Mendon Congressman Planned Extravagant Welcome
for Revolutionary War Hero
Russell. He had made plans for an elaborate celebration to welcome to his home the Marquis de
Lafayette from France. The oldest living general of the Revolutionary War was touring the United
States, and his effects on the young nation were energizing. He incited new feelings of patriotism in
every city and town where he stopped. Russell had known him since 1811, when he served as
charge d'affaires to France, so the visit to his Mendon home would be very special in re-acquainting
with his old friend. The Russells were known to entertain lavishly, so plans for the welcoming visit
would most certainly reflect the dignity of the esteemed war hero.
Jonathan Russell became internationally known when he served as the Ambassador to the Court of
Saint James during the War of 1812. He was one of the signers of the Treaty of Ghent, which brought
about an official end to the war on December 24, 1814. The treaty was negotiated by five highly
talented American diplomats: Russell, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, James Bayard, and Albert
Gallatin. Both the English and the Americans agreed to a status quo ante bellum, which meant that
neither side declared victory, and that everything would be the same as before the war. Though the
United States did not win the war, it once again stood up to the strongest military force on earth and
showed that it would not be intimidated. The treaty promoted new feelings of national pride, and
elevated the American diplomats to the status of new national leaders.
With his diplomatic service ending in 1818, Russell moved back to Mendon and served in the
Massachusetts Legislature. He then served in the United States Congress from 1821 through 1823. It
was during this term in 1822 that he raised questions about the decisions of presidential candidate,
John Quincy Adams, in negotiating the Treaty of Ghent eight years earlier. Specifically, he brought up
that Adams had been willing to trade off navigation rights of the Mississippi River, a trade that Russell
and Clay had strongly opposed. Adams was incensed about being publicly questioned. He felt that
Russell was out to discredit him and hurt his chances for the presidency. A lengthy newspaper battle
developed, and after a long, bitter feud, Jonathan had had enough of Adams and Washington politics.
He returned to Mendon and served as town moderator.
The anticipated visit by Lafayette would certainly be one of the special highlights to cap off Russell's
magnificent career in public service. He arranged to have his home at the corner of Emerson Street
and Hastings Street finely decorated in patriotic attire. Special guests had been invited, and certainly,
an abundance of food had been prepared. Jonathan and his family waited with great enthusiasm for
the general and his entourage to arrive.
Lafayette and his accompanying dignitaries traveling through Central Massachusetts never arrived at
the intended destination of the home of the Mendon congressman. One of the traveling companions,
a person of high influence, intervened and changed the itinerary and re-routed the tour to intentionally
by-pass Mendon and go directly to Providence. The person who directed this snub went on to become
the sixth president of the U.S. He was John Quincy Adams. August 23, 1824, was a memorable day
for Jonathan Russell, one that he never forgot!!!
July 24, 2012
Russell and the War of 1812 Mendon Menu
Present site of Russell-Darling house.
The Russell-Darling house
Grady noticed an error in it. "It took place in 1824, not
1826. LaFayette went back to Boston in 1825 to
commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of
Bunker Hill." Here's a link to an article on his tour of the