At one o’clock, the General, with the company invited for the occasion, visited the African Free School, under the tuition of Mr. Andrews, and direction of the Trustees of the Manumission Society. This department of the Free School embraces about 700 scholars, and they are certainly the best disciplined and most interesting school of children, that we have ever witnessed. At this school, but about 450 were present upon this occasion, as the resolution to visit it had been formed, while the party were at Greenwich, and consequently no time for preparation was afforded. On the General’s arrival; he was conducted to a seat by the Trustees, when Mr. Ketchum adverted to the fact, that as long ago as 1788, he had been elected a member of the Institution, at the same time with Grenville Sharpe and Thomas Clarkson, of England. The General perfectly recollected the circumstance, and mentioned particularly the letter he had received on that occasion, from the Hon. John Jay, then President of the Institution. . . .
One of the pupils then stepped
upon the forum, and gracefully delivered the following Address:
General La Fayette, In behalf of myself and my fellow school mates, may I be permitted to express our sincere and respectful gratitude to you for the condescension you have manifested this day, in visiting this Institution, which is one of the noblest specimens of New-York philanthropy. Here, Sir, you behold hundreds of the poor children of Africa, sharing with those of a lighter hue, in the blessings of education; and, while it will be our pleasure to remember the great deeds you have done for America, it will be our delight also to cherish the memory of General La Fayette as a friend to African Emancipation, and as a member of this Institution.
To which the General replied in his own characteristic style, “I thank you, my dear child.”
From the New York Commercial Advertiser
The men of Color had solicited the favor to present themselves to the General, and at the hour he had appointed to receive them, they came preceded by their commander Mr. John Mercier, who addressed the General as follows: “The command of the Corps of men of Colour who so eminently contributed to the defense of this Country, has been just entrusted to me; and its officers, scattered until now, and before reorganizing themselves, felt that they should first offer to one of the Heroes of the American Independence, their tribute of respect and admiration. The brave men that I command in whatever situation they may have been placed, would have purchased at the price of their blood, the honor of being presented to you, they felt an ardent desire to tell you, that they have arms always ready to defend their Country, and hearts devoted to you; deign General, to accept this sincere tribute of respect and admiration. . . .
The General received the men of colour with demonstrations of esteem and affection, and said to them: “Gentlemen, I have often during the War of Independence, seen African blood shed with honor in our ranks for the cause of the United States. I have learnt with the liveliest interest, how you answered to the appeal of General Jackson; what a glorious use you made of your arms for the defense of Louisiana. I cherish the sentiments of gratitude for your services, and of admiration for your valor. Accept those also of my personal friendship, and of the pleasure I shall always experience in meeting with you again.” The General then kindly shook hands with them all, and thanked the Governor for the opportunity he had given him to become acquainted with them.
From the Courier of New Orleans, April 19, 1825
This meeting was held in the
Supreme Court Room of the Capitol, on the 19th February, and was honored
by the attendance of Gen. Lafayette, Chief Justice Marshall, and many other
distinguished Individuals. . . .
Mr. Custis, of Arlington, then rose and said, that as there was no immediate business before the Society, he would do himself the honour of offering a resolution. He then read the following: Resolved, unanimously—That General Lafayette be appointed a perpetual Vice President of this Society. . . .
The General then expressed concisely
his high gratification at being invited to attend the annual meeting of
this Society, for which he had ever felt great respect and affection.
To be chosen a member of the Society would be most agreeable to his feelings,
and accordant to the principles of all his life.
No objection being offered to Mr. Custis’s resolution, it was ordered that General Lafayette’s name should be recorded among the Vice-Presidents of the Institution.
From the African Repository and Colonial Journal, March 1825
Back to The Farewell