General Lafayette, whose full name was Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert Du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette, is considered a hero in his native France and in America as well. He was made an honorary citizen of the United States for his contributions in the American Revolution.
Born in the Auvergne region into a prestigious and powerful family, the Marquis de La Fayette was orphaned by the age of 13. He promptly entered the French army and was made captain before he reached 20. Several years before that, at the age of 16, he married Marie-Adrienne-Françoise de Noailles, one of the five daughters of Jean-Paul-François, a French scientist and duke with a very large family fortune.
Soon after becoming captain, Lafayette volunteered to join the American service and fight against the British army. He was given the honorary title of Major General, which meant he was under the close supervision of George Washington. Not only did Lafayette win Washington's trust, but he also became a trusted aid.
Because of his bravery in the first two battles, Lafayette was given the command of a full company, and led his men in a series of successful campaigns. Upon his return to France in 1779 to seek further orders, King Louis XVI urged him to continue his service in America, which Lafayette did willingly. After the end of the war, he was made a Brigadier General in Paris, and eventually took an active role in the French Revolution.
General Lafayette fought for the abolition of slavery, religious tolerance, and freedom of the press. He visited the United States on several occasions, always as an official guest of the state and President Jefferson. Despite his opposition to certain government decisions, Lafayette stayed in control of the army. During the 1830 July Revolution, he again commanded the troops in the fight. He retired soon after and died in Paris in 1834. General Lafayette has been honored extensively in the United States. Naval ships have been named after him, he was made an honorary US citizen posthumously, and his portrait hangs next to Washington's in the U.S. House of Representatives.