Today marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Marie Jean Paul Joseph Roche Yves Gilbert du Motier Lafayette. The Marquis de Lafayette, French hero of the American Revolution, visited North Carolina on his tour of the United States in 1824. After stops in Halifax and Raleigh, he made his first visit to Fayetteville, the town that was named in his honor at the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783.
Lafayette’s secretary, Auguste Levasseur, kept a journal during the General’s tour, which he later published, giving an interesting outsider’s view of North Carolina in the 1820s. In his general remarks on the state, Levasseur wrote, “In spite of all of its resources of wealth, North Carolina appeared to me the most backward state I had seen as yet. The chief cause, I think, must be attributed to slavery.” However, Levasseur concludes that “notwithstanding those evils which I have mentioned, it cannot be denied, that the inhabitants of North Carolina are worthy to form a part of the great federative family of the United States.”
Read more about Lafayette’s visit to Fayetteville in This Month in North Carolina History.