From the Maine Antiques Digest, August 2007

“Books Received” column

Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825: Journal of a Voyage to the United States

by Auguste Levasseur, translated by Alan R. Hoffman

(Lafayette Press, Inc., 2006, 631 pp., hardbound, $30 by check)

It is astounding where a passion for a subject can lead someone. In the case of Boston Lawyer Alan R. Hoffman, an avid history buff, his interest in General Gilbert du Mortier de Lafayette compelled him to undertake the enormous task of translating an entire journal from the original French text into English. The translating process took him approximately two years, working evenings and weekends. This book is the first unabridged English translation of the title, originally published in 1829.

Written by Auguste Levasseur, private secretary to General Lafayette, this volume details Lafayette’s “farewell tour” of the United States. General Lafayette returned to the U.S. in 1824, 40 years after the end of the Revolutionary War, at the invitation of President James Monroe, as the country approached its 50th birthday. His son, George Washington Lafayette, his valet, and his secretary joined him in his pilgrimage. The general was warmly welcomed to the States as the hero that he was. The 13-month tour took him to each of the then 24 states. A copy of Levasseur’s original map is included at the end of the book.

Attorney and translator Alan R. Hoffman holds a degree in history from Yale University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. The publication of this book coincides with the 250th anniversary of Lafayette’s birth. Hoffman hopes to help restore Lafayette’s reputation and to ensure that his role in the Revolution be recognized. He has offered us a rare piece of American history and a detailed look at 19th-century America. This book is truly, as Hoffman writes in the preface, “a labor of love.”

— C.L.B.