Saturday, December 5, 2015

the last book I ever read (Sarah Vowell's Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, excerpt eight)

from Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell:

“My knowledge of his personal courage led me to expect that he would decide to blow his brains out,” Lafayette wrote of Benedict Arnold. No such luck. In fact, the newly minted British brigadier general was alive and well and commanding a Loyalist regiment in Portsmouth, Virginia. Washington ordered Lafayette to lead a division of New England and New Jersey light infantrymen to meet up with General Steuben in Virginia and, with the help of French forces sailing down from Newport, corner the traitor, then hang him.

The lack of funds made the trek south with twelve hundred men, many of them shoeless, extra arduous. Lafayette’s most annoying qualities—being a single-minded suck-up prone to histrionic correspondence—made him a first-rate advocate for his men. He charmed one city after another out of food and supplies. In Philadelphia he talked the new French ambassador into springing for flour and pork and convinced a bankrupt Congress to cough up some rum money.

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