Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette

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It is the paradox of life that the way to miss pleasure is to seek it first. The very first condition of lasting happiness is that a life should be full of purpose, aiming at something outside self.
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Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de la Fayette (1757-09-061834-05-20) was a French and American military officer and aristocrat who participated in the American revolution as a general and served in the Estates General and the subsequent National Constituent Assembly in the early phases of the French revolution.


  • Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country.
  • If the liberties of the American people are ever destroyed, they will fall by the hands of the clergy.
  • True republicanism is the sovereignty of the people. There are natural and imprescriptible rights which an entire nation has no right to violate.
  • When the government violates the people's rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.
  • Humanity has won its suit (in America), so that liberty will nevermore be without an asylum.
  • In my idea General Washington is the greatest man; for I look upon him as the most virtuous.
  • I read, I study, I examine, I listen, I reflect, and out of all of this I try to form an idea into which I put as much common sense as I can.

About Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette

  • Lafayette is a young man of royal birth, with liberal politics and what Jefferson later called "a canine appetite for fame." Someone said he was "a statue in search of a pedestal." But he was intoxicated with, [had] a rather theoretical love of, liberty. It was theoretical because liberty wasn't known to many Europeans. [Lafayette] was a great romantic and he fell in love with America, the concept of America that the French had. This wild new world where you could start the world over, to use Tom Paine's phrase.

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