On August 15, 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette arrived in the United States to say farewell to the country whose independence he helped secure more than four decades earlier. Over the next 15 months, Lafayette visited all 24 states, meeting with old friends and attending celebrations hosted by Americans who flocked to see the last-living Major General of the Revolutionary War whose close friendships with George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson shaped both the American and French Revolutions.
Since 2017, Julien Icher has been working to document the 5,000 mile journey that Lafayette took during his farewell visit. Icher, himself a Frenchman, has a remarkable skill set that combines the best of primary source-based research with the technical knowledge required for digital mapping. The result is The Lafayette Trail– a publicly accessible map that allows users to see Lafayette’s physical route, as well as the people, places and events he encountered along the way.
In this episode, Ben speaks with Julien Icher about Lafayette’s contribution to American Independence, his life after returning to France, and the farewell tour that inspired Julien to create The Lafayette Trail. We also speak about the history of Franco-American friendship and why both countries are better when we work together.
For more on The Lafayette Trail, check out their YouTube channel. Since April 2021, Julien has been posting episodes of his travels in the series “Follow the Frenchman.” You can also follow the project on twitter at @LafayetteTrail.
This is a rebroadcast of RTN #132 which originally aired on June 10, 2019. This rebroadcast was edited by Ben Sawyer