HISTORIC OBJECTS has a whopping six exact-match Final Jeopardy! categories, so I just picked my favourite.
Final Jeopardy! category: HISTORIC OBJECTS (20-5-2005)
Final Jeopardy! clue: Given to Washington by Lafayette, one of the keys to this is on display at Mount Vernon
The gist: Lots of places had keys, but this sort of place in particular needed them. The Bastille in Lafayette’s homeland of France was a fortress and prison that played a crucial role in the French Revolution, as did Lafayette himself. Built as a stronghold in the late 14th century, it had served primarily as a state penitentiary since 1659, in particular as somewhere for the Paris police force to detain those deemed enemies of the state by the monarchy. Such a symbol of autocratic oppression was a ripe target for the riots of the French Revolution, and the Bastille was stormed July 14, 1779. Afterwards, Lafayette himself, who had proved both his military prowess and his zeal for liberty while fighting in the American Revolution, was given charge of the new national guard that was to keep order throughout France, and was given the key as a symbol of the new order. He shipped it to his close friend Washington soon thereafter, with a sense of optimism about the newly-won freedom in both France and the United States. It was borne to London n by none other than fellow patriot Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, and was presented to Washington by an American returning to the New World. The large cast-iron key was displayed in many state functions around Philadelphia, then the nation’s capital, until Washington retired from the presidency and took it with him to his estate at Mount Vernon, Virginia. After his widow Martha’s death in 1802, most of the furniture was removed from the estate, except that kept by Washington’s nephew, Supreme Court Justice Bushrod Washington. Lafayette and his son, George Washington Lafayette, toured the U.S. in 1824, and it’s reported that his encounter with the key was a touching and emotional moment. Today, the key is displayed in the George Washington’s Mount Vernon museum.
The clue: The key to this one (sorry) is to know that Lafayette played as much of a role in the French Revolution as he did in the American – when Lafayette is brought up, it’s very often to do with the fact that he was French. Then you’ll need to think of some important, symbolic buildings in the French Revolution, which should naturally bring you to the Bastille. As a bit of extra assurance, as well, a key to unlock an unjust prison would be just the sort of gift these two men might exchange.
In Jeopardy!: “Bastille” is in a healthy 70 regular clues and four FJ! clues in the J!Archive. Lafayette’s in just one other one. “Bastille Day” is in 28 of them, and its date, July 14, is in 28. And that’s really most of them. Some of the others concern famous prisoners like Voltaire (4) or the Marquis de Sade (3), or literary references like A Tale of Two Cities (2) or The Man in the Iron Mask (3). Also, of course, a lot just ask about a famous symbol of the Revolution, or something along those lines.