Whether travelers recognize the name Lafayette from a school lesson or the award-winning musical Hamilton, history buffs and theater fans alike can follow in his footsteps along a trail commemorating the iconic general's nationwide tour around the U.S., which now includes a new marker in a new state.
Lafayette visited Natchez, Mississippi on April 18, 1825, during the second and final year of his U.S. tour which was at the invitation of President James Monroe and the U.S. Congress. He managed to visit 320 cities and towns, according to Lafayette Trail founder James Icher.
Icher began the project of creating this trail in 2017. Since then, about 40 markers have been approved, with about 25 installed in 13 states so far, he told The Associated Press. The newest one in Natchez was unveiled on June 16. The marker overlooks the Mississippi River and describes Lafayette's visit to the city, including details on where he spoke, dined, and attended a ball.
At the time of Lafayette's visit to Natchez, the country was nearing the 50th anniversary celebrations of the American Revolution. Having participated in the war for American independence when he was only 19, Lafayette was "the last surviving general of the Continental Army," Icher said.
"He epitomized the American Revolution and people received him as a hero," Icher told local newspaper The Natchez Democrat, also noting that Lafayette's trip around the U.S. helped to unify the country after a divisive election in 1824.
"The country survives this election, demonstrates the resilience of its institutions and uses Lafayette to express that and send a message to Europe that the United States is an independent nation. The American experiment is working and it is here to stay," Icher told the newspaper.
Natchez was the only town that Lafayette visited in Mississippi. Lafayette Trail markers can also be found in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, North and South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
For more information, visit the Lafayette Trail website.
Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but she's always on the lookout for her next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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