Deeper Into Jeopardy! X: Miscellaneous – $400

Just a bit of news today – I’m going to try putting the picture off to the right side of the page with sections “The clue” and “In Jeopardy!:” hanging to the left of it – I didn’t like how much space it created between the first and second text sections. Let me know what you think!

Jeopardy! category: MISCELLANEOUS (17-04-2014)

$400 clue: During a return visit to the U.S. by this Frenchman in 1825, he gave president John Quincy Adams an alligator as a pet

Correct response

The gist: Although Adams wasn’t the only president to keep an alligator in the White House (Herbert Hoover’s younger son Allan had two), his was certainly accompanied by the most pomp and circumstance, having been not just a curiousity but a gift from a renowned Revolutionary hero. The Marquis de Lafayette,* born to a long line for French aristocrats, moved to Philadelphia in July 1777 to fight the good fight (as he saw it) against British tyranny in the New World. Making fast friends with General George Washington, Lafayette quickly distinguished himself in combat at Brandywine and Barren Hill, both in Pennsylvania. Back in France, he convined King Louis XVI to send 6000 troops to aid the Revolutionary forces. Then, in late 1780, he routed the forces of British commander Lord Charles Cornwallis and forced him to hide at Yorktown, where he eventually surrendered to a siege force composed of both Americans and the same French troops Lafayette talked his King into providing. Lafayette was named the “Hero of Two Worlds” and became an honourary citizen of several states in 1784.

After a few tumultuous decades in France, which saw Lafayette rescuing Louis and Marie Antoinette from the mob, his credibility ruined when his guard killed 50 demonstrators at the Champ de Mars, his defection to Austria after the overthrow of the Monarchy, and his return to France under Napoleon’s rule, Lafayette returned to a hero’s welcome in the United States in 1824 with his son Georges Washington de La Fayette. He visited all 24 states, met with dignitaries like Thomas Jefferson and free black James Armistead Lafayette (who took the name to honour him), and, of course, gave the alligator to President Adams. I couldn’t find out if the alligator was named or even where it came from, but presumably Lafayette picked it up in one of the southern states where it lives, and of which he was apparently fond – Lafayette took a land grant near Tallahassee, Florida, given to him with $200,000 by the U.S. Congress.

A 1957 American postage stamp bearing a portrait of the Marquis de La Fayette

The clue: Like yesterday’s clue, this one is easily boiled down to a core – name a French person who is closely associated with the early United States. Certainly the first person that should pop into one’s head is Lafayette, without having any idea about this whole alligator business. Again like yesterday, the writers have spruced it up a bit by throwing in a fun historical tidbit. Who doesn’t like alligators as pets?

In Jeopardy!: “Lafayette” is a very popular word in the J!Archive – over 90 results – but many of the clues ask about the various areas around the U.S. named for our Marquis. Many of those, however, still use the tropes associated with him – especially the Revolution, France, and his title – show up in those clues a lot, too. Definitely an important figure to know, given the show’s fondness for American, and particularly Revolution-era, history.

* Full name Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette.

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