In 1824, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Revolutionary War, President Monroe invited the Marquis de Lafayette to tour all 23 American states as the nation’s honored guest. French and English manufacturers quickly produced a range of commemorative items for the American market, including these plates by the Clews pottery which depict Lafayette’s triumphal landing at New York’s Castle Garden in August 1824. The American public viewed Lafayette as a hero of legendary proportions, second only to the late lamented George Washington. Lafayette’s every appearance was an event, and the French general’s visit to Concord in the fall of 1824 was no exception. Hundreds turned out, only to be offended at being kept away from the hero by the perceived grandees of the town. The cornerstone for a monument to the North Bridge fight laid ceremoniously by Lafayette and the Corinthian Lodge was later vandalized and destroyed. The speeches addressed to the Marquis in Lexington and Concord that September day quickly turned into a petty squabble about community bragging rights over the onset of the Revolutionary War, one which seemingly has never dissipated. The plates, a recent Museum purchase, will have a role in the forthcoming (2026) exhibition on preserving the memory of the Revolution.
Plates from a dinner service, James and Ralph Clews, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, about 1825. Transfer printed earthenware.
Image credit: Lafayette Souvenir Ceramics, Concord Museum Collection; 2023.3.