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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

The American War of Independence and the French Revolution

For all discussions relating to the background and causes of the Napoleonic Wars including the French Revolution of 1789-1799.

Re: The American War of Independence and the French Revoluti

Postby Josh&Historyland » June 8th, 2015, 4:21 pm

Lafayette was under no illusions about the difference between the revolutions. He would indeed have welcomed more American influence over the French one. Approx 12,000 French served in America but only a few took the political and ideological ideals to heart, and the vogue created in Paris by Franklin was probably more of a passing fancy. Nevertheless the French Revolution was begun by the aristocracy, in whose ranks stood those few enlightened officers like Lafayette who wished to spread the American idea abroad.

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Re: The American War of Independence and the French Revoluti

Postby Senarmont198 » June 8th, 2015, 5:27 pm

Both Lafayette's role and his significance in both Revolutions is overplayed. When he couldln't get his way in 1792, he deserted to the Austrians and was imprisoned. Napoleon secured his release and received no thanks for it.

Lafayette was later regarded by Fouche as nothing more than 'an old imbecile whom one can use like a...ladder which one throws down after one has used it.'

The 'traditional' viewpoint of Lafayette is mostly fiction. Other foreign officers, such as von Steuben and de Kalb, did much more than he militarily for the Americans, as did French civilians such as Beaumarchais. Franklin secured the French Alliance, which was key to American success.
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Re: The American War of Independence and the French Revoluti

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » June 8th, 2015, 8:24 pm

Senarmont198 wrote: In the United States, the colonies were not united until the Declaration of Independence.


Officially. Until the American Civil War 1861-1865 the terminology used was the United States are. After 1865, Americans said the United States is.

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Re: The American War of Independence and the French Revoluti

Postby Josh&Historyland » June 8th, 2015, 9:32 pm

Senarmont198 wrote:Both Lafayette's role and his significance in both Revolutions is overplayed. When he couldln't get his way in 1792, he deserted to the Austrians and was imprisoned. Napoleon secured his release and received no thanks for it.

Lafayette was later regarded by Fouche as nothing more than 'an old imbecile whom one can use like a...ladder which one throws down after one has used it.'

The 'traditional' viewpoint of Lafayette is mostly fiction. Other foreign officers, such as von Steuben and de Kalb, did much more than he militarily for the Americans, as did French civilians such as Beaumarchais. Franklin secured the French Alliance, which was key to American success.


My point was not to do with his military skill or his influence abroad, but as the example that aristocratic officers who didn't do much, did return with American ideas, as did civilians and other Europeans. The different and ghastly direction the revolution took was why Lafayette defected. Fouche was not exactly a chap who had an unbiased view of people, nor was he particularly trustworthy, his view of a somewhat air headed idealist aristocrat like Lafayette would never be flattering. Napoleon and Lafayette had some personal issues with the other. Franklin also caused a great stir amongst the elite when he was at court. The two revolutions differ in very obvious ways however.

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Re: The American War of Independence and the French Revoluti

Postby Senarmont198 » June 9th, 2015, 10:42 am

What were the 'issues' that Napoleon had with Lafayette? Napoleon helped get him out of an Austrian prison, an act for which Lafayette was seemingly either indifferent or ignored.
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Re: The American War of Independence and the French Revoluti

Postby Senarmont198 » June 9th, 2015, 10:43 am

Interestingly, Lafayette declined the Legion of Honor which was offered to him.
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Re: The American War of Independence and the French Revoluti

Postby Senarmont198 » June 9th, 2015, 10:45 am

Regarding the Fouche quote, the point was that Lafayette was a dupe and not very bright and was certainly at a disadvantage with blackguards such as Fouche and Talleyrand, both of whom betrayed Napoleon and France for their own financial gain.
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Re: The American War of Independence and the French Revoluti

Postby Josh&Historyland » June 9th, 2015, 11:10 am

Napoleon and Lafayette disagreed as to the course France should take. His extraction from Austria was very early on in their acquaintance, however the Comte then feared Napoleon had usurped the power of the people, and contravening the cause of Liberty. He was actually grateful for Napoleon getting him out, but mistrusted his politics. He therefore did not vote for him as consul, nor agree to serve in his government. This is probably why he refused the legion d'Honneur as it was one of the symbols of a man he considered a despot, despite the fact he at first had welcomed him as the saviour of the revolution.
Napoleon responded with mistrust and suspicion of him, by 1812 he was essentially referring to him and the libertarian ideals he stood for as outdated, and having failed to win him to his side, treated him accordingly thereafter. It was lucky that Lafayette had little or no clout aside from his own vote and possessed only a loud mouth, that Napoleon did not see him as sufficient a threat to have him locked away somewhere.

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Re: The American War of Independence and the French Revoluti

Postby Senarmont198 » June 9th, 2015, 11:15 am

Lafayette had no trouble taking the pension given him by Napoleon, however...seems to me that Lafayette's 'ideals' took second place to monetary gain and his own personal aggrandizement.
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Re: The American War of Independence and the French Revoluti

Postby Senarmont198 » June 9th, 2015, 11:16 am

Just as an aside, why would Napoleon have Lafayette 'locked up'?
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