Havre de Grace officials and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford dedicated a historical marker Friday at David Craig Park honoring Major General Marquis de Lafayette’s farewell tour of the United States.
The marker, a gift from The Lafayette Trail, Inc. and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, is part of a commemorative sign network honoring the Marquis de Lafayette and his Farewell Tour of the United States in 1824 and 1825.
During his 13-month tour, Lafayette visited all 24 of the then United States as a “guest of the nation.” At the time, he was the last surviving general of the American Revolution. During that visit, he laid the cornerstone for the monument at the Battle of Bunker Hill on the event’s 50th anniversary.
He briefly visited Havre de Grace on July 29, 1825, as he passed from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to Port Deposit, then to Baltimore aboard the steamboat Norfolk, according to a news release from the city.
The decorative marker has been placed behind the statue of Lafayette located at Legion Square at the intersection of Union Avenue and St. John Street, which serves as a gateway to the city’s downtown and National Register Historic District.
Lafayette played a pivotal role in ensuring the independence of the United States by offering his services and much-needed monetary resources to the Continental Army. He participated in the Battle of Brandywineon Sept. 11, 1777, and returned to France to lobby and secure French military expeditionary forces — both land-based and naval — under Comte de Rochambeau and Admiral de Grasse.
He was critical to the success of the Yorktown Campaign, where he and his forces cornered the British by land while the French fleet prevented their escape by water.
Lafayette’s generosity of mind and spirit paved the way for the long-term friendship between France and the United States that exists to this day, the news release states.
It was Lafayette that gave Havre de Grave its name, saying it reminded him of the port city of Le Havre, France. The city was incorporated in 1785 as Havre de Grace, which in French means Harbor of Grace or Harbor of Mercy.
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The Lafayette Trail, Inc. is a Maryland nonprofit with the missions of increasing mutual understanding between the people of France and the United States; to raise awareness about Lafayette’s contribution to the founding of the United States, and to document, map, and mark Lafayette’s footsteps in the U.S. during his farewell tour.
The roughly three-mile Lafayette Trail has existed as a self-guided walking tour through downtown Havre de Grace for many years, with 57 numbered markers each corresponding to a paragraph in a brochure.
In October, the DISTRX mobile app launched an expanded version of the tour with voices and photos of the past. The audio component tells the story of the tour through the voices of past Havre de Grace citizens such as the lock tender and John O’Neill, among others. Madelyn Shank, who was instrumental in creating a historical trail in 1988, is the general narrator and the voice for many stops. She is voiced by her granddaughter, Michi Shank.
Historical photos and pictures illustrate the story, which covers the city from the Lock House at the north end to the Lighthouse in the south.
“We have strived to make the trail, its sites, and its history as ‘tourist-friendly’ as possible," Ron Browning, the president of the HdG Historic Preservation Commission, said in a news release. “The mobile app now makes meandering the Lafayette Trail a most enjoyable learning experience for the Havre de Grace visitor, resident and student.”
Instructions on downloading the app and taking the tour are available at the Havre de Grace Visitor Center and many of the downtown businesses. The trail route is marked with blue Lafayette Trail signs at each of the stops.
The DISTRX Lafayette Trail Mobile App was developed by the HdG Alliance, which worked in partnership with the Historic Preservation Commission, manager of the trail, and the city administration for installation. The effort was partially funded through a grant provided by the Maryland Historical Trust and the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway.