Fascinated by the American struggle for independence, the young Marquis de Lafayette traveled to the United States and became a friend of George Washington and a hero in the Revolutionary War. When he returned to France, he first served King Louis XVI in the Assembly of Notables and later served in the Chamber of Deputies for Napoleon. He was the first foreigner granted honorary U.S. citizenship.
While a captain in the French military, Lafayette met an American agent and accepted service as a major general in the American army. However, his father did not approve, and the king forbade him to go. He was briefly arrested, escaped, bought a ship and set sail, evading British ships attempting to recapture him. In America, he offered to serve without pay, received a commission and went to assist George Washington. After the Battle of Brandywine, Washington commended him for bravery. He took part in many more battles and was finally present at the surrender of the British.
When Lafayette returned to France, he was acclaimed as the "hero of two worlds." He rejoined the French army, becoming an advocate for the American cause in the French court. While leading the Paris National Guard, he protected the king and his family and was accused of being a royalist. He fled the country for several years, was imprisoned by the Austrians and returned to France under Napoleon. He made a grand tour of the United States in 1824 and 1825. When Lafayette died in 1834, President Andrew Jackson ordered that he be given the same memorial honors that George Washington had received.