The Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center and the Lafayette Society are sponsoring a lecture and book signing at the Headquarters Library, 300 Maiden Lane, on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. for historian Alan R. Hoffman.
    Hoffman’s translation of Auguste Levasseur’s Lafayette In America In 1824-1825 was published in 2006.     The book is the first complete translation into English of the detailed journal kept by the Marquis de Lafayette’s private secretary during Lafayette’s Grand Tour of the United States on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.{mosimage}
    The program will begin with a showing of Vive Lafayette, a short documentary on Fayetteville’s celebration of Lafayette’s 250th birthday in 2007. Copies of Lafayette In America In 1824-1825 will be available for purchase.
    This program is one of many events planned for Sept. 4-6 as part of the Lafayette Society’s annual celebration of Lafayette’s birthday. For a listing of all events, or to learn more about Lafayette, visit www.lafayette250.com.
    Hoffman, a trial attorney in Boston, received his undergraduate degree in history at Yale and graduated from the Harvard School of Law. He spent three years translating Levasseur’s journal from a copy he discovered in a bookstore in Cambridge.
    Lafayette first came from France to America as a 19-year-old nobleman to fight in the Revolutionary War against England. His heroics at Brandywine and Yorktown, coupled with his fervent support of equal rights for all men after he returned to France, later earned him the title “Hero of Two Worlds.” Invited by President James Monroe in 1824 to visit the country he helped to found, Lafayette was greeted by enthusiastic crowds and elaborate receptions everywhere he went.
    Levasseur was a young French officer who had participated in a conspiracy against the Bourbon monarchy in the early 1820s. His journal not only traces Lafayette’s year-long tour of America, but also provides eyewitness accounts of intimate visits with presidents Monroe, John Adams, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
    Hoffman will highlight the portions of Levasseur’s journal describing Lafayette’s reception in towns in North and South Carolina, including Murfreesboro, Camden, and Fayetteville — the first American city named for Lafayette and the only namesake city he actually visited.
    The book shows how Lafayette, long an outspoken critic of slavery and advocate for its abolition, attempts to address the issue during his tour. Levasseur includes information enthusiastically gathered regarding the history, climate, commerce, and other characteristics of the states and cities they visited. Through the eyes of Levasseur, the reader in 2008 has a remarkably clear vision of life in America in the early 1800s.
    Levasseur’s journal reveals aspects of Lafayette’s character that help explain his popularity in America at that time. As Hoffman notes, “Lafayette had star quality. He was self-effacing, charming and charismatic. For a man who was raised as a member of the nobility, he definitely had the common touch.” In his introduction, Hoffman says, “I hope that by spreading the story of Lafayette on his farewell tour — as well as the Revolution as told in Levasseur’s flashbacks — this book will help to highlight his unique place in American history.”

Tim Wilkins, Associate Editor
COMMENTS? 484-6200 ext. 105 or tim@upandcomingweekly.com


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