Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette, Marquis de La Fayette (6 September 1757 – 20 May 1834), known in the United States as Lafayette (ˌlɑːfiːˈɛt,_ˌlæf-, lafajɛt), was a French aristocrat, freemason, and military officer who volunteered to join the Continental Army, led by General George Washington, in the American Revolutionary War. Lafayette was ultimately permitted to command Continental Army troops in the decisive siege of Yorktown in 1781, the Revolutionary War's final major battle that secured American independence. After returning to France, Lafayette became a key figure in the French Revolution of 1789 and the July Revolution of 1830 and continues to be celebrated as a hero in both France and the United States.
Lafayette was born into a wealthy land-owning family in Chavaniac in the province of Auvergne in south central France. He followed the family's martial tradition and was commissioned an officer at age 13. He became convinced that the American revo