Lafayette at Independence Hall, 1824
In 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette visited Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Citizens welcomed him, and Lafayette spoke briefly at Independence Hall, reflecting on the legacy of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution.
"Sir—My entrance through this fair and great city, amidst the most solemn and affecting recollections, and under all the circumstances of a welcome, which no expression could adequately acknowledge, has excited emotions in my heart, in which are mingled the feelings of nearly fifty years.
"Here, Sir, within these sacred walls, by a council of wise and devoted patriots, and in a style worthy of the deed itself, was boldly declared the independence of these vast United Sates, which, while it anticipated the independence, and I hope, the republican independence of the whole American Hemisphere, has begun for the civilized world, the era of a new and of the only true social order, founded on the unalienable rights of man, the practicability and advantage of which, are every day admirably demonstrated by the happiness and prosperity of your populous city.
"Here, Sir, was planned the formation of our virtuous, brave, revolutionary army, and the providential inspiration received, that gave the command of it to our beloved matchless Washington. But these and many other remembrances are mingled with a deep regret for the numerous contemporaries, for the great and good men, whose loss we have remained to mourn. —It is to their services, Sir, to your regard for their memory, to your knowledge of the friendships I have enjoyed, that I refer the greater part of honours, here and elsewhere received, much superior to my individual merit.
"It is also under the auspices of their venerated names, as well as under the impulse of my own sentiments, that I beg you, Mr. Mayor, you gentlemen of both Councils, and all the citizens of Philadelphia to accept the tribute of my affectionate respect and profound gratitude."