Young Lafayette Critical Context - Essay

Jeanette Eaton

Critical Context

Eaton’s smoothly written narrative offers the young reader an understanding of some of the people and events that shaped a new nation. The book is valuable for providing an understanding of the important role that the French played in lending financial and military support to the colonists in their struggle against Great Britain. In particular, it helps to explain why Lafayette was so greatly admired by the Americans. He was a brave soldier who enjoyed success on the battlefield, most notably in the battles at Brandywine, Barren Hill, and Yorktown.

Eaton makes clear, however, that his most important contribution was his total dedication of his fortune and his energies to establishing a country whose ideals he shared and whose commander in chief he venerated. Washington embodied Lafayette’s idea of a noble individual, and Lafayette’s devotion to the American cause was inextricably linked to his devotion to Washington. A bond was forged that would never be broken. Lafayette named a son “George Washington” and a daughter “Virginia,” and in 1784, during his visit to the United States, Virginia and Maryland made him an honorary citizen. This biography demonstrates emphatically how much the young United States owed to the young Lafayette.