|Lafayette's visit to South Berwick|
We are grateful to Dr. Terry Heller of Coe College for arranging and typesetting these two documents from the Counting House Museum collection.
Eastern Argus, #80, July 4, 1825, Portland, Maine
LAFAYETTE IN SOUTH BERWICK
Gen. Lafayette passed the night of the 23d of June, at Dover, N.H. On the evening of that day a Committee of the citizens of South Berwick, waited on him, and invited him to breakfast with them, the next morning, on his way to Portland, which invitation he accepted.
General—We receive you with grateful emotions, and we greet you with a heart felt welcome to the State of Maine. We rejoice in the privilege of seeing you, and of being able to place before our children, the distinguished Patriot, whose character our parents have taught us to venerate. Your name, Sir, is identified with that freedom and independence with those civil and social rights by which the citizens of the United States are favored above any other people upon the Globe. – In you, sir, we recognize the intimate friend & early associate of the father of this country; whose joint services, sacrifices and sufferings greatly contributed to the procuring those national blessings which we now inherit and which Heaven grant we may transmit unimpaired to our posterity. It will not be expected, sir, nor indeed would it be decorous for us in this place, to attempt an enumeration of the great things which you have done for your adopted country, and for the whole family of man. It could be but the repetition of that eulogium, which has been a thousand times pronounced, with an emphasis which has filled they world. – The lustre of your fame, Sir, never can be brightened, nor can time corrode it. It is spotless, it must be immortal. – Suffice it for us that we see you and are permitted to call our children to look upon the man of whom the have so often heard their parents speak. – Our children, sir, will talk of you when we sleep with our fathers, and while stimulating and encouraging each other to the practice of noble, benevolent and virtuous exertions, by the illustrious examples of the great and good, who shall have passed before them, they can and they will triumphantly exclaim, we have seen Lafayette.
General --- We feel a strong desire to express our gratitude for your public services, our admiration of your personal worth, & our devout good wishes for your future happiness – wherever you go, wherever you may abide, may you largely participate in that heart-cheering gratification, which your presence must always afford to those who behold you.
To which the General made an appropriate reply. Then was introduced to him a large number of ladies and gentlemen, all of whom he took by the hand – and seemed not the least impatient in receiving the greetings of the lowest citizen, or the smallest child. He was then introduced to a Hall elegantly decorated for the occasion, where he breakfasted with a large number of gentlemen. After breakfast, he called on Mrs. Cushing with whom he was intimately acquainted when in this country during the revolutionary war. Their meeting was particularly interesting. At 10 o’clock from Mrs. Cushing’s door, he entered his carriage and started for Portland.
This is a transcription of a newspaper clipping in the collection of the Old Berwick Historical Society. It is reprinted here by permission of the Old Berwick Historical Society, and may not be reprinted without their permission.
"The Visit of General Lafayette”
By Sophia Elizabeth Hayes
My mother [Susan Lord Hayes, wife of William Allen Hayes] says, “I remember with great distinctness the visit of Gen. Lafayette to South Berwick, for I was then about twelve years old, a time of life when a visit of such importance would make a great impression. It was arranged that the General should breakfast at Mrs. Frost’s tavern. As it was his entry into Maine, he was received with great formality at the bridge at the Landing, the line of the state, by the state officials, the Governor and his staff. Arches were erected on the street with “Welcome Lafayette” inscribed on them, the boys walked in procession with the same motto on their hats, while the girls, in which dresses and blue sashes, bore the same inscription on their sashes.
“An elegant breakfast was provided at Mrs. Frost’s. The attendants at the table were the principal young ladies of the village. One young lady, Miss Sally Noble, was honored by the conspicuous attention of the Gneral, who said she was the most beautiful young lady he had seen in America. The citizens were introduced to the General in the parlor of the Hotel. My father [William Allen Hayes] acted as master of ceremonies and I remember my pride in his easy address. I remember my father wore a claret colored frock coat – which displayed his remarkably handsome person to great advantage. But I was half ashamed when he brought up my sister Hetta and myself and introduced us as his children, though I was partially assured when the General complimented him upon having so interesting a family. The General, upon being informed that there was a lady in this village whom he had known in his first visit to America, politely said he remembered her very well, and requested to see her. Thereupon a party of gentlemen escorted the General and his son George Washington Lafayette, a middle aged man, to the residence of Madam Cushing, Judge Green walking arm in arm with the General, and my father with his son, George Washington Lafayette.
“Madam Cushing received him at the door, saying, ‘I am happy to welcome you, General,’ to my house.” She reached forth her hand, which the General took, saluting her on both cheeks.
“Pleasant reminiscences were recalled, when she said, ‘I can tender you but a slight entertainment, General. Will you take a glass of Currant wine made with my own hands?’ The General pronounced it delicious. She then offered him a basket of beautifully frosted plum cake. That was a triumph of the day to me, for on that day, it being a festal day, my mother had arranged to have a party at her house in the evening. As soon as Mrs. Cushing had been apprised that the General was to visit her, she sent to my mother telling her of the great strait she was in, I having no cake to offer the General. Mother at once sent the cake provided for her party, and hence my pride and delight that my mother’s cake should serve for entertainment of so distinguished a guest.”
-- South Berwick, Aug. 23d, 1885