Historic trail maker unveiled on Silver Street

Published 1:13 pm Wednesday, June 16, 2021

NATCHEZ — A marker commemorating the historic visit of General Marquis de Lafayette to Natchez in 1825 was unveiled Wednesday in a lot on Silver Street and looking out on a view of the Mississippi River.

The placement of the marker came about through a collaborative effort of the Historic Natchez Foundation and the Daughters of the American Revolution with The Lafayette Trail Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to document, map and mark General Lafayette’s footsteps during his Farewell Tour of the United States in 1824 and 1825.

The group aims to educate the public about the national significance of Lafayette’s tour and to promote a broader understanding of Lafayette’s numerous contributions to American independence and national coherence in preparation for the 2024-2025 tour bicentennial celebrations.

Historic Natchez Foundation Executive Director Carter Burns said the Biglane and Nobile families graciously offered the property as the location for the marker.

According to The Lafayette Trail Inc., Lafayette was invited by U.S. President James Monroe and Congress to visit the 24-state Union in what would be his Farewell Tour of the United States.

Lafayette’s tour was timely because America was nearing the 50th anniversary of the end of the Revolutionary War and also because the young country had just survived a very divisive presidential election in 1824. Although 50 years had passed since the war ended, the people of the United States met Lafayette with gratitude that had been building in the postwar period and his tour brought the American people together out of mutual love and respect.

Natchez is the only city in Mississippi that Lafayette visited, Burns said.

The new marker maps out Lafayette’s stay in Natchez. On April 18, 1825, Lafayette spoke on the bluff, dined at the Steamboat Hotel and attended a ball at Traveller’s Hall.

He departed early the following morning by steamboat.

The founder of The Lafayette Trail Inc. and native of Carcassonne, France, Julien Icher said the Lafayette Trail project started more than two years ago.

So far, approximately 40 markers have been approved nationwide and approximately 25 have been installed.

“We are committed to having up to 175 of these markers internationally,” Icher said.

Icher said the visit of Lafayette is significant because it epitomizes how the United States became an independent nation.

“Lafayette was a unifying figure and traveling exhibit of the revolutionary war,” he said. “He epitomized the American Revolution and people received him as a hero. He made several contributions to national unity. The country survives this election, demonstrates the resilience of its institutions and uses Lafayette to express that and send a message to Europe that the United States is an independent nation. The American experiment is working and it is here to stay.”

More information about the Lafayette Trail project can be found at thelafayettetrail.org.