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Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, is often better known as simply "Lafayette." He was a French aristocrat and soldier who decided to join the American Revolution and became one of George Washington's most loyal supporters.
Lafayette abandoned his post in the French army to join the Revolutionary effort. According to one story, the French army seized the ship he was sailing on, but Lafayette escaped by dressing in women's clothing to stow away on another ship.
To appease a budget-conscious Continental Congress, Lafayette offered to work for free and was granted a commission as Major General. He was placed as an aide-de-camp to George Washington and the two became good friends.