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American Revolution was a young man’s fight

Lorann Jacobs, talking with reenactors here, created this statue of Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette, 20, visited York in 1778. More about the Lafayette statue: See a picture of the completed statue – and its creator – in this story.

In his book “1776,” David McCullough accurately points out that the “Glorious Cause” — the American Revolution — was a young man’s war.
That comment goes well beyond the 20-year-old Marquis de Lafayette, visitor to York and its sitting Continental Congress in early 1778.
The youthful marquis is lauded for his fast friendship with George Washington, often viewed as a tottering old man… .

But when the French nobleman visited York, the Valley Forge-bound Washington was only 45.
McCullough pointed out in 1776, Nathanael Greene, Washington’s chief lieutenant, was 33. John Hancock, then president of the Continental Congress, was 39. John Adams was 40. Thomas Jefferson, 32.
Indeed, by the end of 1777, the delegates in York average about 44 years in age.
Gouverneur Morris was the youngest delegate at 26. Joseph Wood of Georgia was the oldest at 65.
York’s James Smith and New York’s Francis Lewis were both 64.
Smith’s birthdate is sometimes listed as 1719, which would have made him 58 at 1777.
So, the adage that the American Revolution was a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight, might be adjusted to a young, rich man’s war and a young, poor man’s fight.

Also of interest:
Check out these stories and images of York County in the American Revolution.


Lorann Jacobs uses a wire brush to brighten a statue in her Dallatown studio.