CUTLINE: Photo courtesy New York Historical Society Gen. Marie Joseph Paul Roch Ives Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette was an important man to New Orleans, America and the world. We have a park named after him in New Orleans, but there is no statue of him in the city. Hey Blake,
Do you have any suggestions on finding ancestry? Shantel Tatney Dear Shantel, If you want a starting place for digging up roots, the place to go is the main branch of the New Orleans Public Library. On the third floor is the Louisiana Division and smart, helpful librarians who will guide you in the right direction. I suggest, however, that you begin online at the library's Web site www.nutrias.org/ nopl/spec/speclist.htm. The library has an extensive genealogy collection which contains books, periodicals and microfilm. They have also published a guide to genealogical materials, now in its fourth edition, which is available for purchase or for viewing online. Hey Blake,
At a recent concert in Lafayette Square, Fred LeBlanc, the front man of Cowboy Mouth, referred to the statue of Lafayette in the square. He was looking straight at the statue of Henry Clay at the time. Every New Orleanian should know that there is no statue of Lafayette in Lafayette Square. Every New Orleanian should also know where in New Orleans there is a statue of Gen. Marie Joseph Paul Roch Ives Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette. But I donÕt. Please tell us where we can find a statue of Lafayette in this city. Wes Banks Dear Wes, You are right to say that every New Orleanian should know of the whereabouts of a statue to Lafayette, a man of great importance to New Orleans, America and the world. And if there were one in New Orleans, I could tell you where to find it. But you and many others will probably be surprised to know that there is none. Nope. No statue in Lafayette Square or anywhere else in town.
Lafayette Square itself has three statues: Henry Clay, John McDonogh and Benjamin Franklin. In its early days, Lafayette Square was known simply as Place Publique or Place Gravier, and it was created in the 1790s as the American counterpart to the Creole Place d'Armes. But it was renamed when the great man himself came to visit. And what a visit it was!
At age 68, Lafayette, the Frenchman who assisted the Americans with our war for independence and also became a hero of the French Revolution, went on a tour of the United States. New Orleans was honored when he accepted an invitation to visit. To accommodate this very important visitor, the city government literally moved out of the Cabildo and redecorated it. Men were set to work converting the sala capitular (Capital Room) into a splendid drawing room where Lafayette met with various delegations during his stay between April 10 and 15, 1825. The room was given new wall hangings, furniture, wallpaper, draperies, carpets and chandeliers -- just for the five-day visit.
Lafayette arrived on the steamboat Natchez and landed at the Chalmette Battlefield. Gov. Henry S. Johnson escorted the general to New Orleans where thousands greeted him with shouts of "Vive Lafayette!" The festivities took place in the Place d'Armes -- cannon roared and bells pealed -- and Mayor Joseph Roffignac, an old friend of Lafayette, welcomed the general under a triumphal arch that had been erected in his honor. The temporary arch of triumph -- similar to the one in Paris -- was designed by the city's engineer, J. Pilie, and was 68 feet high, 58 feet wide, and 25 feet deep. Painted to resemble green and yellow marble, the arch was decorated with figures representing Justice and Liberty. There were two allegorical figures depicting Fame and bearing the names Washington and Lafayette. On the roof were inscriptions in English and French: "A grateful Republic consecrates this monument to Lafayette." On the top of the monument was a figure representing Wisdom who was crowning a bust of Benjamin Franklin.
Folks celebrated for the entire time Lafayette was in the city. Well, it is New Orleans you know. And another large crowd gathered to see him off to Baton Rouge, Natchez and St. Louis.
Lafayette, who died on May 20, 1834, is one of only six people who have been declared Honorary Citizens of the United States, a title bestowed on him in 2002. So you're right to think we should have a statue somewhere.