Mapping The Lafayette Trail
The Marquis de Lafayette was a French-born aristocrat who, beginning at the age of 19, served as a Major General in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War alongside George Washington. He came to the United States four times: in 1777, 1780 during the American Revolution, and for subsequent visits in 1784 and 1824.
Today New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey are part of an historical trail that aims at memorializing the footsteps of General Lafayette during his fourth and final visit to the United States in 1824, the journey which is known as the “Farewell Tour”.
This Franco-American endeavor is spearheaded by The Lafayette Trail Inc., a nonprofit organization whose missions are to raise awareness about General Lafayette’s critical contribution to the founding of the US; to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of France and of the US; and to document, map, and mark the footsteps of General Lafayette in the United States during his Farewell Tour from August 15th, 1824 to September 9th, 1825. The effort is being undertaken now in preparation for the Bicentennial celebrations in 2024.
French native Julien Icher, a 25-year-old geographer, web developer, historian, is the founder and president of The Lafayette Trail, Inc. In March 2017, Mr. Icher created The Lafayette Trail project at the Consulate General of France in Boston and documented over 170 events across the New England states. After his efforts received great acclaim in New England, he decided to endeavor to expand the Lafayette Trail to the entire 25 states visited by Lafayette during his triumphal tour. The diplomatic significance of his work has been recognized and endorsed by Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, who invited Mr. Icher to join him on his state visit to Washington D.C. in April 2018 as a member of the French official delegation.
In July 2018, Mr. Icher returned to the United States for an entire year. He traveled 22,000 miles across 25 states and the District of Columbia and ultimately documented more than 800 events in more than 320 U.S. cities and towns. The results of his work may be seen on the website of The Lafayette Trail at www.thelafayettetrail.com. It includes a mapping program detailing General Lafayette’s last visit to the U.S.
New York City is home to Castle Garden, now known as Castle Clinton, on Battery Park, in downtown Manhattan, the very first site where Lafayette set foot on American soil, August 16th, 1824, after an absence of 40 years. According to Mr. Icher, for many Americans, Lafayette came back from the dead, at the time when the founding generation was virtually gone. Lafayette’s visit brought back a living memory of the Revolutionary War era, set in motion across the nation for the year long tour. He was a link between two generations, and a unique figure reminding Americans of the common thread uniting them all as members of the same national family.
The relevance of The Lafayette Trail to our modern Franco-American alliance stretches across many fields, from diplomacy, to history, to geography, web design, web development, and entrepreneurship.
Mr. Icher is launching Phase Two of The Lafayette Trail to make his project a reality on the ground. In partnership with the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, fully funded historical markers will be installed along the trail in dozens of U.S. communities as part of a multi-state Lafayette Trail roadside historical marker program.
Donations toward this effort through PayPal or GoFundMe will be gratefully accepted on the website of The Lafayette Trail www.thelafayettetrail.com. You may also contribute by check by downloading a donor reply card at www.thelafayettetrail.com/reply/rep....
Follow The Lafayette Trail and Julien on social media (@thelafayettetrail on Facebook; @julien_icher on Twitter).