Friends of the Colonies

In our war for freedom against the British Empire we had many friends. Today I will talk to you about some of the friends who helped the early 13 colonies win their independence.
In the city of Washington near the White House there is a park named for a gallant Frenchman who volunteered his service to General George Washington. Can you name this man? Lafayette.
A marble statue of Lafayette stands in this park, and around the base of the statue are carved the names of some others who came over from Europe to help the colonies gain their freedom. Can you name some of these men? Baron von Steuben of Germany, Baron de Kalb of Germany, General Kosciusko of Poland and General Pulaski of Poland. All of these men served as generals in the Continental Army, and their knowledge and experience were a tremendous help to General George Washington, the Commander-in-Chief.
Baron de Kalb was killed in battle at Camden, South Carolina, and the brave Pulaski died in a battle at Savannah, Georgia. The two men who made the greatest contribution to our country were Baron von Steuben and the Marquis de Lafayette.
Baron von Steuben joined General Washington’s army in the dark days at Valley Forge. He was a veteran soldier from the German army. The army that went into Valley Forge was ill-trained and half defeated, but in the spring they came out tough, disciplined soldiers that soon drove the British from our shores. Baron von Steuben was responsible for that change. All winter he drilled and trained this ragged army and built up a hard core of veteran soldiers that would stand firm on any battlefield. Without this tough, disciplined drill master to instill morale into a discouraged army, the war could easily have been lost.
The Marquis de Lafayette was a young French nobleman who came to this country in his own ship and reported to General George Washington. Although he was only 20 years old, he was commissioned as a Major General. Lafayette served without pay. He rendered valuable service to the cause of freedom. It was the troops that he commanded in Virginia with the help of von Steuben’s troops that penned up Cornwallis, the British General and his army at Yorktown, Virginia, and held them until Gen. George Washington could arrive from New York with the main army and force the surrender of the British troops that ended the war.
This country has good reasons to be grateful for such unselfish service and should always remember these brave and gallant soldiers who came to the aid of the colonies in their time of desperate need and particularly those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom.
Now here is an interesting sidelight concerning the Marquis de Lafayette. Many years after the Revolutionary War, Lafayette came back to this country. He was an old man, down and out, penniless. He had been imprisoned in France by his political enemies and stripped of his estates. The Congress of the United States, in grateful recognition of his services, voted him a sum of $200,000 and granted him a full township of land, 6 square miles.
Do you know where the land was located? Near Tallahassee, Florida. It took in almost half of the present city. Lafayette did not come to Tallahassee to see his land, but I understand that later two of his grandsons came to Florida to negotiate the sale of this land for about $100,000. The United States showed its gratitude in a most meaningful way.

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