An Emerging World Power
In 1824 the Marquis de Lafayette returned to the United States at the invitation of President James Monroe. Over 14 months, he visited all 24 states. His stellar American reputation dates more from this trip than from his wartime exploits. As he traveled, Lafayette saw a booming population, a rapidly growing economy, and a nation expanding across the continent. He recognized that the country he helped establish was becoming a new world power that would rival European nations.
The Nation’s Guest
President James Monroe invited the Marquis de Lafayette to visit America as it approached the 50th anniversary of its independence. He hoped the general’s iconic presence would help rekindle the nation’s “revolutionary spirit” and commitment to unity, which seemed to be slipping away. The trip was a smashing success, but it did not moderate the divisive 1824 presidential contest between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.
Commemorative Souvenirs, 1824–1825
American tradesmen created a cornucopia of souvenirs to celebrate the Marquis de Lafayette.
Wedding of the Waters
In the 1820s, America was growing and prospering, especially as it expanded westward. Nothing symbolized this more than the technological wonder of the age, the Erie Canal. It “wedded the waters” of the Great Lakes and Atlantic Ocean, fundamentally changing American trade patterns and spurring New York City to become the nation’s leading maritime and financial center. When he visited the canal, the Marquis de Lafayette was amazed.