News

August 10, 2007

Marquis de Lafayette Historian David Clary will Deliver Convocation Address

Event kicks off the school year and the 250th celebration

David A. Clary, author of Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution, will deliver the main address during Convocation, 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 24, to open the College’s 176th academic year.

The event will be the official welcome for the incoming Class of 2011. Also speaking at Convocation will be President Daniel Weiss; Hannah Stewart-Gambino, dean of the College; Carol Rowlands ’81, director of admissions; and Julie Sauer ’08, Student Government president. The College’s new provost and dean of the faculty, Wendy Hill, will lead the faculty processional, as well as join Weiss in announcing the official matriculation of new students. James McLaughlin ’76, Alumni Association president, will make the presentation of the Class of 2011 flag.

Clary’s lecture, “How a Teenager Ran Away from Home and Won a War,” will be the first event related to the College’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Marquis de Lafayette’s birthday.

Lafayette is planning a yearlong celebration during 2007-08 in recognition of the life and legacy of the man for whom it is named. Major events will include a lecture series, entitled Lives of Liberty, featuring renowned speakers; a historical exhibit at the Williams Center for the Arts, entitled A Son and his Adoptive Father: The Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington, and a birthday party on Sept. 6.

  • A web site dedicated to the celebration and to the Marquis’ unique connection to the College provides information and updates.

In Adopted Son, Clary brings together the latest research to tell a dramatic narrative weaving together the private and public lives of George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Using personal letters and other key historical documents, the book shows a rare glimpse of the American Revolution through the friendship between Washington and Lafayette. It offers dramatic accounts of battles and intimate portraits of such major figures as Alexander Hamilton, Benedict Arnold, and Benjamin Franklin.

According to Clary, Washington and the Marquis were unlikely comrades-in-arms. Washington was a self-taught, middle-aged Virginia planter in charge of a ragtag army of revolutionaries, and Lafayette was a rich, glory-seeking teenage French aristocrat. But the childless Washington and the orphaned Lafayette forged a strong father-son bond that saw them through betrayals, shifting political alliances, and the trials of war.

The book has received numerous positive reviews including the following excerpt from Publishers Weekly:

“Personal friends and political allies, George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette had one of the most important friendships of the 18th century. In this enjoyable study, Clary…. [has] woven together grand military history with an intimate portrait of deep affection.”

Clary, a former chief historian of the U.S. Forest Service, is the author of numerous books and other publications on military and scientific history. He has been a consultant to several government agencies and has taught history at the university level.

His other books include; The Place Where Hell Bubbled Up: A History of the First National Park (2004), Rocket Man: Robert H. Goddard and the Birth of the Space Age (2003), Before and After Roswell: The Flying Saucer in America, 1947-1999 (2000), and Timber and the Forest Service (1989).

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