Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Lafayette’s Tour

Lafayette Arrives at Independence Hall

Handkerchief printed with scene of Independence Hall

Public fascination with the visit of Lafayette sparked a lively industry in mass-produced souveneirs, such as this handkerchief depicting Lafayette, and scenes of Philadelphia during his visit. (Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library)

Winterthur Museum

Public fascination with Lafayette sparked a lively industry in mass-produced souvenirs during his 1824-25 tour. The Saturday Evening Post, published in Philadelphia, commented: “Everything is Lafayette, whether it be on our heads or under our feet. We wrap our bodies in Lafayette coats during the day, and repose between Lafayette blankets at night.” This souvenir handkerchief, produced in Germantown, depicts Lafayette’s arrival in Philadelphia. The caption beneath the top image includes the new name given to one room inside the old Pennsylvania State House during the weeks leading to Lafayette’s arrival: Independence Hall.
The depiction of the old Pennsylvania State House, with a temporary triumphal arch in the foreground to welcome Lafayette, shows aspects of its appearance by 1824. The original arched piazzas on either side of the building had been demolished and replaced with practical, fireproof office buildings. The building’s distinctive steeple is absent, having rotted away by the 1780s. Lafayette’s visit helped to awaken renewed interest in the old State House as a place of historic significance. In 1828, the Philadelphia City Councils commissioned a replacement steeple and insisted that it should resemble the original as closely as possible.

Courtesy, Winterthur Museum, Handkerchief: Lafayette’s Arrival at Independence Hall by Germantown Print Works, 1824-1825, Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Linen, Museum purchase, 1967.144.

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