a delegate in the Estates–General, head of the National Guard, and a general in the military. In a way, his background undid him as his attachment to relatively moderate forms of American liberty isolated him as the Revolution became radicalized. Increasingly alienated, he was forced out of his general’s command, and he fled to avoid arrest. After Napoleon came to power, Lafayette returned to France, where he defended his ideals of moderate revolution until his death in 1832, at the age of sixty–five. This print commemorates the gift of a sword presented by the Parisian guard after Lafayette resigned this post in October, 1791.
La Nation française assistée de Mr de la Fayette terrasse le despotisme et les abus du regne feodal qui terrassaient le peuple
Collection de Vinck. Un siècle d'histoire de France par l'estampe, 1770-1870. Vol. 11 (pièces 1763-1933), Ancien Régime et Révolution.
Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Estampes et photographie, RESERVE QB-370 (11)-FT 4.