The Hermione (pronounced ‘err-me-own’) is an exact replica of the 18th century tall ship which carried the Marquis de Lafayette to the USA in 1780 and it’ll be visiting our corner of the world this week.
In March 1780, Lafayette boarded the Hermione in Port des Barques, France and sailed across the Atlantic to Boston. The ship made it’s way down the East Coast. When Lafayette arrived in the United States, he brought news of full French military aid to George Washington which secured victory against the British. Hermione’s voyage culminated with the American-French triumph at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, ending the Revolutionary War.
Building the Hermione took 18 years and it celebrates Lafayette ~ the Hero of Two Worlds. His contribution to the success of the American Revolution is nothing short of amazing. As a wealthy French aristocrat, he easily could have lived the life of leisure but instead he traveled to the colonies and volunteered to fight against the British. He also persuaded several other French officers to join him. He lived a fascinating life and, as an American, I’m thankful he was passionate about the plight of the colonies.
The ship is also a tribute to the craftsmanship of the Poitou-Charentes region in Western France. The ship was re-created by hand using traditional tools and techniques. The 1500 irons, tackles and pins used in the rigging were made using 18th century forging methods. There are some “modern” items on the ship due to safety rules and sanitary requirements.
It was twenty years ago when a small group decided to live by Lafayette’s family motto: Cur Non which means ‘Why Not?‘. The Association Hermione-La Fayette’s mission statement, as shown on their website, is as follows:
- To evoke the spirit of “why not?” and demonstrate that given determination, anything is achievable.
- To symbolize and rekindle through the Hermione the intimate ties between France and the United States, and the spirit of liberty that sustains them.
- To celebrate the value of impeccable craftsmanship, the firm foundation of the authentic reconstruction of the Hermione.
- Through this, to create a lasting educational legacy which will be accessible to generations of young
Americans to come.
- To demonstrate the inestimable value of history, to the present and the future, and to show that it can be a living force in increasing our understanding of the world.
- To bring to life the memory of Marquis de Lafayette who embodied this spirit.
The first stop for the Hermione in North America is Yorktown, Virginia. Additional ports of call include: Mount Vernon and Alexandria, Virginia;, Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New York City and Greenport, New York; Newport, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; Castine, Maine and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
The Hermione will be docked at the Alexandria City Harbor, Virginia on June 10,11 and 12. Tickets to tour the Hermione are sold out but a limited number of tickets will be distributed at 8:30 a.m. and 12 noon each day at the dock. I’m thrilled I jumped at the chance to obtain tickets when I first heard about the visit. Hoping photos of the inside of the ship will be permitted. More to come after my visit…