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A ship that changed American history sails once more

July 4, 2015 at 6:17 PM EDT
A replica of the French ship, "The Hermione," also known as the Freedom Frigate, cruised into New York this week. In the heat of the Revolutionary War, before diplomatic cables or emails, France used the ship to send a message from Marquis de Lafayette to George Washington that help was on the way. Hari Sreenivasan reports.
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ADAM HODGES-LECLAIR: The word that Lafayette is bringing with him as that ambassador basically is that an army will be arriving, an expedition of five thousand soldiers and critically a navy as well.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Adam Hodges-LeClair is re-enacting the role of Marquis de Lafayette, the famed Frenchman who lobbied King Louis the sixteenth to support America in the Revolutionary War.

France provided much needed naval power to help turn the tide in defeating the British- it was the French navy that helped ensure the British surrender at Yorktown.

ADAM HODGES-LECLAIR: We declared our independence in 1776 but four years later the war was really uncertain, the French had come and supported us and they were giving arms and equipment but naval support was critical.

So a ship like this arriving with a fleet coming after it carrying Lafayette again symbolically bringing that message of support was a real game changer

HARI SREENIVASAN: This 21 million dollar ship which set sail from France in April will make a dozen stops along the east coast. At each city, sightseers can see the ship’s 32 cannons, hemp ropes coated in tar and ship’s bell- and interact with a crew dressed in period costumes.

All to find out what seafaring life in the 18th century was like.

The Hermione left New York this morning, on its way out, it passed by another French contribution to the U.S. — the Statue of Liberty.

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