In 1824, President James Monroe invited the Marquis de Lafayette, the last surviving general of the Revolutionary War, to visit the United States from his native France. On August 16, 1824, Lafayette landed at Castle Garden (in present-day Battery Park), New York, where he was greeted with great fanfare, including a parade, lavish banquets, a spectacular ball, and a fireworks display. Lafayette’s visit to America became a thirteen month extravaganza, lasting until September 1825. Lafayette traveled more than 6,000 miles, visiting all twenty-four states. Wherever Lafayette went, he was welcomed with great pageantry, greeted by hordes of well-wishers and lavished with gifts and honors.
Lafayette toured Alabama in April of 1825, visting Cahaba (then the state capital), Montgomery, Selma, and Mobile. Alabama’s Lafayette Committee spent more than $17,000 to finance the statewide celebration, an amount exceeding the state’s total treasury at the time. Fayette County was created by an act of the Alabama State Legislature on December 20, 1824. The town of LaFayette in Chambers County was later named in his honor, as well.