August 27, 2003

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Courtesy "Presidential Wives" by Paul F. Boller, Jr.

Elizabeth Monroe

During the French Revolution, America's old friend the Marquis de Lafayette ended up in a German prison. His wife and children were arrested and placed in a Paris prison. When the Monroes (in France because James Monroe was the U.S. Minister to France) heard that Lafayette's wife was going to the guillotine, they decided to intervene.

On morning in February 1795, Elizabeth Monroe took a carriage to the prison holding Madame Lafayette. When the keeper asked what she was doing there, Mrs. Monroe announced herself as the wife of the American Minister to France and had come to visit Madame Lafayette.

To her surprise, the keeper took Elizabeth into the waiting room and after a few minutes appeared with Madame Lafayette. Lafayette rushed up to Elizabeth in tears and threw herself at her feet. She had been expecting a summons for her execution. When Elizabeth Monroe got up to leave after the visit, she told Madame Lafayette in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear that she would return to see her the following morning.

It turned out that Lafayette had been scheduled for execution that very afternoon, but Elizabeth's visit changed the minds of the French officials. They remembered how popular the Marquis de Lafayette was in America and were anxious to remain on good terms with the United States.

Posted by Jennifer at August 27, 2003 06:59 AM