During Lafayette's exile from France, his wife was imprisoneed in the La Petite Force Prison and sentenced to death.
At this time, James Monroe served as the American minister to France. Upon learning that Madame Lafayette was being held prisoner, his wife, Eliza Monroe, took action. A beautiful and well-educated woman, Mrs. Monroe spoke flawless French. Dressed in her finest clothes, she ordered her carriage to the front door of the prison. Guards rushed to halt the carriage's progress.
In a regal manner, Mrs.Monroe ordered the guards to take her to Madame Lafayette at once. Seeing the US Amabassador's crest on the carriage, the guards quickly complied. Bowing and scraping, the guards led her to Madame Lafayette's cell.
Mrs. Monroe demanded the instant release of the American Revoluntionary War hero's wife. The startled prison commandant dared not refuse, and Madame Lafayette was released.