Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) was a French general and political leader who enthusiastically supported the American Revolution. The Continental Congress appointed him as major general in 1777, before France had officially entered into an alliance with the United States. Lafayette was wounded at Brandywine in September 1777, and endured the miserable winter at Valley Forge with Washington and his troops.
Today Lafayette's name is prominently memorialized in the U.S. capital, most notably in Lafayette Park, directly behind the White House—a clear indication of the indebtedness Americans felt to him after his valiant service to their cause. Lafayette played a critical role in the ultimate victory of the Revolutionary War, co-leading American forces in the successful siege of Lord Cornwallis' British armies at Yorktown.