THE LIZ LIBRARY PRESENTS:
This child was born in Europe before the American Revolution to a wealthy military family who lived in a castle. His father died when he was two; and his mother enrolled him in a military school when he was just 11. Two years later, when he was thirteen, his mother also died.
At the age of fourteen he became a palace page, then palace guard, and a couple of years later, he became a full-fledged commissioned officer in the army. That same year, when he was 16 years old, he married a 15-year-old girl.
One day, he heard a reading of the American Declaration of Independence. It was a vision of a republican government that he felt would serve the people of his own country far better than any monarchy.
He was so inspired that he purchased a ship and sailed to America, where he volunteered to serve -- without pay -- in the Continental Army. At first he was rebuffed, but then Gen. Washington relented and gave him a commission. Thus, at the start of the war, he served on Washington's staff along with Alexander Hamilton, ultimately becoming good friends with both of them. He was wounded in the Battle of Brandywine, but recovered and continued to fight, including spending the terrible and famous winter with Washington's troops at Valley Forge.
His skill and dedication resulted in his rising in rank, until at age 20 this military prodigy became hailed as a hero. To this day, he remains the youngest general in American military history.
After the Revolutionary War, he returned to his homeland and duplicated his military exploits there. In later life, he became a famous political statesman, known for his charismatic speeches in America and abroad.
Independence Hall in Philadelphia received its name after one of his speeches. During his most remarkable life, he made and lost fortunes, went in and out of politics and the military, and fought for revolutionary ideals in multiple countries on two continents.
This hero of two worlds, a man who repeatedly put his life on the line for his ideals, was the French General
Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis
de Lafayette, a boy from a "fatherless home."
* The term "fatherless" is used in this series as it is in current research and policy rhetoric by the U.S. federal government, DHHS and the National Fatherhood Initiative, most U.S. states in connection with child custody law and policy, and various family values and fatherhood interest policy and lobbying groups.
"...Just add Dad, the magic ingredient. It's hard to know where wishful thinking becomes deliberate deception. But this argument, advanced by the fathers' rights movement, is like saying that, since Mercedes Benz owners make more money than people who drive Hyundais, you will become wealthy if you buy a Mercedes..." Mike Peterson
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