Today, the Lafayette Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin remembers when the general arrived in Murfreesboro, North Carolina on his return visit to the country he helped gain freedom.
Several historical sources described his visit and his journey around the young country’s land.
First, from the Nile’s Register of February 26, 1825:
General Lafayette, with his son and secretary, left Washington on the 23d inst, on a tour through the southern and western states.
He left that city in the steam-boat Potomac, for Norfolk, whence he will proceed through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama, to New Orleans; thence up the Mississippi, as far as St. Louis, visiting the seats of government of the states on its banks, then those of the western and northwestern states, and returning to the Atlantic via Pittsburgh, &c.
Being under an engagement to be at Boston on the anniversary of the battle of Bunker’s Hill, which is the 17th of June, the general has a journey before him of about five thousand miles, to be performed in something less than four months.
Next, from Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians by John Hill Wheeler, published in 1884:
Connected with the reminiscences of this ancient borough, occurred a notable event that deserves to be recorded.
In 1825, General Lafayette on an extended tour through this country, entered our State and his first public reception was at Murfreesboro.
He was no ordinary visitor, and was the Nation’s guest.
He had aided America to gain its independence, by contributing his substance, entering her army, and shedding his blood in battling for her cause.
Every preparation was made to receive the war-worn veteran with open arms and hearts.
Thomas Manney, then a prominent lawyer and since a Judge in Tennessee, made the address of welcome.
After resting here for two days, he passed on to Jackson, Northampton County, where he was met by Chief Justice Taylor and his companion in arms, Colonel William Polk, and by them escorted to Raleigh—thence to Fayetteville, and thus from State to State.
After his tour, he returned to his French home, in the new frigate Brandywine, so called in compliment to Lafayette.
Congress voted him two hundred thousand dollars and twenty-three thousand acres of public land.
Third, from the History of North Carolina, Volume V, by Special Staff of Writers, published in 1919:
“Murfreesboro was quite a favorite locality in the county in 1803,” so Mr. Winbourne states in his history of Hertford, “something like the Mecca of the East. Over on a hill across the ravine leading to the river was the residence of Captain Lewis Meredith (grandfather of Pulaski Cowper). He was a man much valued in his day. He left no sons, but several daughters. One of his daughters married William Cowper, and she became the mother of Lewis Meredith Cowper.
“In 1825, the county was honored by a visit from Gilbert Montier and Marquis de Lafayette, the young French general in the American army for freedom.
“He reached the town of Murfreesboro from Suffolk, Virginia, February 26, 1825. The news of the coming of General Lafayette was made known throughout the county, and the noble sons and daughters of the county were on hand to greet and honor the distinguished guest.”
Major John W. Moore tells in his history that a meeting was held in the town several days prior to the arrival of the great Revolutionary hero, this meeting being for the purpose of arranging for his reception. Dr. Thomas Borland presided and William Rea was secretary.
A committee consisting of Col. James Buckle, Doctor O’Bryan, Lewis M. Cowper and John W. Soughall was appointed to meet the general in Virginia and escort him to the town.
Pulaski Cowper’s daughter now has a golden souvenir presented to Mrs. Lewis Meredith Cowper, her grandmother, by General Lafayette at this time.
The Lafayette Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin shows with an image of a card, circa 1824, noting “Lafayette” above and “A grateful welcome to the friend of our illustrious Washington” below.