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For four decades the friendship of Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette spanned some of the most tumultuous upheavals in Western History, the revolutions in American and France and the birth of two great republics.
It was 1781 that Jefferson met, the wealthy, aristocratic and idealistic French general who had volunteered to assist the nascent American revolution. When Jefferson was appointed to the court of France (1792) his acquaintance with the Marquis blossomed into an intriguing and complicated friendship that survived dangers and upheavals that engulfed Europe and America until Lafayette’s death in 1826.
“Above all, these letters may be considered as human documents of singular importance for the study of international life. With all his love for his adoptive country, Lafayette wished to remain and did remain essentially French. Temperamentally he had nothing in common with Jefferson and yet between these two men whose views and reactions on so many subjects were widely divergent, there existed for almost fifty years a sincere and unvarying friendship.”—From the author’s introduction