By Lloyd S. Kramer

Bargains an interpretation of the cultural and political importance of the occupation of the Marquis de Lafayette, which spanned the yank Revolution, the French Revolutions of 1789 and 1830, and the Polish rebellion of 1830-31. The e-book lines the impact of Lafayette's public and private existence.

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Extra info for Lafayette in Two Worlds: Public Cultures and Personal Identities in an Age of Revolutions

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4 The Franco-American treaty of 1778 opened new channels of communication between the two countries but did not diminish Lafayette's usefulness to the cause. Instead, he became for many Americans a symbol of that alliance and a link to the French ministers who would decide how much money and military assistance their new ally should receive. "6 This appreciation for Lafayette's service to the alliance surely contributed to his initial acceptance and continuing popularity. Lafayette was also useful to Americans for reasons unrelated to any influence he may have had with the French government.

6 Gottschalk thus uses his own culture's assumptions about human behavior to transform the Romantic hero into a psychological case that John Quincy Adams would not recognize; indeed, the "Lafayette" that Adams described has more or less disappeared from history. In his place, we find the story of a man who was generally naive, forever "boyish" (Simon Schama's adjective), lacking in intelligence, hungry for praise, and essentially mediocre in all Page 5 his public actions. "Lafayette never grew up," his recent biographer Olivier Bernier explains.

It will be long ere we see his equal, long ere there shall arise such a union of character and circumstances as shall enable any other human being to live such a life. 11 Like everything else we know about Lafayette, Mill's account offers opinions and political judgments that modern readers might accept or reject, but it also raises questions for a new narrative about a life whose various meanings seem always to depend on the differences among those who interpret it. Why did Mill praise a man who has become known to historians as a mediocrity?

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