The state of North Carolina is getting ready for a celebration in the year 2026 and it’s doing so by paying tribute in 2019 to a French aristocrat who visited the state in 1824.
If that sounds confusing, it’s not really: In 2026, the state of North Carolina will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution, and this new move – a bill just proposed in the NC House of Representatives – would honor the Marquis de Lafayette, better known simply as Lafayette.
He’s the Frenchman who played a key role in securing the support of the French when the colonies fought for independence. In the Revolutionary War, Lafayette also commanded American troops, most famously at the Siege of Yorktown.
In the mid-1820s, Lafayette visited North Carolina – including, of course, a stop in Fayetteville, a city that the NC General Assembly named after Lafayette in 1783, at the end of the war. The new bill, filed on Thursday, April 25, would designate highway markers to commemorate and recognize the “Lafayette Trail,” the path he followed as he came through the state on that trip.
The sponsors behind the bill say it’s fitting for North Carolina to recognize the contributions of Lafayette in the Revolutionary War – “a period of war and uncertainty which led to the freedoms we now enjoy as Americans and North Carolinians.”
The bill calls for the NC Department of Transportation to designate portions of highways and roadways across the state as part of the Lafayette Trail and it appropriates $84,000 for that purpose.
Historian Julien Icher said of Lafayette, “Throughout his journey, he consistently advocated for a permanent backing of the institutions of free government, a steady advancement of universal rights, and a respect for the rule of law.”
State Rep. Frank Iler, from Brunswick County – one of the sponsors of the bill along with state Rep. Jon Hardister and others – said it’s important to remember those who helped get this state and country its freedoms.
“North Carolina’s history is extremely important,” Iler said. “This legislation is an important recognition to Lafayette’s travels through North Carolina and recognition of his contribution to our freedoms. During his Farewell Tour in 1824, General Lafayette left a ubiquitous mark in the United States which particularly resonated across North Carolina.”