The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

College acquires new letter from Marquis de Lafayette

Photo by Patrick Hansell for The Lafayette
Many letters from the Marquis de Lafayette can be found in Special Collections, which is accessible to all students.

Special Collections acquired a new letter written by the Marquis de Lafayette, as announced by the college on Feb. 29. The signed letter will be part of an exhibit this upcoming fall to honor the bicentennial of Lafayette’s final tour of the United States.

The letter, dated May 24, 1824, was purchased from the Raab Collection in Ardmore, Pennsylvania for $9,000, according to Ana Ramirez Luhrs, the co-director of Special Collections and College Archives.

It was discovered by the college when an appraiser working with the college’s other Lafayette manuscripts “just happened to mention in his final report that there was a letter in the market currently written by the Marquis de Lafayette,” Ramirez Luhrs said.

Lafayette’s words notably described freedom in the country. 

The main part of the letter says ‘the land of genuine freedom,’ which is how he described America,” said Chris Byrnes ‘26, a student who works in Special Collections. “These are pretty big words coming from such a renowned celebrity in his day and age, given his contributions to the American Revolution. I think he is describing his thoughts of progressive cause and freedom.”

The letter is especially valuable for the bicentennial tour exhibit.

The reason why this particular letter is special at this point in time is because he wrote it in May of 1824, just months before he sailed to the US, and landed in Castle Garden in New York City to start his farewell tour,” Ramirez Luhrs said.

“I thought this would be a really nice way to think about the celebration of the tour,” she continued. “When I saw that ‘land of genuine freedom’, and the date in particular, I thought this is a nice way to set the environment for what he was thinking and how he was feeling just months before his tour.”

The letter is one of many manuscripts and letters in Special Collections that date back to the Marquis de Lafayette’s life and legacy. Students interested in reading the letter can make an appointment with Special Collections to see it by emailing them at [email protected].

“We’d really like to have people come up to Special Collections,” Ramirez Luhrs said. “We can provide service copies and we are happy to show people things if people want to come up and see them.” 

“I think just the collection in general, not just this one letter, speaks to how eloquently the Marquis expressed his values and progressivism at the time,” Byrnes said. 

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Patrick Hansell, Staff Photographer

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